The term “weeping tree” has nothing to do with the health or well-being of a tree. Weeping trees are characterized by soft, limp twigs that cascade toward the ground. While weepiness occurs in nature, most weeping trees are cultivars. Because of their shape, weeping trees are popular in landscaping. Generally they need a lot of space and are solitary so that their effect and accentuation are more pronounced.

Weeping ornamental trees add a dramatic and graceful look to landscape beds. The branches of weeping trees are covered in beautiful foliage. These branches grow slightly upward and then gracefully grow downward toward the earth. They are available as flowering deciduous trees, nonflowering deciduous trees, and even evergreens. Diverse types of weeping trees can be placed in different garden beds to add variety, while also carrying out shape consistency throughout the landscape.

There are more than 100 different types of weeping trees. Some of the more popular weeping trees in our area are Prunus Pendula, Weeping Cherry; Salix Salicaceae, Weeping Willow; Styphnolobium Japonicum Weeping Pagoda Tree; Betula Pendula, Weeping Birch; Cedrus Atlantica, Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar.

Most weeping trees are grafted trees. On weeping ornamental trees, the graft union is usually at the top of the trunk, just below the tree canopy. A benefit of placing the graft union here is that the weeping branches generally hide it. A drawback is that in the winter the graft union doesn’t have the protection and insulation of snow or mulch since it is not at ground level.

A number of genetic quirks could also cause a tree to weep. Lazy mutants weep because they don’t have the strength to point upward. Also, the hormone, auxin, can cause the branches to become heavy, which inhibits elongated growth. This hormone is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. An auxin may be one of many molecules, but all auxin molecules are involved in cellular regulation. Auxins promote growth and control fruit and flower development. Auxins coordinate many growth and behavioral processes in the plant’s life cycle and are essential for plant body development. Auxins play a minor role in the initiation of flowering and development of reproductive organs.

Stream banks are a great location for weeping willows. They love having wet feet and thrive in that environment. Weeping cherry trees add tranquility and diversity to any landscape. Weeping trees serve as a focal point and add dimension to a landscape. They also provide diversity to a garden setting. Enjoy the advantages of adding a weeping tree to your landscape.


Adams County Master Gardeners will be holding garden chats on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. on June 26, July 17, Aug. 7, Aug. 28 and Sept. 18 in the Trial Garden area at the Agricultural and Natural Resource Center, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. Chats last about an hour. No registration is required.


The Penn State Master Gardeners may be able to help.?? Our Hotline is open April through September on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 717-334-6271 or bring your samples for diagnosis to Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg.


Visit us on Facebook at Penn State Master Gardeners in Adams County for our recently-implemented weekly Master Gardeners Monday Videos. Timely and relevant topics will be discussed on a weekly basis keeping readers up-to-date on current horticultural issues.

Carolyn Black is a Penn State Master Gardener from Adams County. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, phone 717-334-6271.

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