Sour cherries

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The sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) led, in addition to the larger-fruited and - as the name implies - much sweeter sweet cherry long a shadowy existence. For a few years now, however, she has returned to the focus of amateur gardeners. The reasons for this are certainly the more compact growth, the low soil and care requirements and of course the fruits that are used in the kitchen all kinds of use.
There are no reliable findings on the origin and origin of sour cherries. It is believed that it originated from a natural cross of wild black cherry (Prunus avium) with the predominantly distributed in southern and eastern Europe steppe cherry (Prunus fruticosa). However, Prunus cerasus has hardly any natural wild occurrences, which rather speaks against this theory. Today, the sour cherry is common throughout Europe. It is more resistant to cold than the sweet cherry that emerged from the black cherry, grows in the central Alps up to 1,800 meters, and is also cultivated in Norway and Finland.

Appearance and growth

Sour cherries belong to the rose family and produce fruits with a hard core, the so-called stone, which is why they join the group of stone fruit. Depending on the processing material, the form of education and the soil, they grow as shrub, bush or tree and reach a stature height of up to ten meters. Its bark is thin, smooth, shiny red-brown and interspersed with highly visible lenticels. In young plants, the surface of the bark resembles that of the hazelnut shrub. In further growth, a solid bark develops with striking horizontal ringing. The leaves of the sour cherry are elliptical, perforated at the leaf margin and run out in a point. They are up to twelve inches long, six inches wide and have a firm, leathery feel. The top of the leaves is smooth and shiny, on the underside they carry a fine hair along the nerves.

sour cherry-leaf

The bright green leaves of sour cherry are elliptic and run in a peak

Depending on the variety, in the spring (April to May) the attractive white flowers appear - about one to two weeks after the sweet cherries. They form small umbels with single flowers on about four centimeters long stems. The flowers themselves have mostly brown-red sepals at the base. The actual flower is formed by five white, about ten millimeters long rounded petals in the center of which are about twenty long-stalked stamens and the carpel (pistil). After successful self-fertilization or cross-fertilization, the intensely red, slightly glassy fruits, depending on the variety, form in July and August. They have a significantly higher acidity and usually also slightly softer flesh than their sweet siblings.

sour cherry Blossoms

The pure white flowers are in small umbels

Depending on the processing document, the different sour cherry varieties show different growth rates. Strong-growing high strains are usually refined on seedlings of the wild cherry (Prunus avium) or the sour cherry (Prunus mahaleb). A meanwhile frequently used underlay for medium growing trees is 'Piku 1'. It is also suitable for poorer soil. The weakest growth show sour cherries on the base 'Gisela 5'. This is also the preferred processing material in professional fruit growing.

Location and ground

The location for the sour cherries must be full sun, so that the cherries can develop their optimal aroma. In shadier locations, the fruits remain very sour due to lack of light and do not ripen properly. The soil requirements depend primarily on the processing documents. The least claims are the sour cherry and 'Piku 1'. Basically, however, a humus-rich, loamy sandy soil is best suited for all sour cherries. They are generally drought tolerant than sweet cherries.

Plant sour cherries

First, it is important to find a suitable place for the sour cherry. Calculate a stand area of ​​seven meters in diameter for tall trees, five meters for medium-growing trees, and three meters for weakly growing sour cherries. As a planting period, the fall is optimal. So the tree can root up until the winter and pushes out vigorously in the spring.

Lift a generous planting hole at the intended location and loosen the sole with a digging fork. The planting hole should have about twice the volume of the root ball to be planted. On compacted soils you should possibly still a layer of fine gravel about three fingers as drainage down into the planting hole, because sour cherries are very sensitive to stagnation. The raised topsoil should be mixed with foliage compost on heavy soils to make it looser and more permeable.

The sour cherry is placed so deep in the planting hole that the top of the bale is located approximately at the level of the earth's surface. Tread the refilled soil well and fix larger trees with a tree pole so that they do not tip over during the storm. After planting it is thoroughly watered, then sprinkle a layer of garden compost mixed with horn shavings (about three liters per square meter) on the tree disc as a start fertilizer.

care Tips

Annual mulching with compost is enough to supply the frugal sour cherries with nutrients in spring. High stems should be provided with a white coat in winter from the start, as the thin, smooth bark is prone to frost cracks. Apart from occasional watering with prolonged dryness and regular cutting further care measures are usually not required.

Education and editing

The upbringing of the young sour cherries is mainly determined by the vigor. High stems are usually trained as a so-called pyramid crown with a central drive and three to four evenly distributed so-called Leittrieben. In weak growing trees but also education as a spindle tree is possible.

The preservation cut occurs in sour cherries ideally immediately after the harvest. Since the plants bear their fruit predominantly on annual timber, the fruit shoots are shortened shortly after harvest to a few buds or cut off behind a new side branch. Thus, in the same year new fruit wood is produced, which bears flowers and fruits in the coming season. Without cut above all the varieties of the growth type 'Schattenmorelle' long, whip-like drooping shoots, which after a few years hardly bear fruit. A winter cut is not required for sour cherries.

sour cherry-pull

With this cutting instructions, a beautiful sour cherry tree is created


Most sour cherries are able to fertilize themselves. However, there are varieties such as the 'Beautiful from Chatenay', 'Queen Hortense' and 'Köröser Vistula', which need a second plant for cross-pollination. Basically, a second type of fertilizer also leads to higher yields for the self-fertile varieties. An ideal pollinator is the 'shadow morel'. Unfortunately, it is also very susceptible to illness and therefore can not be recommended for home gardens anymore with a clear conscience. However, sweeteners are also sweet cherries if they are in flower at the same time.

Harvest and recovery

Depending on the location and climate, the harvest season for sour cherries falls in the summer months of June and July. The harvest is ideally done by hand. In addition, it is advisable to harvest the fruits and style, as no bacteria can penetrate into the fruits and they last longer. Ripe sour cherries are usually recognized by the soft, glassy flesh.

As the fruits are basically not durable for a long time, they should be processed as soon as possible. For the fresh consumption are especially the milder varieties such as 'favorite'. All sour cherries are an excellent base for jelly, compote, fruit juices or syrup. Also pitted and boiled, they taste great with quark and yoghurt dishes, rice pudding, waffles and pancakes.


Sour cherries are increasingly grown exclusively by processing, in order to transfer the special growth characteristics of the rootstocks to the varieties. Usual is the Okulation, so the insertion of an eye in the summer. But the hand refinement of two- to three-year rootless documents in winter by copulation succeeds easily.

Diseases and pests

The most common disease of sour cherries is the Monilia lace drought. The fungus invades the shoots via the flowers and lets them die off. In particular, low-growing trees suffer greatly from the infestation, as are particularly susceptible to the old varieties 'Schattenmorelle' and 'Morellenfeuer'. Meanwhile, there are a number of new varieties that are largely resistant, for example, 'Morina', 'Safir' and 'Beutelsbacher Rexelle'.

sour cherry-monilia-pointed drought

The weakly growing sour cherries are prone to the Monilia peak drought

Common pests are the Black Cherry Aphid, the Cherry Leaf Wasp and the Small Frostspanner. Especially the latter causes severe feeding damage to leaves and shoot tips. Since the flightless females pupate in the soil and climb up the trunks for oviposition, the trunks should be provided starting from September with glue rings, at which the pests remain sticking.

Video Board: How to pit fresh Sour Cherries.

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