Okame Flowering Cherry Tree Problems With Brown Tips on Leaves

Written by jacob j. wright
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Okame Flowering Cherry Tree Problems With Brown Tips on Leaves
Leaf tips can turn brown for a variety of reasons. (fresh green leaves image by fumie from Fotolia.com)

A small, flowering, cherry tree, 'Okame' is the result of a hybrid cross between the Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa) and the Taiwan flowering cherry (Prunus campanulata). 'Okame' grows up to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide at maturity. This tree is highly regarded by gardeners because of the reliable, very early spring display of pink blossoms. It is grown in moist, well-draining soils, including clay, in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 6 through 8.

Water Stress

Brown tips on the leaves of any plant may indicate improper watering. Tips permanently turn brown when the soil is either too wet or too dry. If the healthy leaves develop brown tips during the summer months, it probably results from seasonally dry soil (as compared to wet conditions; 'Okame' cherry is best planted in well-drained soils). According to the U.S. Forest Service, 'Okame' benefits from irrigation in dry weather, even though it is moderately drought-tolerant in sandy, loam and clay soils. The trees need ample moisture in the top 12 inches of soil to keep foliage from showing signs of stress such as wilting, colour change or browning on tips and edges. Once leaf tips turn brown, those tissues are dead; they will not return to green.

Excessive Summer Heat

'Okame' is widely planted across the American South, where summers are long and hot. As temperatures rise, plants' water needs increase. Thus, water stress accompanied by a long, hot summer can slowly lead to foliage changes. Learn2Grow's plant database and the U.S. Forest Service comment that long southern summers causes the typically green leaves on the 'Okame' cherry to turn slightly bronzed or purple. Close inspection of leaves in hot summer regions in July through September can reveal bronze-green leaves, leaf curling and browning of leaf tips and edges. Ample soil moisture may not fully offset the effects of high summer temperatures on leaves.

Pest and Disease Problems

Overall, the U.S. Forest Service states, a healthy 'Okame' cherry tree, not stressed by drought, has few or no insect pests. Occasionally, spider mites appear when weather is hot and air is dry. They cover the undersides of leaves in fine webs, and leaves can curl, wilt or turn prematurely brown. Aphids cause damage and leaf browning on young, emerging leaves, especially when trees aren't in adequate sunlight locations. Cankerworms (also called inchworms) can eat leaves, but usually skeletonise leaves, not create brown tips. Diseases, such as canker or fungal infection, may be to blame, but are uncommon. When in doubt, prune a small branch from the tree, seal it in a plastic bag and take it to you local Cooperative Extension office for expert investigation.

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