Cherry trees make a gorgeous addition to a landscape, as their fragrant blossoms add a burst of color and scent to herald the beginning of spring. Later during the growing season, these trees provide a bountiful harvest of delicious fruit. On their own, fresh cherries make a perfect snack and can be added to fruit salads and smoothies or made into preserves and pie fillings. Cherries can be used in cooking and baking, or you can freeze, dry or can them for long-term storage. Learn about the different types of cherry trees and how you can get this delicious fruit.
- Cherries come in both sweet and sour varieties. Generally, sour cherries are best for canning or pie fillings where you'll be adding sugar, or for cooking when you don't want to add too much sweetness to your dish. Sweet cherries are best on their own or added to fruit salads and blended drinks.
- Sour varieties include Montmorency, Morello, Early Richmond, and Dwarf Sour. You'll generally find them only frozen, dried, or canned at the supermarket. If you want to buy fresh sour cherries, check a farmer's market near the end of July. You may be able to buy fresh varieties in bulk.
- Sweet varieties include Bing, Rainier, Queen Anne, and Stella. Fresh sweet cherries can be found wherever fruit is sold, and are harvested earlier than the sour varieties.
- Look for firm, large fruit with stems intact. Cherries should be brightly colored in shades of red, pink, gold, burgundy, or even black. Avoid fruit with brown spots or any that are tiny and hard. If they are too soft, they are overripe and not much good to eat. If you live close to growers, you can probably buy them in bulk. This makes baking (and snacking) easier.
Buying Cherry Trees
- Just as cherries come in sweet and sour varieties, so do the trees. Some varieties of trees won't grow well together, so check labels and ask your landscaper or nursery about what types can thrive together.
- Trees can grow to be very tall at maturity. If you're looking for a shorter tree, check into dwarf varieties, which are usually available in most sour cherry types.
- It's best to buy young trees for transplanting. Trees over five years of age will have a difficult time setting down roots in their new location.
- Sour cherry trees will grow and thrive under almost any growing conditions. Sweet cherry trees take a bit more time, attention, and care. Blossoms will wither under heavy frost for both types, however.
- Harvest time for sour cherries is usually in mid-July, while sweet cherries mature a bit sooner. In warm weather conditions, sweet cherries will be ready for harvest as early as the end of April. Both types will display an impressive show of blossoms in early spring, and the flowers range in color from white to deep pink.
- If you love the blossoms but don't wish to grow the fruit, you can buy ornamental trees. These are grown solely for their decorative appearance, and are often used as additions to landscaping.