The Prunus Serrula (Paperbark Cherry) Full Care Guide

The Paperbark Cherry, otherwise known as the Prunus Serrula or Tibetan Cherry, Birch-Bark Tree, Ornamental Cherry, Paperbark Cherry, Cellophane Bark Cherry, Redbark Cherry, Prunus serrula var. tibetica, Prunus tibetica, is a rather well known tree plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this tree will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green-colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Paperbark Cherry is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Paperbark Cherry Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Paperbark Cherry are the following:

  • Water: The Paperbark Cherry grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.
  • Light: Keep your Prunus Serrula in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Paperbark Cherry in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Paperbark Cherry this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Paperbark Cherry belongs to the genus Prunus and the species Serrula, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Prunus Serrula.

As with other Prunus’s, the Paperbark Cherry is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Paperbark Cherry is a plant native to China.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Paperbark Cherry is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Prunus Serrula will be most used to the heat zones in the 6 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Paperbark Cherry is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Paperbark Cherry are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Prunus Serrula can grow up to 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m) in 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m) and 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m) in 20′ – 30′ (6m – 9m). 


In terms of watering, the Paperbark Cherry is a fairly simple plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Prunus Serrula grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Paperbark Cherry in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Paperbark Cherry then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Paperbark Cherry needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Paperbark Cherry prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Paperbark Cherry requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this tree will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Prunus Serrula in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Paperbark Cherry will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes. But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Paperbark Cherry to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring). In particular, this tree is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Paperbark Cherry produces some beautiful white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Paperbark Cherry have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with an alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Prunus Serrula to be around (3-6 inches) in size.

The Paperbark Cherry is well known for being able to attract birds, so keep that in mind when choosing your plant, as you’ll likely end up finding one or another in your garden.


Does your Paperbark Cherry have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Prunus Serrula owners agree that this tree will look great in most asian/zen gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of japanese garden, city and courtyard, informal and cottage, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Paperbark Cherry’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders.


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Paperbark Cherry to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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