Flowering cherry trees are a popular ornamental tree which are known for their beauty and grown for their flowers rather than their fruit. However, even though the fruit is too small and tart for humans it is very popular with birds. Most of the varieties of this tree originated in Japan where they have held an important place in Japanese culture for hundreds of years. In fact the cherry blossom tree, which is known as sakura in Japan, is the country’s national flower. There is a custom called ‘hanami’ in Japan which means ‘flower viewing’ where people will gather to look at the flowering trees. Originally it was said to be a custom introduced by the Emperor and members of the Imperial Palace but has since become popular tradition in wider Japanese society. People will gather for a party or picnic under the trees when they are in full bloom.
What are the advantages and benefits of growing cherry blossom trees?
There are many reasons why flowering cherry trees remain so popular. One of the obvious attractions of these trees is the gorgeous blossom that it produces in the spring. Not only does the pink or white blossom look fantastic it also smells great as well with its hints of almond and freesia. The tree is not just attractive in spring, it looks incredibly attractive in the autumn as well with its red, gold and orange foliage. It also attracts wildlife as the fruit it produces is often ones that birds like to eat. Not only are these trees aesthetically pleasing they also come in a wide range of shapes and sizes meaning that you should be able to find at least one that fits in your garden. These trees are also pretty low maintenance and will not require much care once established.
What to look for when buying a cherry tree
There are three main things to consider when deciding which cherry tree is right for you. Firstly, you need to consider what size you want your tree to grow to. There are many different varieties ranging from small to tall so it is important to choose one that will fit comfortably in the area you want to grow it in. Secondly, the form of the tree needs to be considered. Again as there are such a wide range of trees there is also a wide range of forms that they take such as columnar, spreading or weeping. Finally the colour of the blossom is something that you may wish to consider. Flowering cherry trees are known for producing incredibly beautiful flowers and even though the blossom is generally white or pink the style of flower and the hue varies massively from tree to tree. So when considering which tree to buy make sure you consider form, blossom and size.
Are there different types of cherry blossoms?
The Flowering Cherry Blossom is part of the genus Prunus. This is a large group of about 430 species of tree including both fruting and ornamental. The many different types are native to different areas including Japan, China, US and even the UK. For more information about the different types of flowering cherry tree please click here.
How easy are they to grow?
Flowering cherries need very little aftercare once planted and established. They may need to be watered during prolonged dry periods in summer and in spring they should be feed with a general granular plant food. These trees are so low maintenance that they don’t need to be pruned unless it is absolutely essential. If the need for pruning arises it should be done when the tree is actively growing from May until August. Pruning helps to prevent and solve issues such as bacterial canker and silver leaf diseases.
Does it matter where I place my cherry blossom tree?
They are relatively low maintenance and therefore can tolerate a range of conditions. However they grow best if placed on an open and sunny site. The site should not be too exposed as strong winds can blow away the cherry blossom reducing the overall display of flowers. They are also able to grow in most soil types especially chalky and alkaline soils. The soil it is placed in though should be well-drained and contain organic matter to help the tree to thrive. For more information about how to plant your cherry tree click here.
Are there any disadvantages to growing them?
Flowering cherry trees can be susceptible to some diseases. However, if the correct steps are taken they can be treated for such problems. One of the problems they face is bacterial canker. This is a disease that infects both the stems and leaves of the tree and is one of the few important diseases caused by bacteria in the UK. In the spring and early summer areas of dead bark can develop on the stems and spurs of the tree. This is often accompanied with a gummy ooze. The branch will die rapidly if the infection is allowed to spread around it. The leaves of the tree are also affected. Small brown spots appear on the leaves which often fall out leaving holes. There is a way to mend this problem. All cankered areas need to be cut out. The tree should be pruned back to reveal healthy wood and should be promptly painted with wound paint to protect from reinfection. One other common problem that these trees face is silver leaf. This is a fungal disease caused by Chondrostereum purpureum. It infects through wounds that have mainly been caused by pruning. The leaves of the tree develop a silvery sheen which is later followed by the affected branches dying. On the branches themselves if you cut across one that has been affected you may see an irregular dark stain in the centre. On the older dead branches bracket shaped fungi appear. Again this issue can be treated. The affected branches should be removed as soon as is possible and disposed of immediately to stop fungal fruiting bodies from appearing.