Flowering Cherry Planting Guide
Flowering cherries prefer full sun to partial shade and good air circulation. If possible, avoid exposed, windy locations because strong winds can damage large flowers and the typically brittle branches. Make sure the area you want to plant has enough room for the mature height and spread of the tree. Flowering cherries grow best in moist, well-drained, nutrient rich soils. Avoid planting in heavy, compacted soils. In such soils, cherries are quite susceptible to root and crown rot. Well-established plants can be moderately drought tolerant.
Flowering cherries grow best in acidic (pH 6.5) well drained, loamy, moist, rich soils, but a pH of 5.5-8.0 is acceptable. If you are in doubt about the acidity of your soil, take a sample to the Cooperative Extension Agent in your county for testing.
Dig a hole about two times the size of your pot and the same depth as the root ball. Set the soil you have dug out aside. Remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball. Place the plant in the planting hole and replace the soil with the mix and gently pack down the dirt. To avoid planting to deep make sure the plant is at a position with the top most roots at the soil line.
If desired, construct a water basin at the base of the tree about 36 inches in diameter. Apply a thin layer of mulch over the root ball keeping the mulch a few inches away from the trunk of the tree. Place a layer of mulch around the plant that is at least 2 inches (5 cm) thick (thicker for light mulches like pine needles). Fertilizer is not necessary at planting.
Once established, growth can be accelerated with light, frequent applications of fertilizer during the first three growing seasons. Wait until the flowering cherry is 2 years old to fertilize it for the first time and then fertilize every other spring. Use a 5-10-10 formula fertilizer, spread on the soil beneath the tree, out to the dripline. Water after fertilizing.
The first year is a critical time for your new flowering cherry. It has not had time to establish itself yet and therefore is not as strong as an older plant. To prevent the plant from dying, it must be watered twice a week on light soil and once a week on clay soil. Be sure to soak the entire root system deeply, this will take about 45-60 minutes.
For best growth and production, flowering cherries should receive at least one inch of water a week. During dry spells, water is mandatory. If not properly watered during dry spells, flowers may be mitigated. Keep at least 4 feet around the shrub clear of grass and weeds, for less competition for water.
Flowering cherries grow best when they are left alone but regular pruning will help reduce the risk of insects and diseases. Keep open air circulation in your tree by pruning branches that are dead, damaged, or diseased. If you need to shape your tree, do so after the flowering season (early summer) when the risk of disease is mitigated and the next season buds have yet to develop.
Insect & Disease Control
The flowering cherries are highly susceptible to insects and diseases. Manage insects as soon as you see them. Aphids and spider mites are common pests on flowering cherry trees and can be killed with horticultural oil, at the rate suggested on the product's label.
Black Knot, Brown Rot, and Cherry Eutypa Dieback are among the most common diseases of the flowering cherry. Prune away the dead branches and limbs and dispose of them away from the garden to avoid reinfecting the tree. Disinfect pruning tools between cuts and between trees.
Healthy flowering cherry trees are more resistant to infection and recover more readily from disease. Pull up weeds and remove all plant debris from the area around the tree. Do not compost or chip infected plant material. Water the trees at ground level only, or water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry completely. Many fungal spores travel inside water droplets. Apply a preventive spray of fungicide in early spring, just as the flower buds are about to open. Use a fungicide labelled appropriate for the specific pathogen infecting the flowering cherry tree. Follow label directions for subsequent application rates and timing.