Kwanzan / Kanzan Cherry Tree in South Austin, Texas
April is here and I am so excited to see my prunus serrulata trees bloom. Yes, that is right! These Booht-Kkoht (Korean) or Japanese cherry trees (American) can thrive here in Austin, Texas. I have living proof and very proud of it!
These trees are 12 – 20 ft tall. Their genetic origin is Asia, around Japan, Korea and China. The trees are deciduous with short single trunk and vase shaped crown. The leaves in spring are bronzed color, turning to dark green and then yellow in the fall.
The trees are in the rosaceae family so the flowers are light pink in color and clustered in groups of 2 to 5. Kwanzan trees are considered ornamental so flowers are abundant in the spring with no fruits in the fall.
The Koreans celebrate the blooming with their Jinhae or Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival. In Japan, these trees are celebrated in their custom as Hanami (flower viewing). The flowers are viewed as being important in life because the blossoming flowers in spring represent our destiny, birth of a new life and fall of sleeping winter cold.
Kwanzan trees are sensitive to the environment and have short life span of an average 20 years. What makes mine survive the hot summer in Austin, Texas is soil, soil, soil. I cannot emphasize enough how important soil is to a tree of this type. My trees have layers of loam, clay, garden soil, compost and 3 inches of cedar mulch. The compost and garden soil are from The Natural Gardner. I used their Revitalizer Compost and Hill Country Garden soil. I did not mix the soils but layered them like nature would have. Most Arborist would not recommend using this type of soil as fill because to do so might create a bathtub effect, but I did so knowing that certain precautions and steps were taken before I planted them. (The trees were planted in layered limestone rocks. The holes were 8 times the size of the rootball with deep cracks that were tested for proper drainage)
Overall, I am very excited about the springtime blooms. Working very hard in the hot summer months by keeping the trees well watered paid off the following year. Keeping these trees alive is a lot of work and you are probably asking yourself why? It’s not the amount of work that is seemingly full of burden and hassle , but rather, the symbolism behind the work you do as a sign of dedication to anything you love very much – “never give up.”
Below are some quick tips I have learned to use on my trees. I am not claiming to be a certified arborist, but rather, to share what I think helped keep my babies alive and thriving!
Soil Amendments: Mychorizae (once), Biozome (once), Corn Meal (once), Molasses (once), Azomite (yearly), Rabbit Hill Farm Minerals Plus (yearly)
Watering: General rule for watering is for every 1” of trunk width should use 5 gallons of water. Top 3 inches of soil below mulch should be moist and not soaking wet. When the top layer of soil is dry, its time to water. Liquid Humate (to remove chloramine in the City drinking water) Superthrive (seems to work but no scientific support to back up claims) Liquid Seaweed (hormones and trace minerals) Imidacloprid (once a year in Spring after the blooms fall to avoid problems with bees and to prevent borer and beetle attacks), Actinovate (lessen chance of cotton root rot – prevalent in Texas)
Foliar Spray: Liquid Seaweed (during extreme heat) Actinovate (prevent blight in humid conditions)
by Jon Lee