The weeping cherry refers to several types of ornamental trees that are native to Japan or developed from Japanese native species. What is meant by ornamental, in this case, is that the trees produce fruit, but it is not usually considered edible by humans, though it can attract birds. These trees have branches growing from the top that bend back to the earth and appear to “weep,” as the weeping willow does. There are dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard varieties of the tree, and the color of the petals when the tree is in full bloom may be either white or pink. Some weeping cherry trees also have lovely fall foliage, which enhances their appeal.
Gardeners who are thinking about adding a weeping cherry tree to the garden must carefully consider their zone and size of the tree they would like to plant. There is some dispute on the best zones for these trees. Zone 5-9 are usually considered best, but a few gardeners suggest the trees will grow well in Zone 4 and possibly Zone 3. A discussion with a nursery or landscaping expert on growing the trees in the lower zones is warranted to determine if there are extra precautions that might be required, such as protection from frosts or snow.
Considering size is important, too. A dwarf variant of the weeping cherry tree like Snow Fountain typically won’t grow to be more than 8 feet (2.44 m) in height. On the other hand, the Kwanzan variant usually doesn’t exceed 15 feet (4.57 m).
Most other weeping cherry tree variants reach heights between 20 and 40 feet (6.096- 12.19 m), though it can take them many years to achieve full height. Choice may have to do with available space or impatience to see the tree in its maturity, as a dwarf reaches full height in just a couple of years. With all tree variants, gardeners can expect waiting at least two years until blooming is profuse.
Some attention needs to also be paid to potential pruning of the long weeping branches. With standard size variants of the weeping cherry tree, garden specialists may advise not pruning the long branches. even if they touch the ground, especially if the tree isn’t at full height. Pruning these back too far can eliminate the weeping effect. Gardeners are safer pruning dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties, but they should prune them only slightly, and generally only in fall after the tree loses its foliage.
The weeping cherry tree also needs planting in an ideal location, which means placing the tree in an area where it will get full sun. These trees also require moist soil, which can mean frequent watering is required. Many gardeners suggest the aesthetic effects of the tree are magnified when it is planted near water like a fountain or a lake. The reflection from the water can be beautiful, especially as the petals of the cherry blossom drift down to the water, like snow.