Yoshino Cherry Trees are a hybrid between Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella ‘Rosea.’ This hybrid can occur naturally or via cultivation. It is highly regarded in Japan as one of the most beautiful flowering trees and has become popular around the world as an ornamental tree since its introduction to North America and Europe in the early 1900s.
Washington, D.C holds an annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, where masses of these trees can be witnessed in bloom lining the city streets in early Spring. These trees were a gift from Tokyo in 1912, an honor that is still celebrated today.
Yoshino Cherry Tree Overview
|Scientific Name||Prunus x yedoensis|
|Common Names||Yoshino Cherry Tree, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Tokyo Cherry, Potomac Cherry|
|Height||Up to 40 feet|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats, dogs, and horses|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Watering||Maintain moist soil|
|Pests||Caterpillars and leaf miners|
Caring for Your Yoshino Cherry Tree
The Yoshino Cherry Tree should be grown in consistently moist soil. This is especially true when the tree is in its infancy, as it grows quite quickly and needs extra water to sustain its rapid growth and establish a strong root system. Even once mature, this tree is not drought tolerant and should not be left in dry soil.
Water the tree at the base of its trunk whenever the top layer of the soil dries out. In order to ensure the roots do not succumb to root rot, you will need to plant to the tree in well-draining soil so that any excess water can drain away from the root system. The tree will not tolerate soggy or waterlogged soil and will struggle to survive in these conditions.
To help the soil retain moisture so that you don’t have to water your tree as frequently, a layer of mulch can be added over the soil. This helps to prevent the moisture from evaporating, keeping the soil moist for longer in between waterings. Whenever you mulch a plant or tree, take care to leave a gap of a few inches around the trunk or stem. Wet mulch sat up against the plant can cause the trunk or stem to rot.
Yoshino Cherry Trees are at their best in a position of full sun. The more hours of sunlight the tree receives, the more profusely it will bloom. If you cannot offer a full sun position, the tree will adapt to a partially shaded location, as long as it is able to get a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Any less than this and it will produce a poor show of flowers. If you live in a hot climate and wish to plant the tree in a partially shaded position, then it would be advisable to set it in a spot which receives morning sun and is shaded in the afternoon, offering the tree some respite from the heat when the sun is at its most intense. However, this isn’t essential, as the Yoshino Cherry Tree is tolerant of heat.
This tree is hardy through USDA hardiness zones 5-8. It is adaptable to a wide variety of climates, being able to tolerate cool winters and hot summers. The tree is also tolerant of different humidity levels.
This tree can grow in a variety of different soil types, providing they are well-draining, though it prefers rich soil and will perform best in these conditions. If your soil is not rich in nutrients, you can supplement your soil by adding fertilizer to it.
Use a standard liquid fertilizer at the recommended dose every few weeks from early spring until the end of summer. This will help the tree to flower more heavily and have a denser show of foliage. To help feed the tree, you can also add compost rich in organic materials to the top of your soil annually. Over time, the nutrients in the compost will leach down into the soil and improve the soil quality.
This tree performs best when it is left to its own devices, so don’t feel the need to prune your Yoshino cherry tree. The exception to this, as always, is that you should ensure good maintenance of the tree by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches as they appear.
These trees have an upright growth habit with outward spreading branches that result in a dense vase-shaped canopy. Their natural shape is very appealing, so you shouldn’t need to prune for any aesthetic reason, but if you do decide to prune your Yoshino Cherry Tree to shape it, then always do it in early summer, as this way you will avoid removing any flower buds.
Propagation of this tree can be achieved through stem cuttings. Take semi-ripe cuttings in spring and place them in a moist growing medium. The cuttings will need a source of bottom heat to root, so use a propagation heater or sit the cuttings on a warm and bright windowsill.
Once the cutting shows signs of growth, such as leaf development, then it is time to move the cutting outside and plant it directly in the ground. Alternatively, you can propagate the cuttings outside by simply planting them directly in the soil. Ensure they are in a full sun position so that the soil is warm enough to aid in root development and place them in a spot where they have enough space to grow.
Flowers and Foliage
The flowers of this tree bloom in early spring before the foliage has developed, giving the tree a unique look with bare branches heavily adorned with blossoms. They start out as pale pink buds which open out to five-petalled single flowers in a soft pink color.
As the flowers mature, they fade to a snowy white shade and have a delightful scent that is reminiscent of almonds. The flowers appear in clusters of 5 or 6 blooms, all along with the tree’s stems and branches. They last for between 2 and 3 weeks before developing into small black cherries.
These fruits are not particularly appealing to humans, having a minimally sweet taste. However, they offer an important food source for birds and wildlife.
When the serrated leaves emerge, they have a golden hue, which develops to dark green during the summer. As fall nears, the leaves take on shades of orange and red. The foliage is present from late spring through to fall before they drop for the winter (Gardeners World).
Types of Yohino Cherry Tree
Other cultivars of Yoshino Cherry Trees include the following.
Prunus x yedoensis ‘Akebono’
This is an American variety of the Yoshino Cherry Tree, which offers masses of semi-double blooms covering its bare branches in early spring. The flowers are soft pink and have a mild fragrance. As they mature over the course of a few weeks, they turn to an off-white color.
This tree is easy to grow with a moderate growth habit and a tolerance to drought and disease. While it does prefer moist soil, it can be left in dry soil for extended periods once mature. This cultivar is considered to be one of the most disease-resistant flowering trees available in the Pacific Northwest.
Mature Size: Up to 35 feet
Hardiness Zone: 5-8
Light: Full sun
Water: Average moisture needs
Special Features: Semi-double pink blooms
Prunus x yedoensis ‘Shidare-Yoshino’
Also known as the Weeping Yoshino Cherry Tree, this cultivar has an elegant weeping growth habit. It is the result of a hybrid between Prunus speciosa and Prunus subhirtella s. Pendula, which is thought to date back to the 1800s.
This is a fast-growing tree that tops out at a maximum of around 25 feet tall. Its small blooms appear in early spring and are white in color. It performs best in moist, well-draining soil and will not tolerate soggy or heavy soils.
Mature Size: Up to 25 feet
Hardiness Zone: 5-8
Light: Full sun
Water: Maintain moist soil
Special Features: Weeping habit
Prunus x yedoensis ‘Somei-Yoshino’
This low-maintenance tree is easy to care for and highly rewarding. It is a small tree, growing to between 25 and 30 feet in height, with a similar-sized spread. It is staggeringly beautiful, with pale pink flowers that all bloom simultaneously in early spring.
It is the recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society and is ideal for growing as an ornamental on the lawn or for use in a border. It thrives in moist, rich soils, in a position of full sun.
Watch out for caterpillars and leaf miners, which can present a problem in the summer. The tree is also susceptible to diseases such as bacterial canker and silver leaf. To help prevent disease, ensure the branches have sufficient airflow and are not crowded with other plants and trees.
Mature Size: Up to 30 feet
Hardiness Zone: 5- 8
Light: Full sun
Water: Maintain moist soil
Special Features: Award-winning cultivar