How to Care for a Schubert Cherry Tree

A reddish-purple-leaved selection of chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), the cultivar Schubert was introduced in the 1940s as an ornamental tree for garden settings. Do not confuse it with cultivar Canada Red, which bears darker burgundy-purple leaves but was formed as a mutation of a Schubert chokecherry tree. Chokecherries are native to a wide expanse of central North America, and the fruits are edible and usually made into preserves, sauces or wine. Tolerant of both alkaline and clay soils, the Schubert chokecherry matures 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 22 feet wide. It grows and looks its best in cool-summer regions across USDA Hardiness Zones 2 through 5, according to Michael Dirr of the University of Georgia.

Step 1

Plant the Schubert chokecherry tree in fertile soil that does not flood or remain soggy after rains or irrigation. A site that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day ensures the best habit and intensity of leaf coloration and production of flowers and fruits. Use a garden shovel to make the planting hole as deep as the tree's root ball but two to three times as wide.

Step 2

Water the tree once planted and keep the soil moist for the first year after planting in the landscape. Supplement natural rainfall to ensure that the original root ball doesn't dry out as the roots eventually spread out into the soil. Irrigation during a drought is essential.

Step 3

Cover the soil around the trunk of the Schubert chokecherry with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch. Extend the mulch 2 to 3 feet beyond the farthest reach of branch tips. The mulch decomposes to release nutrients into the soil, deters weeds and keeps the soil cool and moist over the summer. Replenish and extend the mulch annually as needed to keep it at a depth between 2 and 4 inches.

Step 4

Prune away dead or diseased branches any time of year with hand pruners. For branches larger than 3/4 inch in diameter, use a loppers or pruning saw. In early spring, remove any inward-growing branches or those that rub against each other and cause bark wounds. Also cut away branches that develop with a crotch angle that is less than 30 to 45 degrees, as they are weak and may break in storms.

Step 5

Trim off suckering shoots under the tree in early spring and again in late summer. Prune them at the base to cut them flush with the surface root or the soil level. Failure to constantly remove suckers eventually creates a thicket of plants rather than a singular, one-trunked tree specimen in the garden.

Jacob J. Wright

Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. He has worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Wright holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.