Cherry blossom of Prunus 'Pink Shell'

The best cherry blossom trees for your garden

Looking to buy a cherry tree for your garden? Here are some of the best.

Cherry blossom is a true sign of spring. The pretty pink and white flowers burst into bloom for a few glorious weeks before falling from their boughs like confetti.

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Ornamental cherry trees are grown for their flowers rather than their fruit. Most are cultivars of the Japanese cherry tree, Prunus cerasus (sakura tree) which has been celebrated in Japan for centuries.

The Japanese take cherry blossom very seriously – cherry blossom is the country’s national flower and families and friends gather each spring for ‘hanami’, to view the cherry trees. This is now catching on in the UK, too, with people recording their first sighting of cherry blossom on social media.

Many varieties of cherry are perfect trees for small gardens, and they come in a range of shapes – upright, spreading, rounded or weeping. And, of course, there are varieties of cherry that produce deliciously tasty fruit. Many have spectacular autumn foliage, too.

Cherry blossom also provides an important early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators.

When to plant cherry blossom trees

Container-grown cherry blossom trees (which you’re likely to find at garden centres) can be planted at any time of year, although spring and autumn are the best times as the soil is warm and moist and not too dry or cold. Bare root trees (which are often cheaper) need to be bought and planted during the dormant season, from November to March. These are available from specialist tree nurseries and online.

Before planting, read our advice on how to plant trees.

Where to plant your cherry blossom tree

Cherry blossom trees do best in a sunny, sheltered spot – strong winds can strip a tree of its blossom. Trees that produce sour edible fruits, such as the Morello cherry, can tolerate some shade. Cherries can tolerate a wide range of soil types, as long as it is moist and well drained. 

Bear in mind that cherry blossom trees have different shapes – some are upright and some are more rounded or spreading. They look lovely as specimen trees in a front garden or in the middle of a lawn. Smaller types such as ‘Amanagowa’ or ‘Kojo-no-mai’ can be incorporated into borders.

To really enhance the beautiful blossom, you could underplant the tree with beautiful spring bulbs, such as white daffodils or tulips.

Advice on buying cherry blossom trees

  • Check you have the right spot for a cherry tree – most do best in a sunny, sheltered spot
  • Check the ultimate size and shape
  • Flowering cherry trees are widely available at garden centres but you will find more choice at specialist tree nurseries. They may offer trees in larger sizes, often as bare root trees, which are only available to buy and plant during the dormant season (November to March)

Where to buy cherry blossom trees online

The best cherry blossom trees for your garden

Prunus ‘Pink Shell’

Cherry blossom of Prunus 'Pink Shell'
Cherry blossom of Prunus ‘Pink Shell’

Prunus ‘Pink Shell’ is a small, spreading ornamental cherry with delicate, cup-shaped pink flowers and pale green leaves that turn orange in autumn. It is excellent for early pollinators.

Ultimate height x Spread: 8m x 8m

Shape: Spreading


Prunus ‘Spire’

Prunus ‘Spire’ is a compact and upright ornamental cherry that produces an impressive show of pink flowers from late March. Its colourful foliage begins bronze, turning yellow and green in summer, turning red in autumn. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 8m x 4m

Shape: Upright


Prunus ‘Tai-haku’

Prunus 'Tai-Haku'

An ancient cultivar, Prunus ‘Tai-haku’, great white cherry or hill cherry, bears white blossoms much larger than most ornamental cherries, up to 6cm wide. The gorgeous bronze foliage turns green in summer. A large, wide tree that needs plenty of room, it holds the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 8m x 8m

Shape: Spreading


Prunus avium ‘Regina’

Prunus avium 'Regina'
Prunus avium ‘Regina’

An excellent cherry for both flowers and fruits, Prunus avium ‘Regina’ produces clouds of pure-white blossom in spring, followed by large dessert cherries with superb flavour in summer. Great for a small garden.

Height x Spread: 4m x 3.5m

Shape: Rounded


Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'
Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

Reaching up to 2m, Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ compact ornamental cherry. More like a large shrub, it is ideal for a small garden and can also be grown in a pot. Showy white flowers blushed with pink burst from attractive twisted branches. It has excellent red and orange autumn colour. It has the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 2.5m x 2.5m

Shape: Bush


Prunus ‘Shirotae’

Prunus serrulata 'Shirotae'
Prunus ‘Shirotae’

Prunus ‘Shirotae’ produces masses of fragrant, semi-double white flowers on dark branches, followed by pretty autumn colour. Its flat crown and spreading habit creates a stunning look. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 8m x 6m

Shape: Spreading


Prunus ‘Amanogawa’

Prunus 'Amanogawa'. Getty Images
Prunus ‘Amanogawa’. Getty Images

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ is a beautiful ornamental cherry with an upright or columnar habit, hence its common name, the flagpole cherry. In late spring it’s smothered in semi-double, pale pink blossom, popular with pollinators. The foliage is green-bronze in spring and fresh green in summer. In autumn, the leaves turn orange and red before falling. Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ is one of the best trees for small gardens. It holds the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 8m x 4m

Shape: Upright


Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’

Cherry blossom, Prunus cerasus. Getty Images
Cherry blossom, Prunus cerasus. Getty Images

The Morello cherry, Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’, also known as sour cherry, has beautiful white blossom in spring, followed by fruits that are mainly used in cooking. It is self-fertile (does not need another cherry nearby for pollination) and bears large crops. Morello cherries on smaller rootstocks can be grown as dwarf fruit trees in pots or in the ground or fan-trained against a wall to save space. It can be grown in a north-facing site. It holds the RHS AGM.

Height x Spread: 4m x 4m

Shape: Rounded, fan or dwarf


Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’

Cherry plum, Prunus cerasifera 'Nigra'
Cherry plum, Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’

The black cherry plum, Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ is a beautiful, rounded tree and one of the first cherries to bloom in spring. It has dark purple leaves and masses of pink blossom that fades to white, opening from deep pink buds in spring. The purple-black branches are eye-catching, and the foliage turns spectacular shades of orange in autumn. It is tolerant of pollution, so popular for urban gardens. The foliage turns spectacular fiery shades in autumn. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 10m x 8m

Shape: Rounded


Prunus x yedoensis

Prunus x yeodensis
Prunus x yedoensis

Prunus x yedoensis, the Yoshino cherry, is a graceful tree that bears a profusion of white-pink flowers in spring. It is a spreading tree with arching branches. Plant as a specimen tree in a lawn, so that its shape can be appreciated. 

Height x Spread: 12m x 8m

Shape: Spreading


Prunus ‘Pandora’

Prunus Pandora cherry Pandora Hillier Nurseries Ltd stand plant portrait 210518 21052018 21/05/18 21/05/2018 21 21st May 2018 Spring RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 Great Pavilion photographer Torie Chugg Floral Marquee
Prunus Pandora cherry Pandora Hillier Nurseries Ltd stand plant portrait 210518 21052018 21/05/18 21/05/2018 21 21st May 2018 Spring RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 Great Pavilion photographer Torie Chugg Floral Marquee

Prunus ‘Pandora’ is a compact cherry with a ‘vase-like’ shape, making it a good tree for the smaller garden. It has pale pink blossom in spring and orange foliage in autumn, and has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 10m x 8m

Shape: Vase


Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Rubra’

Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Rubra’ has a beautiful weeping habit. It bears masses of deep pink flowers, mainly during late winter and early spring. In autumn leaves develop fiery tints of orange and red before falling. Prunus pendula ‘Pendula Rubra’ has been awarded the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Award of Garden Merit.

Height x Spread: 4m x 4m

Shape: Weeping


How to care for cherry blossom trees

Keep the soil moist after planting, for at least the first year. In spring, mulch with organic matter, such as well rotted manure – this should help retain moisture.

Cherry blossom trees need no routine pruning but if you want to tweak the shape or move crossing or dead branches, do this in spring or summer when the tree is less likely to suffer from silver leaf disease or canker.

Read more about growing cherries.

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Common cherry blossom tree problems

Diseases to look out for include, canker, blossom wilt, brown rot and silver leaf disease. Silver leaf can be managed by pruning in spring or summer.