How to Grow Cherries

sweet and sour cherries

Cherry trees are one of the most sought after types of tree fruit for the home gardener. Their delicious fruit and handsome blossoms make them extremely popular trees. Cherries are broadly divided into two groups: Sweet Cherries and Sour Cherries.

Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherries are generally used for fresh eating and are the ones typically available for purchase in grocery stores. They come in many varieties and range in colour from deep purple, through red all the way to yellow. Commonly available sweet cherry cultivars include:

  • Stella
  • Sweetheart
  • Lapins
  • Glacier
  • Bing
  • Skeena

Sour Cherries

Sour Cherries are not normally eaten fresh. Instead, they are used for canning, baking, preserves and even as maraschino cherries. Sour Cherries are further divided into Amarelle varieties (with clear juice) and Morello varieties (with red juice and red flesh).

Common sour cherry varieties include:

  • Montmorency
  • Morello
  • Northstar

Exposure / Light

Cherry trees require full sun. This is usually defined as an area that received 6-8 hours of bright, direct sunlight each day. Avoid planting in low-lying frost pockets or areas exposed to strong winds or winter frosts. A hillside with good air circulation and drainage is ideal.

Moisture / Soil:

Cherry trees prefer a location with moist, but well drained soils. Avoid planting in wet low lying areas or areas with poor drainage. Cherries do particularly well in areas that receive less rainfall, like the Okanogan region of British Columbia. Cherries can be a challenge to grow in the wet, rainy Metro Vancouver area.


Apply Arts Garden Pro Fruit Tree and Berry Fertilizer in early spring. New plantings will benefit from an application of bonemeal and/or liquid transplant fertilizer.

Cherry Pollination

Generally speaking sweet cherry varieties require a pollinator. That is, a second, different variety of cherry planted in the same area in order to exchange pollen from tree to tree. However, some sweet cherries are self-fertile, including:

  • Stella
  • Sweetheart
  • Skeena
  • Lapins


Sour cherry trees are self-fertile. A pollinator is not required to produce fruit. However, the more cherry trees planted in an area, the more fruit you will likely be able to harvest.

Harvesting Cherries

Cherries are usually ready for picking in late June through July in British Columbia. Fruits are ready to harvest when they are softer and come off the tree easily.

Pruning Cherry Trees

Cherry trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Limit your pruning to those limbs that are dead, damaged, diseased or otherwise growing in the wrong direction. You can also remove droopy branches growing near the ground.

General Care

Birds can be a challenge if you intend to eat your cherry crop. Garden netting is a good way of protecting your fruit. In winter, apply a dormant oil/lime sulphur spray to kill over wintering insects and reduce the likelyhood of disease.

For More Information:

For more information about growing and caring for sweet and sour cherries, call Arts Nursery at 604.882.1201 or visit us in person. Our best selection of cherry trees is in mid to late spring and throughout the summer. We carry a large selection of both sweet and sour cherry varieties.



Author: Arts Nursery Ltd. Source: Arts Nursery Ltd.
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