Okame Cherry Tree: A Fantastic Pink Flowering Cherry

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Want to add a gorgeous, charming pink tree to your driveway? Look no further than the Okame cherry tree. This incredible species of Prunus is one of the most striking pops of color you’re likely to see in a tree of any kind.

Even when the tree isn’t blooming, it makes a beautiful addition to your garden, thanks to its green leaves with strong orange tints.

Recommended Products for Flowering Cherry Tree Care:

Quick Care

A full stand of okame cherry trees at an arboretum
A full stand of okame cherry trees at an arboretum. Source: Tie Guy II
Scientific Name:Prunus ‘Okame’
 Common Name(s):Okame cherry tree, Taiwan cherry
Family: Rosaceae
Origin:Originally from China and Japan, bred in England
Height & Spread:12-40′ tall and 20-30′ wide
Sun:Full sun
Soil:Moist, well-draining
FoliageGreen, turns golden yellow or orange in fall
Water:Medium
Pests & Diseases:Rot, blight, mildew, aphids, scale, etc.

This tree was originally bred in England from a cross of Prunus incisa and Prunus campanulata. The breeder, Captain Collingwood Ingram, was trying to create a tree with bright pink flowers, but without the low cold tolerance of the parent plants. I think it’s safe to say that he succeeded!

Before reaching maturity, it grows in a vase-shaped structure, before rounding out as it grows older. The striking pink and white blossoms will add bundles of beauty to your landscape, and it can be planted at any time of the season. Producing masses of candyfloss-pink flowers early in spring, Okame cherry trees are ideal for small gardens or lining driveways.

If you want a tree that attracts bees like crazy, look no further. Pollinators of all kinds flock to this flowering cherry, with blossoms lasting up to three weeks in the spring. It also tends to flower earlier than other varieties of cherry, for an earlier spring burst of color.

When not in bloom, the foliage is still beautiful. It remains deep green until late August, at while point it begins turning golden yellow before eventually fading to a deep orange and red.

Okame Cherry Tree Care

Close up of flowering cherry, pollinated by a bee
Close up of flowering cherry, pollinated by a bee. Source: Dendroica cerulea

Popular in the south where it’s hot and humid, this tree can also tolerate a moderate to slightly cold climate. In fact, it needs a cold winter to bloom well in late winter and early spring. Grow it if you’re in zones 5 to 9.

Light & Temperature

This tree wants full sun. Make sure to plant the tree in a location from where it can be seen for your own enjoyment and has access to sunlight. If you live in a colder climate or up north, you should plant it in a location where it gets at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight.

If in a hot climate or zones 9+, plant it in an area where it gets a bit of relief from the absolute hottest parts of the day if possible…blossom production will be better this way.

Water

When it comes to watering, be mindful of the specific climate you live in. If you’re in an area where soil dries up quicker and you don’t get much rain, you have to water much more often.

Also, add mulch around the base of the tree to avoid early dry up. You don’t have to water as much if you’re in a colder climate that gets a bit more rain. It’s really an observation game here…pay attention to how your tree is looking and adjust your watering from there.

Soil

Flowering cherry trees can do well in almost any kind of soil. As long as the soil drains well,, your tree should grow well. Make sure your soil is moist for healthy growth, though.

This hybrid cherry doesn’t do well in overly wet or clay soil, so make sure that you avoid these soil conditions.

Fertilizer

You don’t need to fertilize too often for a cherry tree – once a year is plenty. Give it a low-nitrogen fertilizer early in the spring, so it can use that nutrition throughout the growing season.

Propagation

You can propagate Okame cherry tree using the green and springy cuttings of a branch. Pot them in containers with soilless planting medium and keep it warm. You can also graft, but that’s a more complicated process that is best explained in a different guide.

Pruning

Pruning is necessary early in your tree’s life if you want to save yourself effort in later trees. Because it’s not a huge tree, some pruning after the blooms fall off will help shape it in years to come.

Here’s a simple process:

  1. After you plant your tree, cut the head to 3′ above the ground and cut all branches back to no more than three buds.
  2. Let new shoots grow to about 10″, then cut below them to help your cherry tree bush out.
  3. Prune off all shoots at the bottom of the tree (known as water sprouts) as well as branches coming from the center of the tree.
  4. Continue to shape your Okame cherry tree as desired for the first 4 years of its life.

Problems

If you want to attract pollinators, prunus okame is a great choice
If you want to attract pollinators, prunus okame is a great choice. Source: Princess Ruto

Growing Problems

Pests

Over-fertilization is prohibited for cherry trees. It can attract pests to your tree. In case you do find pests attacking the tree, use a pesticide to get rid of them.

Diseases

There is a risk of rot and spot in cherry trees. This requires you to water them carefully. Overwatering can cause the root to rot. Similarly, under watering can lead to dried leaves that will eventually fall off. The tree may also experience blight and mildew. To treat blight, it is best to prune the affected parts of the tree to ensure the remaining tree remains safe. For leaf spots, you can use a fungicide.

FAQs

Q. How fast do Okame cherry trees grow?

A. Usually, they grow around 2′ (0.6m) per year and max out at 20-30′ tall, but the highest recorded one is 43′ tall!

Q. Will cherry tree roots invade the rest of my yard?

A. The roots of a cherry tree are typically closer to the surface of your soil and send out a lot of of surface roots and sucker shoots. Be careful where you locate your tree, especially if you have hardscaping nearby.

Q. How long does the cherry blossom season last?

A. Blooms usually last for about a month every spring. The blossom season is weather dependent and can occur between early March and early April ideally.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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