September 30, 2012

Plant of the month:
Dwarf Flowering Almond

Why on earth would I feature a "plant of the month" on the last day of the month? Believe me, that wasn't the plan, but September sped by so fast, I nearly missed it. Soon PlantPostings will celebrate its second blogoversary, and I've only missed featuring a "plant of the month" one month out of the 24 since PlantPostings was born.

This month, I've chosen to highlight the Dwarf Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa), a small shrub that grows to a height of 4 ft. to 5 ft., and a width of 3 ft. to 4 ft. (All sources for information here are listed at the end of this post.)

Second question: Why would I feature a plant that is best known for its soft, dewy pink, mid-spring blooms? Well, several reasons. The first being that autumn is a great time to plant one.


The second reason is that it's pretty in the fall, too. Most sources describe the autumn foliage of Flowering Almond as "not ornamentally important" or simply "green." But mine usually turns variegated shades of peach, yellow, and green. And I'm partial to variegated foliage, even when it looks a little mottled and messy.


Here are some handy stats on Dwarf Flowering Almond:
  • Hardy in zones 4-9 (some say 10);
  • Prefers full sun to part shade; 
  • Prefers moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates minor drought;
  • Effective in mass, single foundation, patio, or container plantings; and
  • Can be short-lived (10 or fewer years) because of susceptibility to fireblight, root rot, and other diseases.
My personal experience is that it:
  • Grows just fine in dappled shade at the edge of a deciduous forest (presuming it gets plenty of winter and early spring sun);
  • Flowers in mid-spring in my zone 5 shade garden;
  • Performs better in the season following a moderate pruning;
  • Prefers lightly watered soil over saturated soil (mine was healthier during this drought year than in extremely rainy seasons);
  • Can survive more than 13 years (I don't know how old mine is, but it's at least 13 years old, and with a heavy pruning, in a drought year when the bugs weren't much of a problem, it's actually looking better than it has in the past few years).
  • Requires very little maintenance beyond regular, light watering and moderate pruning.
Plus, it's one of the prettiest shrubs in my garden.


Dwarf Flowering Almond has been a featured ornamental shrub in the American landscape at least since the days of Thomas Jefferson. He planted it at Monticello in 1794 when he noted "dble blossd almond" in a list of "objects for the garden this year."

Diana at Elephant's Eye asks us to recommend plants for her Dozen for Diana meme. Dwarf Flowering Almond is definitely on my "favorites" list.


Sources for this post:

(Last call for input to the Italy garden tours survey. We'll be compiling the responses in the next few weeks, and we'll share the results soon. Even if it's unlikely you can join us, please share your suggestions/wish lists. Thanks!)

23 comments:

  1. A lovely shrub. Mine did not do well here in my garden so it has been replaced, but I do miss the lovely pink flowers. The leaves did not look as nice as yours.

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    1. Mine wasn't doing very well either for several years. Then we pruned it, the drought hit, and now it's doing better. I think we have it too close to the downspout so it needs more drainage. I love the paper-thin pink petals on the flowers.

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  2. Your the first person I know to grow a flowering almond. It is a pretty tree. The blooms are gorgeous!

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    1. Yes, the flowers are very delicate. I think the fall foliage is pretty--especially when you look closely. But springtime is when it truly shines!

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  3. I've never grown this shrub - may just have to add it to my wishlist! So pretty,

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    1. It doesn't take up much space. If you have a little corner where you want an ornamental, spring-blooming shrub, it's a great choice.

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  4. Unusual flowers, very nice. Hey, how's your tour of Italy coming?

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    1. Yep, I really look forward to the blooms--around the time the Daffodils and Tulips are blooming. Looking good on the Italy tour responses. I'll share the results soon. Thanks for completing the survey!

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  5. Your choice echoes my plums, and the apples are turning on little flashes of cherry pink on their buds. It is October so I'll make yours the first on my October list, which will bring you a second round of readers (I hope and wish)

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    1. Great--thanks, Diana! It has been great fun seeing plants recommended by bloggers around the world!

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    2. My October post is now up. My apple-blossom to your almond.
      http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2012/10/octobers-choice-in-dozen-for-diana.html

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  6. Wonderful plant! I saw a pretty combination once by Christopher Llyod where he planted Narcissus 'Hawera' amongst the stems of a bushy flowering almond. They bloom at together in spring, since this daffodil is a bit latter than most daffs.

    Happy 2nd anniversary early!
    ~Julie

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    1. Oooo, that sounds lovely! I just planted Crocuses last spring near my Flowering Almond, but I think I'll add some Narcissus bulbs, too. Thanks for the great idea! (And the good wishes.)

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  7. How beautiful those pink blooms are! I will have to be on the lookout for this shrub. Dappled shade is not abundant in my garden, but maybe I could squeeze one in somewhere!

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    1. Actually, they say it grows best in sun, so it might grow better for you. Mine gets sun in winter and spring, and shade/dappled shade in summer.

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  8. That is a tree we plant quite a bit. It is a customer favorite.

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    1. Ah, good to know, Donna. It's certainly one of my favorites!

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  9. I also love the light pink flowers. I've read that one-third of the old wood needs to be cut back to the ground every year after flowering is complete. Maybe it's like forsythia in that regard. Since I'm getting more and more dappled shade, I'll have to give it a try. Happy second blogoversary!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Good to know about the pruning--that explains the change in better display this year. Actually if you have sun, it might perform better. Or at least lots of winter and early spring sun.

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  10. I've always admired this shrub in catalogs, but I've never actually seen it anyone's garden. Glad to hear your recommendation--those pink blooms are gorgeous! Is it fragrant?

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    1. It doesn't have much of a scent--you'd think it would with those plentiful blossoms, but no. The prettiest time for it is hands-down when it's in full bloom.

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  11. Great choice! I planted one last summer & wonder why it took me so long ~ it grew well and was SO pretty this spring. I will be looking forward to seeing it again next year. I wish it had more of a fragrance but I certainly would never hold that small detail against it!

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    1. Hi Kathleen: I just noticed I neglected to respond to this comment. Hope all is well with you! The Flowering Almonds are wonderful, aren't they? As pretty as Rose bushes, but with their own unique style.

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