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Cherry trees

Cherry trees are an excellent choice for the garden because they are at their best when eaten straight from the tree.

  • Amber Heart cherry trees
    The most popular traditional English white cherry, widely known as Kent Bigarreau.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Celeste cherry trees
    Celeste is a dark red/black cherry, one of the best early-season varieties, with a sweet mild flavour.
    • Picking season: Early
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Canada
  • A large dark red English cherry with a good flavour.
  • Knight's Early Black cherry trees
    A traditional English early-season black cherry
    • Picking season: Early
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Kordia cherry trees
    Kordia is a popular late-season cherry variety with a good balanced cherry flavour.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Czech Republic
  • Lapins cherry trees
    Lapins is a mid-season red cherry from Canada, easy to grow, with heavy crops of good-flavoured cherries.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Canada
  • Merton Glory cherry trees
    A well-known mid-season English white cherry.
    • Picking season: Early
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Morello cherry trees
    Morello is a traditional late-season acid or sour-cherry, and can be grown in north-facing situations.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • A traditional white cherry, with an excellent flavour and appearance.
    • Picking season: Early
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Germany
  • Penny cherry trees
    Penny is a high quality very late-season cherry - it ripens in mid-August.
    • Picking season: Very late
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Regina cherry trees
    Regina is a new dark-red late-season sweet cherry, with a good flavour and resistance to splitting.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Germany
  • One of the best of the Canadian late-season cherries.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Canada
  • Stella cherry trees
    If you only want to grow one cherry tree, choose Stella - self-fertile, easy to grow, and a good pollinator.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Canada
  • Summer Sun cherry trees
    Summer Sun is productive mid-season cherry, and should ripen even if the summer weather is less than perfect.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Sunburst cherry trees
    Sunburst is a large red mid-season cherry with a good mild flavour, and notably easy to pick.
    • Picking season: Mid
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Sweetheart cherry trees
    Sweetheart is one of the best-flavoured late-season cherries for the UK climate.
    • Picking season: Late
    • Self-fertility: Self-fertile
    • Country of origin: Canada

How to choose Cherry trees

Cherries are perhaps the most diverse member of the genus Prunus, which includes other popular stone fruits such as plums, peaches, and apricots. There are two main types, the sweet cherry Prunus avium (best for eating fresh) and the acid or sour cherry Prunus cerasus (best for culinary use).

Cherry trees are generally easy to grow, but sweet cherries like sun, so choose a sunny aspect when planting. All cherries prefer well-drained soil, so avoid areas that are prone to water-logging. The most serious disease affecting cherry trees is bacterial canker, and this tends to be more aggressive in wet soils.

The other main horticultural challenge is bird protection. It's a foregone conclusion that birds will get your cherry crop before you do, because they are prepared to eat slightly un-ripe cherries whereas humans are not. However the simple precaution of netting the trees just before the harvest will solve this problem - on very large and inaccessible trees drape a net over some of the lower branches, allowing the birds to take their share from the higher branches.

Cherry trees do not need much attention as they grow, a simple mulch to keep the area free of weeds is sufficient. Once fruiting begins the mulch remains important, and should be extended to match the spread of the branches, because it acts as a sponge and therefore helps prevent fruit-splitting after heavy downpours. You should also apply compost and/or manure during the winter to supply the tree with the nutrients it needs for growth and fruiting.

Provided you can keep the birds off, cherry trees make a good choice for the garden because cherries are a fruit that is best eaten straight from the tree - sweet cherries do not keep more than a day or so and the flavour fades very rapidly. Shop-bought cherries are often quite expensive, and can never be as fresh as those you pick from your own tree.

Some other terms that often arise with cherries:

  • Bigarreau. This means a firm-fleshed variety (as opposed to a soft flesh).
  • Heart. Whilst most cherries are spherical, many have a distinct heart-like shape.
  • White cherries. This refers to the flesh rather than the skin colour. Whilst most cherries have a dark flesh, white cherries have a white or pale yellow flesh. Most white cherries are old traditional varieties.

There is not such a great variation in the flavour of cherries as there is with, say, apples, so when choosing which varieties to grow, it is perhaps more important to think about the ripening season and other horticultural attributes. All cherries are superb if eaten straight from the tree on the day they