How to care for Prunus serrulata

How to care for Prunus serrulata

Species: Prunus serrulata

Common name: Japanese flowering cherry

Plant Overview

Prunus serrulata (Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees) are known by the names ‘Kwanzan,’ Kanzan, and ‘Sekiyama,’ but no matter what you call them, one thing doesn’t change: the trees’ gorgeous pinkish-red blossoms that bloom during the spring months.

Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ is one of the two stars of Washington, D.C.’s, Cherry Blossom Festival. (The Yoshino Cherry Tree, or Prunus x yedoensis, is the most common tree in D.C., but P. serrulata ‘Kanzan’ comes in second.) This species doesn’t produce any fruit, which is a plus for those who desire low-maintenance landscaping. It’s also deer-resistant.

When choosing between the various types of medium-sized ornamental cherry trees, P. Serrulata ‘Kanzan’ is a good choice if you want an upright, vase-shaped growth habit. If you want a weeping form, select weeping Higan. If your tastes lie somewhere in-between, the popular Yoshino may be right for you.

How to care for Prunus serrulata


Plant typeDeciduous tree
Mature sizeModerately large; 15 ft to 25 ft tall and 13 to 26 ft wide
Sun exposureFull sun
Soil typeWell drained soil
Soil PH6.7 to 7.1
Bloom timeSpring
ColorPinkish red blooms
Hardiness zones5 to 8
Native areaChina, Korea, and Japan
Water2 to 3 times a week

How to grow

Grow Kanzan Cherry Trees in full sun and in well-drained soil with plenty of humus. Keep the soil evenly moist, because this is not a drought-tolerant tree. Kwanzan cherry trees can function in the landscape as fast-growing shade trees for small spaces, such as patios.

While these type of cherry trees grow to be moderately large, it’s possible to grow Kanzan cherry trees as bonsais. Keep in mind that P. serrulata ‘Kanzan’ can be fairly short-lived—between 15 and 25 years—because it’s particularly susceptible to pests and disease.


Kanzan Cherry Trees grow best in full sun, which means it needs at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. This will produce optimal blossoming. However, the tree can tolerate part-shade.


This cultivar of Cherry Tree isn’t particular about the type of soil in which it grows. It can grow well in acidic or alkaline soils that loamy, sandy, or clay. The tree prefers moist conditions but is somewhat drought-tolerate once established. Add a layer of mulch to the top of the soil to keep it moist and insulated, particularly during the winter months.


Fertilize Kanzan Cherry Trees once a year in the spring with a fertilizer that’s specifically developed to be used with cherry trees.


You can propagate Japanese Flowering Cherry Trees through seeds or from cuttings, though the latter is likely the easiest method.

Take a semi-hardwood cutting from the tree during the summer months, choosing a branch that has two to four leaf nodes and leaves. Cut off a 4- to 8-inch section at a horizontal angle and remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the branch. Dip the cutting into rooting hormone. Push the cut end into a mix of soil made of half perlite and half sphagnum peat moss — Pat down the soil around it. Place a plastic bag over the container, and move the pot to a sunny location. Mist the cutting twice a day to keep the soil moist. After two to three months, gently tug on the cutting to see if it’s rooted. If there’s resistance, let the cutting grow until the roots have filled the pot. When ready, transfer the plant to a gallon-sized container filled with potting soil and move it outside to let it acclimate to temperatures for a week before transplanting the tree to a location with full sun.


Generally speaking, very little pruning is necessary for Prunus ‘Kanzan.’ If you need to prune, do so after the tree flowers. Sometimes, the limbs can grow too quickly and heavy for the base. Prune away the heavy branches as needed.