Trouble with my flowering trees

Asked December 5, 2018, 3:46 PM EST

I have 5 flowering cherry trees that seem to be infested with bugs, worms and some sort of fungus, i think. Please help me understand what is going on with these trees, what i should be doing to care for them and how to get rid of the bugs, worms, and maybe fungus. What treatments would you recommend? Thanks

Howard County Maryland abiotic issues trees flowering cherries planted too deeply

1 Response

Ornamental fruit trees can have some disease and insect problems, but that does not look like your main issue.
It appears that your trees were planted and/or mulched too deeply. We also wonder about the black plastic that we see coming right up to the trunk- is it landscape fabric that air and water can penetrate? Mulch should only be 2-3 inches deep and be pulled back from laying against the trunk of the tree.

Many trees and shrubs are set too deeply from the time of planting, or they settle too deeply over time. A planting depth of only one-inch too deep can cause trouble. Deep planting causes bark deterioration at the soil line, which will eventually kill the plant over a long period of time. Trees should have a noticeable flare where the trunk widens before it enters the ground. It shouldn't go in straight like a telephone pole.
Advanced symptoms of depth-related stress are cankers and deep cracking of the bark. A canker is an area of dead tissue on a woody stem. It looks like that could be happening to the tree in your second photo.
Some shallow cracking of bark is normal for many trees as the trunk grows.
Planting/mulching too deeply is stressful, and stressed trees are more apt to attract boring insects or disease.
At this point you could try to pull back the excess mulch/soil and plastic (remove it completely if it is non-penetrable) and explore for the flare area where the roots meet the trunk. You could consider hiring a tree health expert, a.k.a. a Certified Arborist (not just a tree cutter or landscaper) to consult and try to help.) The trees might do well for years yet.
As far as what you are seeing that looks kind of like greyish-green fungus, that is entirely harmless and are called lichens. They are actually a sign of good air quality. More about them here: