Few sights are as eye-catching as the bright pink tufts of cherry trees that burst into color each spring. They’re practically synonymous with springtime in Washington, D.C., gracing sidewalks, streets and lawns with their signature blossoms.
The Kwanzan cherry tree, commonly known as the Japanese flowering cherry tree, is a native of China, Japan and Korea, but grows just as well here in New Jersey. The Kwanzan is a sterile variety, which means it doesn’t produce any fruit. That’s good news for anyone who wants all of the beauty with none of the juicy mess.
In this Spotlight series, we explore plants that bring exceptional seasonal interest, and this gem certainly fits the bill. It’s versatile enough to go from lawn to planter, and can even be cultivated as a bonsai. While there are plenty of blooms that signal spring, from forsythia to springtime bulbs like daffodil, tulip and hyacinth, the cherry tree is so iconic that no garden view should be without one.
A Rose By Any Other Name…
Did you know that Kwanzan cherry trees, as well as other types of cherry trees, are part of the rose family? With their silky petals and romantic aura, it’s no wonder that both of these beauties are symbols of love and passion.
These ornamental trees may not be native to North America, but they’re adaptable and versatile enough to grow right here in our New Jersey yards, across much of the northeast, throughout the mid- to southwest, and along just about all of the west coast.
The Kwanzan is considered the most ornamental of the cherry trees, with deep pink double blossoms that grow in clusters of 2-5. These delicate, show-stopping blooms emerge sometime from late March to late April, gracing us with their canopy of cheer for as long as two weeks.
They grow between 15 and 25 feet tall, and just as wide! Their incredible profusion of springtime flowers will delight you when placed near patios, along walkways, or simply in view of a kitchen or living room window. These springtime favorites are perfectly suitable for small spaces, including pots and other containers.
In the world of trees, the Kwanzan cherry has a relatively short lifespan – about 15 to 25 years – so don’t worry if yours starts to fade. They’re fast-growing, which means you can bring in a new tree any time and quickly enjoy its full glory.
Care & Maintenance
Kwanzan cherry trees love light. They’ll need full sun to thrive, which means at least six hours of direct sun each day. While they aren’t particular about the type of soil – they can grow as well in acidic or alkaline soil, loamy, clay-like, or sandy soil – they do prefer a well-drained environment.
They’re fairly low maintenance, but not especially drought tolerant. Proper watering is probably the most important thing you can do to sustain your trees, so take the time to do it right and you’ll be rewarded with their sparkling blooms each spring.
Adding a layer of mulch to the base of the trunk can help retain moisture. On very hot, dry, summer days you may need to water them once or twice a day. Thirty minutes with a slow trickle from a garden hose should do the trick.
These trees need little pruning. Remove dead, damaged or diseased branches immediately, and cut back any overly large branches that grow out of proportion to the rest of the tree. Never prune until after the flowers have fallen! And if you choose, you can artfully cut back branches during the tree’s dormant winter season to control and shape its growth. Otherwise, you can let Mother Nature take over and she won’t disappoint.
Why We Love It
The gorgeous pink of this showy tree is enough to make us swoon with delight. But Kwanzan cherries are more than just their blooms.
As the flowers begin to fall, they’ll carpet your lawn or driveway with their sweetly fragile petals, giving them a whole new visual appeal. And since they don’t bear fruit, cleanup is easy.
Their leaves are a beautiful bright green during summer, and will thrill you with a spectacular show of orange, yellow and copper during fall. As a four-season planting, this tree is a win all around.
Even though it’s not native to our area, it is one of the easiest and hardiest flowering trees to grow.
If you simply can’t get enough of the stunning pink, you can cut branches to bring indoors and display them in vases in every corner of your home. Choose small branches where the flowers have not yet fully opened, and cut them with a sharp pruner where they meet a larger branch. Place them into water immediately. The blossoms will only survive a few days before dropping, so be sure to appreciate them thoroughly while they last!
Springtime would simply not be complete without the unmistakable sight of these exquisite trees. From cherry blossom festivals to watercolor paintings of the lovely pink blooms, cherry trees have taken a central place in our hearts and our culture.
If you imagine daydreaming beneath the shade of a cherry tree and enjoying the color and personality they bring to any landscape, get in touch with us for a consultation so we can design these beauties into your space.