Cherry blossoms are among the best subjects suitable for landscaping. They are very dependable every year and they bring a refreshing feeling of happiness when one sees them in their full glory. There are many types available. About a dozen are most common, and there are plenty more if you care to look and search them out.
Good drainage is essential for their survival. If you do not have a slope or well drained site, then you can plant them high on a broad mound. They like a sunny open position. Initial training is appreciated to get the desired form later in more mature years as the canopy fills in. A good friable soil is fine but they will grow in sandy soils and heavier soils(provided you give them good drainage). They like regular water available during the growing season, but especially just after bloom time into mid-late summer, fall.
There are many sizes of trees to choose from. Weeping selections range from small diminutive trees to large, upright spreading trees of forest stature. Both species and varieties come in these sizes. They are very good for general garden planting and also fit well in public and commercial plantings. Singles give that quality of lightness and profusion, while the double varieites give a more opulent show of blooms.
Some species from which to choose:
Prunus campanulata flowers early in teh season and has the deepest red color of any cherry to be found in the horticultural trade. Bell shaped small flowers in clusters cover the tree of small to medium stature to perhaps 20 ft. The hybrid P. ‘Okame’ is more of a neon pink, again with single flowers in profusion and very early in bloom( perhaps Feb.) Upright growth on a small tree to perhaps 18+ ft. and upright rounded crown.
P. avium ‘plenum’ is the double flowered form of the sweet cherry. In bloom it is simply stunning! as the double white flowers resemble roses and the tree is vigorous to 30+ tall and wide. early midseason
P. incisa is a bushy small tree to perhaps10-15 ft. A great profusion of blossoms cover the tree and there are a few forms available. Oshidori is a double pink, slightly later blooming. Kojo no Mai is the only contorted cherry, with white single blooms and contorted stems. It only grows to perhaps 4-5 ft.
P. sargentii is known in Japan as ‘Oyama Zakura’ or Beni Yama Zakura’ and is a broad spreading tree with upright branching. Flowers are most often a nice pink and it blooms early. Polished bronze bark is an added feature and there is also good autumnal tints to the foliage as well. It can grow to 70 ft tall. P. ‘Accolade’ is a very beautiful hybrid with semi-double pink flowers in great profusion on a round headed tree to perhaps 30 ft.
P. serrulata spontanea (Yama Zakura in Japan) is the classic ‘cherry blossom’ of scolarly literature and poems in the history. Most often pure white single flowers in profusion displayed with red young leaves gives a superb effect in bloom and the tree can grow large to perhaps 45ft. It is a very variable species which can flower pink, branching can spread, be upright or weep.
P. subhirtella (P. pendula ascendens of Japanese botanists) (equinox, or spring cherry) flowers at the vernal equinox (mid March) with great profusion of small flowers which can vary from white to pink, and most often are blush pink. Tree size can be in excess of 50+ ft. This can live to a venerable age, 1,000 year old specimens are celebrated in Japan and they bloom very profusely. This species has given us a great many forms. The weeping cherries are varieties of this(single white and pinks(p. subhirtella pendula and pendula rosea respectively), as well as double weeping pink(P. subhirtella pendula plena rosea). There are other forms such as ‘Whitcombii’ with pink single flowers born on a horizontally branched tree to 30 ft. P. Snow Fountains is a white weeping hybrid form and small tree to perhaps 15 ft. with branches weeping to the ground.
P. x yedoensis is actually a hybrid and best known as Yoshino Cherry(Somei Yoshino). Here you find a gracefully branching tree with spreading and arching branches and very profuse blush to white blossoms. The majority of the flowering cherries around the Tidal Basin area of Washington DC are of this type. The variety ‘Akebono’ is larger in bloom but not a favorite with me as the floral shape seems a bit floppy compared to other cvs. There are also weeping forms of this. 20 – 40 ft is typical for this one. ‘Afterglow’ is a nice single pink selection.
The cultivated varieties offer a profusion of blooms in color from white to pinks and there is even a rare yellow cv.
Ama no Gawa is a fastigiate grower with semidouble blooms on flower stalks that are also upright. This cv. has a narrow profile and is scented of freesias. Growth to perhaps 12-15 ft. midseason to early midseason
Beni Hoshi is a faster grower with star like pink single flowers on a rounded canopy to perhaps 25 ft. early midseason
Kanzan(Kwanzan is an obsolete spelling) has great vigor and profuse magenta purplish pink double blossoms. Growth is upright and canopy of the tree forms an inverted cone shape. New leaves are reddish as they expand with the blooms. growth to as much as 35-40 ft. midseason- late midseason
Kiku Shidare is a weeping form with narrow foliage and very double deep pink ball shaped flowers. It is a small grower to perhaps 15 ft and is somewhat rare. early midseason
Pink Cloud is single and a nice pink on a tree to 25+ tall and similar spread. early
Royal Burgundy is deep magenta purplish pink. New growth is deep red/bronze and showy with the deep pink double blooms. Tree habit is upright and narrow. midseason.
Shirofugen is a light medium pink double blooming very late and with coppery bronze newly expanded foliage. This is a fairly rapid grower to perhaps 25 ft and the tree shape is flat topped. very late, often the last cherry to bloom
Shirotae (sometimes sold as Mt. Fuji) Here you will find semi-double white fragrant flowers on a horizontally growing tree. Canopy is flat topped and spreads to over 20-25 ft. Additionally, the leaves have deep serrations and look almost fringed. early midseason.
Shogetsu is a splendid variety blooming very late and with superb light pink flowers hanging on long stalks. This is a small growing tree, very profuse in bloom and flat topped canopy also having arching spreading branches to 15 ft. very late bloom
Snow Goose is white and profuse, rounded canopy to 20 ft+ and early midseason in bloom.
Tai Haku is the largest flowering cherry with pure white classic 5 petalled shaped blossoms 2 1/2+ across. Additionally the new leaves are copper when the blossoms open. Spreading tree to perhaps 30 ft+ . Quite fine and somewhat rare. Worth seeking out as it is superb. early midseason bloom.
Ukon is the only available yellow flowered cherry. Upright growth to 25+ ft. Blossoms are unique and semi-double also with bronzy new foliage. Flowers are tinged sulphur yellow to lime green. Takes a while to begin to show its real value. Excellent planted in close quarters to Royal Burgundy where the two trees can be viewed backlit with the sun for a stunning effect. midseason.