Purple Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x Cistena)

The purple leaf sand cherry is a deciduous dwarf tree. With reddish-purple foliage and fragrant pink and white spring blossoms, this low maintenance ornamental shrub is ideal for entryway landscaping.

The sand cherry grows easily in full to partial sun. It prefers moist, well drained soil. It is tolerant to most soil types but drainage is important, as too much moisture can lead to problems such as drowning or edema.

At full growth the purple leaf sand cherry will stand about 8 feet high and 6-8 feet wide at its top. Tall branches can get heavy and arch. To slow growth, it is best pruned in the early summer/late spring when the blooms fade. To promote growth, it should be pruning should be done in late winter.

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Springtime blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The small summer berries are easily unnoticed because their dark color blends in with the leaves. Because the Prunus are members of the rose family, they are susceptible to trunk disease and attacks from Japanese beetles.

The purple leaf sand cherry tends to decline after 10- 15 years. Cutting the plant to the ground and allowing new shoots to grow from the roots might be necessary for rejuvenation.

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Propagating Your Sand Cherry:

The best time to propagate is in the early spring when new growth reaches around 4 inches. Bend the shoot at a 90 degree angle. If it snaps crisply, its ready.

Here are five easy steps to create your softwood cutting:

  1. Prepare the soil ahead of time so it is moist, yet drained.
  2. Make a cut close to the original growth.
  3. Apply a rooting hormone to your new growth. We prefer Dip and Grow or Wood's liquid formulas because they are easy to find and simple to use.
  4. Plant 1 inch deep in a pot.
  5. Cover your pot with a plastic bag to lock in the moisture. Keep your soil moist and watch for new leaves- a sign of root growth.

Tip: Phosphorus fertilizer can help young sand cherries root faster.

When planting a sand cherry, be sure to dig your hole extra wide to make the roots branch out easier. Take care not to plant it too deep. The topmost root ball should be at or just above ground level. Then, cover with mulch.

Multiple plants should be placed about 4 feet apart.

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Tips For Pruning Your Purple Leaf Sand Cherry:

Pruning after the leaves fall will promote faster spring growth.

For declining or overgrown shrubs, you may need to cut the plant to the ground to rejuvenate it. New shoots will grow from the roots.

Mid-summer pruning is best for slowing the growth and spread of your tree. Your tree is in a semi-dormant state, so it is best to keep cuts small.

To reduce bulk, clip the stems at ground level.

To reduce the size and density, cut the side branches back to a main branch or to the trunk.

Remove outer foliage to smooth or shape your tree. This may need to be done a few time through out the growing season.

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