Which is the best low chill cherry for N. Florida? Zone 8b


I’m looking for a low maintenance, easy to grow and reliable cherry tree for pies and fresh eating (I like sweet and tart fruits).

I found low chill cherry trees on GrowOrganic: Minnie Royal, Royal Lee, Royal Crimson, Lapins and Stella. Which 2 would be good together or any other recommendations for 500 and lower chill hours?


Don’t waste your time. No one in Houston has successfully grown “low chill” cherries.


Thank you, I needed a good laugh today. Cherry trees are anything but low maintenance and easy to grow.


I do know a couple near me that has two cherries they do absolutely nothing to, not even net against birds. They get cherries every year. It blows my mind, as I know that’s the exception rather than the rule.


GrowOrganic shows Stella semi-dwarf needing 400 chill hours which is well below my 600 chill hours where I live in Bonifay, FL. If I decide to spend $25 and try it should I put the tree in evening shade during the summer 6 hours sun or full sun 10 hours?

Most chill hour maps put me around 600 but I found one site that put me at 200 chill hours (tomorrowsharvest.com chill hour map). I know it might change from year to year but that’s a big difference? Am I in 600+/- chill hours at Bonifay, FL 32425?


Sweet cherries aren’t successful in the humid south from posts I’ve seen of people who tried. You may have better luck with a sour cherry or the bush cherries


Thanks, I’ll look into those.


400 chill hours in California is a far cry from 400 chill hours in the Gulf Coast. Join the Texas Fruiting Plant group on Facebook. Growing cherries on Gulf Coast has been discussed many times. No one got any cherries and trees died in the summer heat.

" I’ve grown and fruited the bush cherries Jan, JOEL, and Joy. About 15-20 years ago.

They are hybrids were developed by Dr. Meador in New Hampshire.

Fruit quality is poor, like a bad pie cherry. I ripped mine out.

Tried all the low chill cherries over the years. None bore fruit.

Grew Katy ; Goldkist Apricot and maybe two fruits a year. Ripped them out.

Matagorda County, coastal Texas zone 9."

“Trialed Minnie Royal and Royal Lee for 4 years…they looked great every spring, suffered every summer and went dormant early every fall. The most cherries ever produced was 6. They simply can not take the heat and humidity of the Houston area. They do better with the heat if there’s little to no humidity”


I’m also in 8b North Central FL. It’s a bit of a zone push but you may want to check out Cherry of the Rio Grande, Eugenia involucrata and Barbados Cherry, Malpighia ******** if you haven’t already. I’m thinking we are just a bit too cold for either but with a little protection on the coldest nights they may work. Good luck!:grin:


Thanks, have you heard of anyone growing avocado in your area? Thought I could dwarf one in a winter green house but just started looking into it.


I’m growing cherry of the rio grande. Nice ornamental. In 7 years got only a hand full of “cherries.” As cold hardy as citrus. Grew a while back as well. Not enough fruit to worry about.


I think you would struggle with cherries. You also need to think about spraying and protecting the crop from birds. For sweet cherries you will need to spray for brown rot with a fungicide like Captan or Indar. Insects will attack the fruit so you will need an insecticide mixed in with the fungicide as well.

Tart cherries are easier and have much less trouble with brown rot. In some cases you may be able to get away with no spraying or very limited spraying. But I think in your conditions tart cherries would require some spraying for insects and cherry leaf spot.

Birds love cherries. In most cases you will need to use bird scare tape or net the tree ( nets are better but more costly and more work). You probably should look at some of the threads dealing with growing cherries under Eastern conditions. They talk in depth about the problems you will face. Here is a link to one of them.


I have had about the same luck with cherry of the rio grande. But a handful of fruit is more fruit than you would have had if you planted a low chill cherry. And the taste was actually good. I still have not given up. It took 4 to 5 years before it produced anything, and my hand full of fruit came this year. So maybe I will get that amount each year.


@figerama I do know a guy closer to you than me that grows cold hardy avocado. I don’t like them so haven’t tried. It’s possible but I think you would want to get the right variety and still may need some coddling on the coldest nights. But it’s definitely doable.