Growing Cherry Trees in the Garden

Growing Cherry Trees in the Garden

The word “cherry” is thought to be derived from the name of an ancient region near Turkey, and over the past few thousand years, they have been grown for their blossoms and fruit. Now what could be better than a cherry tree in full bloom during the spring? One that will follow through with an abundant harvest of delicious cherries in early summer? Read on to find out tips on growing cherry trees in your garden, as well as some of the common types typically grown.

Cherry trees are either ornamental or fruit-bearing, and both are a sight to behold when in full bloom. No fruit will be found growing on an ornamental Japanese cherry blossom tree though; they are strictly grown for their fragrant blossoms. However, you can get a bigger bang for your gardening buck by growing a Bing cherry tree that will produce clusters of fragrant white flowers in the spring and up to 100 pounds of fruit in early summer.

A cherry fruit is classified as a “drupe” which is defined as fruits with flesh encasing a seed within. In the center of the cherry fruit, lies a single hard core that holds the seed. The exterior of the fruit is smooth with possibly a small groove down one side.

ornamental cherry trees
Ornamental cherry trees

While there are hundreds of types of cherry trees in the world, there are three main groups that cherries can fall under:

  • Wild Cherry
  • Sour Cherry
  • Ornamental Cherry

Wild cherries are generally consumed, and come from West Asia and Europe. The sweet cherries you buy from stores are wild cherries. Sour cherries come from the same region as sour cherries, but as the name implies, are sour, and are used more for cooking and the making of jams and jellies. Ornamental cherries are those that are grown chiefly for their gorgeous spring flowers, the Japanese cherry blossom trees or sakura, being the best known. But in general, many cherry trees have lovely flowers of either pink or white and look superficially similar.

morello sour cherries
Morello sour cherries

Here are some cherry types to consider should you decide to grow them:

Amur Chokecherry

The Amur chokecherry or Manchurian cherry is a type of cherry tree native to the Amur region of Russia and Korea, and grown mainly for its lustrous golden bark although the cherries are also used for making jelly and jam. It produces very small, fragrant white flowers which bloom in the middle of spring. During autumn, the leaves turn from green to bright yellow, and in early winter, it looks like a bronze or golden tree.

In order to grow them, you should provide full sun and moist, well-drained soil. If your yard can’t supply that, then you should probably reconsider this tree since it’s a bit high maintenance and susceptible to leaf spot. However, its beauty should be worth the trouble. Prune the lateral branches as needed to create a more desirable crown shape. 

Bing Cherry

bing cherry
Bing cherry

This is the most popular sweet cherry variety and they are easy to grow in the home garden. Plant the tree in a sunny location in well-draining soil. A mature Bing cherry tree will be 15-feet tall and equally as wide. It also comes in a dwarf variety that is ideal for small landscapes. Another cherry tree will be needed for cross-pollination and fruit production, so plant them in pairs (or more). The tree will be covered with fragrant white blooms in early spring and all the heart-shaped cherries will ripen at the same time in early summer.

Black Cherry

black cherry
Black cherry

Black cherries are so named for their dark blackish fruits, and are native to the central and eastern United States. It can grow tall, up to 80 feet tall, and produces beautiful white flower clumps. While being a nice ornamental tree, it is vulnerable to certain caterpillars, and the fruits tend to fall on their own and stain concrete or patios. They are best grown over grass and not near any sidewalk.

Early Richmond Cherry

Here is the tree that produces the pie cherries. Heavy producer, adapts to most environments and soil conditions. The flavorful, juicy, bright red cherries ripen in early spring after a brilliant production of fragrant white blossoms. This is classified as a tart or sour cherry.

Juliet Cherry

The Juliet cherry tree comes in both dwarf and standard sizes and will produce an abundant crop of deep red cherries in mid-summer. The showy clusters of fragrant white blossoms will appear in early spring and the glossy oval tree leaves will turn yellow in the fall.

The cherries produced on this tree are both sweet and sour with a meaty texture. The dwarf variety will produce 25 pounds of fresh fruit and standard size trees will yield even more.

Purple Leafed Plum

One of the more striking and beautiful cherry trees for your garden. Contrary to its name, it isn’t a plum but rather a larger version of cherry. The leaves look purple from afar, and it produces light pink blossoms which change from deep purple to light pink, through the course of its flowering season. It grows to about 25 feet high and should be grown in full sunlight in order for its leaves to achieve their purple color. Like the black cherry, it should only be grown over grass or soil.

Romeo Cherry

This is a cold-hardy cherry tree variety that will produce 30 pounds of cherries a year. Plant two for cross-pollination and expect fragrant pinkish-white blossoms in the spring and an abundant crop of glossy, tart cherries from late spring through summer.

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