No tricks today, just a very lovely shrub that deserves a place in every garden and rates among my top 10 shrubs. Prunus incisa itself is a small tree from Japan that has been cultivated for centuries and ‘Kojo-No-Mai’ is a small-growing form that will fit into any garden. It is also widely available in garden centres. It has a wiry habit with thin branches that tend to zig-zag a bit so that even a small plant has a certain charm. It is a lovely plant for a pot but use a loam-based compost please. Perfectly hardy, it will grow in sun or part shade and in most soils as long as they are well drained – it does not need acid soil and probably prefers alkaline soils.
The main point of the plant is the flowers and it seems that every bud on the stems bears a couple of flowers and even young plants bloom freely. The buds are delicately pink but the flowers are usually white when open though they can develop a pink tinge as they age. After the petals drop the leaves expand and they are small, have notched edges (it is Prunus incisa after all) and give the plant a delicate, graceful appearance. All this is very good but this plant has one last trick up its sleeve: in autumn the leaves turn yellow and orange and often tinged with purple, looking spectacular for several weeks before they drop.
You usually see this shrub about 30cm high when for sale though you may find them grafted as standards on 1m stems. I am not a big fan of grafted standard plants of any kind but these might work OK though I doubt I would buy one for myself. It is fairly slow growing but the one I have in the garden in the UK is more than 10 years old and is about 1.2m high and 1m across. You can prune it at any time in summer to shape it and I think I may have to remove some lower stems to lift the crown so I can fit things under it – I would not want to trim it because that would destroy its gracefulness.