Cherry Tree Fruiting in CA?

gardenathome(9B/10)March 19, 2010

We came across some of the latest varieties of cherry trees, namely Minnie Royal and Royal Lee Cherry trees at a local nursery. We'd like to know if anyone in SOCAL has had success in growing cherry trees to fruit? We'd love to be able to pick cherries right from the backyard! :-)~

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My relatives in SFV & Palmdale tried growing several types but never got any. Bro. in Palmdale had all kinds of other fruits but cherries never did anything.DD has gotten blooms but never any cherries. Weird thing is they grow them in the desert as they allow people to come & pick the fruit for "so much a lb" so growers know how to do it. Maybe they have improved trees for our growing conditions. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:43AM
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Most varieties of cherries require a lot of chilling hours. Do you know how many you get?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:48AM
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Minnie Royal and Royal Lee are specifically bred for the low-chill market. I have not tasted any yet myself, I believe they only came out last year.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 3:02PM
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Thank you so much everyone! We've also heard that these two cherry trees are the latest low chill varieties. Initial chill hours were supposedly ~400-500 hours? But recent updates show much less than that.

Hence, we'd like to see if any members have had first hand experience in fruiting cherries within SOCAL by growing these. There are farms where consumers can go and pick cherries so cherry trees can fruit in SOCAL. Perhaps, just as Sunnyca suggested, they have improved cherry tree varieties not available to the public...

It'd be nice to be able to pick your own cherries at home though! :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:15PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

The place where cherries did grow in So Cal was Beaumont, which got sufficient winter chill...2600-2800 ft above sea level. Used to be many orchards there. They probably just grow houses now, or did, before the housing bubble burst.

I love cherries. If we ever moved to a colder climate, that would be the first thing I'd plant.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:36PM
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About 2 or 3 years ago I went to this guys house. He had an advertisement on Craigs list for Orange County. He opens up his garden for people to tour it. No cost. At that time he had just planted a Lapin Cherry the year before. It gave him fruit last year I think?
He lives in Orange County, Huntington Beach I think or bordering Westminister.
He has like 100 fruit trees or something crazy like that.
IT's a must see.
Just keep an eye out on Craig's list around mid summer.
Here is his flicker account.

with a pics of the cherries and his garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of his cherries

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 3:12PM
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Wow, amazing! He grows all of that in his own house? 100 fruit trees is a lot. :-) Thanks for the info. everyone. It really helps!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:18PM
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I am in coastal Southern Califonia. My neighbor across the street has had success with those two low chill cherries, Minnie Royal and Royal Lee. We had 323 hours of chill this year and her trees look like they will have a pretty good fruit set this year. The trees were released to the public about 5 years ago, so I am sure others have opinions on them. I recently did a post about them on my blog at because I am excited for her and thinking of adding some to my yard next winter.

This link has photos of the Minnie Royal and Royal Lee trees across the street and more details.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 1:36AM
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Hi, Lianne25! Thank you so much for such wonderful news!!! Looking forward to growing them now! :-)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:37AM
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Gardenathome, Your welcome! I am also one of those folks research a new plant or tree before buying and putting something I am unfamiliar with in the ground. In addition, I almost always go shopping with my Sunset Western Garden book, so I don't make a poor impulsive decision and buy something that can't really thrive here or might be invasive.

All too often, I see plants being sold at places like Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Walmart that need either more chilling hours than we have or more heat. I see Bing Cherries, Blenheim Apricots, Barlett Pears, Elberta Peaches, Northern Highbush Blueberries like Bluecrop, grapes like Thompson Seedless, and lots more. I feel bad for novice gardeners that don't realize the deck was stacked against them even before they spent their hard earned money.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:49PM
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Hi, Lianne! Couldn't concur with you more. We've eve asked some of the associates why they would carry varieties that are not known to grown well or at all locally. Good thing we do our research and ask whenever we can prior to a purchase.

Many thanks again for the encouraging info.! :-) Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:55PM
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Last summer Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson nursery brought over a bag of Minnie Royal or Royal Lee cherries from his tree in Upland, and they were the best cherries I've ever had- dark, sweet, big, and meaty; just as good or better than Bing. I planted them both two years ago.

I've always had a Royal Ann cherry that blossomed like crazy but never set any fruit, same with our Lapins cherry. However, this year Minnie Royal blossomed with the Royal Ann, and they're both setting lots of fruit; hooray! Pollination problem solved!

We get about 200-300 chilling hours a year. I also grow 100 apple varieties, but that's a different story.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:12PM
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Hi, Applenut! That sounds fabulous. So Yummy ! We are getting more excited over our purchase of the Minnie Royal and Royal Lee cherry trees now. Does fruiting occur the 2nd year? Our trees are growing new leaves rather slowly. Wondering if the growth cycle is slower than other fruit trees. :-)

Now, I'd like to get a Royal Ann too, LOL ! Since the Minnie Royal can pollenize both. :-)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:21AM
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I live in South Orange County and exprience a little more chill accumulation than North County. I planted a Royal Lee and a Mini Lee a little over a year ago and this May had a few dozen cherries ripen on the
Royal Lee. They were good, but I only got a few cuz my kids ate the rest once they discovered them. This summer the trees grew a little bigger so I'm looking forward to getting a few more next year. PS. I watered the trees when the fruit was on the tree and some of the fruit split, so spare the water in April and May. Also, it's kind of a hastle to post? Maybe the reason no one has not posted in over a year, just a guess?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 5:50AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Not sure what you mean by a hassle to post? Nothing has changed with posting a message to the GW since I've been a member, except a few nice added features, like being able to post a photo from your hard drive (just wish we could post multiple photos, so for that you have to still use Photobucket and copy and paste in the html code). And, another nice feature is you can opt to follow ANY message thread now, not just the ones you create. As far as posting though, it's always been this way. And you can water your cherries, just make sure you evenly water them. All my stone fruit are on a drip system and get regular watering amounts. As weather warms, I do not adjust my watering practices until after I've harvested the crop, to keep the fruit sweet. A little water starvation will keep fruit sweeter and less watery. Once everything has been harvested, I turn up the water, fertilize and watch for any additional pest issues. Your Minnie Royal and Royal Lee will continue to increase their production for you as the years progress. This was my second year in the ground and I just had a handful of cherries, too. Hope for much more next season. They were excellent.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 3:27PM
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OK anyone seen this one? I have an ultra dwarf bing cherry tree, I got from home depot in late spring, that is begining to bloom, and already has a cluster of cherries set. I didnt know that could happen. Its still in a pot and has lots of buds that look like they are swelling. I'm thinking I should move it into the shade in a cooler spot to let it go dormant. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 1:13AM
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Check out the Dave Wilson website. He lists chill hours for everything. I've heard Tom Spellman speak a few times and he is very informative.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Yes, according to dave wilson, bing cherry needs 700 chill hours, and thats why I thought it was odd that there is fruit setting in November. Maybe the stress of the transplant to a larger pot and an indian summer had something to do with it? Anyways, I moved the tree into the shade in hopes it will stop blooming now, and wait until spring.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 4:01AM
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Bing cherry ripening in Orange County CA, about two dozen for the first year.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 6:58PM
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