How to Grow Sour Cherries in the South in Zones Seven, Eight & Nine


Sour cherry trees (Prunus cerasus) grow 12 to 15 feet high when pruned, and up to 50 feet high when left alone. This tree has a rounder habit that spreads further than sweet cherries and fruits less sweet than sweet cherries. Sour cherry trees can produce fruit alone while sweet cherry trees need pollinators to produce fruit. In parts of USDA Zones 7, 8 and 9 in the South this tree flourishes. Knowledge of the right environment for this plant and how to care for it in that environment will help you produce sour cherries.

Step 1

Obtain a sour cherry seedling from a reputable nursery and make sure it grows well in your climate. Sour cherries prefer cooler, humid climates. In zones 7, 8 and 9 this means they grow best in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia. Hot, dry climates do not provide enough moisture for the plant.

Step 2

Find an area with full sun and well-drained, deep, fertile soil. Dig a hole with a spade twice the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Set the sour cherry upright in the hole, backfill the soil around the roots and tamp down firmly.

Step 3

Water the cherry deeply, keeping it moist until the tree starts to grow vigorously on its own. In hotter areas of zones 7, 8 and 9 water the tree when the soil becomes dry. Misting the leaves of smaller trees may help as well. In cooler, humid regions you can allow rainwater to provide moisture for the tree, watering only in times of drought.

Step 4

Fertilize the sour cherry trees, when they start growing, with a fertilizer marked 10-10-10. Without the proper nutrients, the trees could develop a deficiency. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions, as each brand will differ. Apply fertilizer each subsequent year in early spring to encourage growth.

Step 5

Prune the sour cherry tree in winter when it is dormant. Cut out branches that cross, and broken, diseased and dead branches. When older, the sour cherry has a tendency to become crowded. If this is the case, thin out the branches as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • University of Illinois Extension: Sour Cherry
  • USDA Plants Profile: Prunus Cerasus
  • University of Georgia: Cherries
Keywords: growing sour cherries, sour cherry care, watering sour cherry

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.