Holes in Ornamental Cherry Leaves.

Asked June 1, 2020, 8:06 PM EDT

Hello, The entire leaves of our ornamental cherry have small holes in them and is dropping leaves like it's the fall season. Can anyone please advice what to do and how to care for the plant.....and if trimming down the big tree will help. Also, whatever is effecting the leaves...will it pass on to other trees or shrubs in the vicinity. We want to save the big tree and looking for an option...if any...to save it.Thank you.

Howard County Maryland

5 Responses

You are seeing the symptoms of cherry shot hole disease. Wet spring weather is ideal for the development of this disease and we have had a lot of questions about this recently.
Both a fungus and a bacterium can cause shot hole disease in cherries, and distinguishing between the two pathogens is challenging. Neither will be controlled by sprays applied after symptoms have progressed to this point. Some defoliation also can occur as a result of this condition.

The good news is that trees produce many more leaves than they need to feed themselves via photosynthesis, and in most cases mature trees can sustain some of this damage and recover in future years. No treatment is recommended. Remove and dispose of fallen leaves to reduce fungal inoculum around the planting area. This does tend to be a chronic issue in cherry trees in this area, and it is typically worse in wet weather years.

Here is more about cherry shot hole and how to manage it. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cherry-shot-hole-flowering-cherries


Thank you for the advice and information link. We will remove the fallen leaves periodically. Will this spread to other non cherry plants too...as we have a Japanese maple and crepe myrtle close to the big cherry tree, along with shrubs and some flowering bulb plants. How often should we clean the leaves?
Thank you again for the expert advice and the peace of mind that the tree need not come down.

No, rest assured this disease will not spread to your other trees. During the summer rake them up when you have the time. However, it is more important to rake up and dispose of the fallen cherry leaves in the fall. This helps to reduce the overwintering fungal spores.


Thank you for the informative advice and suggestions. We appreciate you taking time and answering our queries. We are thankful that the tree will remain standing. It is a beautiful, well established tree which is the first to bloom in spring.
Thank you once again.