I've noticed a significant deterioration in the health of my relatively young (~2 years) cherry tree. The leaves are turning brown, some are curled, some have holes and a number have also entirely dropped off the leading trunk.

The photo below highlights some issues with the leaves. I note there is a leaf miner on it, but I don't know if that's a significant issue.

Previously the tree had aphids (around three months ago) but I treated it with a spray and the tree recovered quite quickly. I can't see any insects on the tree this time around.

Is there anything I can do now in August to treat or reinvigorate this tree?

Overview of cherry tree sapling

Cherry tree leaf issues

  • 2
    Hi, Andrew! The dark spots on the leaves are caused by a fungus. Bacterial infections have often the same simptoms, but I don't see any sign on the bark, so I'm tempted to rule out a bacterial disease. To find out what the name of the fungus is it would be easier for us if you could tell us what the original colour and shape of the spots was and their change over time, the colour on the center and on the edges of the spots, if the spots grew until they merged to a larger area and if there are any signs on the back of the leaves. Also, the leaves in first picture look as if an insect ate them.
    – Alina
    Aug 16, 2017 at 13:23
  • 1
    What part of the world are you in? Is this an ornamental flowering cherry, or a fruiting cherry? How much sunlight does it receive?
    – Bamboo
    Aug 16, 2017 at 18:11
  • I'm in the UK, and the tree receives a good amount of sunlight, even if it is adjacent to a fence panel. There are no significant structures to the south or west. Alina - are you referring to the 'spots' which are more round and several tones in nature? I'm also looking at the brown patches between the veins on the leaves as a separate issue, is that the right approach? Aug 17, 2017 at 14:17
  • Yes, the more round ones in colour tones. I think Bamboo is right, the spots look a lot like cherry leaf spot, it's just that yours look larger. If you want, you can search more about it using the old name of Coccomyces hiemalis because not all the scientific articles are updated to the name Blumeriella jaapii. About the brown patches between the veins, I don't know what they are. I'm not familiar with that pattern.
    – Alina
    Aug 20, 2017 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


I thought you might be in the UK...first thing to say is your tree is planted much too close to the fence behind it, unless, that is, it's Prunus amanogowa, the flagpole cherry. Second, I suspect it has Cherry Leaf Spot (see here https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=567) especially if its shedding leaves early. Third, it appears to have been attacked or used by leaf cutting bees, or possibly vine weevil - at the top of the tree, there seem to be notches rather than semi circular bits missing at the leaf edges. If its leaf cutting bees, there's not much you can do about that, and they will have stopped cropping the leaves by now anyway - they crop semi circles from leaves and roll them to rear their young, because they're solitary bees. If there are notches, as it looks to be, then I'd suspect vine weevil, and a soil drench with nematodes might be necessary, but another photo of those leaves at the top will confirm or deny.

Finally, it really doesn't look too well - if you didn't improve the soil prior to planting by digging in composted manure or your own good garden compost, or some other organic soil conditioner, then it looks like it needs some help. If you didn't prepare the area in this way prior to planting, then, if possible, I'd dig it up (provided it really hasn't been in place more than 2 years), carefully extracting the long roots which will have spread out not far under the surface, as well as the other roots which go straight down, lay it down somewhere and cover the roots with a tarpaulin, out of the sun, then dig the area over properly, incorporating organic material, and replant at least 2 or preferably 3 feet away from that fence. If you do this, it's important to shape the planting hole in such a way that the roots can be put into the soil without cramping or bending them, and this job would be best done in late October.

Alternatively, it's far too late in the year to give it any fertilizer, but you could mulch it with composted manure, taking care not to let it sit against the trunk of the tree. If it has got leaf spot, do not allow any fallen leaves to remain on the ground for any longer than necessary, and certainly remove all fallen leaves once they're all on the ground.

  • it is most certainly not too late for fertilizer for the year. Yes it is planted too close to the fence but that can be fixed later when the tree is healthy and going into dormancy. Shoot, this is simply a deficiency in phosphorus weakening this young tree to insects and disease. How am I wrong? It would be nice to know how long ago this tree was planted. If only in the last few months we could talk the OP into transplanting this fall or after the high temperatures. This time is just fine to fertilizer...lower nitrogen with respect to the phosphorus and potassium. Why not?
    – stormy
    Aug 17, 2017 at 20:42
  • This tree could also become a great espalier. The main problem is chemistry. Unless they've used fertilizer I highly recommend giving that tree some chemistry with which to do photosynthesis.
    – stormy
    Aug 17, 2017 at 20:45
  • @stormy it is too late for fertilizer here, or at least a general purpose nitrogenous one, we don't fertilize permanent planting past early July in the UK. Its possible its short of particular elements, certainly, but the poor thing's in such a state its hard to tell - important to know what prep and emendment to the soil was made initially, along with any fertilizer given since planting. Poor growing conditions could cause these symptoms - and I did say digging it out should wait till end of October, which is autumn here, first frost usually early to mid November
    – Bamboo
    Aug 17, 2017 at 23:31
  • Why? Lawns in UK should be fertilized twice more before winter. This guy needs phosphorus. Nitrogen too close to winter not good at all but shoot this plant will not get better if he doesn't get the correct chemistry for photosynthesis. There are a good 2 or 3 months before dormancy begins. We already had our first two frosts this last week. Still out there fertilizing and up potting the plants...If a plant can make its own food/energy to become more healthy then we should help make that happen. This guy just might give up before spring. Have we gotten a response from OP?
    – stormy
    Aug 18, 2017 at 2:47
  • Thanks for the responses. The tree was planted last July, so it's been in the ground for about 13 months. I didn't do any preparation to the soil, however, which is slightly clayey. I've not fertilised. I could lift the tree, although I guess I would have to be very careful around the roots. I'll see if I can get another photo of the top in the next day or so. Aug 18, 2017 at 12:44

phosphorus deficiency

You've got a few things going on, not just one. I am seeing a deficiency in Phosphorus. Perhaps. Those bluish blackish spots are usually phosphorus deficiency. Have you fertilized, with what formulation and how long ago? Because your plant seems to be very vulnerable, not so healthy, you've got a bit of insect damage and fungus. But the purple spots are indicative of deficient chemistry in your soil for your plant with whic to do photosynthesis and make its own food. –

  • What kind of support, pnuts? This is lack of phosphorus in my experience...the color, in between the veins...if this OP hasn't fertilized that would make sense.
    – stormy
    Aug 17, 2017 at 1:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.