Scrawny ‘Okame’ Flowering Cherry – How To Prune

prune skrawny

Q: I ordered an ‘Okame’ flowering cherry online. The tree I received was basically a whip — it was five feet tall with only one branch. How do I prune this whip to help it develop a good branch structure? 

A: It’s easy to prune flowering cherries. You do it like a peach tree, trying to achieve an open center. If the whip is taller than 36 inches, cut it around the 36-inch mark, trying to make the cut above a nice bud. If it is shorter than 36 inches, just clip off the top bud. In a few months, you should have three or four little branches coming out near the top. Ideally, looking from above, they should go out in equal arcs. If one is not pointing the way you want it to, use a stiff wire to make a spreader to make it grow the way you intend. When the new sprouts are 10″ long, clip each tip to make them rebranch further. Allow the limbs to grow outward and upward, wait a few years, and you should have a nice tree!

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