Future sweet cherry project - help needed


I am thinking about downsizing my veggie garden, that will give me some space for planting sweet cherry tree(s). Here is what I have in mind:

  1. My space is 6’X4’ , so I need dwarf self-pollinated tree , or may be 2 espaliered trees planted close to each other that pollinate each other?
  2. I want dark colored firm sweet cherries(not romance cherries, already have those).
  3. I am going to make a permanent frame for full tree cover against bugs, birds and top protection from rain when berries almost ready. So the tree should be compact or can be pruned that way without loosing productivity.
  4. It has to be hardy to zone 5
  5. It should be available from reputable grower.
  6. It should be canker resistant.

I need to confirm that I will be able to grow the tree in such small space and make it kind of “rectangle”-ish form.
I need suggestions on the variety and the seller.
I also need advice on dwarf root stock for north east as well!


No answer here but I’m thinking you should gather advice on rootstock for your region too. Just from reading the posts of others It seems as, if not more, important than the variety because you can always graft.


Thanks, added question about root stock above. For grafting - I can tell you, I would prefer to leave it to professionals. I did some grafting on apple, just because I wanted the tree nobody sell. But It was bench grafting. I also did one branch on the other tree to make sure I am not loosing my scion, both took, but I can’t say I enjoyed the process much - too intense thing for me :grinning:.


Seeing that you don’t spray your peaches, I do not know if growing sweet cherries will be a suitable project for you. We are 4 miles apart. So, what I get, you will likely get.

I planted my first two cherry trees in 2010, both on Gisela 5. I t has been 7 years so I have decent experience growing sweet cherries.

Diseases: canker, cherry leave spot, brown rot, possible verticillium wilt.
Pests: birds, plum curculio ( little)
Cracking, probably not a disease but a real issue.

To me, sweet cherries are not as troublesome as peaches BUT I have not found a variety that tastes as ggo as store bought cherries. So, to me, the end products are not worth the effort.

One day, when I could find a disease resistant sweet cherries that taste as good as Bing or Rainer, I may chage my mind.


I do spray my peach tree. I just do not spray Indar :grinning:. I spray Liquid Cop, neem oil, Serenade, Immunox and Monterey fungi fighter. I also use tree covers, so bugs and birds are less of the problem. When you have just one dwarf tree you could really hand-raise it, provide covers and so on. I understand that it is not - plant and forget it project, but I am OK with it. I do not have grandchildren to care about - at least I can plant some cherries for future ones :grin:. My main question is - will I be able to shape the tree as I need it and keep it in that spot.


G5 or G6 rootstock. G6 will be smaller. G5 tree is growing large for me. From what I tried and this is not very extensive experience Lapins will be good. It is self pollinating, sweet but not as firm as Bing.


So for G root stock, higher the number = more dwarf? I didn’t even see G6 in my research so far, only G3 and G5.


I keep my G 5 at 6’ tall, an umbrella shape. If not prune it could grow 12-15 ft, I think. Too tall for netting, spraying and everything else.

I have seen pics of espaliier cherry trees. You could try that.


I actually got it wrong G6 is larger than G5, it is G3 that is smaller.

here is the reference


Yes, I try to research espalier for cherries, no much luck so far


G3 sounds promising, thanks!


G3 has a lower yield rate and a lower survival rate in a cold condition… I can’t give you the link But will try later.

G 5 is the best rootstock for dwarf cherries.


Where did you get that negative info about g3? I am looking in different sources and do not see it.


Check actahort.org. It was a study in Germany but it is relevant.

This is not the first time I have heard abut G 3 non productivity.


From Raintree: Gisela 3 is the most dwarfing of the Gisela rootstocks making a tree that grows to only 8 to 10 feet tall. It tends to make a broad tree excellent for a small area. Its small size and early heavy bearing are great attributes but because of this the tree needs good growing conditions to thrive. It is very precocious prompting the tree to bear heavily at an early age. It may require fruit thinning to maintain fruit size and avoid overbearing and having the tree stop growing. Regular irrigation is needed. It is recommended that dormant pruning on all dwarf cherry trees be done in late winter before bloom time which reduces the chance of bacterial canker infestations.

So I am not sure about low productivity, unless we talking about productivity per tree, not per sq or cu foot taken by the tree.

Ok, I found the study you mentioned:
In a rootstock trial set up in 2002, trees of ‘Regina’, ‘Karina’, ‘Kordia’ and ‘Merchant’ sweet cherry were planted at different within-row spacings on Gisela 3 (1.5 m, 2.0 m, 2.5 m) and Gisela 5 (2.0 m, 2.5 m, 3.0 m) rootstocks. Distance between the rows was always 4.75 m. Preliminary results are given after seven cropping years. All cultivars consistently produced a higher yield on Gisela 5 than on Gisela 3. In the first years, there was no clear effect of planting distance on yield per tree. The highest yields per hectare were obtained most frequently with Gisela 5 at a planting distance of 2.5 m. Even the highest density of trees on Gisela 3 (1.5 m) did not exceed those yields per hectare. Tree survival rate in the 8th year on Gisela 5 was 100% with ‘Regina’ and ‘Merchant’, and approx. 90% with ‘Kordia’ and ‘Karina’. ‘Merchant’ and ‘Regina’ were also the healthiest cultivars on Gisela 3 with tree survival rates of 92% and 71%, respectively. Survival of ‘Kordia’ on Gisela 3 was also 71%, while that of ‘Karina’ was only 53%. Summarizing all experiences under Northern German conditions, Gisela 5 was the best rootstock for the most relevant varieties. Gisela 3 is currently being considered especially for high density systems and plantations under rain cover protection. However, our findings of low tree survival rates on Gisela 3 indicate a high risk for growers.

Unfortunately even 2.5 sq meter per tree is luxury I do not have in my yard, forget about 2.5X4.75. So in this case I have to compare smaller crop of G3 with crop of HIGHLY pruned G5(to fit the spot). I am not sure if G5 will win in this case.


I tend to believe a result of a study to a description from a commercial nursery. Please feel free to try G 3. I hope it will do well for your zone.

Aiso, high yield is probably not that important to you. Size seems to be your consideration.


Exactly, this is what I just typed above… When you compare hectare of G5 and G3 - it is one thing… But when it is a spot 4x6 feet - completely different story :grinning:.


The only important thing to you is how cold hardy it will be.


oh, I can shed a little light on that. Its tricky to find info because cherry’s are grown as “Cherry Fans” not Cherry Espalier. and of course searching for Cherry Fans returns lots of pictures of fans.


For a Cherry Fan or Espalier you do not want a true Dwarf you want Semi-Vigorous like Colt. I am of course ignoring that advice and planning my Cherry Fan on Krymsk 5