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Prunus 'Okame'

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
PROO-nus
Description

The okame cherry is a small, deciduous tree in the Rosaceae (rose) family and reaches 15 to 30 feet tall at maturity. This tree was a gift from Japan to our capital in the early 1900s and is the one currently featured in Washington DC’s “Cherry Blossom Festival” each spring. 

A hybrid of Prunus campanulata and Prunus incisa, okame cherry transplants easily, requires full sun to partial shade, and grows well in almost any soil, including in heavy clay as long as there is good drainage. It does prefer protection from hot afternoon or reflected sun.

This tree requires little pruning once scaffold branches are established, but the canopy can be pruned to best fit its planting location. The flowering part of the tree is grafted onto a root stock, so it is important to remove any suckers at the base of the tree, as they can be vigorous and they will not have the same beautiful flower show. It will grow at a moderate pace of one to two feet a year. Use an organic mulch on the root zone and refresh it each year to keep the roots cool and moist. Although it appears high maintenance, the tree is actually very easy to grow and is drought, heat, cold, and humidity tolerant.

Okame cherry is stunning as a specimen because it produces abundant, mildly fragrant, rosy-pink flowers with one-inch-long petals in early spring. The flowers completely cover bare branches, appearing earlier than most and lasting longer than other flowering cherries. This tree requires a low number of chill hours so it blooms reliably even in the south. The tree has polished, reddish-brown bark and fall foliage that ranges from bronzy red to bright orange. 

Use this as a patio tree, planted outside a window, to line a pathway or driveway, or in an Asian or cottage themed garden.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Aphids and scale are occasional pest problems. Root rot, blight, and powdery mildew are occasional disease problems. Flowers bloom so early that they can be subject to a late freeze.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#interesting bark#specimen#easy to grow#wildlife plants#pink flowers#fall interest#cottage garden#cpp#long-lasting flowers#pollinator plant#driveway planting#early spring flowers#fall color yellow#walkway planting#clay soils tolerant#fall color red#fall color orange#patio tree#nectar plant early spring#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#asian gardens
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#interesting bark#specimen#easy to grow#wildlife plants#pink flowers#fall interest#cottage garden#cpp#long-lasting flowers#pollinator plant#driveway planting#early spring flowers#fall color yellow#walkway planting#clay soils tolerant#fall color red#fall color orange#patio tree#nectar plant early spring#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#asian gardens
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Prunus
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and other pollinators are attracted to the flowers.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat and cold tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Clear, bright rosy pink blooms with 1 inch long petals appear in profusion in early spring and last about three weeks; mildly fragrant
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Orange
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    1 to 2.5 in. alternate, simple leaves deep green with orange tints; bronzy red to bright orange to red fall color
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Polished reddish-brown to bronze bark with the characteristic cherry bark lenticels forming horizontal lines.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Patio
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses