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We just returned from the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. and we would love to plant a cherry tree in our yard! Are there any native flowering cherry trees we can plant?

Answer

Unfortunately, the cherry trees planted in Washington D.C. are not native to this area. In 1912, 3,020 trees were brought over as a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki and the People of Japan to the People of the United States. The gifted trees originally included 12 different species but now 'Yoshino' (Prunus serrulata 'Yoshino') and 'Kwanzan' (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan') are now the dominant species. Neither of these species are native, but the 'Yoshino' variety can be planted in our area.

If you're looking for something native that will give you a beautiful spring bloom, try one of these trees:

Cercis Canadensis - Red Bud
There are (2) native varieties of this tree: Straight Cercis canadensis and 'Forest Pansy'. The difference? 'Forest Pansy' has a rose/purple flower with burgundy foliage. The straight variety has a green foliage and white flower as well as comes in a clump form. Both bloom in May and are 20-25' tall and 25-30' wide when mature.

Prunus maritima - Beach Plum
6-7' tall and 6-7' wide when mature, the white flowers bloom in May. It has an edible fruit with a loose, upright habit.

Magnolia virginiana – Sweetbay Magnolia
30-35' tall and 30-35' wide when mature. Although this magnolia isn't a springtime bloomer (it blooms from June-August), it's fragrant, creamy, white flowers and attraction to birds is worth the wait! Also tolerates shade and wet soils.

Cornus florida - Flowering Dogwood
Depending on the variety, the size can range from 15-30' Tall and 10-35' wide. Flowers bloom from early April to mid-May and range in color from whites to reds. Attracts birds with its berries and has nice fall foliage.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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