How to Care for a Sand Cherry Shrub


The western sand cherry (Prunus besseyi) is a small, deciduous, flowering shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and maintains a rounded shape throughout its lifespan. Hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 3 to 6, western sand cherry shrubs thrive in a variety of soils, and grow well in higher elevations. Spring brings a plethora of delicate white petals that spread their perfume, making way for grayish-green glossy leaves that will turn shades of red and orange. In the summer, the western sand cherry shrub bears sweet half-inch fruit that attracts local birds and other assorted wildlife.

Step 1

Give newly planted shrubs a watering at least once per week. Allow hose to run at low pressure at the base of the plant for 5 to 10 minutes each time. Water established shrubs twice a month during the summer.

Step 2

Apply fertilizer once a year in early spring or late fall and at a rate of 4 oz. per each foot of the shrub's height. Follow manufacturer's directions with regards to the application and dosage.

Step 3

Apply mulch in early spring at a depth of 3 to 4 inches around the circumference of the shrub, making sure to leave the trunk and branches uncovered. Apply a fresh layer of mulch in late fall or early winter for added protection against severe cold.

Step 4

Prune sand cherry shrubs in the spring after flowering is finished. Remove any dead wood or crossed branches by cutting off near the base of the branch. If the shrubs should become overgrown, thinning out the largest and oldest canes can restore appearance and encourage new, healthy growth.

Step 5

Apply commercial animal repellent according to manufacturer's directions before winter to protect against damage during winter months. Repellents come in liquid, spray or granular form, and may need repeated applications during the winter months to remain effective.

Tips and Warnings

  • Fertilizing in mid- to late summer can cause new growth that will not withstand cold winter temperatures.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • 5-10-5 fertilizer
  • Organic mulch (straw, shredded wood, pine needles)
  • Pruning snips
  • Commercial animal repellent


  • Mountain States Wholesale Nursery: Prunus Pumila V. Besseyi Western Sand Cherry
  • University of Illinois Extension--Selecting Shrubs for Your Home: Western Sand Cherry
  • New Mexico State University: Deciduous Shrubs
  • University of Minnesota--Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series: Deciduous Shrubs
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet: Fertilizing Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • The Morton Arboretum: Watering Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: Prunus besseyi, western sand cherry, maintaining sand cherry shrubs

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.