9 Cold Hardy Cherry Trees for USDA Zone 5

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 5 » 9 Cold Hardy Cherry Trees for USDA Zone 5

In cooler climates, cherries are one of the best types of fruit trees one can cultivate in their home garden.

Not only do they provide the grower with pounds of delicious fruits each season, but most cherry varieties, whether sweet, sour or a sweet and sour hybrid, tend to provide beauty and ornamental appeal to the landscape.

For gardeners in zone 5, where temperatures reach around -20F at the coldest points of the year, cherry trees are an excellent choice for your edible landscape.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and most bountiful cold hardy cherry trees for zone 5.

9 Bountiful Zone 5 Cherry Trees

1. Montmorency Cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘Montmorency’)

Zone 5 cherry tree Montmorency
Image via Nature Hills

Cultivated in the Montmorency suburb of Paris, France in the 18th century, the montmorency cherry cultivar is the most popular and commonly grown of all the sour cherry varieties. This is due to its delicious, slightly sour fruits that are perfect for use in pies and preserves, as well as its ornamental value.

Montmorency cherry trees produce fragrant white blossoms in early spring that attract songbirds and other pollinators, and their bright red berries look like shiny jewels when they emerge in July. Their dark cherry bark and striking growth habit also stand out in the bare winter landscape.

Make sure to plant your montmorency with plenty of room to spread its roots and branches, in an area with loamy or sandy well-draining soil. These trees are self-fertile, so only one is necessary for good fruit production, and it should be pruned at least once a year to keep its shape and promote a more bountiful yield.

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-18 feet tall, with a 10-12 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Carmine Jewel Dwarf Cherry (Prunus fruticosa x cerasus ‘Carmine Jewel’)

Zone 5 cherry trees Carmine Jewel
Image via Nature Hills

Another popular tart variety is the carmine jewel cherry, with its deep purple-red flavorsome fruits which strike the perfect balance between sweet and sour.

That’s because the carmine is a hybrid cross between sweet and tart trees, the European dwarf cherry, and the sour cherry. It is also a dwarf variety that only reaches around 7 feet tall, making it an excellent choice for gardeners with limited space.

Despite being a small tree/shrub the carmine is a heavy producer, and once it is fully established and has matured (in its 4th or 5th year, according to the University of Saskatchewan Research Notes) it can produce between 20 to 30 pounds of cherries per year!

With their compact size, you could easily plant two of this variety, though one self-pollinating tree will likely produce as much fruit as you could want.

Plant your carmine jewel in the sunniest place you can find, in a spot that also has rich, sandy, or loamy well-draining soil.

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 7 ft tall with a 4 – 8 ft spread

Fruiting Season: Early Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

3. North Star Cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘North Star’)

North Star Cherry (Prunus cerassus ‘North Star’)
Image via Nature Hills

Another compact dwarf cherry variety that punches well above its weight is the north star cherry, cultivated in the 1950s by botanists at the University of Minnesota. This self-pollinating cherry tree was specially bred to be a cold hardy, disease-resistant dwarf cherry that produces fruit quickly and prolifically without needing any significant space in your garden.

The fruits of the north star are bright red, plump and juicy, and tart with just enough sweetness to be delicious eaten straight from the tree, though they are also perfect to add to baked goods and preserves. They also produce profuse blooms of small white flowers in spring and have an attractive growth habit with branches that stretch upward into a vase shape.

North star cherry trees should be planted in moist, fertile, well-draining soil in a location with full sun exposure. Any pruning to maintain the shape of the trees and to boost fruit production should be done in winter.

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 feet tall, with a 6-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Lapins Cherry (Prunus avium ‘Lapins’)

Zone 5 cherry tree Lapins
Image via Nature Hills

Crossed between the Van and Stella cherry, the Lapins hybrid is one of the best sweet cherry varieties you can grow in USDA zone 5.

They produce abundant dark red cherries that are extremely juicy and sweet, excellent to pick right off the branches in mid-summer. They have plenty of ornamental value in spring and fall too, due to their clouds of perfect white flowers and orange, red, and yellow fall foliage.

Aside from its appearance and productivity, the cultivation of the lapins has given it other attractive qualities for gardeners – namely that they are very resistant to splitting, and fairly low maintenance.

Though it prefers moist, well-draining soil with a neutral pH, the lapins can grow in the majority of soil types. It grows best with full sun exposure and needs consistent watering. Otherwise, it is easy to prune and only needs to be fertilized once a year in spring.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall, with a 12-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. Utah Giant Cherry (Prunus avium ‘Utah Giant’)

Zone 5 cherry trees utah giant
Image via Nature Hills

Another popular cold hardy sweet cherry variety is the Utah giant, which is highly prized for its large, lush, bright-red fruits which are incredibly flavorful and offer the perfect amount of sweetness.

Like many other cherry varieties, it also has plenty of potential as an ornamental specimen plant due to its spring blossoms and gorgeous glossy fruits that will constantly grab attention over the summer. They can also be used in patio planting or even as a hedgerow.

It’s important to consider that, unlike most cherry trees on this list, the Utah giant is not self-pollinating – if you want to produce these delicious cherries you’ll need a pollination partner that can grow in zone 5, is also a sweet variety, and will bloom at the same time.

Moist, well-draining soil is the go-to for planting Utah giants. Choose a location with atleast 6 hours of sunlight per day and plenty of space for air circulation.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 12-15 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa)

Zone 5 cherry tree Nanking
Image via Nature Hills

Native to East Asia, the nanking is an extremely cold hardy variety that was introduced to the US in the late 19th century. These interesting trees, with fruits that are more like plums than cherries, have a number of fantastic benefits for gardeners committed to edible landscaping.

This tree is a fast grower and early producer, setting fruit within just two years. The fruits themselves are beautiful and bright red with a tangy, sweet-tart flavor. Before the fruits emerge the tree also bears lovely spring flowers which begin as dusky pink buds before becoming white blossoms.

Aside from its ornamental qualities the nanking is also an excellent choice for screen planting and hedges, as a backdrop in mixed borders, and as a focal point on your lawn. One of its only downsides is that it is unlikely to self-pollinate so gardeners will need more plants for reliable cross-pollination.

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

Growing Zones: 2-6

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 feet tall, with a 10-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Juliet Dwarf Cherry (Prunus fruticosa x Prunus cerasus ‘Juliet’)

Juliet Dwarf Cherry
Image via Nature Hills

One of the most cold-hardy cherry trees on our list is the Juliet, which can thrive without winter protection in climates as cold as zone 2! So naturally, the Juliet is a very reliable variety for zone 5 gardeners. It is also a dwarf variety, perfect for gardeners who don’t have space for a 10-15 foot tree, making it a perfect fruiting tree for border planting or even container planting

But its lovely rounded shape, purple-red fruits, glossy foliage, and delicate white flowers make it a good choice of specimen plant or focal point. These compact cherry trees can work in basically every part of the garden. Their fruits are of the sweet-and-sour hybrid variety, so they are sweet enough to eat fresh without being too sweet.

Plant the self-pollinating Juliet in fertile, moist, well-draining soil in a location with plenty of sun exposure. It should be fertilized regularly and pruned to keep its shape.

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 6-8 feet tall, with a 5-6 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

8. Western Sand Cherry (Prunus besseyi)

Zone 5 cherry trees Western Sand
Image via Nature Hills

Zone 5 gardeners looking for something a little different to add to their edible landscape should consider the western sand cherry, a deciduous shrub and US native that provides unique ornamental appeal and abundant edible blackberries. It can be planted as a hedge, screen, or border, and used in accent and specimen planting.

Landscape gardeners appreciate it for its small white flowers in spring and reddish fall foliage. Its fruits are juicy and often used to make desserts, jams, and other preserves, and its cherries attract plenty of songbirds who also like to roost in its spreading near-horizontal branches.

The western sand cherry is also appealing due to its hardy constitution and adaptability. According to the University of Minnesota Urban Forestry Outreach & Research Lab, they have few issues with pests and diseases and can tolerate many soil types and varying environmental conditions. Plant your sand cherry in moist, well-draining soil where it can get plenty of sunlight.

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 5-6 feet tall, with a similar spread

Fruiting Season: Late Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

9. English Morello Cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘English Morello’)

Zone 5 cherry trees English Morello
Image via Nature Hills

Another sour cherry variety that works well in the zone 5 landscape is the English Morello. Its tart, dark red berries are perfect for cooking, baking, and preserves (it’s the most popular cooking cherry in the UK!), and the tree itself looks good too!

It can be pruned into a screen, or you can let it grow to its full height to use as a shade tree. Its handsome, spreading growth habit looks striking in winter, and like many cherry varieties its white spring blossoms are a delight.

These trees are self-pollinating, easy to prune and harvest, and they produce a large number of cherries in mid-summer. As for planting, English morellos are not fussy about soil type – just ensure that it has rich, moist, fertile, well-draining soil. Providing plenty of water is key to the success of these cherry trees, along with good circulation and plenty of sunlight.

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Mid-Summer

Available at: Nature Hills

The Best Cherries For Cooler Climates

As can be seen above, when it comes to planting cherry trees there are plenty that will thrive in cooler climates, even without winter protection.

Zone 5 gardeners can take their pick of varieties and cultivars, from the extremely popular montmorency to the lesser known but appealing western sand cherry.

And for gardeners who want more fruit-growing options for this zone, here are some of the best general fruit trees to plant in zone 5.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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