Everyone loves growing Cherries and each year our sales of these delectable and quintessentially English orchard fruits increase. Unfortunately ‘though, with modern gardens ever smaller, the need for varieties that will crop on their own has never been greater. Many of you simply can’t afford the space for two. There are a great many lovely older varieties in existence, including tempting historic English orchard varieties. But nearly all of the require to be planted in pairs so they are unsuited to small gardens.
Happily a range of newer self pollinating varieties has been produced which suit today’s smaller gardens admirably. They are very compatible on dwarfing rootstocks and can happily be accommodated, on Gisela 5 rootstock, in an area of 5-6’ in width. Their height is roughly the same and they are also ideal for 20” containers using a loam based compost. This rootstock is also ideal for growing in a fruit cage.
There is a nother very dwarfing rootstock, which was introduced before Gisela 5 and called ‘Tabel’ it is a viable option becoming decreasingly used as it lacks vigour to an extent where it does not procude a good tree unless treated generously.
The more vigorous ‘Colt’ stock can make a suitable tree for smaller gardens and fruit cages if it is ‘festooned’ – a training method that involves tieing the leader and main branches down with a straining wire and peg in the ground. This has the effect of reducing the height and vigour of the tree and produces a productive and precocious semi-weeping tree.
The best varieties to grow for quality and self-pollinating virtues are:
Stella A favourite with large glossy deep red flavoursome fruits. Late July ripening.
Sunburst This is the all-round most popular variety today. It’s fruits are large and a deep red/black and have a superb flavour. Mid season.
Summer Sun Is a good variety to follow on from Sunburst and is a season extending variety with good quality sweet dark fruits.
Lapins Lapins is a favourite variety, especially across Europe and is also called Cherokee. It does require better, warmer conditions to fruit well but can provide very good yields of quality fruits, especially on a sunny patio.
Sylvia Is an attractive small tree bedecked with plenty of shiny red dessert fruits.
Petite Noir Deserves special mention because it is naturally much more compact, with or without the influence of a dwarfing stock. It needs little pruning and devotes it’s energies to producing generous clusters of large blackish red fruits dripping with juice and sweet flavour. It’s superb and ideal for a container or fruit cage.
Morello Is an acid cherry, dieal for pies, jams, bottling and freezing. It is hardier than the dessert cherries and will even tolerate some shade and always seems to do well.
Looking for white cherries? They are delectably sweet and such a pleasure to eat. Unfortunately there are no self fertile white cherries available but any of the above will partner ‘Vega’ or ‘Merton Glory’ – two good varieties.
You can also grow cherries on the modern column growing system and these trees can be planted just 2’ apart and are also suitable for pots.
When siting Cherry trees avoid the frost pocket or cold, windy sites. Make sure you protect developing fruits from bird attack. Keep a watch out for Cherry Blackfly and spray the growing tips and new leaves with soapy water if necessary. The largest most juicy fruits can be obtained by ensuring a plentiful water supply as they swell.