Flowering cherries, which are members of the genus Prunus, are planted for their ornamental value. They do not bear edible fruit, but rather produce a profusion of delicate, fragrant white or pink blooms in spring. One of the most well-known flowering cherry tree plantings is in Washington, D.C.
Flowering cherries are mild climate trees that may grow to between 6 and 40 feet in size. All varieties should be planted in fast-draining soil and full sun and require regular water.
A cultivar of the Japanese flowering cherry (P. serrulata), the Kwanzan flowering cherry tolerates heat and humidity better than most others and can be planted in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. This cultivar can grow to 30 feet and produces double, deep rose blooms in clusters. The tree blooms in midspring, and blooms may appear at the same time as young, red foliage. Leaves age to green and then orange in fall. This cultivar has stiff, upright branches that form an upside-down cone.
Snow Fountains (P. serrulata) is another Japanese flowering cherry cultivar and is among the smallest flowering cherry trees. Even when it is mature, it may be as little as 6 feet or as tall as 12 feet. An early spring bloomer, the Snow Fountains tree produces single white blooms. The foliage is glossy green, but ages to yellow or orange in fall. Snow Fountains may have curving trunks and the branches are weeping. Hardy in zones 5 to 8, it can tolerate part shade.
The Taiwan flowering cherry tree (P. campanulata) is unique among flowering cherries for its hot pink blooms. This variety is an early bloomer, and the flowers are bell-shaped, single blooms. The Taiwan flowering cherry, also known as the Formosa flowering cherry, has a graceful branch structure and can grow to 25 feet. Able to thrive in warmer climates than other varieties, this tree is hardy in zones 7b to 9. The Taiwan flowering cherry has been used to create hybrids, including the Okame cultivar, which has red blooms.
The Yoshino flowering cherry (P. yedoensis) can grow to 50 feet high and and 40 feet across and produces single, light pink blooms in the spring. This is the variety planted in Washington, D.C. Other cherry blossom festivals, including the one in Macon, Georgia, have been built around this cultivar.
Hardy in zones 5 to 8, the Yoshino flowering cherry has an Oriental branching pattern and the foliage is dark green and glossy. This tree has a rounded habit.