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Kwanzan Cherry Trees

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Picture of Kwanzan flowering cherry.

Click the picture of Kwanzan cherry above to access the mini-photo gallery.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Kwanzan Cherry:

Plant taxonomy classifies Kwanzan cherry trees as Prunus serrulata; 'Kwanzan' is the cultivar name.

Plant Type:

Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' is a widely planted specimen. These flowering trees are classified as deciduous.

Characteristics of Kwanzan Cherry:

Kwanzan cherry grows to about 25 feet in height, with a similar width. Its white to pink spring blossoms will be most impressive when the tree is grown against a dark backdrop of evergreen trees. Kwanzans, which are among the most popular cherry blossom trees, produce no fruit. The trees bear coppery leaves in spring and a fall foliage that starts out yellow and morphs into an orange. The fall leaves do not, however, remain long enough on their branches to consider them superior fall foliage specimens.

Planting Zones for Kwanzan Cherry:

Indigenous to the Far East, Kwanzan cherry trees are best grown in planting zones 5-8.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Grow Kwanzan cherry in full sun and in a well-drained soil with plenty of humus.

Meaning of Name, "Kwanzan" -- Nothing to Do With "Kwanzaa":

While it's tempting to think Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' has something to do with the African celebration, Kwanzaa, this does not appear to be the case. According to the U.S. National Park Service, Kwanzan cherry trees were named after a mountain in Japan. Misspellings of the name abound, attributable, at least in part, I suspect, to this false association with the celebration. Thus you will sometimes see "Kwanza cherry" or even "Kwanzaa cherry."

Uses in the Landscape:

Kwanzan cherry trees can function in the landscape as fast-growing shade trees for small spaces, such as patios. When flowering in spring, they certainly qualify as specimens.

Care for Kwanzan Cherry: Borer Control:

Peach tree borers are a problem for these (and other) cherry trees. In fact, their susceptibility to a number of pests earns them dreaded "short-lived trees" label. For borer control, most experts simply advise keeping the tree vigorous (and therefore less susceptible to borer attack) by providing adequate irrigation and fertilizer. To fertilize organically, backfill with some compost when planting and top-dress periodically thereafter, watering the nutrients into the soil.

But I found a couple of experts who offer suggestions for more rigorous borer control.

The North Carolina State Extension advises that the "best time to apply a preventative spray to the base of peach trees is August 15 and again September 1." But once the caterpillars get under the bark, they warn, all hope is lost.

The University of California's integrated pest management experts offer tips that go beyond prevention. Spring is the time to implement the following borer control method:

"Treat affected trees with insecticide by spraying the trunk from the scaffold to the soil line. Apply the insecticide with a hand-held sprayer to the tree trunk from the juncture of the main scaffold limbs to the soil line. Cover the trunk thoroughly, using enough spray material so it will run off to form a small puddle at the base of the tree. Use from 0.5 to 1.5 gallons per tree, depending upon the size of the trunk."

Happily, they are deer-resistant trees.

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