Japan cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’)

The Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ is one of the most popular varieties of Japanese cherry, and rightly so. Every spring, when the temperatures begin to improve after the frosts, its beautiful pink flowers cover the branches making the plant become a natural spectacle that you will not be able to stop admiring.

If we talk about its maintenance, the first thing to be clear about is that it has, like all plant species in the world, its preferences and needs. 

Origin and characteristics of Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’

Image – Wikimedia/ Moonik

Known as Japanese cherry, Japanese cherry or Prunus ‘Kanzan’, it is a cultivar of Prunus serrulata native to Japan that belongs to the genus Prunus. Like the rest, it is deciduous, which means that it falls at a certain time of the year (in this case, it is autumn-winter). It reaches a maximum height of 12 meters. The leaves are simple, ovate-lanceolate, with a serrated or double serrated margin, 5 to 13cm long by 2.5 to 6.5cm wide, and turn yellow, red or crimson before dropping.

The flowers, which sprout in spring, are double (that is, they have two layers of petals) and are grouped in clusters of two to five flowers, and are pink. It does not produce fruit, since it multiplies only by grafting, usually on Prunus avium.

Related article:Prunus, trees of magnificent flowers

What are their cares?

If you want to have a copy, we recommend you provide the following care:


When we go to buy a plant, the weather is the first thing we have to think about. If the conditions are not suitable, it will do no good to have a good soil or to be watered when it plays. Therefore, if we intend to acquire a Prunus ‘Kanzan’, it is necessary to bear in mind that it will only live well, at ease, in temperate climates, with frosts in winter and mild temperatures in summer.


  • Garden: Prefers soils rich in organic matter, loose and with a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Alkaline tolerant.
  • Pot: We can also grow it in a pot -which has to be wider and deeper from time to time- filled with, preferably, substrate for acidic plants mixed with 30% akadama or similar (arlita, pumice, etc.).


Image – Wikimedia/ Jamain

Irrigation must be frequent, but avoiding waterlogging. During the summer, if it is very hot and dry, we will water 3-4 times a week; the rest of the year about 2 times a week will suffice.

We will use rainwater, suitable for human consumption, or without lime whenever we can. You have to know that if we water with very calcareous water, it could have iron chlorosis since the lime prevents the iron from being absorbed by the roots.

The symptoms of this problem are the yellowing of the leaves, which end up having only the green nerves. Over time they turn brown and eventually fall off. To avoid this, in addition to watering with adequate water, it is advisable to fertilize with specific fertilizers.


From the beginning of spring to the end of summer (it can be until the beginning of autumn if the weather is rather mild or the frosts are late), it should be fertilized with fertilizers for acid plants following the indications specified on the package.

We have it in liquid form which is ideal for potted plants, and in powder form.

Note: if the garden soil is already acidic, DO NOT use acidic fertilizers as the pH could drop too low. We will use other types of fertilizers, be it the universal one for plants, or other organic ones such as guano, worm castings, etc.


You don’t need it. We will remove only dry, diseased, weak or broken branches in late winter.

Planting or transplanting time

Whether we want to plant it in the garden or move to a larger pot, we will have to wait for spring. The ideal time is when the buds are ‘swollen’, about to sprout, or when they have begun to sprout.

In the case of having it in a pot, we will know that the transplant time has come if:

  • roots stick out through drainage holes,
  • it’s been in the same pot for a long time (more than 3 years),
  • their growth has stopped for no apparent reason


As we said above, Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ is multiplied only by bud grafts in T or gusset. In Europe it is usually done on Prunus avium, at the end of winter.


It is very resistant, but in hot and dry environments aphids can cause them some damage. These are very small insects, about 0.5 cm long, mainly brown or green, that feed on the sap of young leaves and flower buds.

Luckily, they are easily treated with either diatomaceous earth, potassium soap, or even yellow sticky traps by hooking them to branches.


The Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ resists frost up to -18 ° C, but can not live in tropical climates.

What uses is it given?

Image – Wikimedia/ Famartin

It is used as an isolated specimen. As it grows, it becomes more and more beautiful, so it is important that it stands out.


It is a good plant to work as bonsai. As it has a growth rate that allows it to be controlled, and leaves that are not very large either, it is certainly a good idea to have it as a bonsai.

Related article:What are the care of Japanese cherry bonsai?

Where to buy Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ ?

We can buy it in nurseries and garden stores, both online and, sometimes, physically. Remember that it does NOT produce seeds, so if we ever see that they sell seeds supposedly from this cultivar, we do not have to be fooled.

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