Pruning Plum Leaf Sandcherry: When And How To Prune A Purple Leaf Sandcherry

Image by F. D. Richards

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Purple leaf sandcherry (Prunus x cistena) is a hardy shrub that belongs to the rose family. This striking plant, also known as plum leaf sandcherry, is valued for its reddish-purple foliage and pale pink blooms. Purple leaf sandcherry care involves regular pruning. Read on for tips on how to prune a purple leaf sandcherry.

When to Prune Plum Leaf Sandcherries

The best time to prune plum leaf sandcherries is just before new growth emerges in spring. This timing ensures the plant has plenty of time to recover and produce gorgeous blooms for the coming season.

Pruning Plum Leaf Sandcherry

Purple leaf sandcherry pruning isn’t complicated. Prune the oldest stems first, removing at least one-third of growth down to within a few inches from the base. Additionally, cut damaged or dead growth at the base of the shrub. The branches will be sturdy, so be sure your cutting tool is sharp.

When old and damaged growth has been removed, thin out wayward growth and branches that are rubbing or crossing other branches. If the plant looks a bit straggly, you can remove twigs to keep it tidy throughout the season.

Be sure to make each cut about 1/4-inch above a node or a point where one stem is growing from another. Lastly, snip off any suckers that form at the base of the plant.

If the purple leaf sandcherry is badly overgrown or neglected, you can rejuvenate the plant by cutting it nearly to the ground in late winter, shortly before the plant emerges from dormancy.

Rake the area under the shrub after pruning. If you are pruning to remove diseased growth, dispose of the clippings carefully. Never place diseased debris in the compost pile.

Additional Purple Leaf Sandcherry Care

Water purple leaf sandcherry regularly during the first growing season. Usually, one watering per week is ample, or whenever the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch. Thereafter, water only during extended periods of hot, dry weather.

One feeding every spring is sufficient for purple leaf sandcherry. Any balanced, general-purpose fertilizer is fine.

Otherwise, plum leaf sandcherry is easy to get along with and requires little care. However, the plant is susceptible to a number of plant diseases such as:

A sunny location, well-drained soil and adequate air circulation around plants are the best ways to avoid these moisture-related diseases.

Purple leaf sandcherry is also bothered by several pests, including:

Most insects can be controlled by blasting the affected leaves with a strong blast of water, or by spraying the foliage with insecticidal soap. Unfortunately, despite your best attempts, pests and disease may shorten the life span of purple leaf sandcherry.

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