Higan Cherry (Prunus subhirtella)
Higan Cherry trees are usually from 16 to 25 feet in height at maturity, although some reach 30 feet. They have pendulous branches, usually a multiple trunk, slender, upright branches, and a rounded canopy. The canopy on older trees often grows wider than the tree grows tall. They grow at a medium rate. At ten years they may be 13 feet tall and 16 feet wide, and at years they are 16 feet tall and 26 feet wide. These "weeping" branches extend to ground level all around the trunk, their shape suggesting circular fountain. If desired, stems that weep to the ground can be pruned up to a desired height (either staggered in height for informality, or clipped to precisely the same height for formality) so that mowing, growth of other ornamentals, or maintenance access can be achieved underneath the tree. Higan is one of the longest lived cherry trees.
Higan Cherry tree leaves are narrowly oval with pointed tips and finely toothed edges. About 5 inches long, they have prominent veins. They are light green in the spring, turning medium green over the growing season and yellow in the fall.
Higan Cherry varieties have single or double flowers. Flowers may be single or double, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. There are 3 to 5 in each cluster. They are either white or pink. They emerge before the leaves in late April or early May and last about 10 days. Some flowers may also appear in autumn if the weather is sufficiently warm.
Higan Cherry Choices
Hilling's Weeping has a profusion of single white flowers, that are smaller than average. Kiku-shidare Sakura has large, double, pink flowers all along the weeping branches. Subhirtella Pendula is lower, with many off-white flowers on willow thin branches. Pendula Rubran has deep, even purplish, pink flowers. Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis shows an upright oval form with a few sporadic flowers in Autumn (mostly obscured by the still-persistent foliage), and a heavy floral display of semi-double pink flowers in Spring, maturing at 30' tall and 20' wide. Prunus subhirtella Pendula Plena Rosea shows a double-flowering form with pink flowers, maturing at 40' tall by 25' wide with the same weeping growth habit as Pendula. Prunus x Snow Fountains is sometimes considered a small tree cultivar of Weeping Higan Cherry. This dwarf hybrid matures at about 12' tall and 12' wide when top-grafted onto a 5' standard, with stout stems that repeatedly arch, branch, and cascade to the ground, having showy white flowers in early Spring before the foliage., Again is prone to the typical diseases and pests of the genus (especially Japanese Beetle) and dieback or death in severe zone 5 Winters. 'Accolade' is a hybrid between P. subhirtella and P. sargentii with pink, semi-double flowers. Autumnalis has semi-double pink flowers that are sometimes produced in autumn. Autumnalis Rosea has light pink flowers that are produced both in fall and spring. Hally Jolivette is a 15-foot plant with a wide habit and pink flowers.