Flowering cherry trees, also known as ornamental cherry trees, will decorate your lawn with bursts of beautiful flowers. These cherry trees don’t produce edible fruit, but they do provide tons of ornate pink, purple, and white blooms. Flowering cherry trees commonly to grow about 24 inches per year, but in some cases up to 36 inches per year.
Choosing a location: They grow best in moist, well-drained, acidic soil (around 6.5 to 7.0 pH) in a spot that receives full to partial sun. For the best results use a soil testing kit before planting to be sure your soil isn’t too acidic or alkaline. The best time to plant the cherry tree is in the spring after the last frost, or in the fall about six weeks before the first frost.
1) Choose a location that will receive full sun or light shade and well draining soil.
2) Dig your hole just as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Leave a small mound of dirt in the center of the hole to set the root ball on and carefully spread the roots in the hole. You’ll want to keep the “crown” (tip of the root ball) of the tree roughly an inch above the surrounding soil level. If it doesn’t reach that point just add a bit more dirt to the mound underneath.
3) Backfill your hole roughly about two-thirds of the way full. Water the tree and fill the rest of the planting hole with soil. Do not cover the crown with the soil; only fill to the point the roots were covered in the original container from the nursery.
4) Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the root area of the tree in a 3 foot radius around the base of your tree. Keep the mulch at least 8 inches from the trunk.
Watering: Water the tree to a depth of 12 inches (roughly 7 1/2 gallons) when the top 2 inches of soil dries (a slow trickle with a garden hose for about 30 minutes is recommended so the water doesn’t bead away from the intended watering area). This could be about twice a week in the summer, or every three weeks in the fall. Watering depends on several factors such as the soil type, rainfall amounts and temperature so making sure the top 2 inches of soil is dry is the best way to determine if watering is needed.
Pruning: Pruning the flowering cherry is necessary to maintain a healthy, vigorous tree. Removal of the current year’s old, faded flowers and fruit clusters will promote flower buds for the following season. Prune the cherry tree during the dormant period to remove dead, damaged or diseased branches. Cut small branches less than 3/4 inch in diameter with pruning shears. Use a pruning saw for larger branches. Remove branches just outside the branch collar.
*Tip: Sterilize your pruning tools with a basic household rubbing alcohol to ensure a healthy cut during pruning.
Fertilizing: Flowering cherry trees do not require fertilizer for the first two years providing you keep weeds in check and the soil is healthy. Heavy mulch around the base of the tree protects and nurtures the soil, while keeping the roots moist and cool. When it does come time, fertilize the tree with nitrogen. Apply 1/10 pound of actual nitrogen per year for each year of the tree’s age, with a maximum of 1 pound per year. Apply it once in the spring, or spread the nitrogen amount into 2-4 equal applications over the spring and summer.
Cherry blossom trees are a very special category of trees and true harbingers of spring. Every year major publications write articles and publish pictures about the spectacular show these trees exhibit in Washington D.C. In Japan, the cherry blossom is more than just a beautiful flowering tree. There are thousands upon thousands of cherry blossom trees in Japan, and each year the Japanese people closely anticipate and follow the blossoming of the trees. When the trees are in bloom, people come in large groups with their families and friends to view the flowers and to enjoy festivals with food, drink and music. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life.