Favorite sweet cherries: Bing, Black Tartarian, Craig’s Crimson, Kristin, Lambert, Lapins, Minnie Royal, Rainier, Royal Ann, Stella, Sweetheart, Van
Favorite sour cherries: Early Richmond, English Morello, Meteor, Montmorency, North Star
Choose a spot in full sun with well-draining soil, especially for sweet cherries; sour cherries can handle a wider range of soil types. If you live in an area subject to late frosts, plant in a protected spot where cool air won’t pool. For sweet cherries look for a spot where the roots won’t stay wet. This isn’t as important for sour cherries, but avoid planting either in a lawn.
Bare-root trees should be planted in late winter or spring, when the soil can be worked. You can plant balled and burlapped or container trees in the fall as well. For sweet cherries amend soil that is either very sandy or very heavy and claylike before planting.
Keep the bud union on the tree a minimum of 2 inches above the ground; up to 5 inches is ideal.
Fertilize sweet cherries only when production drops. Sour cherries generally don’t need fertilizer.
Pruning: Pruning is also relatively easy for cherries. Prune right after the harvest. With sweet cherries the fruit develops on spurs that form on older wood. With sour cherries the fruit develops on the shoots on older wood.
Prune primarily to remove dead, diseased and crossing branches. Leaving about 2 feet between lateral branches on sweet cherries will encourage good fruit production. If the trees become too large, you may need to do additional pruning.
Pests and diseases: This is where many problems with cherries lie. Start with really good garden sanitation, including disposing of diseased branches and fruit, to prevent diseases and ward off pests.
Cherries are prone to a number of diseases, including black knot, blossom blight and brown rot, which can be controlled with a spraying program. Powdery mildew and silver leaf can also be a problem.
When it comes to pests, you may face some problems with aphids, maggots, mites and scale but probably won’t experience large-scale issues. Another pest problem might be borers. The major problem will be birds, who adore most cherries. They do seem to ignore yellow cherries.