What is with Purple-Leaf Sandcherries?

northspruce(z3a MB CDA)June 23, 2007

I have a purple-leaf sandcherry and it's not even hardy. It dies back to the snow line in the winter, and I see many people around town have them that do the same thing. I guess it's ok because it's a small shrub so I just pruned off the tops, but what the heck, I thought these things were supposed to grow into small trees here?? Anyone else have dieback on them? Mine hardly blooms either.

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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

It always amazes me, how many are bought every year, years ago I did the same, but dug it out not long after that.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 3:38PM
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I have two on the east side of my house. They are just a couple of years old but are doing well. They don't bloom too much, but I like the foliage. I don't get any dieback. Do you think its because they are sheltered next to the house?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 6:50PM
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Yep, I hear you Konrad. Everyone wants those purple colored shrubs and for awhile it seemed PLSC were all we had. Thank goodness for Diablo Ninebark (and I believe there is a more burgundy one now) and now the return of the barberries. I've seen a few PLSC on an east facing commercial property here in southeast Edmonton and they seem to be doing just great, so I think east is a good exposure for them. I just replaced one that had been in my yard when I moved in and died back every year until it was dead with a false spirea which is doing fabulously there.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 10:35PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Well I'm glad it's not just me! I guess with our (usually) reliable snow cover, they get by here in Manitoba, but you never see them get very big.

Jen, it stands to reason that they would do better next to a house, I have a forsythia next to the house that blooms nicely, and 20 feet away are 3 more that only bloom in a ring around the bottom.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 11:51PM
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They are not fully hardy in zone 3. They definitely need a sheltered site to survive the winter.

My friend has two of these; one of them died right to the ground one winter, even though it was about 4 feet high and wide.

Yes, thank goodness for Diablo Ninebark. It's way hardier than the purple-leaf sandcherry. If I knew about them earlier, I would've never bothered with the sandcherry.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 1:17AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

My purple leaf sandcherry survived most winters with minimal damage, but it was on the south side of a fence with great snowcover (though the entire plant isn't covered with snow I think it goes a ways to protect the root system). It was about 6 feet high.

One fall was very cool and didn't allow plants to harden off properly for winter. The next spring my sandcherry, as well as my sour cherry both were winterkilled to about a foot from the ground. They came back vigorously, however, I guess there's alot to be said about established root systems.

I removed my sandcherry, however, as it constantly suffered from iron chlorosis (clay soil). Interesting enough, most green leaf plants suffering from lack of iron get yellow leaves. The purple sandcherry leaves were more a sickly champagne whitish yellow color. Hard to describe.

Anyways, I gave up and removed the sandcherry, replacing with diablo ninebark. I amended the soil a bit, so we'll see how it performs. Definitely a showier shrub with abundant white blossoms and now red seed pods forming. The only downfall may be that I need to prune this annually to keep within bounds, but from what I understand it takes pruning well.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 11:50AM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

I'm assuming Purple leaf Sandcherry and Cistena Cherry are the same shrub?
Here's my Cistena Cherry in my front island bed. It gets covered by the snow being cleared from the driveway so stays about this size. It bloomed quite nicely this year. I guess if it died I would replace it with a Diablo ninebark, but for now I really like it. I am always being asked about it and I tell everyone it is only snow hardy, but I don't know if they heed that advice.
The view from the street:

The view from the back:

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 10:39PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I have one that's a few years old and has done fairly well with little or no die-back. It's in a bed near the driveway and does get covered well with snow. Yours is stunning, Marie! I hope mine will get that big!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 10:48PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

I can't comment on mine yet since I just planted it a week ago. I just sure hope mine looks like MarieÂs when it grow up, absolutely beautiful! I have mine located in a bed that had 5-6 feet of snow this past winter, hopefully we get that again this winter.

IMO, they make a beautiful contrast shrub with other plants even if they donÂt bloom.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 3:19PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Marie, apparently Prunus x cistena is a hybrid between P. pumila and P. cerasifera.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 3:25PM
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Laurie_z3_MB(sw MB)

My PLS does get some winter kill occasionally. This past winter was a hard one on it, and it I had to prune off about 2 feet. But then some years it's good almost to the tips. The blooms are always below the snow line though, they're definitely more cold sensitive. I typically get about 4 feet of snow over the bed that it's in, but above that, it's pretty wind blown in my yard. I've got a ninebark Diablo in the same bed, and it's definitely more hardy to the tips, but it does have more of a burgundy colour to the leaves, whereas the PLS has a more red hue to it. I can't see it ever getting to a small tree status in our zones though.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:58PM
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