It might just be me, but cherries remind me of a good old Aussie Christmas – prawns, cold meat and
salad, backyard cricket and the ever present bowl of deep red, super sweet cherries. Mum would
grab a couple of kilos of cherries from the supermarket and my brother and I would be through the
lot in a couple of hours…bliss on a hot, sticky summer’s day!
Growing up in Queensland, having my very own cherry tree in the backyard was an impossible
dream, as they adore a cooler, less humid climate and a lovely cold winter. This makes them a
pretty good choice for the home patch across much of the southern states, Tasmania and highlands,
especially those areas that experience bracingly cold winters.
If your area experiences a short burst of cold weather through winter, fear not. Whacking a good
layer of mulch over the soil before winter hits will prevent the soil from warming too quickly,
meaning happier and more productive cherries.
Soil is a big factor in the success of these sweet stone-fruit, and a deep, well-draining soil full of
delicious organic matter (like compost and aged manure) is an absolute must-have. A neutral pH is
just fine, and a position in full sun will suit both the sweet and sour varieties of cherries perfectly.
One thing to bear in mind is that cherries can get to a fair size, and many of them require cross
pollinating, meaning you will have to pop in more than one tree, or grab a “multi-graft”. Big old
cherry trees can get to a whopping 10 – 15m over time, so, if space is going to be an issue, why not
consider a dwarf hybrid?
Cherries can have a few issues with pests and diseases, namely the dreaded Pear & Cherry Slug.
This hideous larvae of the Black Saw-fly can make a real mess of cherry trees, so to prevent slug
problems, feed your cherries a couple of times a year with seaweed tea to keep up the vigour of the
tree. If you do encounter this ugly little pest, try sprinkling some wood ash around the base of the
tree, and onto affected foliage. This generally works to discourage the little blighters. Check out
our factsheet on pear & cherry slug here.
Now for the fun stuff – picking a cherry variety. Good SGA Certified garden centres should have a
great range of both sweet and sour cherries, as well as multigrafts and dwarf hybrids. Some of the
varieties you may come across include:
Bing: A late season variety which is great for enjoying fresh, as jams or preserving. A very popular
sweet cherry with good flavour. A moderate cropping variety, this tree will provide you with
medium to large, heart shaped fruit, with a juicy firm red flesh. The skin is dark red with an
attractive lustre. Flavour is sweet. Cross pollinators:Stella, Blackboy, Van, William’s Favourite.
Incompatible with Napolean.
Black Boy: Medium-sized, round-oblong, dark red skin, firm, very dark red flesh. Good resistance to
cracking. Reliable cropper. Fruits mid to late December. Used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving.
Beautiful ornamental tree. Spring blossom. Cross-pollinators include: Napoleon, Van, Bedford, Bing,
Flavorite, St.Margaret, William’s Favourite.
Lapin: Large, sweet dark red cherries. Great for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. A beautiful
ornamental tree. Autumn colour. Self pollinating.
Morello: Sour Cherry. Vigorous, multibranched, upright, medium sized tree. Small to medium sized
dark red fruit with tart flavour. Fruits late December to January. Used for brining, cooking,
preserves and wine-making. Superior flavour when cooked. Beautiful ornamental tree. Self
Napoleon: Medium to large size fruit. Pink blush over light yellow skin. Sweet sprightly flavour.
Productive and vigorous tree. Fruits early to late December. Used for fresh fruit, glace, crystallizing
and preserving. A beautiful ornamental tree. Cross pollinators include: Blackboy, St Margaret, Van,
Royal Rainer: An early to mid-season variety which is great for enjoying fresh, as jams or
preserving. An attractive new blush style fruit, that has only recently been introduced in Australia.
Excellent sweet, good flavour with white flesh. Pollinators: Stella, Simone, Lala Star, Van and Grace
Simone: A early to mid season maturing red Cherry. Large sweet red cherries with firm juicy flesh
and of excellent quality. A small tree.Self-fertile.
St Margaret: Large, heart-shaped fruit. Dark red, almost black skin. Firm, flavoursome and juicy
dark flesh. Good cropper. Fruits late December to early January. Used for fresh fruit, jam and
preserving. Attractive ornamental tree. Pollinates with Blackboy, Napolean, Stella, Bing.
Starkrimson: Large, heart-shaped crimson red fruit, firm flesh and good flavour. Heavy cropper.
Compact tree. Fruits mid to late December. Used for fresh fruit, jam and excellent for preserving.
Stella: Large, heart-shaped red to almost black skin, dark red, firm flavoursome flesh. Large crops
in heavy clusters. Early to late December. Great in small gardens where space is limited. The
best choice for the home gardener. Self pollinating. Universal pollen donor.
Sunburst: Very large fruit, red skin. Medium firm texture, dark red flesh. Very productive. Fruits
throughout December. Fresh fruit, jam and preserving. Self-pollinating.
Van: A delicious dark Cherry that bears heavy crops and has excellent quality fruit. Used for fresh
fruit, jam and preserving. A mid to late season maturity. Juicy and large sweet dark red Cherries
with excellent flavour. An attractive heart shaped fruit.
Pollinators: Stella, Napoleon, Blackboy, Sunburst.
Royal Rainier/Van: Self-pollinating combination.Heavy cropping tree, great for limited spaces and
smaller gardens. Royal Rainier is a white-fleshed, sweet cherry, while Van is reported by some to be
the tastiest cherry of the all. A good combo for cherry lovers!
Blackboy/Napoleon: Self-pollinating combination. Very productive and popular mid season
combination. Prune to ensure equal growth of both varieties. Watch for birds and cherry slug. Little
pruning required after framework established. Fruits on the end of short spurs. Blackboy: Large,
sweet fruit, dark red in colour, flesh firm and juicy. Napoleon: Large fruit, light colour, with firm
sweet flesh. Both varieties used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. A beautiful ornamental tree.
Royal Rainier/Stella: Self-Pollinating. A good option for the cherry lover with limited space. Watch
for birds and cherry slug. Little pruning after framework established. Fruits on the end of short
spurs. Mature trees will produce large crops in heavy clusters. This multi gives you the benefit of
having two different, yet very sweet and tasty cherries at the same time, as they are both mature
around mid season.
Black “Cherree” Trixie Miniture Cherry: Delicious, juicy dark-skinned heart shaped cherries
borne on a small, self pollinating tree. A delight for small spaces and big pots. 2.5m x 2.5m
White “Cherree” Trixie Miniature Cherry: White fleshed, heart shaped cherry with a lovely blush
to the skin. Fruit is sweet and quite pretty. Will reach 2.5m x 2.5m at maturity. May need to cross
pollinate with black “Cherree” Trixie.