Tree Profiles: Weeping Cherry Cultivars, Part 1

This is the first part of a series on weeping cherry cultivars.


Weeping cherry is an ornamental tree that is widely celebrated for its elegant weeping habit, and delicate, festooning blooms. Numerous cultivars have been derived from weeping cherry, each exhibiting unique characteristics that differentiate it from the parent species. The following examines some of the most notable cultivars available for purchase in garden centers and nurseries, including ‘Alba’, ‘Double Weeping’, and ‘Kanzan’.

‘Alba’, also called white weeping cherry, is a small tree that reaches heights of 8 to 10 feet, with a 10 to 12 foot spread. This cultivar maintains its height once planted. As the tree matures, instead of growing taller, its trunk thickens, and the crown becomes denser. ‘Alba’ has a strongly weeping, spreading habit. The drooping branches bear resplendent, single white flowers in spring. The flowers have pink buds. From spring to summer, the foliage is green. In fall, the leaves turn shades of orange, yellow, bromze, and red. ‘Alba’ is adaptable to a wide range of soil types and climatic conditions. It is generally disease resistant, and tolerant of drought. While ‘Alba’ can be planted in partial shade, its flower yield is greatest when planted in sites exposed to full sun.kanz

‘Double Weeping’, also called ‘Double subthirtella’, is a variety of flowering cherry with a striking, umbrella-shaped canopy. It is a small to medium sized cultivar, growing 15 to 25 feet, with a 12 to 16 foot spread. It has a weeping, spreading habit, with drooping branches. In spring, showy magenta colored buds open on the branches to reveal an abundance of pink blooms. This flowering occurs just prior to budburst. Though the blooms precede the emergence of the new leaves, they appear later in the season than that of other varieties. This allows them to avoid incurring damage from late winter frosts. The new leaves are bronze-colored. By summer, the leaves turn green. In fall, they brighten to shades of yellow and orange. ‘Double Weeping’ is mostly insect and disease resistant, though it may be plagued by aphid infestations and powdery mildew infections. In Japan, these trees symbolize renewal, represented by the onset of spring. Over-watering can cause the roots to rot. ‘Dpuble Weeping’ produces more flowers when planted in sites exposed to full sun.

‘Kanzan’ is a medium sized tree that reaches 30 to 40 feet in height and width. It grows at a medium rate, increasing in height by a rate of 1 to 2 feet per year. ‘Kanzan’ has a short lifespan, only living for 15 to 25 years. This cultivar has a dense crown, with a weeping habit, and a vase-like form. A profusion of pink double flowers appear on the branches in early spring, just prior to budburst. The blossoms are filled wih petals. Each blossom contains 20 to 30 petals. ‘Kanzan’ is a sterile variety. As such, it produces no fruit. The leaves are serrate and ovate. When they first emerge, the leaves assume a reddish-copper tone. By summer, they mature to a dark green. In fall, the leaves turn warmer orange and bronze shades. They are cast shortly thereafter. ‘Kanzan’ requires planting in full sun to thrive. It can be planted in a wide range of soil types, including alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet, and clay soils. Of all the double-flowering cherry varieties, ‘Kanzan’ is the most popular. ‘Kanzan’ is named after a mountain in Japan.

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Photo courtesy of Ume-Y CC-by-2.0