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Prunus mume

Common Name(s):
Japanese apricot
'Alba' (white), 'Albo-plena' (white), 'Alphandii' (pink), 'Benishidare' (crimson), 'Bonita' (rose), 'Dawn' (pink), 'Matsubara Red' (dark red), 'Peggy Clarke' (rose), 'Viridicalyx' (white), 'Peggy Clarke' (rose), 'Viridicalyx' (white)

There are over 300 cultivars of this ornamental tree brighten up any winter landscape.   It always blooms in January and February in shades of white, pink and red. It is similar in habit and appearance to some of the smaller flowering cherries that bloom a bit later in the season. Expect a small tree with a rounded branch structure reaching 20 feet or so. This winter wonder  fussy about soil as long as it is well-drained. Better growth and flower bud set in soils with a bit of extra organic matter; especially if your soil is very sandy. Full sun is a must for the flowering apricot. Even small amounts of shade will the reduce flower bud set. As the tree develops, lower branches are often shaded to the point that they die.

It can be challanging to find in garden centers. The Japanese have been playing with this plant long enough to have more than 250 named varieties, but the choices in our neck of the woods are much smaller. ‘Peggy Clarke’ is a popular selection that bears double flowers in a deep-rose shade. ‘Kobai’ has red, semi-double flowers on a vigorous plant. Weeping selections such as ‘W.B. Clarke’ (double pink flowers) and several white-flowered forms are available.  Most flowering apricots have at least some fragrance.

Other members of this genus that bloom just after Japanese flowering apricot  include Prunus ‘Okame’, ‘Snowgoose’ and ‘Dreamcatcher’ flowering cherries and the hybrid plum called ‘Blireana’.


Seasons of Interest:

Bloom: Winter, January-February

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Healthy trees do not usually have significant issues. Trees that are grafted on peach rootstocks may be attacked by the peachtree borer.This tree is frequently damaged by deer.

10-20 ft.
Single or double, white, pink or red flowers in late winter/early spring; fragrant
Full sun, well-drained soil, and organic matter for best flower display
Rounded; dense, twiggy growth; variable with cultivar
10-20 ft.
Growth Rate:
2 to 4 in. alternate, simple leaf
fragrance, showy flowers, deciduous, ornamental, winter interest, fragrant flowers

NCCES plant id: 2129

Prunus mume Form, in bloom
jr p, CC BY-NC-2.0
Prunus mume White flowers
Houroumomo, CC BY - 2.0
Prunus mume Pink flowers
Koi Zumi, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Prunus mume Flower detail
Junko, CC BY - 2.0