Yoshino Cherry Trees: Identification + Planting/Care Guide

The delicate beauty of a cherry blossom tree has the ability to make anywhere they’re planted seem a more calm and serene place to be.

‘Yoshino’ is one of the most popular flowering cherry tree varieties around and can be seen in National parks across the US.

What is a Yoshino cherry tree? Yoshino cherry trees are a flowering cherry tree hybrid, formed of the P. sepciosa and P. serrulata and subsequently cloned and propagated from grafts of a single clone tree. Yoshino cherry trees are tall, fast growers, grown for their ornamental beauty with whitish-pink blossoms and bitter fruit.

Given ample space and TLC, these gorgeous trees can be grown quite happily in your own backyard, providing joy to you and local wildlife for years to come!

Before we get into planting and caring for one, let’s get the lowdown on Yoshino cherry trees from their lifespan and full height to common issues and more.

Yoshino Cherry Tree Identification & Facts

The single-flowering Yoshino cherry tree (Prunus × yedoensis) is also known as “Tokyo cherry” and is native to the small town of Yoshino, located in Japan’s Kii Mountains.

These beautiful trees thrive in USDA Grow Zones 5-8 and were introduced in the US in the early 1900s after Washington, D.C. received a gift of 3,000 cherry trees in 1912 from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki.

Yoshino Cherry Tree Appearance & Size

Yoshino trees are typically 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide and have a symmetrical vase-shaped canopy with an upright branching habit.

Its dainty blossoms are white and tinged with pink and feature serrated glossy green leaves. In stunning contrast, the bark is reddish-gray and relatively smooth with faint dashed lines.

Yoshino Cherry Fruit Appearance & Taste

Yoshino cherry fruit or “drupes” are rounded and black, each measuring about 8-10 mm, and have a very sour, bitter taste.

Are Yoshino Cherry Trees Toxic?

The drupes are nontoxic to humans, but like all Japanese cherry trees, the leaves, stems, branches, and blossoms of the Yoshino cherry are toxic to pets and humans as they contain cyanogenic glycosides that prevent oxygen from being carried to cells.

How Long Do Yoshino Cherry Trees Bloom For?

Yoshino cherry trees bloom for 2-3 weeks between March and April, but blooming will occur earlier in milder climates.

Excessive wind and rainy conditions can shorten blooming periods, so do what you can to keep your tree well protected.

An up-close look at lovely pink blooms and buds on a cherry tree.

Do Yoshino Cherry Blossoms Change Color?

Yes, Yoshino cherry blossoms undergo a beautiful change from a dark, dusky pink in bud form to a lighter pink when they emerge in a bowl shape of four petals before turning lighter until they’re snowy-white with a hint of pink.

Do Yoshino Cherry Blossoms Emit a Scent?

Yes, Yoshino blossoms release a gorgeously powerful fragrance of sweet almonds when they’re in full bloom!

Do Yoshino Cherry Trees Lose Their Leaves in Summer?

Yoshino cherry trees can lose their leaves as early as summer if they are stressed by poor watering conditions, disease, or lack of nutrients.

Otherwise, these trees should hang on to their foliage throughout fall and drop in winter, transforming from a beautiful yellow and warm orange to pinkish-red before they do.

How Tall Do Yoshino Cherry Trees Get?

With exceptional care, Yoshino cherry trees can reach up to 50 feet tall at maturity and can achieve a 40-foot spread.

Are Yoshino Cherry Trees Fast Growers?

Yes, on average, Yoshino cherry trees grow at a rate of 3-4 feet per year and can achieve the full height potential in under 10 years when given the ideal care and climate.

How Long Do Yoshino Cherry Trees Live?

Theoretically, Yoshino cherry trees can live to 80 years and beyond (those planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. are well over a century old!).

The reason the Yoshino cherry is often labeled with a comparatively brief lifespan of 15 to 20 years is that most modern trees are planted in areas of high foot traffic, subjecting them to long-term bark damage and soil compaction.

A young Yoshino cherry tree in full bloom showing a hint of leaf emergence.

Common Pests & Diseases of Yoshino Cherry Trees

These trees can be vulnerable to aphids, mites, and scale insects, as well as tent and leaf-eating caterpillars. Many of these pests can be treated naturally with neem oil (this organic neem is excellent) or insecticidal soap.

Poor care can also lead to fungal and bacterial diseases such as twig canker and leaf spot.

These can be remedied upon sight by removing affected branches and coating the tree in neem oil, but prevention is the best cure, so treat your Yoshino tree yearly with fungicidal spray throughout its growing season.

Do Yoshino Cherry Trees Require Pruning?

Pruning isn’t especially vital as Yoshino trees grow in a naturally attractive rounded habit, but you can trim out damaged or diseased branches in its dormant fall season.

Be sure to use sterile, heavy-duty pruning tools, and avoid cutting back more than a third of the tree each year to keep it healthy and abundant.

Are Yoshino Cherry Tree Roots Invasive?

If planted too close to a sidewalk or footpath, Yoshino trees can send out thick and muscular horizontal roots several feet along the surface due to soil compacting around the root zone, so these must be planted at least 12 feet from a sidewalk.

Best Places To Buy Yoshino Cherry Trees Online

Some of the best online tree nurseries for Yoshino cherry trees are:

  • Abor Day Foundation: They ship 3-4 foot tall trees as bare-root saplings or in 1-gallon pots. Shipping costs are normally around $15.
  • Trees: Trees are between 4 and 7 feet tall and ship in pots within 1-2 days. Shipping is free on orders over $150.
  • Planting Trees: Trees are shipped in 1-2 days in potted form. Free shipping is offered for orders over $119.

Depending on the tree size and whether they are shipped in bare-root or potted form, Yoshino cherry trees may cost anywhere between $25 and $150.

It’s often advisable to opt for a bare-root cherry tree over a potted specimen as bare-root trees will be easier to establish in your backyard, having grown in fields for a couple of years prior to shipping, so they’re generally off to a healthier head start.

It’s best to plant your Yoshino cherry tree in early fall or spring when there is no threat of frost. Tree nurseries will normally ship to you at a planting time that’s suitable for your grow zone.

How To Plant a Yoshino Cherry Tree

  1. Select an area at least 12 feet from a sidewalk and at least 30 feet from any building/structure, and choose a spot where the tree can receive full sunlight. Remove any weeds or debris to prepare the planting area too.
  2. Ensure the soil is loose enough for planting. Also, check that there is no stagnant moisture or surface water flowing near the tree.
  3. Dig a hole the same width as your Yoshino cherry tree root ball and twice the depth of the root ball. (If planting a potted tree, be sure to plant the tree at the same soil level as it arrived in the nursery container).
  4. Next, place the tree root ball carefully in the hole, and backfill the planting hole halfway with soil. Soak the hole thoroughly until the water drains away.
  5. Fill in the rest of the hole with soil, and spread out a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the roots, taking care to avoid the trunk.

Ideal Care For Yoshino Cherry Trees

Soil typeFairly loose, acidic soil (Loamy, sandy, and clay soils are best).
Sunlight needsFull or partial sun, though 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is best for abundant blooms.
Watering requirementsApproximately 1 gallon of water in the first 1-2 years after planting whenever the top 2 inches of soil feels dry. Watering isn’t necessary once the tree takes root (blooming well, sending out new branch growth). Best schedule: Once every 2 weeks in summer and once every 3-4 weeks in fall and spring.
Fertilizer scheduleWait until 2 years after planting before applying a balanced NPK fertilizer (e.g. 10-10-10) once in early spring).

Benefits of Yoshino Cherries

The fruit of Yoshino cherry trees may be near inedible to us, but these bitter drupes will help to attract various bird species to your tree long after the blossoms are gone, drawing in robins, waxwings, and cardinals — for whom the cherries are an important food source.

If you can brave the super sour taste, Yoshino cherries, like most cherry fruit, is packed with many health benefits such as cancer and age-defying antioxidants, sleep-regulating properties, and more!

Conclusion

Yoshino cherry trees make a superbly graceful statement in anyone’s backyard (so long as they’re planted far enough away from structures and in loose, non-compacted soil to prevent the roots from lifting up the sidewalk!).

These trees also perform best in full sun to bring out the most bountiful blooms. A consistent and balanced watering schedule will help to keep disease at bay.

Stick to these ideal conditions, and you’ll enjoy your Yoshino cherry tree for decades to come.

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