4 Best Cherry Trees To Grow In The South

The Right Tree
Photo: Van Chaplin

Flowering cherry trees are easy-to-grow and perfectly fill all sorts of spaces. When these trees bloom, the show is stunning. White or pink spring flowers, rapid growth, handsome bark, and colorful autumn leaves will make any gardener smile—not to mention the delicious fruit these trees provide.

Plant cherry trees in early spring or late fall in an area with full sun and well-drained soil. Air circulation and ideal soil moisture will help these trees to thrive, but after planting, apply some mulch, like wood chips, and continue watering while it establishes its roots. The sweet cherries attract birds and other intruders, so protect your trees with netting if you see this becoming an issue in your area. Use the following profiles to select the right one for your environment. Here are our four favorite cherry trees that do great in the South and are widely available.

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Yoshino Cherry

Yoshino cherry trees are the best cherry trees for the south
Photo: Art Meripol
  • Botanical Name: Prunus × yedoensis
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-drained, Loamy, Sandy, Clay
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0-6.5)

Want a big show right away? Yoshino flowering cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) is the one to plant. The star of the spring cherry festival around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., these trees can grow three feet a year while young. It tops out at about 35 feet tall and wide.

Frothy clouds of blush pink-to-white flowers smother its leafless branches in early spring, while fall foliage may be yellow to russet. Graceful tiers of wide-spreading branches make it popular for lining residential streets. It also makes a fine lawn tree or medium-size shade tree. Try it in the Upper, Middle, and Lower South.

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Weeping Cherry

weeping cherry tree
Photo: Van Chaplin
  • Botanical Name: Prunus subhirtella (Pendula)
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Type: Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic (6.0-7.0)

High on anyone's list of graceful trees is the weeping cherry. There is a variety of weeping cherry trees. Some have pink flowers while others have white. Also, some have single blooms while others have double. Some grow 40 feet tall, while others grow 12 to 15 feet tall. Ungrafted weepers grown on their original roots appear fountain-like. Those grafted atop a straight trunk of Higan cherry (P. x subhirtella) offer a more formal look.

'Snow Fountains' variety is available both ways, so choose the one you like. Growing only 12 feet tall and wide with pure white blooms, it has pendulous branches that cascade to the ground. Leaves turn orange and golden in the fall. It's suitable for the Upper, Middle, and Lower South.

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Okame Cherry

okame cherry tree
Photo: Van Chaplin
  • Botanical Name: Prunus 'Okame'
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Adaptable (6.5-8.0)

Spring begins whenever the 'Okame' cherry (P. 'Okame') decides to bloom. In the Lower South, that could be as early as Valentine's Day.

Thousands of glorious, deep pink blossoms adorn its leafless branches. Vase-shaped in youth, 'Okame' develops into an oval or rounded tree about 20 feet tall and wide—ideal for shading a courtyard or patio.

In fall, the leaves turn orange-red before dropping to reveal glossy, reddish-brown bark. Very heat and cold tolerant, 'Okame' grows and blooms well as far south as Central Florida.

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Kwanzan Cherry

kwanzan cherry tree
Photo: Van Chaplin
  • Botanical Name: Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, Moist, Loamy, Sandy, Clay
  • Soil pH: Neutral, Adaptable (7.0)

When it blooms, 'Kwanzan' Japanese flowering cherry (P. serrulata 'Kwanzan') looks like it's dressed up for the prom about a thousand times over. Huge, ruffled, double, pink blossoms resemble corsages dangling beneath the branches from mid to late spring after the tree leaves out. The glossy, deep green leaves turn russet red in fall.

Growing to 30 feet tall, the vase-shaped 'Kwanzan' provides plenty of headroom beneath it. This trait makes it an excellent lawn, street, or courtyard tree for the Upper, Middle, and Lower South. Plant this vigorous grower where you can gaze up into it.

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