Mastering the Art of Pruning Weeping Cherry Trees and Grafted Ornamentals

Apr 3


Michael J. McGroarty

Michael J. McGroarty

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Discover the secrets to maintaining the graceful droop of your Weeping Cherry tree and other grafted ornamentals. This comprehensive guide delves into the reasons behind the weeping phenomenon and provides expert advice on how to prune correctly to preserve the unique characteristics of these beautiful plants.


Understanding Grafting and Budding

Grafting and budding are horticultural techniques used to propagate plants that are difficult to grow from seeds or cuttings. Grafting involves joining a piece of one plant (the scion) to the root system of another plant (the rootstock),Mastering the Art of Pruning Weeping Cherry Trees and Grafted Ornamentals Articles resulting in a new plant that combines the characteristics of both. Budding is a specific type of grafting where a single bud is used instead of a stem.

For instance, Pink Dogwoods are notoriously challenging to grow from seed, as the seeds often yield white-flowered seedlings. To overcome this, a bud from a Pink Dogwood is inserted into the bark of a White Dogwood seedling. This process typically occurs in late summer when the bark is pliable, and the seedling has reached about 1/4” in diameter. A "T" shaped cut is made in the bark, the bud is inserted, and the area is secured with a rubber band. By the following spring, the bud will have grafted onto the seedling, which is then pruned just above the Pink Dogwood bud, allowing it to grow into a Pink Dogwood tree.

Pruning for Perfection

The Challenge of Suckers

Suckers, or shoots that emerge from the rootstock below the bud union, can compromise the integrity of the grafted plant. These shoots should be removed promptly, as they do not share the same characteristics as the grafted portion. For example, Flowering Crabapples are prone to sucker growth. It's essential to remove suckers completely, rather than just trimming them at ground level, to prevent them from resprouting. On older trees that have been neglected, a more aggressive approach may be necessary, using a digging spade to remove the suckers from the stem.

Weeping Cherry Trees: A Case Study

Weeping Cherry trees are often grafted at a height of around 5 feet to create their distinctive umbrella-like canopy. Any growth below the graft union must be removed to maintain the weeping effect. Neglecting to do so can result in upright branches disrupting the tree's weeping form. Regular monitoring and removal of any growth from the rootstock will preserve the tree's desired appearance.

Weeping Cotoneaster and Other Unique Grafts

The Weeping Cotoneaster is another example of a grafted plant, where Cotoneaster Apiculata is grafted onto a Paul’s Scarlet Hawthorn rootstock. This combination was discovered by a nurseryman and has since become a beloved ornamental. As with other grafted plants, any growth from the rootstock must be removed to maintain the intended look of the plant.

Pruning Tips and Techniques

To keep your grafted plants in top shape, follow these tips:

  • Regularly inspect your grafted plants for any growth below the graft union.
  • Remove suckers as soon as they appear, using your fingernail or pruning shears for small growths.
  • For larger, established suckers, use a spade or saw, taking care to minimize damage to the main stem.
  • After pruning, ensure that the wounds are clean to facilitate healing and prevent disease.

By staying vigilant and pruning correctly, you can ensure that your grafted and budded ornamentals, such as the Weeping Cherry tree, retain their unique beauty and form. For more information and visual aids on pruning these plants, visit Gardening Articles.


Grafted and budded ornamentals require special care to maintain their distinctive characteristics. Understanding the grafting process and the importance of proper pruning can help gardeners keep their plants healthy and aesthetically pleasing. Regular inspection and timely removal of suckers are crucial to preserving the integrity of these beautiful plants.