Cherry Tree ( Prunus ) Species Guide - Bonsai-En

Cherry Tree ( Prunus ) Species Guide

What Are Cherry Trees?

 
Cherry trees, scientifically known as Prunus, are a group of deciduous trees and shrubs in the rose family. They are native to the northern hemisphere, with many species originating in Asia, particularly Japan.
 
Cherry trees are popular for their beautiful pink or white blossoms that bloom in spring, making them a symbol of renewal and the coming of spring. They also produce edible fruit, with sweet cherries being a popular summer fruit, and sour cherries often used for baking and preserving.
 
Cherry trees have a wide range of ornamental and practical uses. They are often used as shade trees, street trees, and in gardens and parks. They are also commonly used as bonsai, a traditional Japanese art form of growing miniature trees in containers.
 
Cherry trees are known for their ease of cultivation and versatility. With proper care, they can live for decades and even centuries. They are also relatively disease and pest-resistant, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.
 

Common Types Of Cherry

 
Prunus avium, also known as sweet cherry or wild cherry, is a species of cherry tree that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 25 meters tall.
Sweet cherry trees are known for their large, white or pink flowers that bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. The flowers are often used for ornamental purposes, and are a sign of the coming of spring. The fruit is a drupe, and typically red or black when ripe, depending on the variety. The fruit is edible, sweet, and juicy, and is often used for making jams, jellies, and pies.
Sweet cherry trees prefer well-drained soils and full sun exposure. They are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they prefer mild winters and cool summers. They are also relatively disease and pest-resistant, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.
Sweet cherry trees are often used as ornamental trees, and they are also commonly used for commercial fruit production. They are also used for Bonsai and as pollinators for other cherry trees.
The wood of sweet cherry tree is also prized for its color, straight grain, and durability, and is often used for furniture, flooring, and decorative items.
 
Prunus cerasus, also known as sour cherry or tart cherry, is a species of cherry tree that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 10 meters tall.
Sour cherry trees are known for their small, white or pink flowers that bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. The fruit is a drupe, and typically red or yellow when ripe, depending on the variety. The fruit is tart and acidic and is often used for making pies, jams, jellies, and preserves. It is also used in cooking and baking, and as an ingredient in liqueurs and syrups.
Sour cherry trees prefer well-drained soils and full sun exposure. They are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they prefer mild winters and cool summers. They are also relatively disease and pest-resistant, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.
Sour cherry trees are often used as ornamental trees, and they are also commonly used for commercial fruit production. They are also used for Bonsai, but not as much as sweet cherry trees. The wood of sour cherry tree is also prized for its color, straight grain, and durability, and is often used for furniture, flooring, and decorative items.
 
Prunus serrulata, also known as the Japanese cherry or the hill cherry, is a species of cherry tree that is native to Japan and China. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 20 meters tall.
Japanese cherry trees are known for their spectacular pink or white flowers that bloom in early spring, often before the leaves appear. The flowers are often used for ornamental purposes and are a symbol of spring in Japan where they are called "Sakura" and it is celebrated in a festival called Hanami. The fruit is a drupe, and typically small and not edible.
Japanese cherry trees prefer well-drained soils and full sun exposure. They are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they prefer mild winters and cool summers. They are also relatively disease and pest-resistant, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.
Japanese cherry trees are often used as ornamental trees, and they are also commonly used for commercial fruit production. They are also used for Bonsai, and are considered one of the most traditional and popular subjects for the art form. The wood of the Japanese cherry tree is also prized for its color, straight grain, and durability, and is often used for furniture, flooring, and decorative items.
 

Characteristics Of Cherry Trees

 
Cherry trees have simple, ovate leaves that are glossy and dark green on the upper surface, and paler green on the lower surface. The leaves have serrated edges and are usually 2-7 cm long and 1-4 cm wide. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow, orange, or red before falling off the tree.
The bark of cherry trees is smooth and gray when the tree is young, but as it matures, it becomes rough and develops deep fissures. On older trees, the bark can appear dark brown or black. The bark is also ornamental, and the fissures on the bark can add character to the tree.
The bark of cherry tree is also used for medicinal purposes. The bark of the cherry tree contain natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain-relieving properties.
It's important to note that the leaves and bark characteristics can vary depending on the species of cherry tree, with some species having more distinct characteristics than others.
 
Cherry trees are known for their beautiful flowers, which are typically pink or white and bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. The flowers are usually 2-4 cm in diameter and are produced in clusters. Each flower has five petals and a central cluster of stamens.
The fruit of cherry trees is a drupe, a fleshy fruit with a pit or stone in the center. The fruit of sweet cherry trees is usually red or black when ripe and can be round or oblong in shape. The fruit of sour cherry trees is usually red or yellow when ripe and is smaller and more acidic than sweet cherries. The fruit of Japanese cherry trees is usually small and not edible.
The fruit of cherry trees is edible, with sweet cherries being a popular summer fruit and sour cherries often used for baking and preserving. The fruit of cherry trees is also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber.
The fruit of cherry trees is also used for medicinal purposes. The fruit of cherry trees contain natural compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain-relieving properties.
 
Cherry trees have a wide range of growth habits, depending on the species. In general, they are fast-growing trees that can reach a mature height of 20-30 feet, although some species can grow much taller. They typically have a rounded or vase-shaped canopy, and they tend to be wider than they are tall.
Japanese cherry trees have a relatively short lifespan (around 20-30 years) and are considered short-lived when compared to other cherry tree species. They are also smaller in size, typically reaching a mature height of 15-25 feet.
Sweet cherry trees are considered long-lived and can live for decades and even centuries with proper care. They typically reach a mature height of 20-30 feet, although some cultivars can grow taller.
Sour cherry trees have a growth habit similar to sweet cherry trees, but they are smaller in size, typically reaching a mature height of 15-20 feet.
Cherry trees are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they prefer mild winters and cool summers. They are also relatively disease and pest-resistant, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.
It is important to note that the growth habits can vary depending on the species of cherry tree, with some species having more distinct characteristics than others. It is also worth noting that proper care, such as pruning, fertilizing, and watering, can greatly affect the growth habit of cherry trees.
 

Growing Cherry Trees

 
Cherry trees prefer well-drained soils and full sun exposure. They are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they prefer mild winters and cool summers. The ideal temperature range for cherry tree growth is between -10C to 30C.
Sweet cherry trees are considered hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as -25C. They are also tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but they prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Sweet cherry trees are also sensitive to waterlogged soils and poorly drained soils.
Sour cherry trees are also considered hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as -25C. They prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter, similar to sweet cherry trees. They are also sensitive to waterlogged soils and poorly drained soils.
 
Japanese cherry trees are considered hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as -20C. They prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter, similar to sweet and sour cherry trees. They are also sensitive to waterlogged soils and poorly drained soils.
 
It is important to note that the climate and soil requirements can vary depending on the species of cherry tree, with some species having more specific requirements than others. It is also worth noting that proper care, such as fertilizing, mulching and watering, can greatly affect the tree's ability to tolerate different soil and climate conditions.
 

Planting Cherry Trees

 
Planting cherry trees is best done in the fall or early spring, when the tree is dormant. The following are the general steps for planting cherry trees:
  1. Choose a location with well-drained soil and full sun exposure.
  2. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of the tree.
  3. Remove the tree from its container and loosen any tangled roots.
  4. Place the tree in the hole and backfill the soil, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
  5. Water the tree thoroughly to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets.
  6. Mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

 

Once planted, cherry trees require regular care to ensure proper growth and development. The following are some general care instructions:

  1. Water the tree regularly, especially during dry periods.
  2. Fertilize the tree in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer or organic mulch.
  3. Prune the tree as needed to shape and maintain its form, remove dead or damaged wood, and promote fruiting.
  4. Monitor for pests and diseases and take appropriate action if necessary.
  5. Provide the tree with proper protection from frost, wind and sun by using screens or shelters.
It is important to note that the specific care instructions can vary depending on the species of cherry tree, with some species having more specific requirements than others. It is also worth noting that proper care, such as pruning, fertilizing, and watering, can greatly affect the growth and health of cherry trees.
 

Common Problems And Solutions

 
Cherry trees are generally hardy and disease-resistant, but they can still be susceptible to certain problems. Here are some common problems and their solutions:
  1. Pest infestation - Cherry trees can be attacked by pests such as aphids, cherry fruit flies, and Japanese beetles. To control pests, use insecticides or natural methods such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
  2. Disease - Cherry trees can be susceptible to diseases such as cherry leaf spot, powdery mildew, and root rot. To prevent and control diseases, practice proper cultural care such as proper irrigation, pruning, and fertilizing.
  3. Winter injury - Cherry trees can suffer from winter injury due to extreme cold temperatures or desiccation. To prevent winter injury, provide proper protection from the elements by using screens or shelters.
  4. Bacterial Canker - Bacterial canker is a disease caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, it can cause wilting, dieback, and cankers on cherry trees. To prevent and control bacterial canker, practice proper cultural care, avoid wound and prune during dry weather and avoid overhead irrigation.
  5. Nutrient deficiencies - Cherry trees can suffer from nutrient deficiencies such as a lack of nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. To prevent and correct nutrient deficiencies, fertilize the tree with a balanced fertilizer and conduct a soil test to determine the specific needs of the tree.
It is important to note that the specific problems and solutions can vary depending on the species of cherry tree, with some species having more specific issues than others. It is also worth noting that proper care, such as fertilizing, mulching and watering, can greatly affect the tree's ability to resist problems.
 

Cherry Trees As Bonsai

 
Bonsai is a traditional Japanese art form of growing miniature trees in containers. The word "bonsai" literally means "planted in a container" and it's an art form that has been practiced for over a thousand years. Bonsai cultivation involves miniaturizing a tree by pruning, wiring, and training its branches to create a desired shape, while also controlling its root growth to keep the tree small.
 
Bonsai cultivation starts with selecting a suitable tree species and then growing it in a container, typically a shallow tray or pot. The tree is pruned and wired to shape its branches and trunk into a desired form, and its roots are pruned and shaped to keep the tree small. The tree is then regularly watered, fertilized, and pruned to maintain its shape and size.
 
The goal of bonsai cultivation is to create a miniature, stylized version of a mature tree that resembles a natural, full-sized tree in miniature. Bonsai trees can be grown in various styles such as formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, semi-cascade, and literati, each with its own characteristics and rules.
Cherry trees, particularly the Prunus serrulata, are considered one of the most traditional and popular subjects for Bonsai cultivation due to their delicate pink or white flowers, and their ability to be shaped and maintained to create beautiful and intricate designs.
 
Cherry trees are popular subjects for bonsai cultivation, and many varieties are suitable for this art form. Some suitable varieties include:
  1. Prunus serrulata (Japanese cherry): This species is considered one of the most traditional and popular subjects for bonsai cultivation due to its delicate pink or white flowers and its ability to be shaped and maintained to create beautiful and intricate designs.
  2. Prunus avium (sweet cherry): Some varieties of sweet cherry, like the 'Kanzan' or 'Sakura' are suitable for bonsai cultivation, although less traditional than the Japanese cherry.
  3. Prunus cerasus (sour cherry): Some varieties of sour cherry are suitable for bonsai cultivation. The 'Morello' is a popular variety for bonsai due to its small size and distinctive dark red fruit.
It's important to note that not all varieties of cherry trees are suitable for bonsai cultivation, and it is best to consult with a bonsai expert or do research to determine which varieties are best suited for this art form. Additionally, many species of cherry trees are grafted, and the rootstock can affect the overall size and shape of the tree. It's important to choose a variety that is grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock, to keep the tree small and suitable for bonsai cultivation.
 

There are several techniques for shaping and maintaining cherry bonsai trees. Some of the most common techniques include:

  1. Pruning: Regular pruning is essential for shaping and maintaining cherry bonsai. Pruning is used to control the shape and size of the tree and to promote branching. It is best to prune cherry bonsai trees during the dormant season, typically in late fall or early spring.
  2. Wiring: Wiring is a technique used to shape the branches and trunk of a cherry bonsai tree. The branches are bent and wired into the desired shape and left in place until the wire is tightly embedded in the branch, this process can take several months. Wiring is best done during the dormant season, typically in late fall or early spring.
  3. Defoliation: Defoliation is a technique used to reduce the leaf size and promote compact growth. The leaves are removed by hand or with scissors, leaving only a few leaves at the top of the tree. This technique is typically used in the late spring or early summer, when the new leaves are fully grown.
  4. Root pruning: Root pruning is a technique used to control the size and shape of the root system. It is usually done every 3-5 years and is best done in the early spring or late fall.
  5. Repotting: Repotting is typically done every 2-3 years and is best done in the early spring or late fall, when the tree is dormant. It is important to use a well-draining bonsai soil mix and to not over-pot the tree.
  6. Fertilizing: Fertilizing is important to provide the tree with the necessary nutrients to grow. Bonsai trees are fertilized more frequently than outdoor trees, typically every 4-6 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
It's important to note that these techniques are not mutually exclusive, and a combination of them
 

Conclusion

 
  • Cherry trees are a popular subject for bonsai cultivation, with Prunus serrulata (Japanese cherry) being the most traditional and popular among bonsai enthusiasts.
  • Proper care, such as pruning, wiring, and fertilizing, is essential for shaping and maintaining cherry bonsai trees.
  • Cherry bonsai trees should be pruned, wired, and fertilized during the dormant season, typically in late fall or early spring.
  • Root pruning, defoliation, and repotting are also important techniques for maintaining cherry bonsai trees.
  • It is important to choose a variety that is grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock to keep the tree small and suitable for bonsai cultivation.
  • Bonsai trees are fertilized more frequently than outdoor trees, typically every 4-6 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.