Fruit-Bearing Cherry Trees – Viability in Atlanta area

Q: I am looking for fruit-bearing cherry trees. What is your advice?

A: I don’t know of anyone who has successfully grown sweet cherry fruit in the Atlanta area. Temperature swings in winter cause freeze damage to the trunk and late frosts usually prevent successful flowering. You might have success with sour cherry, like ‘Montmorency’, ‘Stella’ or ‘North Star’. Plant them in a sheltered spot, don’t fertilize much, and buy lots of sugar for the pies you make.

A listener writes: “I chuckled when I read your article this morning.I don’t know our variety, but they are some sort of sour cherry with a hint of sweetness when fully ripened. Make the best pies you ever ate- with enough sugar! My trees get almost full sun in the back yard and are within a few feet of my vegetable garden with very little shelter- if any. They are located on a slight eastern facing slope so they get a bit of protection from the hottest afternoon sun. The occasional cherry sapling that pops up in the garden is my source for digging and potting them. I have one large original tree that is about 15 feet tall, and several more that are 6-8 feet tall and beginning to produce quite nicely. The only problem with production has been a late frost that got the blossoms. We have had increasing harvests in 4 of the past 5 years.”