Ornamental cherry trees belong to the species Prunus and come in three main cultivar groupings, the Oriental or Japanese Cherry, Higan Cherry and the Yoshino Cherry. They range in height from 15 to 40-feet and flower in hues of pink and in white. Some have rounded tree canopies, while others spread and yet others have a weeping form. All ornamental cherry trees thrive in moist, well-drained soil and and a full sun exposure. They flower in spring before the leaves unfurl, and many cultivars produce scented blooms.
Oriental Cherry - Prunus Serrulata
Oriental cherry, also known as Japanese flowering cherry, reaches 25 feet in height at maturity and has spreading, weeping and round canopy forms. The tree has the shortest lifespan of the flowering cherries, up to just 20 years. Cultivars include: Amanogawa, that has a slim upright habit and throws semi-double blooms in pale pink; Kwanzan, with a spreading habit and double petaled pink flowers; Shirofugen, with double petaled white flowers; Shirotae, with a spreading canopy and scented pink flowers; and Shogetsu, with a spreading canopy and double-petal, pale pink flowers.
Higan Cherry - Prunus Subhirtella
Higan Cherry reaches 40 feet in height at maturity and has varied growth forms depending on the cultivar. They are known to be more heat and cold tolerant than other ornamental cherries. Cultivars include: Autumnalis, with multiple trunks, palest pink flowers and a round canopy; and Pendula, a weeping form that flowers in either pink or white.
Yoshino Cherry - Prunus Yedoensis
The Yoshino Cherry is the type of ornamental cherry that famously blooms each year in Washington D.C. They reach 50 feet tall at maturity, are fast growing and have either a round or weeping growth habit. They bloom in white or pink in both single and double petaled blooms and hold a light fragrance. Cultivars include: Akebono, that flowers in pink; and Shidare Yoshino, that flowers in white and has a weeping habit.