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 pollinating.

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,  Williams Favourite.

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 Star.

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. Self-Pollinating.

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.

Multi-grafted Varieties

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.

Dwarf Hybrids


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.