Branches only leafing out near tip

My befuddling combo cherry is in pretty bad shape. There is not much branching on the scaffolds and on 3 of the varieties the leaves are only growing out near the tips of the branches. Lapins in particular bloomed in march but the most of the blooms were on the branch tips. The blooms got frosted out and the only thing remaining on the branch is a small cluster of young leaves near the tip. The branch is still alive but with the lack of leaves you’d think its dead. I made a mistake in not cutting last years growth back by a third to encourage branching. If I cut the branch back now I’ll lose all leaves on the branch. Will this encourage the lower buds to leaf out or is it too late to do this since the tree is out of dormancy?

Montmorency is doing this as well on the same tree.


If you think the tree is still alive and healthy top growth, this maybe a good opportunity to prune all the branches back hard to start some new scaffolds.


Thanks Tony. Since it’s so early in the season you think cutting them back will spur new growth? I’ve always thought dormant pruning is what spurred growth. I wondered if since the tree had already came out of dormancy a cut would react like more of a thinning cut and not push growth?

I’m not sure how bad your trees are from the description. Trees can start leafing from the tips but then the other parts will catch up. But sometimes the tree is really weak and only the tips are leafing for that reason. If its the latter you don’t want to prune at all as it may kill the tree – let it fully leaf out and start making some good carbs and get going, and then you can consider pruning (in a month or so).

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