This Cherry Tree is a Late Bloomer

Flowering cherries are usually associated with early spring, but autumn-blooming Higan cherry brings a surprising flurry of flowers to the fall garden.

This charming small tree has a spreading, rounded form and a delicate branching habit. The glossy, deep green leaves have long, tapered tips and turn yellow, apricot, and bronze in the fall. After the leaves drop, a heavy scattering of semi-double, light pink flowers appear, and in milder regions flowers may pop open during warm spells throughout the winter. This lovely bit of early bloom still leaves many unopened flower buds, though, and autumn-blooming Higan cherry then joins other flowering cherries with a floriferous display in early spring.

Common name: Autumn-blooming Higan cherry
Botanical name: Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’
Plant type: Deciduous tree
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 20 to 35 feet
Family: Rosaceae

Growing Conditions

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Moderately fertile loam or sandy loam
  • Moisture: Evenly moist but well drained


  • Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as wood chips, composted leaves or pine needles
  • Pruning: Prune lightly after flowering to remove damaged branches or improve form if needed
  • Fertilizer: Apply compost or soluble fertilizer as needed


  • Cuttings

Pests and diseases

  • Aphids, borers, and several foliar diseases are possible problems
  • May develop root rot in overly wet sites

Garden notes

  • For a season-bending display, combine autumn-blooming Higan cherry with late bloomers in spring tones like white-flowered Montauk daisy and pink-flowered ‘Clara Curtis’ hardy chrysanthemum.
  • Autumn-blooming Higan cherry is one of the most adaptable of the flowering cherries, tolerating both cold winters (it has survived in some Zone 4 gardens) and hot summers better than most ornamental cherries.
  • Cut a few branches of autumn-blooming Higan cherry in late winter to force into bloom; place stems in a vase of water and keep in a cool, bright, humid spot until the buds start to open.

All in the family

  • Autumn-blooming Higan cherry is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), a large family of woody and herbaceous plants.
  • In addition to cherries, other fruit trees in this family include apples, peaches, pears, apricots and plums.
  • There are about 90 species of Prunus native to the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe and Asia.

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