Weeping Cherry trees are becoming a familiar sight in many neighborhoods. The
impressive spring floral displays and graceful forms are easy to spot in the landscape.
They look wonderful when accented by landscape lighting and provide a spot to grow
and display early spring bulbs that can be enjoyed before the tree leafs out in the spring.
There are two common types of weeping cherries: the pink-flowering variety and the
white-flowering variety. There are many others, but these two varieties will be featured
Weeping Higan Cherries (Prunus subhirtella pendula) or Pink Weeping Cherries are
among the most cold, heat and stress tolerant of all the cherries. Unlike most cherries,
once established they are very long lived. They have an extremely fast growth rate so
they can be enjoyed even when very young. They do not like wet areas. They prefer welldrained soils, but once established they can thrive even in heavy clay soils. Commonly,
these Pink weeping cherries have branches incorrectly removed because the structure of
the tree is mistaken for the Snow Fountain Cherry. The branches of the pink weeping
cherry trees first grow up and then begin to weep down at the ends. They mature to 25
feet tall and wide and are striking specimens in the landscape. The floral display of
double pink flowers begins before the tree fully leafs out in the spring and continues until
most of the leaves have opened on the tree. In fall, the leaves are a lovely yellow to
bronze color and in winter, the graceful weeping form is especially attractive with snow
or even a light glazing of ice coating the branches.
Use the Pink Weeping Cherry as a focal point or use pairs to call attention to entries and
gateways. An essential specimen for Japanese style gardens, it also enhances a cottage or
country style garden with its branches gracefully swaying in the breeze. They are
particularly striking when set against an evergreen background.
Snow Fountain Cherry Trees (Prunus x ‘Snofozam’ or ‘Snow Fountain’) is smaller and
slower growing than other weeping cherry trees with a mature size of only 12-15 feet tall
and wide. It is a patented cultivar that is derived from P. serrula and was only recently
introduced by Lake County Nursery in Ohio. This weeping cherry tree has branches
which immediately weep down with a beautiful cascading form and blooms with white
flowers in the spring. If you look very closely at an individual flower you will notice a
lovely dark red center. The fall color of the leaves is a pretty golden to orange and in
winter this tree also looks lovely with snow or a light coating of ice on the branches.
Snow Fountains Cherries are excellent in Japanese style gardens and ideal for smaller
city gardens of condominiums and townhomes. Snow Fountains look best with other
small-statured plants. Dwarf conifers such as Dwarf Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo pumilio)
and Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’) are great choices.
Snow Fountains also add charm and character to cottage and county style gardens.
Weeping cherry trees are actually three trees in one. The weeping cherry tree (either P.
subhirtella pendula or P. x ‘Snow Fountains’) is grafted onto a 6-foot inner stem of P.
serrula often called Birchbark or Paperbark Cherry. This type of cherry has a very
attractive shiny, reddish-colored bark that peels in time making the trunks especially
handsome, even more so in the winter. The weeping top portion of the tree and the
attractive trunk are grafted onto a different rootstock, typically P. avium or Mazzard
Cherry which provides sturdier roots, more disease resistance and more cold hardiness.
Weeping Cherry trees are also available as cutting grown (which means they are not
grafted) and they are available with grafts just above ground level. They can be obtained
in the familiar upright “umbrella” form or grown in a serpentine or “S’ form.
Weeping cherries are very low maintenance plants and require very little trimming. The
most important thing to watch for is any growth coming from below the top graft. If not
removed, any growth from below the graft will take over your tree and it will no longer
weep, but will grow upright with white flowers and become very large. Any growth from
below the graft can be removed at any time. If necessary, the best time to trim the
flowering portion of your tree is June and July. Avoid trimming after July because the
buds have already set for next year. Also watch for and remove any “suckers” growing
from the root system.
Weeping Cherry trees are low-maintenance plants that provide four seasons of interest. A
beautiful floral display in spring, graceful swaying branches in summer, lovely foliage
color in fall and beautiful bark and branches in the winter. They are cold hardy, disease
resistant and grow well in sun or part shade with very little effort from anyone.