There's no more spectacular harbinger of spring than an ornamental cherry tree bursting into bloom.
There's no more spectacular harbinger of spring than an ornamental cherry tree bursting into bloom. After a winter of bare branches come clouds of fluffy, pastel blossoms. Some types produce fruits that attract birds to the garden, and many also have good fall color to end the year with a bang.
When to Plant: Fall
At Its Best: Spring
Time to Complete: 2 hours
Ornamental cherries grow best in fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun, although they tolerate partial shade and a drier soil once they're established. Make sure there's ample room for the tree to grow because some mature into large trees.
Dig a hole the same depth as the rootball and twice as wide. Plant the tree so that its rootball is slightly above the surrounding soil surface. Hammer in a stake angled into the prevailing wind. Attach it to the tree using a flexible, adjustable tree tie.
Cherry trees come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors to suit all gardens. Prunus 'Spire' (image 1) has a slender, upright habit, ideal for smaller gardens. P. x subhirtella (image 2) and P. incisa (image 3) are both compact trees with pale pink flowers and attractive autumnal color. P. 'Shizuka' (image 4) is medium-sized and has large, scented, white semi-double flowers.
Water the tree thoroughly after planting, and apply a mulch, keeping it away from the trunk. Water for the first two years. Check the tie often and loosen it if need be. In a couple of years, you can remove the stake because the tree will be fully established.
If you choose the right-sized cherry for your garden, the only pruning required will be to remove dead, diseased or damaged growth. If you need to shape your tree, do so after flowering in early summer, because there are fewer diseases then and you won't remove the flower buds.
Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010