Cherry trees belong to the genus Prunus, which includes more than 200 species of trees and shrubs. Cherry trees grow in woodlands and along coasts and cliffs. Their five-petaled flowers range in color from white to pink or deep red. Round, edible fruits follow the flower on select cherry tree varieties, while others are toxic. Some cherry trees have vibrant fall colors that light up the landscape.
Autumn blooming Higan Cherry
Autumn blooming Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella "Autumnalis") is a variety of cherry tree that is suitable in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8. They grow up to 40 feet tall and have a spread of 15 to 30 feet that creates a commanding presence to the landscape. The flower clusters emerge in fall and last into winter. The single to double flowers start off a deep rose color to open to pale pink, eventually fading to white. The autumn blooming Higan cherries are the most tolerant of heat, stress and cold of all the cherry tree varieties. They have a rounded crown with upright branches that are wide spreading. They grow best in full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soils.
The Japanese cherry (Prunus serrulata) grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 6 and has an upright, vase-to-rounded form that holds the spreading branches. Japanese cherries have red-to-brown bark that contrasts with the white May-blooming flowers. They grow 15 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide to make an excellent specimen plant to grow within the yard for color. Japanese cherry trees have a moderate growth rate and grow best in full sun to part shade. They prefer well-drained, moist soils to thrive.
Okame cherry (Prunus "Okame") is a deciduous cherry tree that is suitable in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 8. With its upright, arching form that becomes rounded with age, Okame cherry trees have one of the longest flowering periods of most varieties. The clear pink blooms are mildly fragrant and emerge in spring to light up the garden. Okame cherry trees have a moderate to rapid growth rate and polished bark that ranges in color from red to brown. They are heat and cold tolerant, making for an adaptable cherry tree. The green leaves on Okame grow 1 to 2-½ inches long to turn fiery colors of bright orange and red in fall. They reach heights of 30 feet and have widths between 20 and 30 feet. They grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soils. They do well in heavy clay soils.