There is not a more quintessential spring flowering tree to be found than the flowering cherry. This strong and beautiful collection of small to medium-sized, ornamental, flowering trees is special in so many ways—one being their generously long period of flowering.
The earliest cherry to flower in this area is the PHS Gold Medal version, Prunus ‘Okame’, which can start as early as mid-March. The Okame cherry is followed by the many cultivars of early flowering Japanese flowering cherries, followed by the famous Yoshino cherry, Prunus x yedoensis which lines the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC including hundreds of trees covered with an incredible abundance of white flowers.
In the Delaware Valley, the Yoshino blooms around April 10. Currently, we are experiencing “the last hoorah” of flowering cherries. “One of my favorites is probably the most ubiquitous flower cherry in our area, the ‘Kanzan’ cherry,” says Andrew Bunting, PHS Vice President, Public Horticulture. In full flower now, this cherry (pictured above), can reach 20-feet tall by 20-feet wide (and sometimes bigger) at maturity. “Every year in mid- to late-April, the Kanzan cherry is completely covered with double, multi-petaled flowers which have an incredible abundance of bubble-gum pink flowers. As the flowers mature and the petals fall to the ground, they cover sidewalks with confetti-like petals,” says Bunting. “It is something I look forward to every year.”
‘Royal Burgundy’ looks very similar to ‘Kanzan’, but also has burgundy leaves in the spring. The combination of the purple leaves with the strong pink flowers is very attractive. Flowering cherries are relatively fast-growing and bloom at a young age. They will benefit from selective pruning on an as-needed basis. “In the Philadelphia area, we can grow an incredible variety of flowering cherries that will grace our gardens from the middle of March to the end of April,” says Bunting.
- Andrew Bunting
Questions on flowering Cherry Trees? Visit AskPHS, our forum for your plant and gardening questions.