Weeping Higan & Flowering Cherry


Ornamental flowering fruit trees are grown mainly for their beautiful spring blossoms and not for their fruit (as are orchard trees). There are ornamental flowering cherry, plum, apricot and almond trees. The weeping Higan flowering cherry tree is one of the cultivars of the Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella), which is well known for its delicate drooping branches.

Higan Cherry Cultivars

There are a several other varieties of Higan cherry trees, each with their own growth characteristics. Cultivars grow from between 20 to 40 feet in height, with spreads of from 15 to 30 feet. Higan cherry cultivars also have different shapes/growing habits: weeping, upright-spreading or rounded. They are known for their longevity, as well as their tolerance to heat and cold.

Weeping Higan Tree Characteristics

The weeping cherry tree (P. subhirtella 'Pendula') is hardy in zones 5 through 8. This Higan cultivar can reach a height of from 20 to 30 feet, and a width of from 15 to 25 feet. It has beautiful thin drooping or weeping branches, and an irregularly shaped crown. The growth rate is fast. Light pink, almost white blossoms appear in early spring before its green leaves appear. Leaves remain green throughout the summer and then turn striking yellow in the fall season. Its fruit is dark black in color, and approximately ½ inch in size.

Landscape Use and Site Selection

Due to its wide spread, the weeping Higan cherry tree is very often used as a shade tree or specimen plant within a large space. They are often found growing close to water. It requires full sun and well-drained soil. The weeping cherry tolerates various types of soil: clay, sand, loam and acidic soil conditions. Water the Higan cherry during extreme drought conditions as it is only moderately tolerant of drought.

Pruning and Mulching

Due to the drooping growth habit of the weeping cherry, you should trim the lower branches to provide access underneath the tree--especially if it is near a walkway. Another reason for pruning will be to maintain the tree's size within your landscape design. Mulching will help to keep moisture in and weeds down. Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the tree (from a few inches away from the trunk of the tree out to the drip line).

Pests and Diseases

The weeping Higan cherry can be attacked by aphids, scales, spider mites and tent caterpillars. The best defense against pest infestations is to maintain a healthy and stress-free tree. That means adequate watering during the growing season. It is also important to be vigilant in checking the tree for any early signs of the presence of insects. In most instances, pruning infested branches will eliminate the problem early on; watch for and destroy tent caterpillar nests, and spray insecticide before insects multiply. The weeping cherry is susceptible to bacterial and fungal diseases such as leaf spot, twig cankers and black knot.

Keywords: Ornamental flowering trees, Higan cherry tree, Weeping cherry

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.