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Cherry woes

Photo: Nigel SilverdenWE have noticed lots of shoots coming up around our weeping cherry. What are they? Lots of odd seedlings have been popping up around our place since we mulched last winter with wood chips left by the arborists when they chopped an old tree down.


WEEPING cherries are propagated by grafting the weeping part on to an upright growing rootstock. The shoots in your photo are growing from the root system of the rootstock. Suckering like this is often caused by damage to the roots, for example by digging or hoeing, or sometimes by poor drainage killing off root tips.

You should remove the suckers by pulling them out of the ground so they tear away from the roots. Don't prune them off at ground level or they'll simply regrow.

From your photo, the suckers' foliage looks quite yellow, suggesting a lack of nutrients, probably caused by the wood-chip mulch. Wood chips can cause temporary lack of nitrogen in the soil for several months following their application, as the micro-organisms which break down cellulose in wood use nitrogen from the soil as their energy source.

After you remove the suckers give the area a dressing of a nitrogen-rich general garden fertiliser to give your cherry tree a boost. And check for poor drainage - you may have to do something to reduce the risk of waterlogging in winter.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 137, 2003, Page 27

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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