Prunus- Cherry

Deciduous and evergreen shrubs, mostly flowering in spring; very important in ornamental gardens. The Prunus genus embraces the Japanese flowering cherry, almond trees, plum trees, peach trees, bird cherry etc.

Situation:

The Japanese flowering cherries, the forms most frequently used, provide striking colour accents in the spring garden. The same applies to the flowering almond, flowering peach and a number of other botanical flowering cherries. The evergreen cherry laurel is used for wind-breaks and to provide shade. The many species with edible fruits are not dealt with here. Cultivation Many ornamental forms have been grafted on medium-sized or tall stock; they will not last for more than about fifty years. Pruning is rarely necessary; only the almond is cut back every year after flowering, like a pollard willow. Nearly all species are wind resistant.

Soil:

These species are undemanding where the soil is concerned; many of them will thrive even where the water level is high. A little lime is appreciated, but not essential.

Propagation:

Common species may be grown from seed, but since only cultivars are used in gardens, they will have to be grown from cuttings . Cherry laurels are easily increased from winter cuttings. The standard trees are budded or grafted, usually on Prunus avium stock. Frequently wild shoots emerge from the stock; they are recognised by their single white flowers and by the foliage which is usually paler in colour. They should be removed immediately.

Evergreen species

Prunus laurocerasus, common cherry laurel: Height to 3 m; clusters of white flowers in late spring; the large leathery leaves are oval to oblong, dark green. There are tall and low-growing garden forms, either with erect-growing or spreading habit. The pyramid-shaped ‘Reinvaanii’ is very suitable for hedge making, while the spreading habit of ‘Zabehana’ makes it useful for slopes and block-planting Japanese flowering cherries

Prunus serrulata: Height to 10 m, often with a tall trunk, but sometimes also supplied as a shrub; rose-red or white flowers in mid to late spring, very rarely pale yellow. Single or double flowers. The leaves are initially reddish, fruit is rarely produced. Well known forms are: ‘Amanog-awa’, columnar habit, pale-pink flowers; ‘Jo-Nioi’, single white flowers,, shrubby shape; ‘Kiku-Shidare-Sakura’, a weeping tree form with double harsh pink flowers; ‘Kwanzan’, vase-shaped habit, double pink flowers – the best known form; ‘Mikayo’, a broad, flat crown, double white flowers; ‘Shirotae’, slightly arching branches, semi-double white flowers.

Prunus subhirtella, rosebud cherry: Height to 8 m, shrub or tree; white flowers in mid spring. The best known form is the cultivar ‘Autumnalis’, which starts to flower as early as late autumn, and has semi-double flowers. ‘Fukubana’ has dark-pink flowers in mid to late spring. Other ornamental cherries, plums, peaches etc Prunus X amygdalopersica, almond: Height to 5 m, shrub or tree, erect growing; large, clear-red single flowers in early to mid spring. Unless they freeze they will produce plenty of almonds.

Prunus avium, black cherry, sweet cherry: Height to 15 m, single white flowers in mid to late spring. Popular for use as stock for grafting; the double form ‘Plena’ is more attractive.

Prunus cerasifera, cherry plum: Height 10 m; white flowers in mid spring. A very well known form is ‘Atro-purpurea’, always called Prunus pissardu, which has brown-red foliage and often flowers in earliest spring. Prunus padus, European bird cherry: Height to 6 m; a spreading shrub with drooping clusters of white flowers in mid to late spring. Suitable for planting under trees. Prunus persica, ‘Klara Meyer’, flowering peach: Height 3 m; large, very conspicuous, bright-pink double flowers in mid to late spring.

Prunus sargentii: Height to 4 m, small tree; dark-pink flowers in late spring, the leaves are brown when they appear and change colour magnificently in the autumn. Prunus serotina, wild black cherry: Height to 10 m, tree or shrub; drooping clusters of white flowers in late spring and early summer; leathery foliage. Considerably self-sowing.

Prunus tenella, dwarf almond: Height to 1.5 m; rose-red flowers in mid spring; very graceful.

Prunus triloba, Chinese flowering almond: Height to 2 m, depending on the height of the stock. Rose-shaped double flowers on leafless branches in early to mid spring. Often sold as cut flowers. Cut back immediately after flowering. Prunus yedoensis: Height to 16 m, broad-crowned tree; white flowers in great abundance in mid spring. One of the finest ornamental cherries when there is adequate space. The young twigs are slightly downy; in the autumn the fresh green leaves turn yellow and red.

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