The cherry tree belongs to the same family (Rosaceae) as almonds, peaches, plums and apricots. There are many varieties growing across the world, ranging from Europe to North America and Asia.
There are two types of cherry: sweet and sour. The sweet fruit is best for eating raw, although it can be cooked, and the sour cheery is best used in cooking and jam making. If you want to grow cherries in you garden, however, you’ll only be able to have either a sweet or a sour variety. The two varieties don’t cross-pollinate each other so you’ll need to have two of the same type. The Morello type of sweet cheery is self-fertile, however, so you’ll only need to have one of them in your garden.
Cherry trees have a short fruiting season. They normally fruit in July in the UK, though this can be slightly earlier, or later, depending on the weather. The trees are attractive ones to have in the garden, though they can grow big (up to 10m tall if they grow on a standard rootstock). Many sour varieties of cherry can be bought on a dwarf rootstock (reaching a height of just 2m) and trained along a trellis in a fan shape. They are also very hardy so will tolerate a north-facing wall – handy if you have nothing else to grow on it.
The trunk is often a reddish-brown, and the leaves appear after the blossom, proving a spectacular spring display. Cherry blossoms are pretty and pink, and some varieties of the tree such as 'Kanzan' are just grown for their ornamental display. Many of these ornamental cherries have no reproductive function at all. Instead of stamens and pistils they have extra petals. These are known as double flowers and are incredibly decorative.
Cherry trees prefer a well-drained, light soil, such as a sandy loam. The fruit will need to be protected from birds in the summer, either by netting around the individual fruit clusters or using a bird scaring device, such as a scarecrow.
Cherries are prone to a range of ailments, including damage from rain and hail. They are also prone to attack from aphids, so if you grow them in your garden it’s a good idea to encourage ladybirds and lacewings to visit your garden, which will keep the aphid population in check. You can encourage them by planting a few wild flowers at the base of your tree, and avoid using pesticides, which can kill them.
Health Benefits of Cherries
Cherries have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including boosting the immune system, preventing heart disease, improving blood circulation, and helping with the treatment of certain rheumatic illnesses, such as gout.
Cherry trees are extremely versatile. They can be grown as ornamental trees with spectacular blossoms, sour fruit trees that can be trained along a trellis, or large sweet fruiting varieties that produce delicious cherries that you can eat straight from the tree. Whatever your reasons for growing these beautiful trees, they will bring years of pleasure – in both their ornamental blossom, and the delicious fruit they produce.
Can anyone please help. I want to grow Cherry trees alongside my drive at 250m altitude in North Wales. I have plenty of room the soil is good and very well drained. I would prefer sweet cherries. Any advice re varieties etc would be greatly appreciated.
Tony5 - 13-Nov-12 @ 8:52 PM
I have a mature Cherry tree in my garden, this year the leaves have turned black also the fruit, some of the leaves look has if they are eaten. What was a very lush tree now is very stark with sparse leaves. I've also notice that this has happened to some of my neighbours trees which are not Cherries. Any ideas?
Honeysuckle - 25-Jul-12 @ 1:27 PM
Have a cherry tree in back garden,have fruit on it but are soft,Can anyone help,be most greatfull
Mac - 17-Jul-12 @ 10:31 PM
I planted an ornamental weeping cherry tree about 10 years ago.It become insistant it didn't want to be weeping, so I finally gave in.Several years ago it started producing fruit and each year it produces more and more.The fruit is very good and sweet.I've been told cherries from an ornamental tree are toxic.Does any one know if this is true?
Deb - 22-Jun-12 @ 2:26 AM
Hi I have 2 early rivers cherry trees they are 3years old now they blossomed lovely white flowers in late march early april and now we are going into british summer the leaves have gone brown/blackish and some yellow they dont seem to be flourishing do you know why this has happened and is it possible that my neighbour may have poisened them ,as I also have an almond tree which is also 3years old this also flowered beautiful pink blossom in late march and is gaining plenty of almound husks but the leaves are drying out and becoming very brittle before falling around the base of the tree,can you shed any light on the problem?
jamo - 28-May-12 @ 3:41 PM
I have just been given a 2 year dwarf Hedelfinger cherry tree to grow in a container,it has already got foliage, is it self fertile or should I find another home for it, also will it flower next spring.
davo - 12-Apr-12 @ 1:10 PM
I bought a morello cherry a few months ago, so it is only about 2 feet in height.I noticed that the leave are spotted and I am assuming that it is a common disease that affects cherry trees.How can I treat it?
kerry - 15-Sep-11 @ 7:57 AM
I currently have a Stella cherry fruit tree. I often buy Ranier cherries (a superb yellow/red variety) from M&S. I would like to plant one, if I can find one. If not do you know who might be able to supply it in the UK?If not, what would you suggest as the nearest in quality and flavour?RegardsClive Henson
Clive - 19-Jul-11 @ 8:16 PM
I have two 5 year old Morello cherry trees which blossomed beautifully, but then lost all their buds this year? Any ideas?
Disappointed - 16-Jul-11 @ 8:23 AM
We live in south Italy and have a small cherry orchard with three varieties of cherry. So we are busy from mid May to mid June fruit picking. The two big types are known as 'Ferrovia' that was developed here in Puglia so called because 'the best gets sent away, northwards for selling' (on the train!) One type produces flowers and fruits about two weeks after the first.
I'm resisting pressure to spray the blossom with sulphur in April and really would like to know if there are organic solutions to 1) the little white worm 2) ants 3) green leaf hoppers and 4) wood lice.
Quite frankly the trees are amazing that they can grow in these terrible conditions! We're situated 500m altitude on a rock lump with very thin red clay soil. When it does rain, it is usually torrential and so we're faced with the problem of desertification as originally the ground was terraced for grapes before the cherry trees were planted. Rocks are everywhere and it's a perfect environment for ants.
Hev - 27-Jun-11 @ 2:39 PM
If the skin is dark red, the cherries are probably quite sour so it is better to cook them first. However, if the skin is black, it should be sweet enough to eat raw.
FruitExpert - 23-Jun-11 @ 12:42 PM
I have just planted my first morello cherry tree. Is the fruit on this tree edible when ripe? Can you advise? thanks
mushroom - 22-Jun-11 @ 2:11 PM
Have a cherry tree 6yrs old approx flowered every year. Had fruit last year and this fruit is very sweet ,peach in colour but skin is dark shiny green colour. Dosn't turn red, what sort of cherry is it ?
magenter - 16-Jun-11 @ 9:23 PM
I have a morello cherry tree about 10yrs old that blossoms well but not many cherries develop ,most just turning brown , its in the ground and well watered ,and fertilized.
grandad - 9-Jun-11 @ 7:56 PM
I have a morello cherry tree in a very large container. Pot measures 1 1/2ft tall by2ft wide, tree is 7ft tall branches spanning 6ft across. Has been in the container for the last 3 years as not sure where i wanted to plant it whilst having the garden changed round and wanted to give it the best possible spot. Though the flowers and fruit double each year,only a handful so far, this year lots of flowers but a lot of the fruit did not develop and the leaves look like the plant is dying of thurst, even though i gave it blood and bones before it started to grow more. it's water sprayed every day plus i make sure the soil never goes dry.
My sister has the same type of tree but hers is in the ground, about 25ft high and 12ft across (scarey) and completely weight down with thousands offruit.(lovely)
What am i doing wrong, does it have to go in the ground?
tea - 7-Jun-11 @ 6:19 PM
I have a cherry tree which fruits well every year but the birds take all the cherries before they are ripe. The tree is to big to put in a cage, can you recommend any other effective way to keep the birds away?
Ron - 6-Jun-11 @ 10:27 AM
I have planted a morello cherry tree I have noticed the leaves have been turning brown I have used a liquid fertiliser, some of the leaves have been eaten but can't see any bugs ?
shearer - 31-May-11 @ 9:56 PM
When is the time to prune sweet cherry trees.
johncherry - 22-May-11 @ 7:36 PM
My cherry tree is in its second year in my garden (it is probably 4 or 5 years old) it produced an enormous amount of bloom in the spring and cherries began to form but most when they were approx 3/4 mm in size rotted away leaving a tiny few cherries that appear to be developing normally,any ideas
ronaldo - 9-May-11 @ 10:19 PM
I have just received a Prunus Aviun Int. kers. It was a free gift. Is it a flowering only variety or fruiting variety. How tall will it grow? Cheers.
Lloyd - 9-May-11 @ 2:03 PM
I tried to grow cherries in back yard but
they keep dying - how do I make them
grow? Do I need to have a female & a male
in order to pollenate?
Robert - 21 March 2011 @ 7:09 PM
Reply to Robert:You may need Potash too Robert put some Sulphate of Potash down in early spring flower blossoms should develope, Morello Cherries are self fertile so you only need one tree, when fruits start at the center of a flower (green and round) you should water reguarly more when dry and fertilize with a good all purpose fertilizer for fruit and vegatables every week.
GreenToes - 27-Apr-11 @ 4:28 PM
I tried to grow cherries plenty of leaves but
no flower, help!
mikebuggs - 14 April 2011 @ 8:20 PM
Reply to mikebuggs : You need Sulphate of Potash or any high Potash content fertilizer just sprinkle about a tbsp 30mg on the ground below you cherry in circle from trunk outwards to where branches stop. Put it down mid march early spring and you will get flowers on mass hope this was useful
GreenToes - 27-Apr-11 @ 4:15 PM
I tried to grow cherries plenty of leaves but no flower, help!
mikebuggs - 14-Apr-11 @ 8:20 PM
I tried to grow cherries in back yard but they keep dying - how do I make them grow? Do I need to have a female & a male in order to pollenate?