Cherry among best flowering trees
Mississippi Gardens Newspaper and Web Column - March 31, 2003
Stunning, awesome, and beautiful are words that may be used to describe the hybrid Yoshino Cherry tree (Prunus x yedoensis) in full glory. The Yoshino cherry is a deciduous flowering tree so impressive that many rank it among the best of the spring flowering trees. In 1912, the Japanese government gave the U.S three thousand Yoshino cherry trees. To this day, the Washington D.C area is famous for cherry blossom season. This tree also inspires the annual cherry blossom festival in Macon Georgia.
The Yoshino Cherry is a native of Japan, Korea and China, yet will perform well in Mississippi landscapes. It often creates a real stir when blooms are as gorgeous and bountiful as they are this spring. The slightly fragrant, white to pink flowers for which the plant is so well known, typically appear in mid-March. The trees flower every year but may not always yield the same quantity of blooms. This relates to the amount of winter cold they receive.
Small spaces can be greatly enhanced with the addition of a Yoshino Cherry. That's because it's a relatively small flowering tree usually only reaching 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide at maturity. Because of its compact size it will easily fit into most residential landscapes. A friend of mine has four in his front yard and they make an outstanding display along with azaleas, camellias and other traditional southern plants.
The Yoshino is best planted in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. It has a rapid growth rate and typical life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. Borers and canker disease are potential pests, yet should not deter us from using them as landscape specimen. Pruning is limited to the removal of basal stem suckers or diseased wood in older trees.
Garden centers have Yoshino Cherry trees in various named types with somewhat differing characteristics. These may include ones like 'Akebono', which has double, soft pink flowers. 'Ivensii' has fragrant white flowers and a weeping growth habit. 'Pink Shell' is likely the most widely available variety. It has pink flowers that become white. 'Yoshino Pink' is another pink variety but blooms a little later than 'Pink Shell'. Other Yoshino's are available.
Shopping for flowering cherry trees may be a little confusing since the Yoshino cultivars are not the only flowering cherries in the market place. Other very good choices may be found that include the Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) with popular cultivars like 'Kwanzan', Shirofugen and 'Shirotae'. Higan Cherry trees (Prunus subhirtella var.pendula) are weeping types and are more cold, heat and stress tolerant than others in the cherry group. Any of these selections would be pleasing additions to Southern landscapes.
These archived columns were written by Kerry Johnson<, a hobby gardener, former weekly newspaper columnist and retired Extension Horticulture Agent for 11 coastal counties in Mississippi.