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Did you know that Flowering Cherry Trees.....?

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Did you know that Flowering Cherry Trees.....?

About this time of year, the Kemper Center for Home Gardening receives many calls asking ‘Are the Cherry Blossoms blooming yet?’, ‘When do the Cherry Blossoms start blooming?’, ‘How long will they bloom?’

I found a few things about the Flowering Cherry Trees that people may not know!

  • Most of these trees were bred for their flowers, not fruit but some do produce small cherries. Their fruit appear in the summer but are too sour to eat except birds like them.
  • The cherry blossom season lasts about a month, starting with Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus x yedoensis) with its fragrant white flowers. The latest blooming cherry tree is the Manchurian cherry (Prunus maackii) also called Amur cherry or Amur chokecherry. Bloom time is April/May (depending on the weather) with fragrant white flowers. This cherry tree produces fruit in late summer used to make jam, jelly, or juice.
  • Flowering cherry trees will live approximately 30 to 40 years. Brooklyn Botanical Garden planted their ‘Cherry Walk’ in 1921. The cherry trees are still in good health. I found in my research some cherry tree seeds were sent to the U.S. from Japan in the 1900’s to symbolize friendship. That planting died from roundworm. More seeds were sent, the trees grew. 1935 was the very first ‘Cherry Blossom Festival’ in Washington, DC.
  • Flowering cherries don’t belong in traditional Japanese gardens. Traditional plants are conifers, maples, and azaleas to create year-round seasonal interest. In Japan, flowering cherry trees symbolize ephemeral (passing or short-lived).
  • Many cherries change color, dark pink when in bud, lighter pink in first blossom and then turn pale pink or white. There are some trees that change from greenish yellow to white then pink.
  • Cherry blossoms naturally have five petals but some cultivars are bred for fuller blossoms. Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus 'Kanzan') have double pink. But most people enjoy the Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus x yedoenis) for its simple, delicate five white petals.
  • Flowering cherries at home improvements stores are probably weeping Higan branches grafted onto a cherry with a straight trunk that was cut off at 5 feet tall. These trees are often weak and unhealthy. Find an upright Higan (Prunus subhirtella) or Yoshino cultivars for sale at your local garden nursery.
  • Blooms are coming earlier each year. A sign of climate change?

A good resource for garden pests is the Advice, Tips and Resources  page found in Gardening Help. It has detailed information on all the pests that might decide to visit your garden.

Debbie Kirkpatrick, Kemper Horticulture Assistant

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