Zone 4 Sweet Cherry Tips

Hi All,

I’m planning on trying sweet cherries in Minneapolis. I’ve read every post I can find about it on this forum and lots of other places. I’m not afraid of failure, but I want to set myself up for success.

Possible varieties:
Black Tartarian

Possible locations:
South wall of a light colored stucco house that is mostly shaded by the neighbor’s house from September-March
West yard with almost no shelter and sun from about noon-sunset
North yard with some shelter, a big brick building 25ft to the North and sun from about 10am-6pm

I have a contender peach in the north yard that has done very well since I planted it in 2019 and two North Star cherries in the west yard that seem to be invincible.

Because of space limitations, I will probably need at least a semi-dwarfing rootstock. I’m also fine with aggressive pruning if need be.

I’m open to any and all suggestions and see this as a great learning experience even if it ends up being “what not to do.”


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I’m in zone 4b but with murderous winter winds. For the last three years I watched a lapins cherry tree slowly die year after year. This was certainly the last one I’ll see it sort of alive; it pushed out a singular cluster of leaves in the trunk and even those wilted and died. It is fun to experiment with borderline plants but all it takes is one test year and they are gone.

Is your house on a slab or heated basement? If so next to a south facing wall very close to the house would keep the roots warmer. You’ll still have a hard time keeping the top from getting winter killed.

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I’ve not had much success with two Lapins and a Kristin just east of Minneapolis, but at least the trees are surviving after 12-15 years. Considering they are growing in nearly pure sand, they must be somewhat tough. One thing to consider is how to net the trees if they do produce cherries. It isn’t worth the hassle for a handful of cherries. Dwarf trees are supposedly less hardy.

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I planted a lapins cherry down here in z7a Tennessee spring 2018.

It has bloomed sparsely the past two springs but so far no fruit.

I think southern TN z7a may not be the place for lapins ? Or perhaps it just takes a long time to successfully fruit.

It is a beautiful stout healthy tree… but freeloading so far.

Good luck.

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twelcome to the site. im in z4a northern Maine. i put in a contender peach and kosui Asian pear this spring. i have a sweet cherry on the south side of my house with a mix of 4 z4/5 rated sweet cherries. so far its survived -40f last winter but i blew snow over it all winter to protect it. i also grafted 2 different z4 hardy sweet cherry scions on my Montmorency sour cherry. both are pushing growth nicely. Monty can also be a pollinator as one of its parents is a sweet but both of these types are also pollinators for each other. i may add more z4 hardy sweets as the years go by.

I wanted to try and get sweet cherries going but the more I talk to other folks here that have tried the more it looks like it is just a matter of time before they die.

Instead of sweet cherries I’m going to give some space to cherry plums, a very underrated fruit.


i was considering them as well. you grow any? might be worth grafting over some major branches of my romance cherries to try them. now to find a scion source.

I have a stunted kuban comet. Two years ago it got planted as a 4’+ tree. The next spring it died to the ground and put out spindly growth above the graft joint. This year it is putting out some more spindly growth. I figure it is acclimating itself; trees imported from the lower 48 often have a hard time sorting out our weather. These are supposed to be hardy and self fruitful so it should be a good tree capable of pollinating other plums.

This year I picked a sapalta cherry plum. I’m reserving space for two other cherry plums, I’ll see what I can find next year.

I also have nanking and purple sand cherry, literal kissing cousins that should be able to cross pollinate.

Just to play around I have about 10 chokecherry saplings (prunus virginiana) I want to see if they would work as rootstock for plum and/or cherry plum. They grow all over the place here so there is no doubt that they are hardy enough.

I also want to graft them into nanking cherry, which is supposed to be super dwarfing.

i have a red and white nanking. the white one had half the bush fie for some reason so it barely bloomed while the red was covered but the lack of pollination the red only set 5 fruit. chokecherry everywhere here too. only thing is its a black knot magnet here. ive tried them juiced and jams and i dont care for them. i ran across a improved cultivar of choke cherry awhile back. then forgot where i saw it.

Chokecherry is a key ingredient in my fruit wines, it adds that astringency that makes grape wines taste like wine. It is easy to blend in just by taste.

Then again there are so many chokecherry trees all over the place that there is no point growing any.


Our Walmart gets cherry plums in occasionally… and I have tried them, very good (and that is at Walmart)… If it was fresh from your own tree… oh my !!!

They had some purple plumcots on our last visit and I got a 6 pack… they were quite tart, but wow good.

It would be nice to be able to grow those…

never tried it in a wine. threw some aronia in my last batch of apple wine. that was very good also.