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Weeping Cherries - Three Trees in One

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.

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