Cherry trees are, according to the University of Illinois, best suited for United States Department of Agriculutre (USDA) hardiness zones 5 to 8. Many sweet cherries cannot be fruitful if planted only with cherries of the same type. They require cross-pollination with other species to be produce fruit. Cherry trees grow to between 10 and 50 feet, depending on the rootstock. They require full sun and soil that drains well. There are many varieties of cherries, both sweet and sour. However, most people are primarily interested in growing sweet cherries as a fruit crop.
Bing cherries are one of the better known of the sweet cherries. A sweet, deep-red cherry, Bings are easily recognized and one of the most common cherries in supermarkets. According to the Oregon Historical Society, the Bing cherry got its name from a Manchurian foreman who supervised a crew of 30 people at the Lewelling nursery in the mid- to late 19th century.
Rainier cherries are a milder cherry that is sweeter than the more popular Bing cherry. Rainiers are a mid-season cherry with yellow to pinkish-red skin. This cherry is very firm, with trees producing copious numbers of flowers that result in heavy fruiting with very good yields.
Tieton sweet cherries are similar in appearance to Bing cherries. They have a glossy red skin, and red flesh. They ripen a week or so before Bings, and have firm flesh with a mild flavor. This variety is only moderately productive on standard rootstocks. It generally does better when grafted to highly productive dwarfing rootstocks.
The Acerola cherry, sometimes called the Barbados cherry, is very high in vitamin C and can grow in warmer climates than many other types of cherry. It grows on a low shrub that can be pruned to a small, single leader tree. Fruit from younger trees tends to be more sour and acidic, but fruit from older trees can become sweet. Barbados cherries are not suited to the same climate as most other cherries. They are not cold tolerant, and generally only grow in USDA hardiness zone 9b or warmer.