Ornamental Cherries Enliven Landscape With Spring Cheer

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Ornamental Cherries Enliven Landscape With Spring Cheer

While ornamental cherries in Wayne County have already begun their annual floral displays, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 26-April 10, 2011 in our nation’s capital. This is an annual two week event that showcases over 3,000 blooming cherry trees located predominately around the Tidal Basin by the Potomac River.

The blossoming cherry trees, which symbolize the arrival of spring, were given to the US by the people of Japan in 1912 as a gift of friendship. Most of the cherry trees at the festival are Yoshino and `Kwanzan’, both of which can be grown here in Wayne County.

  • Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis): This tree prefers moist, fast-draining soil. During periods of prolonged drought be sure to irrigate with 1 inch of water per week. Yoshino cherry trees prefer acidic soil, so it is important to have a soil test done prior to planting. These trees can grow 40-50 feet tall and wide rather quickly, however they are relatively short-lived (approximately 15 years). Pruning is rarely necessary except to remove dead or diseased wood, which can be done anytime of the year.  All other pruning should be done immediately following flowering in order to prevent the removal of flower buds.
  • `Kwanzan’ Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’): Besides Yoshino, `Kwanzan’ is the second most common cherry tree found at the Cherry Blossom Festival. It reaches 30-40 feet in height and width. The flowers are showy but unscented, and tend to bloom following Yoshino. It is important to keep these trees healthy with adequate irrigation (1-2 inches per week) and proper fertilizer applications. Always have a soil test done before applying fertilizer. This cultivar is not the best selection for coastal areas due to its sensitivity to drought.
  • `Okame’ Cherry (Prunus x incamp `Okame’): This quick growing hybrid reaches 20-30 feet in height and width. This tree has a rounded vase shape and blooms around the same time as Yoshino in early spring. `Okame’ is the most drought-tolerant of the three ornamental cherries discussed and is a good selection for coastal areas.

The best time of year to plant ornamental cherries is in the fall. The cool weather allows trees to get established before the stressful heat of the summer. It may be tempting to plant a cherry now while it is in bloom, but non-flowering trees are the best choice because they will establish more quickly.

Ornamental cherries need to be planted in a site that receives full sun or at least 6 hours of sunlight. It is important not to plant your trees too deep. Dig planting holes 2-3 times wider than the rootball and the same depth of the rootball. Be sure to backfill the planting hole with native soil, not compost or potting soil. Wait a year to fertilize, but water your newly planted trees an inch a week as needed.

It is always recommended that you add 2-3 inches of mulch to the soil around a tree. Mulch will help keep the soil moist and prevent mower and weed trimmer damage to these thin barked trees. With proper care and tree selection, expect to enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms each spring for at least 15-20 years.

  • Upcoming gardening events in Wayne County:
    The Wayne County Master Gardener Plant Clinic is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. and is located at the Cooperative Extension Center in Goldsboro at the corner of George and Chestnut Streets, Room 100. The telephone number to the clinic is (919) 731-1433.
    Spring Plant Sale: The Wayne County Master Gardener Volunteers will hold their Spring Plant Sale Saturday, April 16th from 9:00 a.m. till noon at the Wayne Center. There will be plants for sale along with a plant clinic booth. For more information call (919) 731-1525.

NCSU & NC A&T University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability.  In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Karen E. Blaedow
Extension Agent
Horticulture
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC  27533
E-Mail: Karen_Bussey@ncsu.edu
Phone: 919-731-1525
Fax: 919-731-1511
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/wayne

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