The Yoshino cherry tree is regarded as one of the most popular ornamental cherry trees in the world today. Known to be among the earliest cherry trees to bloom, it has a delicate pendulous habit that graces the landscape with fragrant flowers with a sweet almond scent. This amazing hybrid between Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella var. ascendens is a winner if you are looking for a medium-sized flowering tree for your landscape that is adaptable to many types of soil, can tolerate heat, and will stop visitors in their track with its beauty.
|Common Name||Yoshino Cherry|
|Botanical Name||Prunus × yedoensis|
|Plant Type||Flowering tree|
|Mature Size||30 ft. tall, 40 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Average, medium moisture, well-drained|
|Soil pH||6.5 to 7.0|
|Bloom Time||March to April|
|Flower Color||White to pink|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA 5-8|
Yoshino Cherry Tree Care
Yoshino cherry trees are somewhat high maintenance; you should know that before getting into what could be a very rewarding endeavor. There is a lot of work involved in caring for cherry trees, but it is worth it with something as beautiful as these trees. Where the work comes in will be in keeping your tree watered, making sure your tree is healthy and pest-free, and pruning it to keep it as aesthetically pleasing as possible for as long as possible.
A good start to helping you trim some of your maintenance is knowing exactly the right place to plant your tree and the conditions that will make that spot the proverbial "Goldilocks" zone. Do not let a little bit of effort keep you from adding this stunning specimen to your landscape design. Take your time and read the information below, and know that trees are forgiving.
To create the most beautiful spring display your Yoshino cherry will demand two things that are non-negotiable: plenty of light and constant moisture. Giving your tree at least six hours of full sunlight daily will not only ensure your tree stays healthy and thrives it will guarantee the best shot at providing plenty of gorgeous blooms come the spring.
Surprisingly, Prunus × yedoensis is very adaptable to various soil conditions as long as the soil is moist and can retain some moisture without staying wet. The overall perfect soil condition would be an average soil that is well-draining with a pH of around 6.5 to 7; you can perform a soil test at home yourself. To help your soil retain more moisture, consider adding mulch around the base of your tree out to the dripline. It should be placed at a depth of no more than three inches but not allowed to touch the trunk. Using a good organic hardwood mulch will keep it from degrading quickly and eliminate the need to mulch often.
Keeping your tree well irrigated is vital to its health and beauty. The Yoshino cherry is fast growing and will need a good amount of water.
If it is young, it needs to establish itself, so watering it weekly during regular weather, or twice weekly during especially dry weather, during the first two seasons after planting should be at the top of your list of gardening chores.
After the first two seasons, water your tree every two weeks until the ground is soaked underneath using a soaker hose (you can DIY one if you don't have one). The "normal" rate of watering is ten gallons per inch of trunk diameter measured by caliper. Water the roots, not the leaves. If there are drought conditions, water the tree weekly, in the same manner, remembering long soakings are better than more frequent quick waterings.
Temperature and Humidity
This exact cherry hybrid is so popular because it can tolerate warm weather. It is no surprise that the United States National Park Service states that 73 percent of all the cherry trees in the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. consist of Yoshino cherries or its cultivars. It is one of the few cherry trees that can handle the heat and humidity that comes with the locale. While it can handle heat and humidity well, it cannot handle drought, and extra irrigation needs to be planned for during these conditions.
Prunus × yedoensis is not a tree that is a large feeder despite your intuition to feed it more to produce more blooms. Before applying any fertilizer test your soil for any deficiencies and see if an application is even needed. If applying fertilizer you are most likely to produce more foliage than fruit or flowers, which is exactly what you do not want.
Types of Yoshino Cherry Trees
There are dozens of cultivars of Yoshino cherry trees and numerous varieties. When you consider the varieties and cultivars of its parent plants, the number of cultivars and varieties climbs into the hundreds. You would look for a cultivar of this hybrid because of form or color or flower arrangement. Quite often, the number of flowers in a cluster can differ from cultivar to cultivar, changing the tree’s entire look. Of course, this goes for form and color as well. Depending on the cultivar, you can have blossoms ranging from delicate pink to a light pink that fades to white as the season progresses. Below are four of the most popular Yoshino cherry cultivars:
- Prunus x yedoensis ‘Akebono’ is a cultivar with a round crown with pink flowers that fade to white.
- Prunus x yedoensis ‘Afterglow’ is a cultivar gaining popularity with deep pink blossoms that do not fade.
- Prunus x yedoensis ‘Shidare Yoshino’ is a cultivar with a weeping form and white flowers.
- Prunus x yedoensis ‘Morioka-pendula’ is a cultivar with a severely weeping form that is fast growing.
Pruning your cherry tree is done to establish the form. Do not thin the branches to maximize light penetration. The bark on ornamentals is very sensitive and can be easily sunburned. Additionally, pruning so there is direct light on the trunk encourages sprout growth, which is unattractive and difficult to control once it has begun.
Depending on the cultivar, you may need to trim the bottom of the weeping branches or thin out suckers to tidy up the appearance around the trunk. Annually inspect branches for weak, dead, damaged, or dying branches and remove them before the spring. As your tree outgrows your ability to perform these tasks without a ladder safely, you should call in the services of a certified arborist to assist.
There are three methods of propagating a Yoshino cherry: grafting, air layering, and softwood cuttings. Grafting requires the purchase of rootstock, and softwood cuttings require selecting a cutting at precisely the right time, or the rooting will fail as cherry cuttings will not root on hardwood cuttings. For these reasons, air layering is your best option because it is the easiest, and once you have rooted plant material, you will be able to plant your tree and soon thereafter have a mature clone of the parent tree.
To air layer, you do not need many tools or materials. You will need plastic wrap, grafting tape, a sharp knife such as a grafting knife, and a handful of sphagnum moss. To air layer, you will:
- Make two parallel cuts around a branch at least 3/8 inch thick 2 inches apart and remove the bark from the branch down to the cambium; this will interrupt your eventual cutting from receiving nutrients or water.
- Wet sphagnum moss and wrap it around the bare wood and cover it with the plastic wrap, completely taping the ends as not to allow any water to enter or escape.
- Examine the wrapped area occasionally for signs that roots are developing and wait for a rootball to establish. Once established, remove the plastic, cut your new tree below the root ball, and plant immediately.
How to Get Your Tree to Bloom
There are many reasons a flowering tree does not flower. First off, do not go to the old stand-by and fertilize! The very fertilizer you are adding to try to coax out some blooms may be making them shy and causing more nutrients to be sent to the foliage and less to the flowers.
Now that you hopefully put the fertilizer away, and take a look at some other (more likely) causes.
- When did you plant the tree? If you planted your tree recently, your tree might be too young to flower. It takes a mature tree to flower. Remember, the flowers are the reproductive system of the tree.
- When was the last frost? If there were buds on the tree when the frost hit, it might have killed them off this year.
- Is your tree getting enough sun/water? These are the two things that Yoshino cherry trees need to bloom and look their best. If you are getting some blooms but not a lot, this is likely the reason.
- Finally, test your soil. If you ruled the three more likely culprits out, check your soil and see if you have any deficiencies.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
One of the ongoing tasks you will need to perform is constant inspections on your tree for insects and disease as the Yoshino cherry is very prone to be bothered by both. While the insects will usually not cause too many serious issues, keeping a watchful eye is a good idea once you find a pest has moved in. Your trees will most likely be visited by aphids, scale, borers, caterpillars, and Japanese beetles.
The diseases that can infect your tree are more worrying, but catching any early signs is the best way to deal with an issue. Most common on the Yoshino cherry is leaf spot and leaf curl. You can treat leaf spot with a fungicide, leaf curl needs to be pruned out, and the infected plant material burned.
Cherry Blossoms. National Parks Service.