The Kwanzan cherry tree is a beautiful ornamental cherry tree that produces prodigious amounts of pink blossoms in the spring. It has been planted widely for the annual spring National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Kwanzan cherry trees are relatively short-lived, lasting only from 15 to 25 years as a useful ornamental plant, but their impressive display in the springtime makes planting this tree well worth it.
The most striking feature of this tree is its many spring blossoms that are double-pink, meaning pink in color with double petals in each flower. The leaves are lance-shaped with serrated margins, approximately 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. The color is green with a showy display of copper, orange and yellow in the fall. The bark is thin, relatively smooth and light brown in color. It does not bear fruit or has tiny, insignificant fruit that is inconspicuous.
The tree grows best in hardiness zones 5 through 9. Growth is relatively a medium rate and the tree can increase in size by up to 2 feet per year. Pruning when young can help to form the tree, but should be limited as the tree grows to a naturally appealing shape. The tree will bloom in spring before leaves appear, allowing light to enter the canopy, where the blossoms are, making viewing these impressive trees that much more enjoyable.
Kwanzan cherry trees are spreading in nature and can grow to 40 feet in height and spreads the same amount. The basic form of the tree is vase-shaped with a narrow bottom widening toward the top. The crown of the tree is well-rounded and relatively open. The trunk is usually fairly short with branches radiating upward and outward.
Kwanzan cherry trees can grow in a variety of soils as long as they are loose and drain well. The tree can be sensitive to air pollution and should not be planted where it can become stressed. The tree does best when regularly irrigated. It is easy to transplant. Kwanzans prefer full sun. Propagation is usually done by grafting cuttings of the Kwanzan tree to the more disease resistant root stock of Prunus avium. They are generally available from nurseries or garden centers.
This tree is most frequently used as an impressive ornamental along walkways in park and residential settings, and around decks and patios as specimen plants. It can also be pruned to grow in containers and is often used for bonsai.