Caring for a Serviceberry Tree

The shrub-like serviceberry tree is widely considered as both a bush and a tree. The plant ranges anywhere from 10 to 50 feet tall with a bushy spread that may extend to 20 feet across. There are more than 40 species of the tree. It makes a good choice for hedges or borders. The constantly changing colors of the flowers, leaves and berries make it a refreshing tree to have on the lawn. The serviceberry prefers full sun areas but will tolerate some shade. Where sunlight is plentiful, the tree will yield numerous fruit. If situated in shady conditions, fruit yields are lower. Although the tree tolerates various soil conditions, well-drained soils are best for propagation. Below are some basic care guidelines.


Water your tree frequently soon after planting and during the first few years of growth. Twice a week will do during the first 6 months. Thereafter, you can water biweekly. Adequate water during the early growth phase will enable proper growth. Insufficient water will impact negatively on your tree. Root development is likely to be arrested and the tree may experience stunted growth.Once the tree is well-established, after 2-3 years, you can reduce watering. However, be sure to give water during periods of prolonged dry weather or when rainfall is unreliable.


Maintain a 3 inch layer of mulch around your servicebbery at all times. This will help to maintain moist soils. Not as much water will be lost through evaporation when you maintain a mulch cover. Mulch will also help to maintain soil temperatures within an ideal range. Organic material such as dried leaves or chopped wood is best to use as mulch. Place on top of the soil around the tree. Be sure to leave adequate space around the stems to enable proper breathing of the stem. It will also discourage rodents from coming to nestle in the mulch and feeding on the stem.


The serviceberry tree is a heavy feeder during the first couple of years. A good fertilizer will encourage healthy growth and facilitate proper establishment of roots and other plant parts. Apply a liquid fertilizer at the time of planting to boost healthy development. Thereafter, you can apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the early spring and summer. When the tree is older you can give it fertilizer once a year.


Serviceberries usually have multiple trunks and a dense branch network. It is best to prune it annually. Trim off some trunks and branches to encourage healthy growth. It will also help shape the tree, especially if you want growth to take a more vertical inclination. Cut off suckers as well. These usually emerge at the lower level of the trunk in the spring. Be sure to prune off plant parts that indicate signs of disease. If the branch ends are attacked by a disease known as witches broom, the stems will cluster together and resemble a broom. Sometimes, the leaves may be attacked by fungi. Trim off affected parts to encourage healthy growth.