Can I Plant a Cherry Blossom Tree near My House?

blooming cherry blossom trees in suburbia
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Many trees earn high praise for their colorful displays, whether it be the autumn rust and burnt orange of the sugar maple or the vibrant lavender show of the Jacaranda mimosifolia. But if you’ve ever seen the prolific pink exhibit offered in the spring, you may be wondering if you can plant a cherry blossom tree near your home.

Cherry blossom trees are not native to the United States. The first public record of the tree is just over 100 years ago when Japan gifted a tree to the park service. However, many private homeowners had previously imported the trees for personal enjoyment.

Since then, its presence and popularity have grown and spread across the country. If your home is located in USDA hardiness zones five to nine, you’re a strong candidate for successfully growing a cherry blossom tree near your house. However, there are some things you should know.

Are There Different Kinds of Cherry Blossom Trees?

Yes, hundreds of different varieties. Cherry blossom trees are indigenous to Japan, where the widest variety of trees are available.

In the States, you can easily find Japanese cherry blossom trees, but there are basically a dozen or so standardized varieties that are readily available.

Look for them under names like Yoshino, Somei-Yoshino, Kwanzan, Akebono, Weeping Japanese Cherry, Takesimensis, and Autumn flowering cherry trees.

Can I Eat the Fruit off a Japanese Cherry Tree?

Many of the trees that produce gorgeous blossoms don’t actually produce fruit at all. Some, however, develop small cherries. These are not like the Bingham cherries you are used to and they are not recommended for eating. Allow the wildlife to enjoy them instead.

How Big Do Japanese Cherry Trees Get?

You’ll find a wide variety in the growing size of cherry blossom trees, so you’ll want to do your research during the planning stages. Some trees max out at around 20 feet in height, while a few will peak at 50 feet. The average cherry blossom tree in America will rise to 15 feet and spread out roughly the same distance.

What’s the Ideal Climate for Growing Cherry Blossom Trees?

As mentioned, these trees grow in USDA hardiness zones five through nine. Again, do some research on the specific needs of each variety before you bring one home. Some prefer warmer or cooler regions.

In general, cherry blossom trees can thrive in regions similar to the climate of their native Japan. Warm, humid summers and mild winters make the Japanese cherry blossom tree happy in the majority of the country, with the exception of the extreme temperatures common in the furthest north and south zones.

Are All Japanese Cherry Blossoms Pink?

The colorful display of Japanese cherry blossoms is synonymous with pink petals. It’s the image immortalized by photographers, artists, and travel magazines.

For the most part, cherry blossoms are pink, but there is a variation in the balance between pink and white. Some are vibrant pink, while others offer an even balance between pink and white. Some cherry blossoms are even completely white.

The majority fall somewhere in the middle with a combination of pink and white, or petals that begin as a bright pink and fade to a white as the season progresses.

How Long Do Cherry Blossoms Bloom?

The showy display is coveted during the opening games of spring, both domestically and internationally. However, catching Japanese cherry trees in bloom requires a bit of luck or precise planning because the blooms typically only last a few weeks.

You can expect an individual tree in your yard to bring on the color in March or April and last about two weeks before the blooms fade and disappear.

When visiting a region with copious cherry blossom trees across a widespread area, such as Japan, you may be able to find trees blooming in sequence, with each region blooming at a slightly different time. This can extend the overall season to several months, although each tree is still only blooming for a few weeks.

How Long Do Cherry Blossom Trees Live?

You might be surprised to discover that Japanese cherry blossom trees are not a plant that stands for several generations. In fact, the average cherry blossom tree lives less than thirty years.

How Long Does it Take a Cherry Blossom Tree to Mature?

With a relatively short lifespan, you’re probably wondering if you’ll spend much of that time waiting for a small tree to grow into its majestic maturity.

The answer is that cherry blossom trees grow fairly quickly, maturing in four to five years. When thriving, a cherry blossom tree can shoot up one to two feet per year, so it may continue growing at a slower or faster pace even after that time.

Are Cherry Blossom Trees Difficult to Grow?

If you live in the right zone and follow the suggestions outlined below you’ll find cherry blossom trees are fairly low-maintenance plants.

They do have preferences when it comes to soil type, nutrient balance, and water, but like all plants, most of the care will come early on. Once established, cherry blossoms need very little attention.

Where to Plant a Japanese Cherry Blossom

Once you’ve decided a cherry blossom tree is right for you and your yard, you’ll need to decide on the ideal location. Allow your tree adequate space to grow in both height and width, placing it a minimum of twenty feet away from fencing, sheds, and other structures, and your home.

Cherry blossom trees prefer full sun or partial shade, so let your tree take center stage in the middle of your yard. Just make sure not to plant it on the north side, where it will see little to no sunlight (in the northern hemisphere).

How to Plant a Cherry Blossom Tree Near Your Home

With your variety picked out, located, and transported to your home, follow these steps to ensure its best chance of a long and healthy life in your landscape.

1. Decide When and Where to Plant

The best time to plant a cherry blossom tree is in the fall, at least several weeks before the first frost. This will allow the tree to establish its roots and begin the process of preparing for its spring bloom.

You can also plant cherry blossom trees early in the spring if the ground is warm enough to be workable.

Again, make sure your tree will receive copious sunlight. Position it in an open section of your yard where it will not be shaded by surrounding trees, buildings, or other obstacles.

2. Test and Balance Your Soil

The best thing you can do for your new Japanese cherry blossom tree is to prepare the surrounding soil with the right pH balance.

Cherry blossom trees prefer acidic soil but will tolerate alkaline soil too. The most important thing is to ensure the soil is well-draining and nutrient-rich. The roots of the cherry blossom tree need room to expand, so make sure the soil isn’t too dense.

On the other hand, you want your soil to offer good drainage without stripping it of all moisture. Therefore, you don’t want it to be too sandy or too high in clay.

If you’re unfamiliar with the makeup of your soil, take a sample to your local extension office. Not only can they provide a report of your soil’s makeup, but they can also offer guidance as to how to optimize the growing conditions for your tree.

3. Dig Your Hole

Look at the root ball of your tree, if possible. This will help you establish the size of the hole you’ll need. As a general rule, create a hole twice as wide as the root ball. This is typically around two feet in diameter.

The depth should allow the top of the root ball to rest just above the surface of the ground. However, you’ll want to loosen the soil several inches below the roots. Churn up the soil, make amendments as needed, and place loose dirt back into the bottom of the planting space before putting the tree into place.

4. Plant Your Cherry Blossom Tree

Loosen the root ball gently. If it’s wrapped in burlap, loosen the material without removing it.

Ensure there is a layer of fertile, compost-amended soil in the bottom of the hole, and save some to pack in around the roots once the tree is in position.

Place the tree into the hole and check the depth. Add more soil if needed to raise the tree up to the level of the surrounding area.

Make sure the tree is standing straight. Then backfill the soil around the tree. Press the soil firmly into place all around the tree. This will help stabilize the tree and remove any air pockets that can allow water to freeze and damage the root system.

5. Stake the Tree

Depending on the size of your sapling and the weather conditions in your area, you’ll probably want to support the tree the first year or two to guide it towards straight growth. Once established, it will resist the effects of wind, occasional snow, and other natural assaults.

You can create a quick and inexpensive tree support with a cord or rope and a small section of old hose. Feed the cord through the hose. Then place the hose section against the tree to protect it from the rope. Pull both ends of the rope several feet away from the base of the tree and tie them to a stake in the ground.

Keep an eye on the development of your tree as it grows, and readjust if it appears to be leaning in a different direction. You may also need to relocate the hose section higher on the tree as it grows.

Remove the supports after the first year or two.

6. Water

Your newly-planted tree will be thirsty. Give it a deep and thorough watering so the water seeps down into the roots. Continue watering regularly throughout the first season.

Once established, your Japanese cherry blossom tree will probably do fine with the water from rainwater alone. However, during dry spells you’ll want to give it an additional drink now and then.

7. Maintain Your Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees

In addition to monitoring waterings, give your cherry blossom tree a nutritional boost with an appropriate fertilizer each spring as it prepares to bloom.

Also watch for common bacteria, fungi, diseases, and pest activity. If you see leaves changing colors, holes, growths on the bark, or other signs of stress, identify your problem and treat it as soon as possible.

You may need to trim back your tree after a few years of growth. Always wait to make cuts until after the tree has flowered during the spring.

Avoid making drastic cuts. Instead, regularly trim low branches and thin out areas so sunlight can break through the canopy. Also cut away dead or diseased portions as needed.

Note that you can propagate your tree to create new cherry blossoms in your yard.

When your tree is mature, select a healthy new stem to remove from the tree. Choose a stem that is flexible rather than rigid.

Wrap the cutting in a damp paper towel and place it into a plastic bag to retain moisture. You can then plant your cherry blossom tree cutting in a rooting medium and nurture it into a larger plant until it is ready to plant in the ground.

Also note that some cherry blossom trees, particularly dwarf varieties, can thrive in a planter rather than in the ground.

Simply choose a well-draining, deep pot that is at least twice the size of your root ball. Enrich the soil and plant the tree. You will want to carefully manage waterings, perhaps using a timer and drip system.

Also watch for signs each year that it’s time to re-pot the plant as it grows.

Planting a Japanese cherry blossom tree can bring you years of joy and may even immortalize memories of seeing the trees in bloom in Japan, Georgia, or Washington D.C.

However, if after reading this article you decide it’s not the right choice for you, consider these 5 Drought Tolerant Trees or check out these 9 Fragrant Trees that might be a better fit.