How to Plant Japanese Cherry Trees


One of the most beautiful ornamental trees is the Japanese cherry tree, Prunus serrulata. It flowers briefly in April but its brilliant display can be lengthened by combining early and late flowering cultivars. It is easy to grow and will tolerate semi shade as well as a wide variety of soil conditions.

Step 1

Choose a location with moist well drained soil and enough room for the mature tree. Depending on the cultivar it will reach a height of 20 to 30 feet and a width of 15 to 20 feet. Japanese cherry trees are not drought tolerant and most members of the genus are shallow rooted. Japanese cherry trees will tolerate a wide range of soil types and will thrive in either full sun or semi shade. Depending on the cultivar Japanese cherry trees are hardy to zones 5-6.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the container or B & B (balled and burlaped) tree. Mix some organic material (peat moss, leaf mold, manure, or compost) into the soil that has been removed. The ration should be one-third organic matter to two-thirds soil.

Step 3

Remove the plant from its container. If the roots are a dense mass, score the root ball deeply in several places with the pruning saw. This will help prevent girdling. Prune any visibly damaged roots. If the plant is balled and burlaped, place the tree in the hole before removing the wrapping. Remove as much of the wrapping as you can and remove all the strings. What is left of the burlap will disintegrate over time. Planting depth is important since Prunus serrulata is usually grafted onto prunus avium roots. Plant it to the same depth as it previously.

Step 4

Fill in around roots with the enriched soil mix. When you have filled in the hole half way, water the tree to help settle the soil around the roots. Once it drains continue filling in the hole and water again.

Step 5

Water every day for the first two weeks, then weekly if needed for the first year while the tree is actively growing. Once established, the Japanese cherry will be more tolerant of dry conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Japanese cherry tree
  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose


  • Prunus serrulata, Japanese Cherry Tree
Keywords: best location for a Japanese cherry tree, how to plant Prunus serrulata, Prunus serrulata

About this Author

Joan Puma is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts, and has worked in the film industry for many years as a script supervisor. Puma's interest in gardening lead her to write The Complete Urban Gardener, which was published by Harper & Row. Other interests include, art history, medieval history, and equitation.