Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan')
Of all the flowering trees, none is as romantic as the ornamental cherry "Kwanzan," (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'). Like many cherries, it has a lovely, graceful vase-shape form, attractive bark and good fall color, but is best known for its stunning display of showy, double pink flowers that envelop the tree in late Spring, covering the tree in what look like tiny floral dresses. After flowering is another spectacular show as millions of petals shower down from the trees in a pink, whisper-soft snowfall.
I'll never forget the first time I saw this breathtaking tree in flower. I had rented my first ever house and knew nothing about the two trees out front except that they were enormous, nearly fifty feet tall. A friend identified them as flowering cherries, so as the rest of the neighborhood trees bloomed, I waited and waited. By the end of April, when other trees were finished and leaves began to appear, I gave up on having flowering trees.
A few warm days later, as I drove up the road to the house, I nearly wrecked my car. The two trees, which I now know were two of the largest "Kwanzan" I had ever seen, had bloomed in entirety, creating a canopy of pink frills. Later, when the bloom was finished and the snowfall of petals covered the yard in pink, I spent the entire weekend watching this unbelievable, straight-from-a-fairytale show, waiting for the elvish lady or medieval princess that was sure to appear at any moment. Those trees won my heart that year and I have loved them ever since.
I don't currently have a Kwanzan cherry in my garden, but I hope to someday. Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough to have this beautiful specimen next door to appreciate each Spring.
Latin Name: Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'
Common Name: Kwanzan flowering cherry
USDA Zone: 5-9
Mature Height: 30'-40'
Mature Spread: 30'-40'
Bloom Time: late Spring
Habit: Vase-shaped with spreading, rounded crown.
Growth rate: Medium
Exposure: Full sun
Soil: Tolerant of many soils, but prefers moist, well-drained soil
Water: Somewhat drought tolerant; should not need supplemental water once established
Though the "Kwanzan" has a reputation for being easily stressed, relatively short lived and susceptible to disease, its spectacular show makes it worth these possible limitations. Crowns of this tree are very similar, making it an excellent candidate for lining walks or drives. It is also an excellent specimen tree and can be planted in containers or used for Bonsai. "Kwanzan" flowering cherry blooms in late Spring, up to two weeks later than other cherries. New leaves are bronze colored, then turn to dark green for the summer and yellow to copper in fall.
Here's a bunch of pictures of my neighbor's Kwanzan Cherry:
Do you have Kwanzan cherry growing in your garden?
P.S. Originally posted on April 29, 2008, this post was updated with new pictures and information on April 23, 2013!