Did You Eat Your Flowers Today?

While the briefness of their glory needs to be recognized, cherries actually are the hardy spring-flowering trees for warm climate gardens. I can consider nothing else, in addition to their close Prunus loved ones and also some of the magnolias that even resemble measuring up to flowering cherries for large weight of blossom and vibrance of colour.

The category Prunus, to which the cherries, plums, almonds, apricots as well as peaches belong, consists of around 430 varieties topped much of the northern temperate areas and has a toehold in South America. Although consisting of a couple of evergreen species, such as the well-known cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), the genus is mostly deciduous as well as usually hardy to the frosts likely to happen in a lot of New Zealand gardens.

The genus Prunus is extensively acknowledged as being split into 5 or 6 subgenera, though some botanists like to acknowledge these as unique genera. The subgenus cerasus is the one to which the cherries belong. This team consists of a wide range of types, a number of which are not highly ornamental. The types which are of a lot of interest to gardeners are the Chinese and also Japanese cherries, not only since they often tend to be one of the most attractive, but additionally since they often tend to be fairly compact, frequently have appealing autumn foliage along with spring blossoms as well as because centuries of development in oriental gardens have created many attractive cultivars.

The Japanese acknowledge two major groups of flowering cherries: the hill cherries or yamazakura and also the holy place or yard cherries, the satozakura. The mountain cherries, which have a tendency to have straightforward blossoms, are largely originated from the original Mountain Cherry (Prunus serrulata var. spontanea), Prunus subhirtella and also Prunus incisa. They are generally grown for their early-blooming routine, which is equally as well due to the fact that their instead delicate display screen would certainly be overwhelmed by the flamboyance of the yard cherries.

The garden cherries are the result of much hybridisation, mainly unrecorded, so we can’t be precisely sure of their beginnings. Prunus serrulata (in its lowland kind) as well as Prunus subhirtella additionally feature mostly in their background. The other major influences are Prunus sargentii, Prunus speciosa, Prunus apetala and also possibly the prevalent Bird Cherries (Prunus avium as well as Prunus padus). The outcome of these old crossbreeds and also contemporary advancements is the wealth of types that rupture into flower in our yards every spring.

Regretfully, that complex parentage and those centuries of advancement and also numerous cultivars combined with Western misconceptions of Japanese names as well as multiple intros of the exact same plants under different names has actually led to substantial confusion with the names of blooming cherries.

The majority of the preferred garden plants are lumped together under 3 basic headings:

1. Prunus subhirtella cultivars and hybrids;

2. Sato-zakura crossbreeds;

3. Crossbreeds no more detailed under parent types, being instead regarded as simply to difficult to classify in that way.

Yet however you see them, flowering cherries have a lot to provide that a little complication over identifying and also identification should not stand in the way of your including them in your garden. And since most of them are available as container-grown plants that can be gotten in flower, it’s truly simply an issue of choosing the flowers you such as.

Nonetheless, it behaves to know exactly which plant you’re dealing with, so that you can be sure of its performance as well as size. While a lot of the bigger nurseries and also yard centres make sure to supply plants that cling type, make sure on first flowering that your cherries match their label summaries. Misidentification, or maybe misstatement, prevails.


Prunus subhirtella cultivars as well as crossbreeds

Although the blossoms of Prunus subhirtella are generally small and rather simple, they appear from very early winter months well into springtime, depending upon the cultivar. Not only that, the cultivars themselves are long-flowering, frequently being in flower for 3 weeks to a month. There are numerous cultivars, however a lot of are similar to, or types of both major types listed here.

‘ Autumnalis’ (‘ Jugatsu Sakura’).

This is the most trustworthy winter-flowering kind. It usually starts to grow in late April to very early May as well as can lug flowers throughout until mid September. It rarely generates a substantial burst of bloom, instead erratic clusters of flowers. This is equally as well because the blossoms are harmed by hefty frosts. The flowers of ‘Autumnalis’ are white to pale pink opening from pink buds; those of ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ are the same yet with a deep pink centre.

‘ Pendula’ (‘ Ito Sakura’).

Prunus autumnalis often tends to have weeping branches as well as ‘Pendula’ is a cultivar that stresses this function. Its flowers are usually light pink and also open in late wintertime to very early spring. ‘Dropping Snow’ is a cultivar with pure white flowers, while those of ‘Rosea’ are deep pink.

Sato-zakura crossbreeds.

‘ Fugenzo’ (‘ Shirofugen’ ).

‘ Fugenzo’ was one of the very first, if not the first, Japanese cherry to be expanded in European gardens. It’s origins can be mapped back to at least the 15th century. Its blossoms are white to very pale pink, opening up from pink buds, as well as when completely open just how 2 noticeable eco-friendly leaf-like pistils in the centre of the blossom.

‘ Taihaku’.

‘ Taihaku’, likewise known as the terrific white cherry, has white blossoms approximately 5cm across. It expands to at least 8m high with a wider spread and also its blossoms open at the same time as its bronze foliage broadens, making a pleasant contrast. Idea to have been shed to growing, this cultivar was recognized in Sussex yard from an old Japanese print.

‘ Ukon’.

Although ‘Ukon’ imply yellowish, this cultivar has extremely unique light environment-friendly blossoms and also is among minority distinct cherries. Its foliage establishes purplish tones in fall. The uncommon blossom colour contrasts well with the similarity ‘Sekiyama’.

‘ Amanogawa’ (‘ Erecta’).

‘ Amanogawa’ expands to around 6m tall, yet only about 1.5 m broad, as well as has light pink single blossoms with a freesia-like aroma. It flowers in mid-spring and also in fall the foliage develops striking yellow as well as red tones.

‘ Shogetsu’ (‘ Shugetsu’, ‘Shimidsu-zakura’).

‘ Shogetsu’ flowers late as well as creates pendant collections of white, double flowers that open from pink buds. The blossom clusters depend on 15cm long, which makes a tree in full bloom a detaining view, specifically taking into consideration that ‘Shogetsu’ is not a large tree which its crying behavior implies it can be covered in bloom right down to the ground.

‘ Sekiyama’ (‘ Kanzan’).

Definitely among the most popular cherries and also most often marketed under the name ‘Kanzan’, ‘Sekiyama’ has a reasonably narrow, upright growth behavior when young but ultimately turns into a dispersing 12m tall tree. Its flowers, which are pink and also extremely totally dual, are lugged in pendulous clusters of 5 flowers. They open up from reddish-pink buds. The vegetation has a small red color.

‘ Ariake’ (‘ Dawn’, ‘Candida albicans’).

This cultivar grows to concerning 6m tall and blossoms in springtime as the foliage creates. The young leaves are a deep bronze color that contrasts well with white to extremely pale pink flowers.

‘ Kiku-shidare’ (‘ Shidare Sakura’).

‘ Kiku-shidare’ is similar in flower to ‘Sekiyama’, but it has a crying development habit. It is a little tree and also is commonly surrounded in bloom from the upper branches down to near ground level. The flowers can each have up to 50 flowers.

‘ Pink Perfection’.

‘ Pink Perfection’ was introduced in 1935 by the famous English baby room Waterer Sons and also Crisp. It is a probable ‘Sekiyama’ × ‘Shogetsu’ crossbreed and also has blossoms that reveal features of both parents; the gathered blooms of ‘Shogetsu’ as well as the pink of ‘Sekiyama’. The blossoms are extremely fully dual as well as the young vegetation is coppery.

‘ Kofugen’.

‘ Kofugen’ has stylish semi-weeping branches and also a rather portable growth habit. Its blossoms are not truly single but semi-double, though both twirls of flowers are flat instead of ruffled, so the effect is not that easy to see.

‘ Shirotae’ (‘ Mt. Fuji’).

This attractive tree has a spreading development habit that in the very best samplings reveals clearly tiered branches. Its blossoms, which are white and semi-double on fully grown plants, start to open before the vegetation broadens. They are happily scented.

‘ Takasago’.

Although potentially a Prunus × sieboldii cultivar, ‘Takasago’ is now much more commonly provided under the satozakura cherries. It births collections of semi-double pink blossoms with bronze-red new foliage.

‘ Ojochin’ (‘ Senriko’).

This tree, instead squat when young, however eventually 7m high bears single white flowers in such profusion as to give the impact of dual blossoms. Opening up from pink buds, the blossoms are up to 5cm in size and among the later to bloom. ‘Ojochin’ indicates big light, which aptly describes the form of the flowers.

Other crossbreeds, varieties and also their cultivars.

‘ Honor’.

Among one of the most prominent of all yard cherries, ‘Accolade’ is a Prunus sargentii × Prunus subhirtella hybrid that turns into a flat-topped little tree. In springtime it is surrounded in swinging collections of huge, intense pink, semi-double flowers.

Yoshino cherry (Prunus × yedoensis).

Popular as an avenue tree, this Prunus subhirtella × Prunus speciosa crossbreed is surrounded in white to very light pink blooms in spring before or as the brand-new fallen leaves create. When the blossoms are spent they develop drifts of fallen flowers around the base of the tree. There are numerous cultivars, such as the pink-flowered ‘Akebono’, the light pink ‘Awanui’ and also a weeping form (‘ Shidare Yoshino’ or ‘Pendula’).

Taiwan cherry (Prunus campanulata).

The Taiwan cherry is valued for its early-flowering routine and also fiery fall foliage. The flowers, which are typically a brilliant deep pink, are hefty with nectar and very popular with birds. Taiwan cherry is instead frost tender, though once established it grows well in the majority of coastal areas.

‘ Okame’.

Presented in 1947 by the British authority Collingwood Ingram, ‘Okame’ is a hybrid between the Taiwan cherry as well as the Fuji cherry (Prunus incisa). It is typically fairly durable, though this appears to be variable, as well as it blossoms heavily in very early springtime. The flowers open in late winter to early springtime before the vegetation develops as well as are an intense soft pink. ‘Pink Cloud’ is a similar though more small cherry increased by Felix Court.

Himalayan hillside cherry (Prunus cerasoides).

This species is rather frost tender, particularly when young, yet is a lovely tree where it expands well. Not just does it create pink blossoms in winter season, when little else remains in blossom, it has appealing grouped bark and the uncommon behavior of shedding its vegetation in late summer then generating new leaves before wintertime. The variety rubea has deeper pink flowers in spring.

Cyclamen cherry (Prunus cyclamina).

Blooming on bare stems in early springtime, the cyclamen cherry is a hardy tiny to medium-sized tree from main China. The flowers, which are rose pink, are complied with by bronze brand-new growth that retains its colour for some weeks before greening. The leaves drop late in fall as well as often colour well.

Sargent’s cherry (Prunus sargentii).

This huge and really sturdy Japanese species is possibly best called one of the moms and dads of the preferred hybrid ‘Distinction’. It can expand to as high as 18m high and will endure a minimum of -25 ° C. Its 3 to 4cm vast, bright pink flowers are complemented by red-brown bark.

Kurile cherry (Prunus nipponica var. kurilensis).

Generally little bit greater than a large shrub, this Japanese cherry can get to 6m high under excellent problems. The blossoms, which are soft pink and also open from very early springtime, are backed by red sepals that hang on for a while after the flowers have fallen, thus lengthening the springtime colour.

Prunus × sieboldii.

This hybrid has generated a number of preferred cultivars. The original cross is a slow-growing small tree with semi-double 3 to 4.5 cm wide flowers in springtime. The brand-new stems are typically very glossy.


Flowering cherries are largely undemanding plants that thrive in almost any well-drained soil. For the best display of flowers they need to see at least half-day sun and if sheltered from the wind, the blooms and the autumn foliage will last far longer than if exposed to the full blast of the elements.

Cherries are often seen growing as lawn specimens, but they can be planted in shrubberies, borders or small groves. By choosing a selection that flowers in succession, it’s possible to have bloom from mid-winter to early summer.

Cherries are natural companions for azaleas and rhododendrons, and can be used to beautiful effect as shade trees for the smaller varieties of these or to shelter a collection of woodland perennials such as primroses and hostas. Japanese maples also blend well with cherries and they can combine to make a brilliant display of autumn foliage.


Flowering cherries seldom need major pruning once established. Young trees can be lightly trimmed to develop a pleasing shape and mature plant may be kept compact by tipping the branches, otherwise just remove any vigorous water shoots and suckers that sprout from the rootstock. Make sure that any pruning is done in summer to prevent infecting the trees with silver leaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum). Although this disease is present throughout the year, cherries are most resistant to it in summer.

Pests and diseases.

Apart florarie from the already mentioned silver leaf, there isn’t really very much that goes wrong with flowering cherries that can’t be tolerated. Sawfly larvae (peach or pear slug) sometimes cause damage to the foliage, and older plants sometimes suffer from dieback in their older branches, but these are seldom serious problems. The dieback is sometimes the result of Armillaria, so it may be advisable to insert some of the now readily available Trichoderma dowels into the trunks of any older cherries to prevent the problem developing.


Virtually all of the fancier flowering cherries sold for garden use are budded or grafted, usually onto Prunus avium stocks. Although few home gardeners attempt them, these processes are not difficult. Budding especially, is straightforward and is carried out in exactly the same way as budding roses.

Species, including the standard Prunus avium stock, can be raised from seed or from softwood cuttings taken in spring or early summer. The seed should be removed from the fruit by soaking for few days until all the flesh has fallen away. It is usually best to simulate winter conditions by chilling the seed for a few weeks before sowing.

Graft height.

When buying flowering cherries you may be faced with a choice of graft height. Which you choose largely depends on the cultivar and the type of growth best suited to your garden. With weeping cherries choose the highest graft possible (usually 8ft [2.4 m], to allow the maximum length of flowering branch. Upright cultivars like ‘Sekiyama’ are best grafted near ground level so that their erect habit has a chance to develop properly, while graft height in not that important with bushier trees.