Growing Your Own Cherry Tree

There is nothing quite like cherry blossoms in bloom.

The magical pink and white Yoshino cherries in the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., or here at home in the Missouri Botanical Garden, are truly an icon of spring.

Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus x yedoensis) flowering in the Japanese Garden | Photo by Cassidy Moody

These picture-perfect ornamental cherry trees also have a significant horticulture value and can make a wonderful addition to your backyard. They are excellent small to medium-sized trees for lawns, adjacent to streets, or decks and patios. Yoshino cherry trees can be an ornamental feature on their own, or in groups.

The Yoshino cherry tree, or Prunus  yedoensis, are native to Japan, but can grow in Zones 5 to 8. Click here to determine your growing zone. The trees are adaptable to a wide range of soils. They do best in full sun, but can also grow in light  shade. They tolerate heat and humidity, but not drought. Flowering cherry trees will live for 30 to 40 years.

Yoshino cherries grow 30 to 40 feet high and can grow a canopy of about equal width. The showy trees provide beauty across seasons.  In spring, before leaves emerge, the branches are blanketed in clusters of fragrant blooms that can be white or light pink. They are typically the first ornamental cherry trees to bloom.

Yoshino cherries in bloom | Photo by Sundos Schneider

While the blooms don’t last long, after they peak, the petals are released, creating a snow-like effect as they gently fall and cover the ground.

The blooms are followed by small, dark red fruits. The fruit is bitter to humans, but loved by birds. The trees also attract butterflies. In the autumn, Yoshinos provide lovely fall color with yellow foliage with tints of bronze.

Like other ornamental cherries, Yoshino cherries are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. Aphids, scale, and tent caterpillar infestations can cause significant damage. They are also prone to leaf spot and powdery mildew infections. The best thing to do to keep your Yoshino cherry healthy is to provide it with the proper growing conditions. 

While they can adapt to a wide range of soils, evenly moist, well-draining soils are best. Provide supplemental irrigation during times of drought to reduce stress on the tree.

Pruning is essential, too. Regular pruning reduces pests problems, keeps trees attractive, and improves longevity. The best time to prune fruit trees is late winter through early spring. Remove any dead or broken branches and any new conflicting branches that have developed. Make sure the center of the tree is kept open to admit light and air.

You can find more home gardening tips from the Kemper Center at

Catherine Martin
Public Information Officer

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