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Cherry Trees for Small Gardens

By Marci Degman ; Updated September 21, 2017
Many flowering cherry trees have dark attractive bark and interesting shapes.
cherry tree in blossom image by PHOTOFLY from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Ornamental cherry trees continue to be a cherished staple in the spring garden. Still, many cherries will out-grow the average landscape. Fortunately there are a number of dwarf varieties to choose from. There are even varieties the size of a large shrub at maturity. By choosing wisely, most gardens can support at least one cherry tree.

Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees

Double-flowered pink cherries are the most popular.
flowering of Japanese cherry tree (sakura) image by Petro Feketa from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Japanese cherries are among the most sought-after ornamental flowering trees. Many varieties are suitable for the smaller garden. The horizontal branching varieties evoke the strongest Japanese presence in the garden. Their structure eliminates height issues, since they range from 12 to 20 feet in height. They grow as wide as they are tall but can be kept smaller if necessary. When choosing a small flowering cherry, you will want to determine the flower color and type desired. There are blooms with single or double petals, in shades of white or pink. The Mt. Fuji cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Mt. Fuji') has horizontal branches and double white flowers. (Prunus serrulata 'Shirofugen') has bronze leaves and double white flowers, that have just a blush of pink. (Prunus serrulata 'Shogetsu') has more arching branches, and double pink flowers. These flowering cherries are all hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 5.

Dwarf Flowering Cherry Trees

The red leaved cherry also develops edible black fruits.
cherry tree 1 image by Przemyslaw Koroza from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Some cherries are planted for their colorful foliage, as well as for their flowers. The purple-leaved sand cherry (Prunus cistena), is a small multistemmed tree. It provides purple leaves and single white flowers. The added benefit is the edible black berries. At maturity, the sand cherry is only 4 to 6 feet tall. It is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 3. Another valuable dwarf cherry is (Prunus 'Holly Jolyvette'). This one blooms at a very young age and for a long period in spring. The flowers have double white petals. 'Holly Jolyvette' reaches 15 feet tall at maturity. The great white cherry (Prunus 'Tai-haku') has some of the largest single white flowers found among the ornamental cherries. All this bloom is found on a 6 to 7 foot tree. The leaves emerge bronze-purple, making it a great foliage plant as well. Both of these dwarf flowering cherries are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6.

Weeping Cherries

The flowers of weeping cherry hang downwards.
cherry tree image by Aldo from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Weeping flowering cherry trees can be a focal point in the small garden. One popular weeping cherry is the double weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Yae-shidare-Higan'). It has very full double pink blossoms and reaches between 15 and 20 feet in height. A similar tree with a lighter shade of double pink blooms (Prunus 'Snow Showers'). Another pink weeping cherry that may have single or double flowers is (Prunus subhirtella'Shidare-Zakura-Pendula'). For single white flowers try (Prunus 'Snow fountains'). This one will reach a mere 12 feet at maturity. The best way to be sure of bloom color and size is to choose a weeping cherry in bloom.


About the Author


Marci Degman has been a landscape designer and horticulture writer since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. Degman writes a newspaper column for the "Hillsboro Argus" and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write online instructional articles.