Help with cherry tree in zone 7

Hi! The leaves are turning black on my newly planted cherry tree. What is wrong and is there anything I can do to help my tree?

Here is another picture of the leaves.

Hey @Johern – welcome to GrowingFruit!


Thank you! Trying to save my new cherry tree. It’s looking pretty bad now :frowning:

That doesn’t look good at all. Maybe a really bad case of cherry leaf spot? If that’s so (guessing here) it would be really devastating for a plant this small.

While you try to sort things out applying a fungicide would not be the worst thing to do. There is a good chance that it was the cause and if it isn’t it would provide a prophylactic protection from opportunistic fungi. If the problem is viral well the fungicide would not help but it would not hurt either.

Where I am the weather is harsh so young trees that go into dormancy after a season like this would die anyways. Me (and my harsh environment) I would just cut it and dispose of it where it would not contaminate something else. Sometimes a bad batch from a nursery can introduce nasty stuff into your orchard.

Did you use a spray on your tree? If so, what kind? It does not look promising.

1 Like

I can only empathize. Mine do the exact same every year. Trees are years behind in growth… Some branches die completely. Others can be saved by cutting below affected areas.

1 Like

What fungicide do you recommend?

No spray so far. I’ve just planted it this spring.

What cherry variety is this and where you are located, state wise?

1 Like

Kansas sweet cherry, and the location is north texas zone 7b.

1 Like

Can we see the whole tree. The first pic does not look good. The branch/twig is shriveled/dying.

How long ago did you planted it?
Was the tree bare rooted and dormant when you planted it?
What kind of soil?
How much and how often did you water it?
Can we see the whole tree. The first pic does not look good. The branch/twig is shriveled/dying.


My apologies for the delay in reply, I travel for work and I’m only home for the weekend.

I attached a picture of the whole tree. I sprayed neem oil last week and the leaves seem a bit better but still sad looking.

The tree was bareroot and dormant when I planted it and I’ve planted it just this spring. The soil under the raised bed of 1 foot is heavy clay. The raised bed soil is a mix of topsoil, compost and pine bark. It have been raining about 0.05 inches almost everyday so I haven’t watered the tree for almost a month. I have a moisture tester and according to the readings the first 2 inch of soil is dry but the lower parts of the soil is more and more moist.


1 Like

Here’s a pic of the new leaves after some neem oil last week.

1 Like

I don’t know what the cause of your cherry tree distress. It looks bad. Spraying neem oil on young leaves may make things worse.

Cherry do not like wet feet. It could cause roots to drown or rot. The roots of your tree may be too wet.

I sure hope your tree does not suffer phytophthora.

Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot / Cherry / Agriculture: Pest Management Guidelines / UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM).

It could be, it has been raining lightly almost non stop. Very wet and warm spring. According to the article, it seems that the root rot is caused just by roots being wet too long. Can I replant a new cherry tree later at the same spot but perhaps having a raised bed of 2 feet instead on 1 like now? I’m not sure the the soil is “infected” or just a simple drainage problem. Thxs for pointing me towards the potential problem with the drainage. The nursery said to have 1 feet of soil on top but I can always have it higher.

1 Like

If you think the tree is not dead by soil borne disease, you can make a mound and plant a new tree on a large mound.

Keep in mind, soil for fruit trees should be mostly native soil. Compost could be used for top dressing. Fruit trees do not need rich soil.

Look like growing sweet cherries can be a challenge in TX. From this archive, Texas A&M only recommended Montmorency, sour cherry.

Today I saw yellow discoloration on the lower trunk (pictured). Does that confirm root rot, do you know?

The native soil is heavy clay. That’s why I tried the raised bed method. May have purchased the wrong type soil for the raised bed :frowning:

1 Like

I know cherry trees hate clay. Perhaps 1 foot clearence isn’t enough. Probably should have dug out two or three feet of the clay and backfilled.

My advice looking at those leaves would be to spray some pesticides at least around the trunk. What you don’t want right now is more damage from bugs. The tree just now appears to be waking up. So I wouldn’t worry too much yet.

Daconil is a good fungicide for cherry trees.

1 Like

I don’t see anything wrong with that discoloring.

I wonder if you try to grow something that is not recommended for your area. If that’s the case, it will be an uphill battle. Do other people near you grow this cherry successfully?

Have you reached out to your local university’s extension service for consult or advice?

My guess is the soil below is too wet. You should build a higher berm (3-4 ft tall) to avoid roots being too wet.

Before you spray, please check various spray in the Guide category here.

Chlorothalonil (brand name Daconil) is an effective fungicide but has limited use. It cannot be sprayed after fruit have formed due to its long lasting effect.

I would not spray anything until you know what the problem your tree is having.

1 Like