Flowering cherries and plums need a sunny site and neutral well-drained soil to grow well, a pH of 6.0-7.5 is ideal. If your drainage is poor, improve it. Wet or boggy conditions in winter can kill flowering cherries. If this is not possible mound up the soil and plant on top to keep the roots out of the worst of the winter wet.
Plant your trees as soon as possible after receipt, allowing sufficient space for them to grow. Most varieties will reach a final size of 5-8m (15-25ft) in height and 4-6m (13-20ft) in spread, though there are exceptions. Some like Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ are strongly upright (final spread 2m (6ft)), others like ‘Cheal’s Weeping’ will seldom exceed 2.5m (8ft) in height. Please consult our individual variety descriptions if unsure.
Should weather conditions be adverse (i.e. if the ground is frozen or too wet to plant), then the trees should be temporarily heeled in until conditions improve. Dig a hole or shallow trench, put the roots in the trench and cover them loosely with sufﬁcient soil or compost so that no roots are exposed to the air. Tread lightly so they don’t blow over.
Improve the soil structure where you are planting each tree by thorough digging before planting, ideally to a depth of about 45cm (18in) - two spades deep. Mix in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost.
Soak the roots in water for a couple of hours. Dig a hole comfortably large enough to take the root system (so the roots can be evenly spread out), ensuring the top of the root system is level with the surrounding soil or up to 2.5cm (1in) deeper. Apply rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi directly to the roots before planting to help the tree to establish quickly. Tread ﬁrmly and water-in thoroughly. Stake the tree and secure with a tree tie to prevent it rocking whilst the roots establish.
TO GROW IN A POT - Compact and patio trees (such as top-grafted P. tenella ‘Firehill’ or ‘The Bride’) can be grown in pots. Initially pot your tree up into a container that is approximately 30-40cm (12-15in) in diameter using a good quality free draining loam based compost such as John Innes No. 3. The pH. should be relatively high (between 5.5 and 7).
Keep the soil around the tree moist throughout the ﬁrst growing season. In later years only water during prolonged dry spells, drenching thoroughly no more than once a week.
IF GROWING IN A POT - Your tree will need daily watering during the growing season, in extremely hot dry weather maybe even twice a day. Aim to keep the compost moist at all times, but do NOT leave it standing in more than 1cm of water or you risk drowning the roots.
Weeding & Mulching
Keep the area around the tree free of weeds, particularly during the ﬁrst year. An annual mulch of well rotted compost will greatly improve moisture retention and soil structure, and help suppress unwanted weeds.
Flowering cherries and plums need very little if any pruning throughout their lives. Should any shaping be necessary prune between April and August. Paint any open wounds with tree or canker paint to minimise the risk of silver-leaf or canker infection.
Patio specimens may need an annual trim in late June or July to keep them neatly shaped.
Most garden soils contain sufficient nutrients for a tree to grow healthily, though a balanced general purpose top-dressing (such as Fruit Feed) in early spring can be beneficial.
IF GROWING IN A POT - Your tree will need regular feeding during spring and early summer. For application rates follow the instructions on the packaging. To keep the tree growing healthily it will also need fresh compost to root into each year. In the early years this is best done by potting the tree on into progressively larger pots. Once the final pot size has been reached (we would recommend a pot that is 45-50cm [18-20in] in diameter), remove the tree from the pot in late winter each year, cut or chop away about a third of the rootball from the bottom, part fill the pot with fresh compost and re-pot.
Pests & Diseases
A number of pests and diseases affect flowering cherries and plums, common examples are cherry blackfly and shot-hole (a minor fungal infection of the leaves). In a typical garden setting however these are not normally severe enough to need any treatment. While the tree is still small a foliar copper spray will provide a general boost of trace elements which if applied in early autumn may help toughen up your tree ready for winter and also help it fight off many fungal and bacterial infections. It may also be beneficial in prolonged wet periods in summer. Any chemicals should be used strictly as per the manufacturers instructions.