Purple Leaf Sand Cherry - pros and cons

hergrammy(z6SWMO)March 28, 2008

I am wondering about the degree of susceptibility to fungus and mildew and other disease on the Prunus cistena. It seems when I search the web for info, all I get is info about how pretty it is. Anyone have any experience with this?

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Well, Japanese beetles really love them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:26AM
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Pros - pink flowers for a brief period in spring.

Cons - purple leaves.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 11:32AM
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dr_andre_phufufnik(Blsk, Voynovia)

It doesn't live very long. It tends to have a sparse habit. It never sets fruit

But the pretty flowers smell like heaven, if only for a few short days.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 12:48PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Here these often do die back excessively if not situated against a warm wall. Maybe there this is not a problem. I have seen a large one at the Yakima Area Arboretum, in the arid climate of eastern WA.

'Cistena' is a dwarf and differs from the great number of other purpleleaf plum cultivars primarily in two respects: none are hardier in severely cold climates, and none are bushier. The nearest competition for cold hardiness is 'Newport', and for bushiness, 'Purple Pigmy'. In fact, 'Cistena' is so adapted to a continental climate that it does not perform well in milder areas. Both Carlton and Schmidt nurseries assign it USDA Zone 2, while Bailey and Sheridan nurseries give it Zone 3. Regardless of where it is grown, for the most attractive plants it is advisable to do heavy pruning right after flowering

--A.L. Jacobson, Purpleleaf Plums (Timber Press)

>It never sets fruitSeattle specimens have not produced fruit, but others describe the fruit as dark purple, small and of poor quality. Hansen (Bulletin no. 237, 3) wrote 'fruits of no value and sparingly produced'


    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I didn't realize it was for cooler climates. We are zone 6, but it gets up to 100 in the summer and never rains in August. Eastern Washington can't be that hot and dry.
Am trying to pick a small flowering tree for the sunny bed beside the front door. Seems that everyone plants Flowering Crabapple but I had one die once from either fireblight or rust so don't trust them. (Even the disease resistant ones.)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 4:57PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yakima has 32 days per year above 90F. The annual precipitation there is 8 inches.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yakima

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 5:42PM
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way overused, form is not very attractive, short lived. If you are looking for purple leaves, there are many better alternatives: cotinus, new elderberries are two

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Okay, the sand cherry is out. Do you like the looks of that Sambucus nigra? It seems like more of a bush. Have grown the smoke tree as a bush, too and don't particularly like it. New idea is the Jane Magnolia. Any comments on it?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:24PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The Kosar and De Vos hybrid magnolias, like most other magnolias have the potential to grow rather large. 'Susan' may have the most striking flowers of the set, although 'Pinkie' may be the prettiest, appearing pink rather than reddish-purple.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:46PM
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what will the purpose of the plant? form, color, height requirements, exposure,environment, shade, specimen/focal point, what's already there.
Then we can narrow it down to the top 25

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:14PM
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Hi, Idabean

Regretfully, I really don't have that many choices. I am limited to the environment -- which is hot, hot sun on the West side. Lost two huge oaks due to construction damage, so no shade whatsoever. Also have horrible clay soil. Plus, it gets really dry here in the summer. It is an area about 20 by 20 ft. in the ell formed by house and garage. I figure a small flowering tree is best here. I've planted quince, abelia, a couple of hollies and a viburnum for shrubs. Also a ninebark, (which I know nothing about).
Thanks, bboy - I looked at Jane on usdagov website for the Kosar "girls". This would be too big and bushy. It was just something I saw available for sale here locally. Susan looks like it might work if I could find it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

All of the Kosar and DeVos hybrids are of generally similar stature. 'Susan' does tend to be comparatively narrow-growing. But all may be expected to exceed 10' in time. This won't happen overnight.

A good purple smokebush cultivar like 'Royal Purple' would fit the bill except these may have problems on some heavy soils.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 12:50PM
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Hi Hergrammy - I'm in SW Missouri also. Our utility company gave away purple leaf sandcherries several years ago so I have five in my yard. Only one looks like a tree. The others formed more of a shrub and don't really have a good shape - sort of lop-sided. They do tolerate our heat and drought in the summer and I haven't had any trouble with disease(yet) but they get almost completely defoliated in the summer, then leaf out again and sometimes get defoliated a second time. My little crabapple looses it's leaves also.

I don't have any experience with Jane magnolia but tried to grow Black Beauty sambucus and couldn't keep it alive.

Do you like redbuds? There are different varieties of those including one with purple leaves. The green leafed ones seem a little tougher though.

You could also plant a crape myrtle there if you pick one of the more cold hardy varieties. They're overused in the south so you will find some negative comments about them but it's easy to grow, heat/drought tolerant, and is long blooming.

Please feel welcome to also ask about trees or any other gardening questions in the Ozarks Gardening forum here at Gardenweb. The people in that forum will have similar gardening conditions as you so it will be helpful to get their opinions as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ozarks Region Gardening

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:37AM
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I have just ordered the Heat Zone book by AHS. This is going to be the limitation for me - the degree of heat a tree can take. I know 86 degrees is a critical point and we have many days (90+) over that.
I have a young Forest Pansy redbud in a cooler location in the back yard. I think they are beautiful, but will they take the heat of my front yard?
Will the crape myrtle die back to the ground if it's a very cold winter? Natchez did that last year in NW Arkansas, where I'm from. Also zone 6 there but had trees.
Thanks for the Ozark forum link, Christie. We are considered the Gateway to the Ozarks here.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 4:42PM
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Sounds like you are looking for more of a bush than a tree.
I agree with the opinions about the Purple leaf sand cherry, both the pros and cons. I prefer the deeper color of the ninebark leaves, which really turn a deep color after being exposed to sunlight. Those might be a good alternative.
The smoke trees are nice, but those really look different to me than the sand cherry. Smoke trees are more woody with smaller roundish leaves. Beautiful, but really different than sand cherry.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 1:16AM
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Hi Aprilfirst,

Okay - tell me what you know about the ninebark. I bought it because it's a native and likes sun. Thought it was a shrub, not a tree.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 9:31AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

My purple leaf sandcherry consistantly suffered from chlorosis (lack of iron) in clay soil. The leaves weren't yellowy, but an odd champagne sort of pink (though not all of them). Anyways, I removed it and planted another purple-leaf plant, 'Diablo' ninebark. So far so good, though it's more a darker purple than purple leaf sandcherry. The maple-shaped leaves are more interesting, blooms are white, and seed pods start out a striking coral pink shade before turning darker.

The only downside is that this wants to be a large shrub (though, as far as I know, not a tree), but it can grow to 8 to 12 feet high, but apparently it tolerates pruning well (so I will have to prune annually to keep within bounds).


    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 5:33PM
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Thanks to everyone for the great discusssions.

I love the leaves on the ninebark, but I believe it is too shrub-shape for what I want. As far as I can tell it is a pretty carefree, native shrub.

I've decided to go with a Kwanza cherry because a)they are for sale here and b)a local friend has had good luck with hers. Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 5:11PM
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