IMG_7328.JPGPrunus ssp | Flowering Cherry Blossom Trees

Perhaps the differences don’t matter to you, but if you do want to compare and contrast, this list may help you choose the right one for you. Maybe you should try a few. Please note that many well known shrubs and trees belong in the species Prunus; all fall into four basic catagories: 1. Apricots and Peaches, 2. Plums, 3. Laurels, and 4. Cherries. Many will be covered in other posts to plantid. Check out the plant index for more.

Famous beauty and especially loved in the DC area because of their glorious spring time display on the National Mall. Experts and others annually bet on what will be the peak date. Nuf said. Alone or in mass, Cherry Blossoms are undeniably happy. They bring a great focus to any garden. Yes, the bloom time is brief, but I’m not alone in my admiration for their fabulous bark, which is often peppered with decorative lines and lenticels. Sun lovers, they can take part day shade if you’re desperate to have one, but pick your sunniest spot. They grow quickly with knarled and crooked branches that add character and give any garden the Secret Garden appeal.

Learning to prune these guys is skill you would wisely come by. It is especially important to identify the leader(s) and other main branches before they get too large to prune easily, sometime around the 3rd or 4rth season, otherwise you may pay experts to do it (which is also fine). Be careful to prune out branches that touch. Prune only about 10% per year, so you don’t cause unnecessary water sprouts. Benefits from pruning are that you end up with a much stronger, sturdy and full blossoming tree. It will be more compact and kids can climb it. Some Cherries have more pests than others, but none produce the horrible problems of Malus (Crabapple) or Pyrus calleryana (Flowering Pear).

IMG_7342.JPG IMG_7343.JPG
[bad graft above left | great graft above right]
Purchase B&B as 2″ to 5″ caliper, each 2 inches larger will cost 1.25 times more. Look for clean, unnoticeable grafts at base of tree or just below folliage. A bad graft looks exponentially ugly as it grows and can be a weak spot that allows decay and disease.

ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 5 – 8 | full sun to light shade, Deciduous
GROWTH RATE ….. medium to fast
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. simple, alternate
LEAF SHAPE & FORM ….. all Flowering Cherry Trees have spear, the only difference is how wide and general size. They also all seem to have some degree of serration.


IMG_7129.JPGPrunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’ | Cherry Plum [above] species has regular green leaves but the cultivar has wonderful dark maroon leaves. Best shows up in a sunny spots on an open lawn, too dark to tuck in, unless color contrast can be highlighted, maybe for example next to a weeping willow or even lilacs
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-30′/20′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. More dense than other cherries, rounded, many horizontal and ascending branches
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 1.5″-2.5″/1″ roundly eliptical with a point
FLOWERS | .75″ single, light pink before leaves, loudly fragrant, early April
FRUIT | red edible drupe, 1″ each in July and August
NATIVE HABITAT Western Asia, not as hardy as others | SOIL adaptable, ok in tough site except for polution
more pics from dogwood*design on Flickr

Prunus sargentii | Sargent Cherry or sometimes Black Cherry [above] valued for it’s wood, nice in the wild. I would choose others for my garden over this, but there are some cultivars available. It’s too large for most residential use anyway. ‘Columnaris’ might be worth checking out.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 50′ but under cultivation 30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, rounded; many horizontal and ascending branches
BARK | distinctive many ringed, somewhat attractive, polished gray brown
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 3″-5″ rounded, nice fall color
FLOWERS | single pink, late April-May
FRUIT | purple black drupe, June July
NATIVE HABITAT SOIL adaptable, grows in wild

Prunus serotina | Wild Black Cherry [above] pioneer species, naturalized, troublesome pest. You would never see this for sale but you will see it ALL the time in the wild. If you do, it’s good to get rid of it, because when the branches break a chemical change happens that makes the wood poisonous to eat for us, but is especially a problem for wildlife and cows.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. up to 50′, but most often shrubby, succoring, but sometimes a tree
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Loose, open, succoring, slightly pendulous especiall when large
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2″-5″/ 1.5″ narrow or rounded, acute point
FLOWERS | 4″ to 6″ racimes, white, May to April
FRUIT | red in Aug turning black in Sept, can be used to make wine and jelly (yuck)
NATIVE HABITAT SOIL does well in ANY, very tough

IMG_7042.JPG Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ | Kwanzan Cherry [above and right] frilly and undeniably girly, bloom time reminds me of bustling petticoats. Yes, it is pretty and has very attractive bark, many people LOVE them. It’s a personal choice. They can be very messy when the blooms drop, but mounds of pink snow is kind of fun. Sometimes can look too perfect. Proper pruning can help with the fairly frequent breaking branches. They are short lived for cherries, usually, because they are one of the most difficult to take care of. Pretty hardy.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′/30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, wider “Y” shape than Yoshino
BARK | distinctive orangey wine colored, big lenticels, shiney
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2″-5″/half width, uniform, very pretty reddish new growth and decent fall color
FLOWERS | triple deep pink, abundant, mid-April after Yoshino and others
FRUIT | insignificant


Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ and ‘Autumnalis’ | Weeping, Spring, Higan or Rosebud Cherry [above 2 and right] One of my favorites, very similar to Yoshino (Yedoensis), except folliage can be more weeping. Tops often (always?) grafted onto nicer bark trunks. Be careful to look for a good graft when purchasing. The weeping branches are truely fantastical.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-40′/15′-30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Open, weeping, graceful, strongly single stemmed because of grafting
BARK | can be any attractive cherry depending on the producer, but often shiny
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 1″-4″/half width, uniform, sometimes very narrow, acute and willowy. ‘Autumnalis’ has orangey reddish folliage
FLOWERS | single and double, light to dark pink, depending on cultivar, March to April
FRUIT | red adds extra seasonal interest
NATIVE HABITAT Asia | among the most heat, cold and pollution tollerant – could be a good street tree

Prunus x yedoensis | Yoshino Cherry [above] My ABSOLUTE favorite Cherry and a top 10 tree of a times. Not that you care but I have one in my own garden. Looks very natural in any setting but especially in a woodland garden. The single blooms are are soft and each subtle, light as air, but fill your view when the tree is at peak. Accept for pruning, they are ususally pretty easy-going. Go for it, get one today.
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 20′-40′/15′-30′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Vase shaped, narrower than Kwanzan, opens to semi-weeping with age, graceful, branches compeat to be the leader
BARK | wonderful medium warm gray, with characteristic showy cherry lenticils, but not as “pushy” as Kwanzan
LEAF SIZE & COLOR ….. 2.5″-4.5″/half width, uniform, sometimes very narrow, acute and willowy.
FLOWERS | single soft pink turning white, first to bloom, blooms when nothing else is
FRUIT | insignificant little green balls
NATIVE HABITAT ….. Asia, Japan | pretty adaptable

Prunus x ‘Mume’ | Japanese Apricot

Prunus ‘Okame’ | Okame Cherry Blossom

dogwood*design Prunus set on Flickr