6 Cherry Trees To Grow in Kansas (Edible & Ornamental)

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Kansas » 6 Cherry Trees To Grow in Kansas (Edible & Ornamental)

Cherry trees, edible and ornamental, are easy, low-maintenance trees that thrive in temperate climates.

In Kansas, cherry trees will grow best in the east, where it rains more, and the summers are not quite as hot and dry.

However, you can certainly grow cherries in the west, too, if you choose the right variety and provide them with some spring and summer irrigation.

No matter which planting zone in Kansas you live in, you can find edible and ornamental cherry trees that will grow and thrive.

Let’s take a look at some now!

6 Cherry Trees That Grow and Thrive in Kansas

Edible Cherry Trees to Grow in Kansas

1. Kansas Sweet Cherry – Prunus cerasus ‘Kansas Sweet’

kansas Sweet Cherry Prunus cerasus 'Kansas Sweet'
Image via Star Nursery

I couldn’t talk about growing cherry trees in Kansas without mentioning the Kansas Sweet Cherry, which ironically is not that sweet but still very delicious.

The Kansas Sweet Cherry is actually a hybrid between sweet and sour cherries, so you get the best of both worlds in one fruit. They produce large, bright red fruits that are semi-sweet, firm, and very juicy and are said to make the best cherry pies.

These later-bearing trees have lower chill hours and will also produce well in warmer summers, making them a great fit for anywhere in KS, from the warmer south to the cooler north. However, residents in the drier west may need to provide spring and summer irrigation to keep the trees healthy and increase yields.

Kansas Sweet Cherry trees are primarily self-fertile, but yields will increase if they are planted with multiple trees or another cultivar.

Other Common Names: Kansas Cherry, Hansen Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 12 ft tall, 6 – 12 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers emerge in spring; fruits mature in mid-late July

2. Stella Cherry – Prunus avium ‘Stella’

Stella Cherry Fruit and Flowers
Images via Nature Hills, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Stella Cherry is a popular sweet cherry for their low maintenance, easy growing, and productivity. Since they are available in dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard sizes, you probably have room for it.

Moreover, these productive trees often produce their first year and are fully self-fertile, so only one tree is needed to produce abundant fruits. However, like with most self-fertile fruits, yields often increase if you grow two trees.

Their juicy, deliciously sweet, dark red cherries can be eaten fresh, frozen, or baked into tasty treats.

Stella Cherry trees can easily grow in full sun in any moist, well-drained soil in the acidic to neutral range. However, they are also highly adaptable to any soil type, provided it is well-drained.

They are more tolerant of hot summers than many of the other sweet cherries, allowing them to perform better anywhere in Kansas, though irrigation may be necessary in the west.

Other Common Names: Mazzard Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8(9)

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 30 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: White flowers bloom in spring; fruits mature between June and July

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Nanking Cherry – Prunus tomentosa

Nanking Cherry Prunus tomentosa - Grid 2 Square - 800 x 450
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Nanking Cherry is a delicious tart-sweet, incredibly hardy shrub cherry that tolerates extreme cold, hot summers, and semi-arid climates. It is a perfect fit for anywhere in Kansas where it will thrive.

I discovered these tasty fruits when I lived in the cold Canadian prairies and enjoyed eating them fresh, and made them into jams, pies, and even wine.

Even though they look exactly like a bright red cherry, botanically, they are more like a plum, which explains their uniquely delicious tart-sweet flavor.

These hardy shrubs grow best in full sun in slightly acidic, well-drained soils but will adapt to various soil types as long as they are well-drained. They also grow in partial shade though flower and fruit production will be reduced.

Plant 2 – 3 shrubs to ensure good cross-pollination, where they make a great border or hedge.

For more information, see how to identify Nanking Cherry.

Other Common Names: Downy Cherry, Nanjing cherry, Korean cherry, Manchu Cherry, Shanghai Cherry, Ando Cherry, Mountain Cherry, Chinese Bush Cherry, Chinese Dwarf Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 10 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Fragrant pink or white flowers emerge in early spring; fruit ripens from July to August

Available at: Nature Hills

Ornamental Cherry Trees to Grow in Kansas (Native and Asian)

4. Black Cherry – Prunus serotina

Black Cherry Prunus serotina for Kansas
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Black Cherry is a native Kansas tree found in the eastern ⅓ of the state but often grown ornamentally for its abundant small white, fragrant flowers. It also produces edible fruits that may be small or large and can be eaten raw or used in jams or juice. If you don’t eat them, the wildlife will!

This medium-large fast-growing tree (2 – 4 ft per year) also makes a lovely shade tree in KS.

Black Cherries are easy to grow in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soils, but they tolerate most soil types if they are kept relatively moist.

These trees prefer mild summers. So, for western growing, give them some afternoon shade and apply a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to keep the roots cool and moist.

You can also learn how to identify Black Cherry in its native habitat.

Other Common Names: Wild Black Cherry, Rum Cherry, Mountain Black Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 80 ft tall, 30 – 50 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: White flowers bloom in April or May; fruits ripen in August or early September

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana

Chokecherry Prunus virginiana for Kansas
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Chokecherry is another Kansas native found throughout all of Kansas, but it’s most widespread in the northern half of the state.

These trees are mainly grown ornamentally for their abundant showy small white flowers. However, it also produces small edible fruits that can be made into preserves or simply left on the tree for a tasty treat that the wildlife will love.

Chokecherries are low-maintenance shrubs or small trees easily grown in full sun in any moist, well-drained soil, including clay, limestone, loam, and sand, from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline.

Once established, they gave great drought tolerance, making them a perfect fit for anywhere in KS, including the drier west, where they could be grown without irrigation most summers.

These are host to tent caterpillars that may threaten other fruit trees.

For more information, check out how to identify Chokecherry to enjoy it in its native habitat.

Other Common Names: Bitter Cherry, Virginia Bird Cherry, Western Chokecherry, Eastern Chokecherry, Black Chokecherry

USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 7

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: White flowers bloom in May; fruits mature in August

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

6. Kwanzan Flowering Cherry – Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry is an ornamental cherry tree made famous for its prolific blooms of gorgeous double pink flowers for a spectacular spring color display. Their leaves also change color throughout the year, ending in gold, yellow, and orange in the fall.

These ornamental trees produce no fruits, making them a good choice for growing next to sidewalks or driveways where you would not want fruits dropping.

These low-maintenance hardy trees can be grown in full sun in any moist, well-drained soil, including acidic, alkaline, sand, clay, or loam. This makes Kwanzan Flowering Cherry a perfect fit for growing anywhere in Kansas.

They are also easy to transplant, can be grown in patio pots, or used for bonsai trees.

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry can be prone to powdery mildew and root rot, so ensure the soil is well-drained and grow them in an area with good ventilation.

Other Common Names: Japanese Flowering Cherry, Kanzan Flowering Cherry, Sekiyama, Sekizan

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft tall, 30 – 40 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Profuse pink blossoms appear from April to May; trees do not produce any fruits

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Table Comparing Cherry Trees in Kansas

Here is a detailed table comparing each Cherry tree type, including their bloom time, fruiting season, size at maturity, and USDA growing zones.

Cherry Tree TypeBloom TimeFruiting SeasonSize at MaturityUSDA Zones
Kansas Sweet CherrySpringMid-late July6-12 ft tall, 6-12 ft spread4 – 8
Stella CherrySpringJune to July10-30 ft tall, 10-15 ft spread5 – 8(9)
Nanking CherryEarly springJuly to August6-10 ft tall, 10-15 ft spread2 – 8
Black CherryApril or MayAugust or early September40-80 ft tall, 30-50 ft spread4 – 9
ChokecherryMayAugust20-30 ft tall, 15-20 ft spread2 – 7
Kwanzan Flowering CherryApril to MayDoes not produce fruits30-40 ft tall, 30-40 ft spread5 – 9

Cherry Trees to Brighten Your Kansas Landscape

Cherry trees are such lovely trees to grow in any yard, and Kansas is no exception. The cheerful pink or white blossoms will certainly brighten your spring and get you in the mood for gardening.

Because Kansas has a narrow climatic range, any of the trees can be grown anywhere in the state, particularly in the east, with its moister soils and milder climate.

Of course, you can still grow them in the drier west, but irrigation will be required after establishment to ensure your tree stays healthy and help increase fruit yields. The Chokecherry may be the one exception since it is very drought-tolerant.

I hope you enjoyed learning about some beautiful cherries that you can grow in Kansas to add spring color to your landscape and maybe even some delicious fruits to your belly!

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Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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