Cherries- dark, light, round, long, sweet, tart; however you may think of them, there is more to cherries than meets the eye. It may surprise you to learn that some species of cherry trees are just for looks!
A mock cherry tree is a variety of trees grown for ornamental reasons. While they produce fruit, not all of it is for consumption, and many of them are even bitter tasting. These trees often grow best in the USDA hardiness zones 4-6 and can withstand low temperatures for short periods.
If this information intrigues you and you have more questions about these trees, you are in luck! Stick with us as we discuss mock (or ornamental) cherry trees and all that goes along with this lesser-known variety.
What Is A Mock Cherry?
The first question that will come to mind has to do with what.
What exactly even is a mock cherry, or a mock cherry tree?
Similar to an orchard cherry, one produced to be eaten as a fruit, the ornamental cherry is produced for its visual appeal.
The University of Maryland Extension helps us understand ornamental flowering cherries are a part of a family of trees called Rosaceae and that the typical lifespan of these trees is only 20-25 years.
External factors such as disease, pests, and other environmental concerns, ornamental (mock) cherry trees rarely last for long.
While their lifespan is not the most enduring, these trees are visually attractive and add a pleasant touch to wherever you plant them.
What Are Well-Known Types Of Mock Cherry Trees?
When thinking of mock cherry trees, you may fall short, unable to come up with any types of cherry trees that would not produce the sweet (or tart) taste we all know and love. Never fear, we have just the information you need!
Now, these may not be all the varieties of ornamental cherry trees (not even close, if we are being honest), but we hope this short list helps you to understand and even possibly identify ornamental cherry trees down the road.
If you are planning on planting any type of cherry blossom tree, you may wonder if it will give your yard a pleasant scent. You can find information on the topic here: Do Cherry Blossom Trees Smell? 9 Cherry Blossom Facts.
Kwanzan Cherry Tree
This mock cherry tree grows no fruit at all. Crazy, right?
At least there are no mix-ups when distinguishing if this tree has edible cherries on it. No cherries mean no worries with the Kwanzan cherry tree.
This low-maintenance variety of cherry tree is a bit showier, with brighter colors and larger flowers.
The pink double blossoms of a Kwanzan cherry tree often draw interest from spectators, and critics, everywhere. Not only are the flowers made of double blossoms, but they cluster together in groups of 3-5.
Think this tree sounds cool? Just wait until you hear this.
Kwanzan cherry tree flowers also sport nearly 30 petals per blossom. When you combine the double blossom with 30 petals each, clustered in groups of 3-5, one can only imagine how stunning this tree becomes in the spring!
If not, there are plenty of cherry blossom festivals all around the world and this species is a fan-favorite every single time!
In fact, on top of festivals in the tree’s native Japan, this ornamental cherry tree is featured in many US cherry blossom festivals like the popular Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
You can see this showstopper for yourself, somewhere closer to home.
Yoshino Cherry Tree
This is another ornamental cherry tree sporting a white flower, though this one is much bigger than the Carolina cherry laurel.
The Yoshino cherry tree’s flower has a similarly delicate look to it while benefiting from a fuller, more luscious overall appearance.
With single blossoms, the flowers are clustered in groups of 2-5, which adds to the appearance of fullness in these blossoms.
It’s all about the angles, right?
Akebono Cherry Tree
This species is, unfortunately, losing a bit of its popularity to newer ones, but the Akebono cherry tree still has much to offer.
It is unique because its flowers change throughout their bloom, shifting from a pale pink to a bright white during spring.
With a single blossom and clusters of 2-5, these flowers are also pretty subtle but beautiful.
Autumn Flowering Cherry Tree
You will find semi-double blossomed, pink flowers all over the autumn-flowering cherry tree. Its name derives from how this tree famously blooms during warm parts of fall, before fully blooming in the spring.
What a wonder when this tree blooms unexpectedly as other trees are losing their leaves, or preparing to stay in the same evergreen disposition.
This means their small clusters of flowers are seen more than once a year, which is a magnificent thing on its own, but two separate times during a single year.
Sargent Cherry/North Japanese Hill Cherry Tree
The Sargent cherry tree, also known as the north Japanese hill cherry tree, is native to both Japan and Korea.
Its blossoms are single, but clustered, and come in a deep pink color many associate with the very popular ‘Japanese Cherry Blossom.’
While many people might assume this popular spring phenomenon in Japan relates to a single type of tree, there are many species involved in the cherry blossoming of the spring.
This is, however, one of the most notable varieties of blossoming cherry trees, and for good reason.
While other ornamental cherry trees may only grow to be about 40 feet tall at a maximum, this species can easily make its way up to 60 feet tall in the wild.
Fugenzo Cherry/Shirofugen Cherry Tree
Speaking of Japan, let’s not forget cherry trees originated in that corner of the world.
While there is notable debate about whether South Korea, China, or Japan can rightfully stake their claim as the homeland of cherry blossoms, it is most important to know these trees are all descended from this area of the world.
The Fungenzo cherry tree (also known as Shirofugen cherry) is one of the oldest Japanese-cultivated cherry trees out there. It produces beautiful flower blossoms that honor the tradition that goes back at least hundreds of years, possibly longer.
With a double blossom and 30-40 petals each, you will see the flowers in a range of colors spanning from a rose pink to a light, nearly white but not quite color, which signals the aging of the flower.
Okame Cherry Tree
The okame cherry is said to flower the earliest of the cherry blossoms in the spring. The autumn-flowering cherry tree does not give much room for other cherry trees to earn this superlative in a year-round context.
With semi-double, bright pink blossoms, this is another crowd-pleaser and the droopy look of the flowers adds a level of singularity many people are drawn to.
Weeping Cherry Tree
Alright, speaking of droopy cherry blossoms, we would be remiss to leave out the weeping cherry tree.
Think of the commonly known weeping willow and the popular north Japanese hill cherry.
Now, imagine they combined forces and created a hybrid tree. It is both cool and collected while being bright and vivacious all at the same time.
Perfect, you’ve got yourself the weeping cherry tree!
This tree originates as a cherry tree grafted onto another tree to create the weeping effect, and this was first cultivated in Japan centuries ago.
For this reason, it is difficult to pin down what the flowers of this tree might look like, as there is so much variety within this type of tree.
However, this is one you will not want to miss when you hit a cherry blossom festival or are looking to get an ornamental cherry tree of your own!
How Long Do Ornamental Cherry Trees Live?
Realistically, this timeline depends on the species of the ornamental cherry tree itself.
Kwanzan cherries live up to 15-25 years, while some live longer and some may live shorter.
For example, some other species have can live around 30-40 years, instead of adhering to their relatives’ slightly shorten lifespans.
You can realistically expect your ornamental cherry tree will be around for 25 odd years but keep in mind some factors may shorten or lengthen this lifespan.
How Big Do Ornamental Cherry Trees Get?
Ornamental cherry trees usually grow to about 30-40 feet tall, depending on some environmental factors such as sunlight, soil quality, and how many other plants may share the same patch of land.
The National Parks Service offers a list of some types of cherry trees at a festival, all of which range from 15-50 feet tall, while we know some species of ornamental cherry trees grow to be a bit taller than this.
How Can You Tell If A Cherry Tree Is Ornamental?
While most ornamental cherry trees produce no fruit at all, there are a few varieties listed above capable of producing fruit, but also get grouped along with trees that do not.
This may seem confusing, but just know the Carolina cherry laurel is an exception to the rule.
An ornamental cherry tree will have either single, double, or semi-double blossoms, most often white or pink.
It is easiest to identify a mock cherry tree during the spring when these trees are in bloom. Otherwise, you can look at the leaves, bark, and other key factors used to identify any tree.
Where Do Ornamental Cherry Trees Grow Best?
Like all other types of trees, there are certain regions that ornamental cherry trees will do their best growing in.
If you are someone looking to grow your trees in the United States, the USDA has a map of hardiness zones with information about which regions drop to certain low temperatures.
From there, you can determine if your area is suitable for growing any type of tree.
USDA hardiness zones 4-6 are often the best overall locations in which an ornamental cherry tree will thrive.
This means that an ornamental cherry tree can survive, and possibly thrive, in locations that have a low temperature of -25 degrees Fahrenheit through -5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind this does not mean you should try to grow these trees in areas where those low temperatures are the average. They are simply indicators of extremely low temperatures a region may experience once in a while, that a cherry tree could withstand. A different scenario arises when your average temperature gets that cold.
How To Keep Ornamental Cherry Trees Healthy
Ornamental cherry trees certainly do not have the longest lifespans, especially in relation to some other types of trees. However, there are many things you can do to help ensure your tree not only grows but thrives during its time here.
Pick The Right Location
The location in which you decide to plant your ornamental cherry tree is important.
You will want to be sure you are not planting too close to any foundations of homes or other buildings, as well as giving enough space from other trees to ensure yours will get enough sunlight.
It may not be the absolute most important thing about growing a cherry tree (of any kind), but it will help make your tree journey much easier in the long run.
What exactly do we mean by right location, though? Well, the right location has to do with factors like sunlight and soil quality, but also with fertilization and access to water. Finally, keep those USDA hardiness zones we mentioned above in mind.
Utilize Your Land
So, by utilizing your land, you should be able to find somewhere with the right amount of space so for your cherry tree.
Overcrowding of roots is an issue, sure, but it is also key to remember the more plants there are in a plot of soil, the fewer nutrients each plant can access.
With knowledge about which plants can cohabitate without leeching nutrients, you can avoid this. If plants require different nutrients, they can survive close to each other.
If you do not have this knowledge or do not have a desire to research it, it is better to play it safe and separate your plants a bit.
Another way to help prevent root crowding is planting trees with shallow roots. You can find a wonderful list in this article about fruit trees specifically, 6 Best Fruit Trees That Have Shallow Roots: Identification Guide.
Look for an area with plenty of sunlight and space. If it will also showcase your ornamental cherry tree, it may just be the perfect spot for one.
It’s ornamental for a reason, after all. You want people to see this beautiful specimen you have been growing.
You deserve to show off your hard work and (we hope) your neighbors deserve to drive by your magnificent cherry tree in bloom.
Fertilize Your Cherry Tree!
If you have read nearly any other piece that we have written, you will be familiar with the idea that fertilization is key to growing happy, healthy, and resilient plants.
We need our nutrients, so who is to say trees do not need the same TLC we would expect to nurture our growing selves?
You will want a pretty balanced fertilizer. A 10-10-10 granular fertilizer like this Southern Ag All Purpose Granular Fertilizer is a great option.
This fertilizer is an easy to apply, homogenous mixture. With an even sprinkling of fertilizer, followed by water, you can provide your tree with the nutrients it needs.
Keep The Cherry Tree Hydrated
Trees need water, just like most all other plants.
Ornamental cherry trees are no exception.
Water your tree often, especially if you live in a region with less rainfall.
That’s All for Now!
We hope this was cherry helpful.
Too much? Probably.
Anyway, now you have learned a bit more about what exactly a mock (ornamental) cherry tree is, where they might do best once planted, and how else to care for these beautiful beings. It is obvious there is a lot to love about them.
Whether you are hoping to plant an ornamental cherry tree in front of your home or business, or are simply interested in learning more about this beautiful tree family, we certainly hope you got what you came for.
As always, thanks for sticking with us. Hope to see you again soon!
Hokanson, K. E., & Pooler, M. R. (2000). Regeneration of Ornamental Cherry (Prunus) Taxa from Mature Stored Seed. HortScience, 35(4), 745–748.
Jacobs, K. A., & Johnson, G. R. (1996). Ornamental Cherry Tolerance of Flooding and Phytophthora Root Rot. HortScience, 31(6), 988–991.