Weeping Cherry Tree Trunk Split

Asked June 16, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

I just noticed that my weeping cherry tree's trunk is split in the back with some sap seen on toward the bottom. What can I do?? I don't know if the deer we have caused this or not. Do I wrap the trunk with something?? What can I do? We had beautiful flowers this spring. Also, I am noticing the leaves look as though something is eating the leaves. HELP!!

Richland County Ohio

1 Response

Hi Richland county, You have noticed a phenomenon that occurs over the deep cold of winter. When you have a clear day with the sun out it will warm up the side of a tree that is prone to splitting such as cherry, maple, others. This warmth will be quite a bit different than the outside temperature and in some cases will cause the sap to rise in the tree. Then comes the sun going down and the deep cold settling in and the trunk will not contract gradually and the result is a crack in the bark. Usually this occurs on the southwest side of the tree because that is where the sun gets to warm up the bark .

As for fixing the problem, there is nothing much that you can do to put around the split in the bark. If the tree is smaller, it will usually "heal" over or close the gap. You can mulch around the tree to keep the moisture levels more even during the growing season and apply some water when we get a long period without any rain. (I think you probably have too much rain this week!)

There are a lot of insects that eat on leaves of cherry and other trees in the spring. Some of them are not present now as they chewed a hole in the leaves and then moved on or grew up into adults and now won't be feeding on the young leaves. Usually the tree will have enough vigor to overcome this feeding and will go on to produce buds for next season's flowers and growth. Again, keep the stress on the tree to a minimum and water it when we get another dry spell.

You can also put up a sun barrier for the winter on the southwest side of the trunk of the tree if this is in a really exposed location. A lot of people will put up a burlap sheet between a couple of poles to keep the winter sun off the bark. It does help. I would NOT wrap the tree because most people forget and leave it on for too long and this causes more problems with borers and rot getting behind the tree wrap.

I hope this helps with your problem. Don