4 Best Flowering Cherry Trees to Grow in the South

If would take the better portion of a day to name every variety of cherry tree. All of them lovely and all originating from China and Japan.

Top Cherry Trees for the South
Whether singularly or planted in rows, ornamental cherry trees produce a dazzling show of color each spring.

Some grow small and compact, others grow tall and provide shade, some produce cherries while others are strictly ornamental.

All varieties of this flowering tree will grow well when planted in full sun and well draining soil, but certain varieties do better in certain climates and growing zones.

These 4 are the best cherry trees to grow in the southern climate and soil.

Weeping Cherry

All varieties of the weeping cherry tree grow pendulous-style branches, but that is where their similarity ends. The flowers might be pink or white: single or double blooms.

The tree may be a grafted onto a Higan cherry root stock (P. x subhirtella) or it may be grown on it’s own root stock.

Weeping Cherry Blooms | GardenersPath.com
The flowers may be pink or white and singles or doubles and the branch structure upright or drooping depending on the exact cultivar.

The weeper may grow to look like an up-shooting fountain or give a more formal look with branches cascading down to the ground, either can reach a mature height of 12 feet or 40 feet.

Weeping Cherry Tree | GardnersPath.com

Fall foliage is also spectacular on a weeping cherry tree. With leaves that turn either golden yellow or orange. Make sure you are purchasing the variety of weeping cherry tree that you want for your landscape.

Yoshino

The star of annual cherry festival in Washington, D. C. and other spring celebrations around the south, the Yoshino flowering cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) is fast growing and starts producing blooms the first spring after planting.

Yoshino cherry blossom | GardenersPath.com
With its slightly pink tinted white petals, the Yoshino is one of the more classic and stately varieties rather than in your face punk rockers blazing pink like some of the other cultivars.

Yoshino cherry trees will reach a mature size of about 35 feet tall and wide and produce clouds of pinkish-white blooms each spring before the branches leaf out. Fall foliage colors range from yellow to reddish-brown.

Yoshino cherry tree in bloom | GardnersPath.com

Okame

This is the ornamental flowering tree that signals the arrival of spring in the south. Okame cherry trees ( P. Okame) blooms at different times each spring, often as early as Valentine’s Day.

Producing thousands of deep pink blooms on leafless branches, the tree will grow to a mature size of about 20 feet tall and wide, growing into a neat oval shape.

Okame cherry blossom | GardenersPath.com
With its single blossom and delicate deep pink petals, there is no lovelier cultivar than the Okame.

Okame is heat tolerant and does exceptionally well in the hot, humid, drought-prone southern climate. This ornamental tree produces orange-red fall foliage and it’s bark turns a glossy reddish-brown color as part of its fall color display.

Okame cherry tree | GradenersPath.com

Kwanzan

Huge, ruffled, doubled deep pink blossoms make this cherry tree resemble a southern belle dressed up for prom night. Kwanzan ( P. serrulata) blooms in late spring after the branches have begun to leaf out.

Kwanzan cherry blossoms
With its double pink blossoms, the Kwanzan fills every single space with color within its branches.

This flowering ornamental will reach a mature height of about 30 feet and grow in a vase-shape pattern, leaving planty of head-room under its glossy, deep green leafed branches. Fall foliage is reddish-brown in color.

Large Kwanzan Cherry Tree | GardenersPath.com

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Christian Terrero
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Christian Terrero

Can I plant any of these in Naples Florida?

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Most varieties of ornamental cherry do best through USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, since they need some winter chill time below 45 degrees in order to flower in the spring.

In Naples, you’re in Zone 10a, and it will be tough to find a variety that will thrive that far south. But you may be able to coax a Kwanzan, Okame, or pink weeping cherry to grow happily there. If you’re looking for fruit, try the Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra), also known as acerola.

Stay tuned for a more detailed update to this article coming soon!

Gabriela Marques
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Gabriela Marques

Can I plant any of these in Portugal Europe? More specifically the kwanzan?

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Hi Gabriela, My response would be similar to the advice I gave Christian above- in Portugal, depending on where you are located, you are likely in an area comparable to growing zones 8b-11b. In colder areas of the northeastern part of the country with enough winter chill time, most varieties can do well. ‘Kwanzan’ prefers zones 5-9, so it would be happy there. But in warmer regions, your choices are a bit more limited. Wishing you the best of luck! We’d be interested to know if any varieties of ornamental cherry are readily available in nurseries in Portugal. Let us… Read more »

Xini
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Xini

Can I plant Yoshino in Apopka Fl (zone 9)? Please advise. Thanks

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis) and other types of flowering cherry require a certain number of chill hours in the winter in order to put on a good show of flowers in the spring. This type does best in zones 5-8, and it may not thrive in your warmer location. Try Kwanzan cherry (P. serrulata) or Taiwan cherry (P. campanulata) instead- these species have been reported to bloom nicely in parts of Florida, particularly after a cold snap.

Becky
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Becky

What cherry tree does well in Houston TX? I think we’re 9 but not sure. Thanks!

Allison Sidhu
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Allison Sidhu

Looks like you’re probably either in Zone 8b or 9a in Houston. Though this is slightly warmer than the climate favored by most types of flowering cherry, ‘Kwansan’ will do well there.