Plant Profile: Cherry Trees



Every garden needs at least one stunning specimen tree and nothing fills that qualification as well as an ornamental cherry tree.

Flowering cherry trees are hardy to zone 8. They want 3 hours of full sun between the hours of 11 and 5. In other words, afternoon, not morning, sun. They do fine in our clay soil, as long as it is amended with compost annually to lighten its structure. The flowering cherries are heavy feeders, so fertilize them regularly during the growing season with a product high in nitrogen.

Do not over-water them. Once established, the ornamental cherry is a fairly drought-tolerant plant.

They are a member of the Rose family, so they can be impacted by the Japanese beetle. Also, watch out for bagworms and tent caterpillars then remove them promptly.

Prune your trees to remove crossing or diseased branches and to allow free circulation of air. The best time to prune an ornamental cherry is between January and early March.

‘Kwanzan’ and ‘Yoshino’ cherry trees account for the majority of the flowering cherries in our region.

The ‘Kwanzan’ cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’) has double-pink flowers in such abundance that it gives the tree a cloud-like appearance. At maturity, it will be wider than it is tall.

The ‘Yoshino’ cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) is an upright tree with delicate single white or pale pink blossoms.

The ‘Okame’ Cherry (a hybrid of P. campanulata and P. incise) is another popular variety. It is one of the first cherry trees to bloom and does so in carmine-pink hues.

In my own garden is the ‘Weeping Higan’ cherry (P. subhirtella var. pendula). It is one of the last cherry trees to bloom and the wait is worth it. The soft-pink flowers hang down like multiple little parasols. I love the way they flutter in the wind.

Finally, you don’t want to miss the seasonal display of cherry trees in mass plantings. See our list of 17 top viewing spots in the Washington, DC region on our blog at WashingtonGardener.blogspot.com (http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2016/03/17-cherry-blossom-viewing-alternatives.html).

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly.

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