Cherries come in three distinct forms with many varieties in each category. The sweet cherry sold in markets is planted commercially in the coastal valleys of California and in the Northwest, espe cially Oregon. There are also extensive commercial plantings near the Great Lakes.
All cherries require considerable winter chilling, which rules out planting in the mildest coastal and Gulf climates, but they are also damaged by early intense cold in fall and by heavy rainfall during ripening. Sweet cherries are especially tricky for the home gardener, but try them where summer heat and winter cold are not too intense.
Sour, or pie, cherries are more widely adaptable and are good for cooking and canning. These are the most reliable for home gardeners, and there are
many varieties developed for special conditions. The dwarf 'Meteor' and 'Northstar' pie cherries were developed for
Minnesota winters. These and 'Early Richmond' and 'Montmorency' can all withstand both cold and poor spring weather better than sweet cherries.
Sour cherries are all self-fertile and there are two types: the amarelle, with clear juice and yellow flesh; and the morello, with red juice and flesh. In the coldest northern climates, the amarelle is the commercial cherry.
D-uke cherries are hybrids with the shape and color of sweet cherries and the hardiness, flavor, and tartness of sour cherries.
Standard sour cherries and sweet cherries on dwarfing roots both reach 15 to 20 feet. A standard sweet cherry with out a dwarfing rootstock is one of the largest fruit trees and can equal a small oak in size if the climate permits. Such cherries can serve as major shade trees.
All sweet cherries, with the exception of 'Stella', need a pollinator. 'Windsor', 'Van', and 'Black Tartarian' are good pollinators and bear well, but always plant at least two varieties or use a graft on a single tree. Sour cherries are self-fertile.
Dwarf pie cherries have lovely flowers and make fine hedges and screens. They produce good crops and larger cherries can be grafted onto them for a choice of fruit and good pollination.
Birds are the major pests, but cherries also need protection from fruit flies, pear slugs (actually an insect larva), and bacterial leaf spot.
For any cherry, check the recommended climate. If you try a cherry outside its growing zone, offer protection in fall and winter.
'Sam' This medium to large, black-fruited sweet cherry is firm, juicy, and of good quality. The fruit resists cracking, and the tree is very vigorous, bearing heavy crops. Use 'Bing', 'Lambert', or 'Van' as a pollinator. Good for the North and West. Widely available. Origin: British Columbia.
different ripening times and fruit characteristics. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: France. 'Rainier' In shape this sweet cherry resembles 'Bing', but it is a very attractive blushed yellow like 'Royal Ann' with Arm, juicy flesh. The tree is vigorous, productive, and spreading to upright spreading. It is particularly hardy. Use 'Bing', 'Sam', or 'Van' as a pollinator. Good for the South and West. Origin: Washington.
This very old French sweet variety is the standard for blushed yellow cherries. It is the major cherry used in commercial candies and maraschino cherries. The firm, juicy fruit is excellent fresh and good for canning. The tree is very large, extremely productive, and upright, spreading widely with age. The tree is moderately hardy. Use 'Corum', 'Windsor', or 'Hedelfingen' as a pollinator (not 'Bing' or 'Lambert'). Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: France.
'Angela' This large, dark cherry is comparable to 'Lambert' but is hardier and late flowering, so its blossoms are not likely to be frost damaged. The sweet fruits are more resistant to cracking than those of 'Lambert'; the tree is easier to manage, vigorous, and very productive. For pollinators, use 'Emperor Francis' or 'Lambert'. Origin: Utah. 'Black Republican' ('Black Oregon') This sweet cherry is firm and very dark with vliahtlv *a«triritf£>nt fleeh Thi>
tree is quite hardy but tends to overbear heavily and produce small fruit. Use any sweet cherry as a pollinator. Origin: Oregon.
'English Morello' This late-ripening morello sour cherry is medium sized, dark red, and crack resistant. The tart, firm flesh is good for cooking and canning. The tree has drooping branches and is small and hardy but only moderately vigorous and productive. Good for the North. Origin: Unknown. 'Hedeliingen' The sweet variety bears dark, medium-sized fruit with meaty, firm flesh. One strain resists cracking, but some trees sold under this name do not. The tree is winter hardy, has a spreading and drooping form, and bears heavily. Use any sweet cherry listed here as a pollinator. Good for the North and South. Origin: Germany. 'Lambert' This large, dark, sweet cherry is similar to 'Bing' but ripens later. The tree is more widely adapted than 'Bing' but bears erratically in many eastern areas and is more difficult to train and prune. The strongly upright growth produces weak crotches if left untrained. Use 'Van' or 'Rainier' as a pollinator (not 'Bing', 'Royal Ann', or 'Emperor Francis'). Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: British Columbia. 'Late Duke' This large, light red duke cherry ripens in late July. Use it for cooking or preserves. In cold climates it requires a sour cherry pollinator. In mild climates it is self-fertile. Good for the West. Origin: France. 'Windsor' This is the standard late, dark, commercial sweet cherry in the East. The fruit is fairly small and not as firm as 'Bing' or 'Lambert'. Its buds are very hardy, and it can be counted on to bear a heavy crop. A fine choice for difficult borderline areas where others may fail, the tree is medium sized and vigorous with a good spread. For a pollinator, use any sweet cherry except 'Van' and 'Emperor Francis'. Good for the North and South. Widely available. Origin: Unknown.
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