Cherry - Prunus sp.

General information: Few trees exemplify the spirit of Japanese bonsai more than a lovely cherry in bloom. Unfortunately, the blooms last only a short while, and the bonsaist must be careful to design the tree to generate interest when not in bloom. A vast number of species and cultivars are available, displaying many different variations in flowers and fruit.

Family: Rosaceae.

Lighting: Full sun, but semi-shade in summer.

Temperature: Varies greatly depending on variety.

Watering: Most varieties need frequent watering, especially in summer. Reduce watering in winter. Do not allow the flowers to get wet or they will rot. P. tormentosa needs less water than most cherries, and care must be taken to see that it does not become waterlogged.

Feeding: Every two weeks after flowering has finished through late summer. Use liquid bonsai fertilizer or half-strength general purpose food, switching to a formula high in posassium towards the end of summer. P. mahaleb requires a break in feeding through the heat of summer, but feeding may be resumed till mid-autumn.

Repotting: Every second year in spring, using basic bonsai soil. P. serrulata may need annual repotting. P. serrulata and P. mahaleb can also be transplanted in late autumn, after leaves fall.

Pruning and wiring: Suitable for all styles except broom. Suitable for all sizes, but some varieties have coarse branch structure and large leaves. Be careful to choose a species or cultivar which is appropriately proportioned for your design. Prune back tips during growth as necessary. Developmental pruning of branches may be performend in winter. Cherries are sometimes displayed with significant amounts of deadwood. Remove flowers as they fade. Wiring can be done in spring-summer, but care must be taken to protect the bark.

Propagation: By grafting in early spring. Beware of bad grafts when purchasing! Difficult to grow from cuttings.

Pests and diseases: Not tolerant of air pollution. Birds love to eat the flower buds, so some protection may be necessary in spring. Lots of bugs love to chomp the leaves, although some varieties are more resistant to insects and disease than others.

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