Weeping cherry trees are popular ornamental trees that are prized for their profuse, white or light pink blossoms. The trees are native to Japan, but thrive in most climates within the continental United States. Several varieties are available; the most common are the Higan, Shidare Yoshino, and "snow fountain" weeping cherry trees.
Weeping cherry trees typically grow to between 20 and 40 feet in height, with branches extending between 15 and 30 feet. They have long, drooping branches that resemble those of a weeping willow tree. Like weeping willows, weeping cherry trees provide an excellent source of shade but can be difficult to mow under.
Weeping cherry trees thrive in growing zones 5 to 9, although some people have had success in zones 3 or 4. Growing zones are based on the lowest annual temperature that can be expected in a particular area. In general, weeping cherry trees are best planted in climates where the lowest temperature is not more than 20 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Trees planted in milder climates will generally grow faster and are less susceptible to stunting.
Weeping cherry trees do well in low-nutrient soils, including clay earth. They are susceptible to root diseases caused by bacteria and fungi that thrive in nutrient-rich growing media and do better without the addition of compost. Because of their susceptibility to root diseases, well-drained soil is important to the trees' health.
Weeping cherry trees are usually pruned regularly to facilitate mowing around and under the tree. However, excessive pruning can slow the tree's growth and cause it to lose its characteristic "weeping" appearance. When pruning a weeping cherry tree, take care to cut the tendrils to varying lengths to maintain the tree's natural look. Pruning is best performed during late summer or early fall, to prevent excess bleeding of sap. Pruning is not necessary for the tree's health; the branches may be allowed to grow to full length, and mulch can be placed under the tree to eliminate the need to mow under it.
Weeping cherry trees do produce fruit, but it is considered inedible due to its small size and sour taste. However, the trees are very attractive to wild birds, which feed on the fruit and often build nests within the branches. Most weeping cherry tree owners enjoy the opportunity for bird-watching, but if you have a vegetable garden or other fruit trees, wild birds can become a nuisance.