Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Sand Cherry Bush Care

plums image by dinostock from

The sand cherry bush (Prunus besseyi) is a deciduous shrub desirable for its small but fragrant white flowers, deep green leaves and purple or blue, edible fruit. This cool climate shrub is often found growing in high altitudes and can survive temperatures as low as 30 degrees below zero, according to information published by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery. The fruit is small--only an inch across at the most--and sweet but acidic. Care of this hardy plant requires only basic cultural practices.


Punus besseyi prefers climates with cold winters and mild summers. For that reason, they should only be grown outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 3 through 6, as recommended by the University of Illinois.


Sand cherry shrubs thrive in all types of soil, and especially in loose, sandy soil, according to information published by the horticulture department at Cornell University. In fact, this affinity for sandy soil is how the plant earned its common name. Landscapers sometimes use Prunus besseyi to control erosion on beaches. If you have hard, clay soil, amend it with coarse sand. Add peat moss as well to help the soil drain better, as these shrubs thrive in well-draining soil.


Prunus besseyi is tolerant of drought conditions. Still, the plant grows best in cool, moist soil. Water your sand cherry bush deeply every week during the growing season if it doesn't rain. Use a soaking or drip hose and let the water slowly run out of the hose at the base of the plant. This slow drip will ensure that the water seeps into the root zone and does not simply roll away on the slippery, sandy soil. Reduce the frequency of watering in early fall.


The sand cherry bush is a woody shrub, and like all woody shrubs, it can benefit from an application of a balanced, (10-10-10) water-soluble fertilizer in the spring before leaf-out occurs. Continue to fertilize once a month during the growing season with the dose recommended on the label as per the size and age of your shrub.


Prunus besseyi is short-lived (less than 20 years), according to information published by the University of Illinois. The plant can also suffer from a number of health issues, most notably brown rot and black knot, both of which are fungal diseases. Prevent fungal diseases from developing by treating your plant with a systematic fungicide in the spring, and by taking care not to wet the foliage of the shrub when hand-watering it. Water that sits on the leaves of the plant for a long period of time can lead to the development of fungal diseases.

Garden Guides