What Species of Cherry Tree Produces Sweet Fruit?

Sweet cherry trees (Prunus avium) appear like sour cherry trees (Prunus cerasus), but the two are very distinct. Sour cherry trees are more cold hardy and less prone to disease. Their fruit is, as the name implies, usually tart, and is best used in preserves and pies. Sweet cherries bear ample, sweet fruit that’s delicious for fresh eating. A candy cherry tree may not bear fruit for at least five decades, but the result would be worth the wait. One adult cherry tree bears up to three bushels of fruit. (ref. 4, pg. 347)

General Characteristics

Sweet cherry trees produce fruit from midsummer on trees which grow 25 feet tall or more. Dwarf trees stay under 15 feet tall. The trees are a separate species from sour cherry trees and are only hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8 or 9, depending on the cultivar. They thrive in exactly the same states as peaches — cool winters and mild summers and springs. Coastal climates are generally ideal, while warmer inland regions may be too alluring. At high elevations, late frosts sometimes nip the buds, destroying that year’s crop. Unlike bare cherry trees, sweet cherries aren’t self-pollinating. You must plant two distinct cultivars for adequate pollination and harvests.

Recommended Cultivars

Contemplate your growing requirements, your climate and your purposes when choosing one of many sweet cherry cultivars. “Bing” has company, dark fruit and ripens mid-season. It is one of the few sweet cherries that’s self-pollinating. Unfortunately, it is somewhat prone to disease. “Black Tartarian” matures early, but has soft fruit that’s best consumed immediately or used in preserves. Yellow sweet cherry trees, like “Royal Ann” are far more disease-resistant than the crimson ones. To get a compact, disease-resistant tree with reddish fruit, attempt “Stella.” All rise in USDA zones 5 through 9.


When selecting sweet cherry trees, choose trees with comparable blossom times for pollination. By way of instance, “Jubilee” blossoms late and isn’t appropriate for planting with “Black Tartarian” or “Early Burlat.” All are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, however, the latter two have comparable bloom times and could be appropriate companions. Plant sweet cherry trees within 100 feet of each other and avoid using pesticides in the garden, which may kill the honeybees needed for pollination.

Growing Requirements

Sweet cherry trees are among the most difficult orchard trees to grow. They’re more prone to disease and they’re also prone to infestations by insects, like the cherry juice and cherry aphids. But in the right growing conditions they also make beautiful landscape trees. Plant cherry trees in full sunlight in well-drained, deep dirt. Amend clay soils or plant cherry trees in raised beds since soggy soils contribute to root conditions. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy, and quit watering in fall. Apply horticultural oil during the dormant season along with a fungicide from the spring to ward off diseases. Cover trees using netting while the fruit ripens, to thwart birds.

See related