Cricket Hill Garden

Prunus pumila var. depressa, ‘Gus Mehlquist’ sprawling sand cherry

$ 32

Variety description (provided by the Arnold Arboretum): ‘Gus Mehlquist’ sprawling sand cherry is a rapid spreader, growing 3 feet per year once established. It is entirely prostrate, forming a dense mat as it roots along its stems. It stands only 6-12 inches above the ground, compared to the 9-foot-tall height that a typical sand cherry shrub can attain. With ornamental foliage, flowers, fruit, and form, it is a standout during all four seasons. Flowers are dainty with five white petals, followed by blue-black fruits in September. It has elliptic dark green foliage through the growing season, with fall color displaying vibrant crimson and maroon hues. New stem growth is a warm brown turning to gray in maturity, marked with white lenticels. 'Gus Mehlquist’ sprawling sand cherry performs well in normal garden conditions and displays bolder fall foliage when planted in full sun. It is extremely adaptable to both dry and wet sites. It is also remarkably hardy – it can withstand garden transplanting and bounce back with no issue after animal browsing.

In 1990, Harvard University research scientist David Boufford and Robert Nicholson, former Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University assistant plant propagator, found an extremely low-growing sprawling sand cherry growing along the bank of the Connecticut River in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. A division was harvested on that spring day, which flourished into a thriving plant in the landscape beds adjacent to the Arnold Arboretum’s Dana Greenhouses. Nicholson introduced the exciting horticultural find as ‘Gus Mehlquist’ in 1993 through the New Plant Forum of the International Plant Propagator’s Society (IPPS) in conjunction with the Smith Botanic Garden, where he was employed at the time of release. The cultivar name ‘Gus Mehlquist’ honors honor of the University of Connecticut plant breeding and biology professor Dr. Gustav Mehlquist (1906-1999). Like Nicholson, Dr. Mehlquist was also an active IPPS member.

Site requirements: Full sun location or shade. Not overly picky about soil type, does well in dry areas and well as very moist soil.

Size at maturity: 6-12" high and 10'+ wide. 

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8.

Plant size: Well rooted plant, 6-8'' tall. Grown in a 4" x 9" tree pot

When we ship: FALL 2023

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