Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can reshape a very old
(Victorian I guess), very tall, sweet cherry tree - or alternatively
propagate from it. It's too tall to pick the cherries without a hoist
(which I don't have) and too tall to try airlayering as a means of
propagation. I would like to try to persuade the tree to throw out some
new shoots below the current ones and above the rootstock. Is there any
way of persuading the tree to do this?
I would also like to propagate from it. I have taken some softwood
cuttings now - and will try to graft on to rootstocks in a few weeks.
Any tips as to the best rootstocks and the best way of getting the
cuttings to take (e.g. should they have bottom heat, be in a cloche,
I would go with the propagation choice. You can progressively prune
down this big tree over several seasons, but it's root structure will
continue to put out lots of growth, thus an ongoing pruning job.
There are several good dwarfing cherry rootstocks. Cherries are
commonly grafted onto Mazzard or Mahaleb rootstocks. Another choice
would be something in the Gisella family. Krymsk 5 and 6 are newer
Russian rootstocks, the later of these produces a dwarfing of 75%.
You can do a bud graft in July or August. I would recommend a chip
bud graft as the most reliable and easy to do. Less commonly done
are whip and tongue grafts in the Spring of Cherry scion wood. Be
aware that in chip budding, the fresher the buds, the better the
chances of a successful graft. I would keep the grafted tree in
a shady spot for a few weeks until the graft calouses over. You
can then either plant the tree, or better yet, keep it in a pot
in a protected place for planting the following year. You want to
initially keep the graft union warm for calusing, but keeping the
entire tree that way might encourage the rootstock to come out of
dormancy prematurely, which will reduce the chances of a successful
I may have misled you on the after care of the graft. I do most of
my grafts in the Spring with whip and tongue and my suggestions on
keeping the rootstock dormant were more for that kind of graft.
For bud grafting, you want the rootstock to be active and leafed
out. You still should follow the other suggestions about protecting
the graft and planting the tree out.
I should not do these replies late at night when my thinking is not
as clear as I would like it to be.
Be brave and cut the top off the tree. Do it in spring when the sap has
started rising to prevent silver leaf. You can often see old trees
being regerated like this. You will get new growths around and just
below the cut.
> Be brave and cut the top off the tree. Do it in spring when the sap has
> started rising to prevent silver leaf. You can often see old trees
> being regerated like this. You will get new growths around and just
> below the cut.
Thanks - I'll try in the Spring. Watch this space!
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