Flowering plum, peach, nectarine, and cherry trees (Prunus)

Quick facts and care essentials

Flowering Plum Peach Nectarine Cherry (Prunus)

[I {Prunus cerasifera}] 'Atropurpurea'

Derek Fell

Prunus Quick Facts:


These flowering trees ― all members of the same genus ― are valued for their showy springtime bloom; most also have appealing foliage and an attractive shape. Most produce few or no fruits.

Flowering peach, nectarine, and cherry require well-drained soil; flowering plum is less particular, but will fail if soil is waterlogged for long periods. A few of the many species and varieties are described below; check with local nurseries for others suited to your region.

Flowering plum (P. cerasifera). Zones 3-22, 28, 31-34, 39. The purple-leafed selections of flowering plum are widely grown; all are small and fast growing. 'Krauter Vesuvius', an upright tree to 18 feet high and 15 feet wide, has dark purple (almost black) leaves and light pink flowers. 'Thundercloud' grows 20 feet tall and wide; it has dark copper leaves and light pink to white blossoms, and may produce red fruits. 'Atropurpurea' grows 20 to 30 feet tall and wide and usually bears fruit.

Flowering peach (P. persica). Zones 2-24, 30-34, 39. Quickly reaching 15 to 20 feet high and wide, flowering peaches look much like the fruiting varieties. In areas where spring is early and hot, choose early-blooming varieties such as 'Early Double Pink'. Late-flowering kinds include 'Helen Borchers' (semidouble clear pink flowers) and 'Icicle' (double white); these are your best bet where late frosts might damage earlier-blooming sorts.

Flowering nectarine (P. persica nectarina). Zones 2-24, 30-34, 39. The one flowering nectarine, 'Alma Stultz', bears delicate, pink-tinted, fragrant, 2 1/2-inch-wide blossoms with an azalealike form. It grows quickly to 20 feet high and wide.

Sargent cherry (P. sargentii). Zones 2-7, 14-17, 32-41. Reaching 40 to 50 feet tall and wide, this fast-growing flowering cherry has a spreading, vase-shaped structure and glossy red-brown bark. In the spring, branches are covered with small clusters of single blush pink blossoms. 'Columnaris' is a narrowly upright selection.

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