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6 Types of Cherry Trees That Grow in Missouri

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Missouri » 6 Types of Cherry Trees That Grow in Missouri

Many different types of cherry trees will grow in Missouri with its temperate climate and diverse environments.

Growing Sweet Cherries can be challenging because of spring frosts, but choosing the right cultivars will help.

There are also Sour Cherries and Nanking Cherries that will perform better in MO because they are able to withstand spring frosts better.

Finally, there are lovely native ornamental and edible cherries that grow naturally in MO and lovely flowering ornamental cherries that you can also grow.

No matter which planting zone in Missouri you live in, you can find delicious and beautiful cherries to grow.

Edible Cherries to Grow in Missouri

1. Black Tartarian Sweet Cherries – Prunus avium ‘Black Tartarian’

Sweet Cherries - Black Tartarian
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Growing Sweet Cherries can be challenging in Missouri due to unpredictable temperatures. However, choosing later-flowering varieties like Black Tartarian will help you avoid those spring frosts.

These cherries produce large, purplish-black fruit with a rich, sweet flavor that is fantastic for fresh eating and preserves.

Black Tartarian cherries grow best in full sun in moist, well-drained soil in the mildly acidic to neutral range. Adding some sulfur and pine needle mulch can help with mildly alkaline soil.

Irrigation is recommended during dry springs; do not overwater since the trees do not like wet roots, and ensure you keep the water off the fruits.

Black Tartarian is not self-fertile and requires a pollinator companion. It makes an excellent pollinator for other cherries. Choose one of the recommended cultivars below for your best chance of successful crops in MO.

For more information, check out how to identify Sweet Cherries.

Additional Sweet Cherry Cultivars Recommended for Growing in MO by the University of Missouri: Bing, Blackgold, Starkrimson, Royalton, Emperor Francis, and Gold. Stella and Rainier may also work well.

Other Common Names: Black Tartan, Black Tart, Circassian Black, Ronald’s Black Heart, Fraser’s Black Tartarian

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 30 ft* tall, 15 – 20 ft spread *size depends on rootstock

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers bloom in mid-spring; fruits mature from mid-June to early July

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Montmorency Sour Cherry – Prunus cerasus ‘Montmorency’

Montmorency Sour Cherries are very reliable fruit-producing trees in cooler temperate climates. They tolerate the cold winters much better and don’t bloom until late May, so they should not suffer losses from spring frosts in Missouri.

These trees are also self-pollinating, which is excellent news for those with small gardens. They can even be grown in pots and fan-trained against a wall to save more space. Even though they are self-fertile, yields will increase if grown with other varieties.

Montmorency Cherries can be grown anywhere in MO without special protection or fuss. They are best grown in full sun in moist, well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Drainage is essential in MO to help prevent root rot.

The fruits have a distinctive tart sour flavor and are not usually eaten fresh but make the best-tasting cherry pies, jams, and baked goods.

For more information, check out how to identify Sour Cherry.

Additional Sour Cherry Cultivars Recommended for Growing in Missouri: North Star, Balaton. Carmine Jewel is a great dwarf variety for small yards.

Other Common Names: Pea Cherry, Tart Cherry, Dwarf Cherry, Morello Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 18 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers emerge in late May; fruits mature in late June or early July

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Nanking Cherry – Prunus tomentosa

Nanking Cherry Prunus tomentosa
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Nanking Cherries are very hardy shrubs that tolerate extreme cold, hot summers, drought, and almost any soil as long as it is well-drained, including alkaline. This hardy shrub may be your best chance to grow productive crops if you have that limestone-rich Missouri soil.

The fruits are a unique bright red cherry that is botanically more like a plum, explaining their uniquely delicious tart-sweet flavor. They are delicious for eating fresh, baked in pies, or made into jams or wine.

Nanking Cherries remain as shrubs, so they take up little space. However, they are not self-fertile, so it’s important to plant at least 2 – 3 shrubs to ensure good cross-pollination. Their smaller size makes it easy to plant multiple plants to make a shrub hedge or border with gorgeous, fragrant spring flowers and delicious summer fruit.

For more information, check out 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 – 7(8 in a location protected from afternoon sun)

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 Cherries to Grow in Missouri

4. Pink Weeping Cherry – Prunus subhirtella var. pendula

Pink Weeping Cherry
Images via Fast Growing Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Pink Weeping Cherry is a gorgeous ornamental flowering tree that produces beautiful pink semi-double blossoms that cover their bare branches every spring. This is made all the more attractive because the gorgeous flowers hang off their elegant weeping branches.

In the fall, the leaves turn a vibrant shade of yellow, and in the winter, the weeping branches provide additional interest to the landscape, providing a full four seasons of interest.

Pink Weeping Cherry does not produce edible fruits. But, when they are mature, they will produce pea-sized cherries that the birds will love.

These hardy trees grow best in full sun or partial shade and tolerate most soils, provided it is well-drained. They tolerate poor soils, moderate drought, and moderately alkaline soils. In Missouri, they shouldn’t need irrigation unless you have a significantly extended summer drought period.

You can also learn how to identify Pink Weeping Cherry.

Other Common Names: Weeping Higan Cherry

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9

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

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers emerge in early spring before the leaves; inedible pea-size fruits mature in summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Black Cherry – Prunus serotina

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

Black Cherry is a widespread native tree throughout most of Missouri, so that it would grow well anywhere in the state.

These fast-growing trees (2 – 4 ft per year) are widely planted ornamentally for their dense canopies that provide great shade and their beautiful clusters of white, fragrant spring flowers.

Black Cherry also produces edible fruits that may vary considerably in size but can be eaten raw or used in juice or jams. If you leave them on the tree, you should have no mess to deal with since the wildlife will eat them all.

Black Cherries grow best in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soils, but they tolerate most soil types if kept moist. It is recommended to mulch heavily to help retain moisture and keep the roots cool during the summer.

You can also learn how to identify Black Cherry in its natural 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

6. Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana

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

Chokecherry is another native found mostly in the northern ⅓ of Missouri but with scattered populations throughout, where they grow in various habitats in shrubby thickets or occasionally as single small trees.

Their abundant, showy white flowers in large drooping clusters attract countless pollinators every spring.

Chokecherry also produces edible fruits. Although small, they can be made into jams or preserves. Usually, however, they are left on the tree, where you can watch countless native birds and animals flock to enjoy the feast.

These incredibly low-maintenance, cold-hardy trees grow best in full sun but tolerate partial shade and almost any well-drained soil, including clay, limestone, sand, acidic, and alkaline. This means they can be grown anywhere in MO, regardless of your soil. Once established, they are highly drought tolerant and can be used in xeriscaping.

For more information, check out how to identify Chokecherry 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

Delicious Cherry Trees That Grow in Missouri

As you have seen, there are many amazing options for delicious and beautiful cherry trees that you can grow in Missouri.

Even though the temperate climate brings challenges for Sweet Cherries with those late spring frosts and summer rains, choosing later blooming and split-resistant varieties will help ensure you get productive crops in most years.

However, there are lots of other cherries you can grow as well, including Sour Cherries, Nanking Cherries, and native cherries, which are all much less bothered by spring frosts.

The limestone soils in parts of MO can also prevent challenges, but the Nanking and the native cherries will tolerate those relatively easily.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the beautiful cherry trees you can grow in Missouri. Now, have fun planning your next tree for your Missouri yard. Enjoy!

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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.