Sandcherry Plant Care: How To Grow A Purple Leaf Sandcherry

Image by F. D. Richards

By Amy Grant

Plum leaf sandcherry bush, also referred to as purple leaf sandcherry plants, is a medium sized ornamental shrub that when mature reaches a height of approximately 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide. This easy care plant makes a great addition to the landscape.

About Plum Leaf Sandcherry

Sandcherry bush (Prunus x cistena) is a member of the Rose family. Prunus is Latin for ‘plum’ while cistena is the Sioux word for ‘baby’ in reference to its smallish size. The “x” is indicative of the shrub’s hybridism.

This Prunus hybrid is useful as an ornamental specimen due to its beautiful red, maroon, or purple foliage. The shrub grows at a moderate rate and is suitable in USDA zones 2-8. The parent plants of sandcherry bush hail from Western Asia (Prunus cerasifera) and the Northeastern United States (Prunus pumila).

This purplish-red leafed plant has an oval growth habit gradually maturing into an arched form and opening out from the center of the shrub. The stunning 2-inch long, serrated foliage emerges crimson-purple and remains throughout the summer, gradually changing to a green-bronze hue in the fall.

Around April, the plant’s pink buds open into whitish-pink flowers — the same time as the red foliage. The innocuous blooms become small black-purple fruit barely noticeable without contrast to the purple foliage in July. The multiple gray-brown trunks are prone to trunk fissuring and cankers, which ooze sap.

How to Grow a Purple Leaf Sandcherry

This specimen is urban tolerant and establishes rapidly to lend a brilliant pop of color to the landscape. So how do you grow a purple leaf sandcherry?

Sandcherry is readily available through the local nursery and/or propagated via rooted stem cuttings. Sandcherry is sensitive to being transplanted in the autumn, so extra care should be taken in amending the soil, fertilizing, mulching heavily and watering thoroughly.

Ideally, you should plant the purple leaf sandcherry in full to partial sun exposure in moist, well-draining soil. However, the sandcherry bush is adaptable to lesser soils, drought, heat and over aggressive pruning.

Sandcherry Plant Care

Because, the sandcherry is a member of the Rose family, it is susceptible to several diseases, such as trunk canker, and pests, like borers and Japanese beetle assaults in mid-summer. It also has a short lifespan at between 10 to 15 years primarily due to assault by pests or diseases.

Other than these issues, the sandcherry plant care is relatively fuss free and is tolerant of a variety of conditions — hardy in cold winters and hot summers. Prune the sandcherry bush to remove heavy branching that will weigh the plant down. It can even be pruned into a formal hedge or used in borders, at entranceways or in group plantings.

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