Prunus mume Beni-chidori

  • Flowering month: February
  • Flower form: Single flower (5-8 petals)
  • Flower colour: Pink - dark
  • Height 10 years: 1.5m-2.5m / 5ft-8ft
  • Growth habit: Upright-spreading

Beni-chidori (or Beni-shidare) is a form of the Japanese apricot, and has become quietly popular on account of its very early blossom, appearing in February or early March (or even earlier in mild winters) when there is not much other colour around.

The deep pink single flowers are borne in profusion and contrast elegantly with the bare branches - the blossom appears well ahead of the leaves, and is notably long-lasting (3-4 weeks). It is a great choice for bringing some intense colour to the garden towards the end of winter.

The flowers have a pleasant almond-like scent too.

In warm climates the tree will produce small yellow fruitlets in the autumn, but this is very unlikely in the UK. The fruits are not particularly palatable, but are valued in China and Japan for making preserves and alcoholic drinks.

The leaves turn apricot orange in the autumn.

Although usually grown in the UK as small specimen trees, Japanese apricots have a naturally "shrubby" habit and can also be trained into low hedges. Left to its own devices it will often revert to a multi-stemmed bush.

Despite its name, the Japanese apricot Prunus mume is native to China and Korea as well. The species is often much longer-lived than other flowering cherries.

Many hundreds of varieties of this species are known in China and Japan, some being grown for fruit, others for ornament. The variety we supply, Beni-chidori, is also known as Beni-shidare.

Beni-chidori trees for sale

Item
Height in 10 years
Price inc. VAT
Quantity
2-year top-worked (45cm) Beni-chidori tree - in a 12L pot
< 1.5m tall after 10 years
£49.95
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How to grow

Once the tree is more than 3-4 years old Beni-chidori benefits from regular annual pruning in spring - after the blossom has finished.

Beni-chidori remains a small tree (particularly if pruned), and is a good choice for a large patio container - our top-worked forms are ideal for this purpose.

Alternatively plant it out in the garden, allowing 2m-3m height and spread. It is tolerant of most soils.

Because it flowers so early, frost damage of the blossom is always a risk, so for best results try to plant in a sheltered south-facing spot and avoid frost pockets.

Beni-chidori characteristics

Growing

  • Attractive features: Attractive flowers Scented flowers
  • Height 10 years: 1.5m-2.5m / 5ft-8ft
  • Growth habit: Upright-spreading
  • Growth rate: Average
  • Vigour: Slightly small
  • Useful for: Patio growing Small spaces
  • Blossom duration: Long
  • Hardiness rating (RHS): H5 (to -15C)
  • Pruning: Prune after flowering
  • Gardening skill: Suitable for beginners

Identification

  • Country of origin: China Japan
  • Flowering month: February
  • Flowering season: Early
  • Flower colour: Pink - dark
  • Flower form: Single flower (5-8 petals)
  • Leaf colour: Green
  • Leaf colour - autumn: Orange / Gold
  • Annual cycle: Deciduous
  • Awards: RHS Award of Garden Merit

Using

  • Wildlife: RHS perfect for pollinators

How to choose a flowering cherry tree

We have a very wide range of flowering cherry trees. Choosing can be difficult! Our article explaining the different characteristics of flowering cherries might help narrow down the selection.