Amelanchier trees have it all: masses of spring blossom, autumn colour, and even edible fruits, which are also attractive to birds. Most are compact in habit and are therefore perfect trees for small gardens. They have a number of common names, including snowy mespilus, juneberry and serviceberry.

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The growing season starts early for these beautiful ornamental trees: in early spring they bloom on bare branches, their star-shaped blossom giving light to the garden when little else is in flower. These are followed by coppery leaves which mature to a fresh green before developing vivid shades of orange and red in autumn. Edible black berries further enhance the display, which are well loved by wildlife.

How to grow amelachier

Autumn leaf colour of Amelanchier lamarckii. Getty Images
Autumn leaf colour of Amelanchier lamarckii. Getty Images

Amelanchiers are easy to grow and provide a fantastic season of colour and interest, along with wildlife value. Fully hardy, these North American natives are well suited to growing in the British climate, and they're low-maintenance too – there's usually very little need to prune beyond removing dead or damaged growth in late winter. Grow amelanchier in moist, well-drained, neutral to acidic soil in full sun to partial shade. A sunnier spot and an acidic soil will result in the best autumn colour.

How to plant amelanchier

Watch, as Monty Don explains how to get the best results from planting amelanchier trees at the right depth, plus the benefits of adding Biochar to the planting hole.


Best amelanchiers to grow

All amelanchiers have gorgeous spring bloom and attractive foliage that develops fiery hues in autumn. However some have more of a shrub-like or slender habit, while others have more pendulous blossom and deeper autumn colours.

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Amelanchier canadensis

Amelanchier canadensis. Getty Images
Amelanchier canadensis. Getty Images

Amelanchier canadensis has more of a shrub-like form than other species, with slightly more upright blossoms. Height x Spread: 8m x 4m

Amelanchier lamarckii

Spring-flowering Amelanchier lamarckii
Spring-flowering Amelanchier lamarckii

One of the most sought-after amelanchiers, Amelachier lamarckii has fully pendulous flowers and a spreading, multi-stemmed habit. The bronze-tinged young foliage matures to a glossy green, and then develops shades of orange and red before falling in autumn. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit. H x S: 10m x 6m

Amelanchier laevis 'Snowflakes'

Larger than average white blooms appear in spring, and pink-tinged foliage turns fresh green, and then shades of yellow, orange and red before falling in autumn. Does well in pots. H x S: 6m x 6m

Amelanchier grandiflora 'Ballerina'

'Ballerina' bears masses of blooms, and has an elegant, multi-stemmed habit, making it a perfect winter specimen tree. Autumn colour is red-purple. H x S: 4m x 4m

Amelanchier arborea 'Robin Hill'

Amelanchier arborea 'Robin Hill'. Getty Images
Amelanchier arborea 'Robin Hill'. Getty Images

With the growth habit of a standard tree, 'Robin Hill' has a compact, erect canopy, compared to the shrub-like habits of many other amelanchiers. What's more, it has pale pink buds and young flowers, which mature to white, making it particularly attractive. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit. H x S: 6m x 4m

Amelanchier alnifolia 'Obelisk'

Flower buds of Amelanchier alnifolia 'Obelisk'. Getty Images
Flower buds and leaves of Amelanchier alnifolia 'Obelisk'. Getty Images

Also known as alder-leaved serviceberry, this variety has serrated leaves with prominent veining. Starting out as vibrant green, the foliage makes a fantastic display of warm autumnal colours before the leaves drop once the low temperatures arrive. White star-shaped flowers with green centres.

H x S: 6m x 1.5m

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Robin Hill'

This erect, small tree bears clusters of pink buds open to pale pink flowers, which mature to white before falling, while coppery leaves mature to green, and then develop red hues again in autumn. H x S: 8m x 4m

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Frequently asked questions

Help! Is my amelanchier dying?

If the leaves on your amelanchier are turning brown, red or orange and dropping prematurely, it's likely that the tree is under some kind of stress. Make sure it’s receiving enough water, especially in drought conditions and, conversely, that it has sufficient drainage. It’s also possible that your amelanchier has a disease such as fireblight – a bacterial disease which causes leaves to shrivel and drop, shoots to dieback and white liquid to ooze from infected wood in wet weather between late spring and autumn. Leaf scorch can also cause leaves to turn brown at the edges. It's caused by unfavourable environmental conditions including heat, frost or drying winds. Consider the placement of trees before planting and ensure they are sheltered from wind and frost pockets. Amelanchiers in containers can be moved to a more sheltered area if they're suffering from leaf scorch.

Why do my amelanchier leaves have brown spots?

If your amelanchier has brown spots on its leaves, it may be suffering from a fungal leaf spot disease, especially in particularly rainy seasons. To minimise the chance of fungal disease, ensure that amelanchiers are planted in well-drained soil in full sun.

Can I keep my amelanchier in a pot?

You can grow amelanchier in a pot, but larger varieties are not ideally suited to a pot long term. If you do decide to grow one in a container, make sure the pot size is appropriate for the root system – trees require large pots. Choose a more compact variety such as Amelanchier spicata or Amelanchier laevis ‘Snowflakes’. Plant in peat-free ericaceous loam-based compost and water with rainwater. As with all plants in pots, your amelanchier will need regular watering and feeding.

Can I prune my amelanchier by cutting it right back?

Amelanchier trees require minimal pruning if they've been planted in a place where they can develop naturally. Amelanchier lamarckii and Amelanchier canadensis are generally grown as multi-stemmed shrubs or small trees. Plants should be lightly thinned as they develop to maintain an open shape. However, if they’ve been left and stems have become crowded and twisted together, multi-stemmed Amelanchier shrubs can be renovated by cutting congested stems back to ground level after flowering in late spring. To avoid cutting back the whole plant, prune a third of the stems back to an outward facing bud each year, beginning with the oldest stems. After three years, the plant will have been completely renovated. This type of renovation pruning isn’t recommended for amelanchier grown as a single stem tree. Amelanchiers can also be pruned in winter, but this is likely to affect flowering the following year.

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