Flowering Cherry – Sudden Death

Q: We came home last week from a week of vacation and found one of our cherry trees like this. It has since progressed to the entire tree – most of the leaves are completely brown. What is causing this? Will it survive and/or will the tree right next to it also succumb? The leaves on it are wilted, and turning yellow but not brown.

A: Your trees look pretty sad. The scorching around the leaf edges show that water is not getting to the leaves. This could be caused by too little water or, oddly enough, too much water, which could cause root rot. Or the difficulties might be caused by a poor root system which can’t take up enough water.

My bet is that they were planted too low initially and now have root rot from all of the rain.

You could consider digging them up now and replanting higher in the same spot. Dig around the base of each tree to find the flare where the trunk becomes the roots. The flare should be right at ground level.

This suggestion is a gamble. If the tree roots are too far gone, you’ll have to replace them with healthy trees.