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I bought a couple of dwarf cherry trees which I put in as a cordon at the edge of our garden. They just consist of a single stem - which has been cut off at the top, with no side branches.

They've been in a couple of years so I would have expected them to form side branches by now, but they're just a pair of sticks, with huge clusters of leaves and cherry blossom tight to the main stem. Why have they not grown branches?

I'm thinking next year I should rub off all of the buds except where I want them to grow branches, and maybe then they will sprout. Alternatively should I cut the main stem above a bud in the direction I want them to grow? Or do I just need to sit tight and be patient?

  • do you have a picture? – black thumb Apr 29 '17 at 18:00
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    How high are these trees, now? You wanted dwarf so that you would be able to easily harvest cherries, yes? Or are these just for flowering? Cutting the leader would certainly produce branches but then that would be the height of your trees until you fostered another leader. The largest amount of energy in a tree or shrub is in the apical buds at the tips of the leader and branches. When you cut the apical buds off, the axial buds get all the energy the apical or terminal buds were getting. This is called heading. This needs to be done carefully so wait a bit until we get pictures, info. – stormy Apr 29 '17 at 18:42
  • @stormy yes, they're merton Bigarreau on Gisela 5 dwarfing stock. But there's no leader, the main stem has been topped off at about 1 metre. I'd expect branches to grow. – samerivertwice Apr 30 '17 at 16:35
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Did you buy mini patio cherry trees? These are sold with a single stem, and often retain the single stem growth habit for the first 3 or 4 years, longer in pots. They will eventually branch a bit, but they do tend to remain fairly vertical in appearance - some care information here http://www.vanmeuwen.com/fruit-and-vegetables/fruit-trees/stone-fruit-trees/mini-fruit-trees-cherry-plum/69141VM but it only recommends light pruning. Certainly, if this is what you bought, you should not rub out buds in order to get them to branch, they're intended to grow this way.

  • Yep, that picture's pretty much how they're growing. They're Merton Bigarreau on Colt dwarfing rootstock. I might try taking the fruit and buds off. I think they were described as a "maiden". – samerivertwice Apr 30 '17 at 16:30
  • 'Maiden' is very young tree with a vertical stem with no side branches as yet, but its not a patio fruit tree as I pictured - there's some special pruning routine for those from year one, as I recall, involving removing flowers for the first year or two, I can't quite recall in detail... needs looking up! – Bamboo Apr 30 '17 at 22:49

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