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PlantFiles: Purple Leaf Sand Cherry
Prunus x cistena

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Prunus (PROO-nus) (Info)
Species: x cistena
Hybridized by Dr. N. E. Hansen; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1910

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From woody stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 26 photos.
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10 positives
6 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral KariGrows On Jul 21, 2014, KariGrows from New Lisbon, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I bought a very small specimin hoping it would grow quickly but the deer kept pruning if for me... its still about 2 feet tall after 5 years... then I bought a larger one, which also was pruned off and remains about 2 and a half feet tall. Each spring they get a few blossoms and even lived thru the brutal winter we had....but still are small. One would think that the pruning would rejuvenate them but no such luck.
The only negative thing I have done to them myself is placed them in what is now nearly full shade.
Any ideas if I should move them to a sunny site?

Positive vonnie427 On Jun 16, 2014, vonnie427 from Cary, IL wrote:

I have had several Purple Leaf Sand Cherries in my yard - both in shade and sunny locations. They did equally well in either location.

The one suggestion I would make is that make sure you stay on top of pruning. Mine grew EXCEPTIONALLY fast and once they get the better of you, pruning them back can be a disheartening experience. You have to prune and then wait for the growth to come in. Also, allow enough spacing when planting - they are not compact and one was placed too close to a sidewalk - constant struggle to keep it pruned but not overly so.

Pretty flowers and nice leaf color - pretty sturdy.

Positive osmviv On Oct 6, 2013, osmviv from Montreal
Canada wrote:

My experience with my purple sand cherry has been generally positive. I've had it for several years and up to this year had no problems. This year, however, probably in July, I noticed the bush was looking unhealthy. A closer look revealed bumpy looking scale all along the branches. I think they were small insects of some kind, but they blended with the colour of the branches. Unfortunately, I did nothing about it. The bush has survived and looks like it might be okay next year, but I'm wondering what it might have been and what I should have done! Any help would be appreciated.

Positive marktrot1 On Dec 29, 2011, marktrot1 from Flagstaff, AZ wrote:

Got these from the local home improvement store for cheap. They are planted in alkaline soil and get blasted by wind from late-March until May with very little moisture. But they seem to do well here in Flagstaff, AZ. They love our summer thunderstorms! I'm sure in a wetter climate they would grow thicker. However, we do average about 20" per year of moisture. They have not suckered in my soil.

Positive ctplanter On May 9, 2011, ctplanter from Suffield, CT wrote:

This is a beautiful plant. We have three of them in a flower bed and want to keep them small, as in a shrub.

I am looking for trimming tips for this plant. I'd like to keep it about 1 to 2 feet tall and not too bushy.

any suggestions?

Neutral 7498Tran On May 21, 2010, 7498Tran from Tonawanda, NY wrote:

I'm looking for bugs on this plant on how to control them

Negative Victorine72 On Mar 28, 2009, Victorine72 from Richmond, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

We acquired three seriously overgrown sand cherries when we bought our house. The previous owners had inexplicably placed them in the front and side foundation plantings. They receive less than a half day of sun due to the *13* large trees on our property. By the end of summer last year, the poor things were looking so scraggly, I considered removing them. However, since I was planning to canopy-up most of my trees in Jan, I decided to cut the sand cherries way back and see what happened come spring. As I was cutting, I noticed that many of the limbs seemed to be dead or diseased. I tried to cut back until I found healthy tissue. This resulted in shrubs which are now about 1/3 their original height. At the moment, they all seem to be leafing out well, but I have my doubts as to how they will do this season. Most of my research has indicated that they are often fatally susceptible to disease.

Neutral mama_gray On Oct 18, 2007, mama_gray from Patchogue, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Mine was located in a small over-grown and weed-infested area at my home when I moved in last year. I've tended to the area by adding lots of compost, and continuous weeding. I wasn't sure if this was a 'valid' tree or not, but I liked the foliage so I trimmed it up a bit and figured I'd give it some time to see how it fares. It looks a lot better than last year, but since it was so neglected by the previous owner, there is a definite 'tilt' to it. I'm still hoping it will continue recovering with TLC. Maybe next year I'll see some blossoms. (Long Island, NY)

Neutral HostaFanatic On May 10, 2007, HostaFanatic from Rockwood, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

It has beautiful flowers and leaf coloration. I love it, so do the japanese beetles :( They loved mine to death.

Positive Gregirv On Apr 1, 2007, Gregirv from Waverly, VA wrote:

These plants are the easiest plants to grow. They are incredibly drought tolerant. It is a hybrid of an Caucasian an US native species of the Prunus genus.

Positive Sashagirl On Mar 5, 2006, Sashagirl from Davenport, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Planted 1quart pot 13 years ago in full sun. It's about 8 ft tall, with about 10 foot spread.
It's always had wonderful purple foliage, and full of blooms in the spring. No cherries that I've noted.
No pest problems, no special treatment. I would highly reccomend this speciman. Also note, very little suckering.

Neutral smiln32 On Jul 5, 2005, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

These are very popular in Oklahoma City. The color is just beautiful in contrast with green leaved trees.

Positive nevrest On Oct 22, 2004, nevrest from Broadview, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

Grows nicely here in Saskatchewan, Zone 3a, in full sun with no watering other than what Mother Nature provides. Local deer love it, too and keep it too well pruned.

Negative KDePetrillo On May 6, 2004, KDePetrillo from North Scituate, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I bought a sand cherry about 5 years ago, aftering wanting one for many, many years. When I bought it (from a reputable nursery), it was about 5 feet tall and had a nice root system. It was dead by the end of the season. I don't know what I did wrong, and I was disgusted with the whole experience.

Positive wyldcelt On May 5, 2004, wyldcelt from Colorado Springs, CO wrote:

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Grows very well here even with 3 years of drought and sporadic watering. My two plants are both 10 ft tall and 8 ft wide. Wonderful fragrance and color next to our deck. Only downside is regular pruning to keep them under control.

Positive jlynnnatali On Apr 27, 2004, jlynnnatali from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

This plant has done very well in past 3 years of drought in Denver (Z5) with minimal watering and full sun (morning-early afternoon). Cheap buy at Home Depot. Great pink to white flowers in March-April and then another show in Fall as purple leaf color fades. But only one lone cherry to date.

Positive jbyrne On Sep 9, 2003, jbyrne from St. John's
Canada (Zone 5a) wrote:

Here in Zone 5b, it seems to love full sum. We planted it last year and it has already grown very nicely to stand at about 3 feet (planted at 1.5).

Beautiful foliage and colour.

Neutral haleygem On Jun 20, 2003, haleygem from Saugus, MA wrote:

Even though it is listed as sun to part shade, this tree does best in full sun in my neck of the woods. We saved it from a part shade garden and it is thriving in our sun garden. Easy to prune to keep at a smaller size.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Huntsville, Alabama
Flagstaff, Arizona
Texarkana, Arkansas
Brighton, Colorado
Colorado City, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Niceville, Florida
Winterville, Georgia
Payette, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois (2 reports)
Macomb, Illinois
Sugar Grove, Illinois
Woodridge, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Saint John, Indiana
Davenport, Iowa
Keokuk, Iowa
Olathe, Kansas
Louisville, Kentucky
Berwick, Maine
Saugus, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Fenton, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kingsley, Michigan
Tecumseh, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Bovey, Minnesota
Nisswa, Minnesota
Purdy, Missouri
Great Falls, Montana
Kearney, Nebraska
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Nutley, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York
Jefferson, New York
New York City, New York
Patchogue, New York
Tonawanda, New York
Akron, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio (2 reports)
Delaware, Ohio
Lancaster, Ohio
Lynchburg, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Perkasie, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Coventry, Rhode Island
Belton, Texas
Kaysville, Utah
Lexington, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Waverly, Virginia
Benton City, Washington
Ellsworth, Wisconsin
Green Bay, Wisconsin
New Lisbon, Wisconsin
Owen, Wisconsin
Racine, Wisconsin
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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