Pruning Wisterias & Cherry Tree Stop Fruiting

Question:

I have a Wisteria climbing up the front of my porch. By the fall, it's always out of control. Can I trim it back now without jeopardizing next spring's blooms? Also, how might I help increase the flowers, as it doesn't tend to put out an abundance of blossoms?

Answer:

  • There is a reluctance of gardeners to prune plants, especially vines, fruit trees, and roses, once the primary pruning season is completed. When quizzed why not, the most common answers are "It may die" or it will stop blooming. The reality is plants never die from such pruning practices; however, flowering issues may develop related to off-season pruning. These issues are easily overcome with some basic plant knowledge about the plant(s) in question.
  • Wisteria, are traditionally pruned the heaviest in the spring after flowering. This is the time to establish or re-establish the basic shape of the plant. During the growing season, it's okay to prune off any of the shoots that are growing in the wrong direction.
  • Wisteria blooms on the second year and older growth. You improve flowering by lowering the soil pH. The pH scale is from 1 to 14, with seven being neutral. Any soil reading above 8.0 is said to be alkaline, while soils below 7.0 are said to be acidic.
    • Wisterias like a soil pH around 6.0 to 6.5. You determine your soil pH with a simple pH kit available at your favorite garden center. The soil pH is modified or lowered by applying an acidifier such as Soil Sulphur, Aluminum Sulfate, or GreenAll pH Adjuster.
    • The pH test determines the amount. With the beginning of the rainy season, now is an excellent time to apply these products to your soil. Besides Wisterias, an acidifier is particularly beneficial to Blueberries, Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendrons, Gardenias, and other shade-loving plants.

Question:

How do we get our Montmorency Cherry tree to bear fruit? We had one for years that yielded about ten pies each summer. It has since died, and the replacement tree now only yields six cherries each year. 

Answer:

  • Montmorency Cherry is the most popular pie cherry in North America because of its tartness and bright red color. The primary reason cherries fail to fruit is poor pollination; however, Montmorency Cherry is a self-fertile variety, so it doesn't need another cherry tree for pollination like a Bing Cherry.
  • Honey Bees are the primary pollinator for cherries as well as all other fruit trees. With the native beehives being destroyed by a predator mite, there is a shortage of Honey Bees. Weather is another factor that influences the fruit set during the flowering period.
    • Honey Bees are not active when the daytime temperatures are below fifty-five degrees or when it's wet, damp, or rainy. Last year, it was dry during flowering, so the weather should not have impacted pollination.
    • Thus, your problem is a lack of Bees, and unfortunately, there is much you can do to improve things.