There’s nothing like a cherry pie made with fresh sour cherries from your own tree. Sour cherry is a handsome small tree with an oval or rounded crown. Blooming in mid-spring, this tree is covered with pretty white flowers, followed by juicy, bright red fruit that ripens in mid-summer. Attractive deep green foliage adds to this tree’s ornamental value. There’s no need to relegate sour cherry to a separate orchard—it works perfectly as a specimen tree anywhere in your yard or garden. Underplant it with spring-blooming bulbs for an especially charming show.
Common name: Sour cherry, pie cherry
Botanical name: Prunuscerasus
Plant type: Deciduous tree
Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 10 to 20 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Loamy garden soil of moderate fertility with ample organic matter
• Moisture: Evenly moist, but well-drained
• Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, like wood chips, shredded leaves or pine needles
• Pruning: Light annual pruning in late winter to remove damaged branches and maintain open form
• Fertilizer: Apply compost or balanced fertilizer in early spring if needed.
• Grafting—Dwarf forms are grafted on dwarfing rootstocks.
Pests and diseases
• Susceptible to a number of insect and disease problems, including fruit rot and cherry fly maggot
• ‘Montmorency’ is a popular and readily available selection with abundant bright red fruits.
• ‘North Star’ is a very cold-hardy, dwarf (8 to 10 feet) selection.
• Surefire is a newer variety that blooms later, avoiding late spring frosts.
• ‘Morello’ is an old variety from England that has red flesh and juice.
• Danube is a productive newer variety from Hungary, where sour cherries are very popular.
• Unlike sweet cherries, sour cherries are self-fertile, so they can be planted alone without an additional pollinator.
• With their small size, pretty flowers and attractive foliage, sour cherries work well for edible landscaping.
• Birds love sour cherries, so you may have to place netting over the tree as fruit ripens if you want to harvest cherries for yourself.
All in the family
• Sour cherry is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), a large family of woody and herbaceous plants.
• Many fruit trees are members of this family, including cherries, apples, peaches and plums.
• In addition to roses, other ornamental shrubs in the rose family include ninebark (Physocarpus spp.), potentilla (Potentilla spp.) and spirea (Spiraea spp.)
Where to buy
• Forestfarm, forestfarm.com
• One Green World, onegreenworld.com
• Raintree Nursery, raintreenursery.com