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Botanical name: Prunus avium (Sweet Cherries) Prunus cerasus (Sour Cherries)

Plant type: Fruit

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Any

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Sweet cherries are the ones most often found in markets. They have a thick, rich, and almost plumb-like texture. Traditionally, sweet cherry trees are self-sterile and best for an orchard or a large garden. You'll need at least two or three trees so that they can pollinate each other. However, a recent and exciting development in sweet cherries is the dwarf self-pollinating "Stella." (See image below.)

Sour cherries are not usually eaten raw, but are widely used for preserves and other cooking uses. Sour cherries are much smaller than sweet cherries and all varieties are self-fertile.

Standard-size trees start bearing fruit in their fourth year and can produce 30 to 50 quarts of cherries each year.

Dwarf Cherry Tree (Prunus Avium 'Compact Stella'). Credit:


  • For sweet cherries, make sure the different varieties will pollinate each other.
  • Plant sweet cherries in late fall or early winter if grown outside, or at any time if container grown.
  • When planting fan-trained trees, construct the necessary supports before planting.
  • Space fanned trees 15 to 18 feet apart.
  • Planting for sour cherries is the same as for sweet cherries, however, space bushes and fans only 12 to 15 feet apart.


  • Thinning is not necessary.
  • Apply mulch to retain moisture.
  • Drape netting over trees to protect the fruit from birds.
  • Water routinely in dry areas.
  • There is no difference in care between sour and sweet cherries.


  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Brown Rot
  • Black Knot
  • Bacterial Canker (cut out any branches with signs of black knot or bacterial canker as soon as possible)
  • Birds


  • Pick fruits with stalks when fully ripe.
  • Eat or cook immediately.
  • Pick fruits when firm if they are to be frozen.
  • Hand-picking may injure the shoots and cause infection; Cut the stalks with scissors.

Recommended Varieties

Sweet Cherries

  • Early - 'Black Tartarian'
  • Midseason - 'Bing'
  • Late - 'Stella'

Sour Cherries

  • Early - 'Early Richmond'
  • Midseason - 'Montmorency'
  • Late - 'Meteor'


Wit & Wisdom

A cherry year, a merry year.


We have a black tartain and a

By terry burns on March 31

We have a black tartain and a SD Meteor. Will they pollinate?

What pesticides should I

By Christie Thompson on March 18

What pesticides should I spray sour cherries with in MN? Thanks.

I forgot to ask what

By Christie Thompson on March 18

I forgot to ask what fertilizer I should use, as well. Thanks.

Here's a growing page on

By Almanac Staff on March 31

Here's a growing page on stone fruits including tart cherries from your Minnesota cooperative:

Hi I purchased a house a few

By Chris coke on March 6

Hi I purchased a house a few years ago and it has some cherry trees on it. They seemed to big so I cut them back some but they have since grown bigger! I have four sour Ballaton's and two sweet a Sam and a Van from the list the prior owner left us. Some of these sites get confusing with wether to prune or not to prune. I thought the trees were dwarfs but I think I guessed wrong, because they are about 15-20 feet high. Won't the Extreem hight cut down on the amount and size of the cherries due to the tree expending all of its resources try to grow? Should I prune? How? How big should I let them get?

Hi Chris, Yes it is important

By Almanac Staff on March 9

Hi Chris,
Yes it is important to prune cherry trees to promote blossoms and fruit setting. Please see link below for helpful pruning advice.

I bought a cherry fruit..I

By rudy magaoay

I bought a cherry fruit..I kept the seeds and am planning to plant the question is does cherries grows in the tropical place like the the am from the Philippines

Last year I planted a Bing

By Sayra

Last year I planted a Bing Cherry, and had purchased a known pollinator (Stella) at the same time. However, the Stella died, and know I need a replacement pollinator. Will Prunus Serotina (Black Cherry) pollinate a Bing?

Several cultivars with

By Almanac Staff

Several cultivars with overlapping bloom times are good for Bing pollinization including Rainier, Montmorency, Lapins, Stella, Black Tartarian, Black Republican, Van, Sam and Windsor.

I had deer do a number on my

By helen Jo

I had deer do a number on my new cherry tree.:( but I need to move it so won't happen agian so should I do it in fall or wait till spring? I live in West Michigan. Thanks

It's really just new trees

By Almanac Staff

It's really just new trees that suffer. You can protect the tree with a circular fence until it gets strong enough to withstand some browsing. You can also spray an egg-based repellent. If you transplant it, the best time is usually spring (March). 

I planted a dwarf montmorency

By john thieman

I planted a dwarf montmorency about a month ago.its Oct 2 ,and its blooming,we live in kc and the temps are going down into the 30s.. What do I need to do?

Hi John, The montmorency

By Almanac Staff

Hi John,
The montmorency cherry usually blooms in spring and you harvest the cherries in midsummer. Your tree has probably spent the spring and summer in a nursery and is a bit confused. The blooms on the tree are not going to be able to produce any cherries with the cold weather moving in and less daylight. Hopefully it will bloom again in the spring.

When is the best time to cut

By Cindy Galloway

When is the best time to cut back a cherry tree that the top has died but the bottom is healthy a full of cherries. I'm not sure what kind but the are a little tart.

Best time to prune a cherry

By Almanac Staff

Best time to prune a cherry trees is before it begins growing in the spring. Cut the tree while it is dormant in late winter to early spring. Dead or diseased branches can be pruned anytime.

Can cherries be grown in the

By Cindy Earnest

Can cherries be grown in the Panhandle of Florida (Panama City)???

Cindy, There are some cherry

By Almanac Staff

Cindy, There are some cherry trees that can grow in Panama City, FL, with the right care. Your zone is 8B. Search online nurseries by your zone. Here is an example of several cherry varieties that can grow in your zone:

We hope that this is helpful.

I have a very large flowering

By ColleenM

I have a very large flowering tree in my front yard in noth west B.C. In the past 3 to 4 years, I have started getting fruit. Each year the berries get larger, darker & sweeter (though still a bit tart). They taste like cherries & look like a bing cherry but about 1/2 the size, with small pits. My question, 1. What might the variety be? 2. Can I do anything with the fruit?

It would be hard to identify

By Almanac Staff

It would be hard to identify the tree, and especially the variety, without a sample--there are lots of cherry species and cultivars, as well as cherry lookalikes. We'd suggest that you take a sample (flower or fruit, and a branch with some leaves showing how they are arranged on the branch) to your local garden nursery. A horticulturist there might be able to give you some advice. Good luck!

hello i have a wild cherry

By michelle goodall

hello i have a wild cherry tree which i planted in january it was growing really well then the last couple of weeks the leaves have all withered and dried out ive watered it can anyone tell me what im doing wrong thank you

Has it gotten enough water?

By Almanac Staff

Has it gotten enough water? Be sure to water deeply. Was there a heat wave recently? The tree is clearly under some type of stress, whether from weather, pests, disease, or cultural or physical damage, such as to the base of the trunk when mowing (which sometimes happens). Check the root zone--has there been any disturbance recently? If watering doesn't work, and the trunk and branches don't appear damaged, and the root zone is undisturbed, it might be a disease--several cause wilting/drying leaves in cherries, unfortunately. In this case, you might want to prune out infected branches (unless too widespread) to see if this prevents it from overtaking the entire tree.

We have purchased "cereza"

By Alan Nilsen

We have purchased "cereza" Cherry trees. We have both full sun and shady areas and both wed and well drained soil. Altitude is about 4K ft ASL and temp only varies from 65 to 80 degrees F. lease advise.

Do you mean Barbados cherry

By Almanac Staff

Do you mean Barbados cherry trees (Malpighia glabra, aka M. punicifolia)? If so, you might be interested in the following growing information:
In general, choose a site in full sun to partial shade (full sun is better for fruiting) with fertile, well-drained soil. It is hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11.

we have purchased "cereza"

By Alan Nilsen

we have purchased "cereza" cherry trees. Our altitude is about 4K ft. We have a variety of locations waring from full sun to shady and wet to well drained. Temp varies between 60 to 75 degrees F. Please advise.


Hi Susan, Cherry trees can

By Almanac Staff

Hi Susan,
Cherry trees can take a long time to bloom. If the tree looks healthy you may have flowers next year. Check your variety and make sure that it is self pollinating. If not you need to plant a different variety for pollination.

ive had my dwarf cherry tree

By susan bagley

ive had my dwarf cherry tree over 3 years and still had no fruit it looks healthy so what am i doing wrong

What type of cherry tree is

By JJwbw

What type of cherry tree is it? Some cherry trees need a second cherry tree of a different type to produce cherries. Some cherry trees are self pollinating and don't need a second tree for example a Stella cherry tree is self-pollinating.

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