Some cherry trees have a reputation for being vulnerable to pests or persnickety about their environment, not producing fruit without the perfect conditions. But the Lambert cherry tree is not one of them.
Conversely, this variety is known as a prolific fruiter that is almost guaranteed to turn out an excellent crop each year. Because of this, it is a favorite for commercial growing.
Another benefit is that this variety is self-fertile, unlike many cherry varieties, meaning it produces fruit without a cross-pollinator.
You may have eaten a Lambert cherry from your local supermarket. Now you can enjoy them from your own yard.
History of the Lambert Cherry Tree
The Lambert cherry has a 160-year history, starting in 1848 in Oregon. It came from cross-breeding a Napoleon cherry and a May Duke cherry. The resulting tree was a hardy variety that thrived in the cold Pacific Northwest, producing large, juicy fruit.
In the nearly two centuries since then, the Lambert cherry has barely waned in popularity. It remains one of the most widely-grown commercial varieties due to its resilience, large crops, and delicious fruit.
Tree / Fruit Characteristics
The Lambert cherry tree is a beautiful ornamental tree, but it is most prized as a fruit producer. Lambert cherries are large, heart-shaped, and dark red. The fruit is easily seen from the ground, and many people find that the white blossoms and deep red cherries are a beautiful picture.
In the autumn, the leaves of the Lambert cherry tree turn yellow. The tree is taller than many cherry varieties, with a broad canopy.
The Lambert cherry tree grows well in zones five through seven. This variety has become particularly popular in the Pacific Northwest due to its ability to withstand cold temperatures and rainy climates. Because they bloom later in the season, they escape any late spring frosts that could threaten the fruit.
Size and Spacing
At full maturity, the Lambert cherry tree will reach between 15 and 25 feet tall. Make sure to plant it at least eight feet away from any structures or other trees, preferably much more. This includes foundations.
The goal is to let the roots and canopy spread. Roots need to expand to take advantage of the most nutrient-rich soil, while the canopy needs the most access to the sun. Make sure there are no tall trees or other structures that will keep light from reaching the tree.
The Lambert cherry tree is self-fertile, so it does not require a cross-pollinator. However, planting another sweet cherry variety nearby can vastly improve your fruit harvest.
This variety is best paired with another sweet cherry like Montmorency or Sweetheart cherries. Ideally, choose a variety that will bloom at roughly the same time as the Lambert. Avoid using Bing cherries, as these will not successfully cross-pollinate with Lambert cherries.
The Lambert cherry tree is hardy and needs only basic care, especially in the right soil and sunshine. When you first plant the tree, make sure the bottom of the trunk remains above the ground, only placing the root ball in the soil.
Make sure the soil is loose to allow the roots to move freely and spread as much as possible. This variety needs well-draining soil that does not retain excess moisture.
The Lambert cherry tree needs full sun for the best results. This means that it should have a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight every day. However, more is acceptable.
The Lambert cherry does not have heavy watering needs; in fact, overwatering runs the risk of drowning the roots and causing disease. If you live in a rainy area, you may not need to water at all.
During the growing season, a young tree needs weekly watering. The best way to do this is through deep watering. To deep water, place a gently trickling hose at the roots of the tree and let it run for about an hour.
During especially hot seasons, soak the ground as deep as eight inches.
A good way to know if it is time to water is to dig a small hole with your hands at the base of the roots. If the soil is dry down to two to four inches below the surface, the tree needs water.
Pruning is vital to the health of the Lambert cherry tree, just as with many other fruit trees and vines. This process helps direct important nutrients toward fruiting branches by removing dead or excess limbs. It also helps shape the tree to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight.
Pruning can be a learning process, but don’t feel overwhelmed. The Lambert’s pruning needs are most extensive in the first few years. As it matures, it will need less pruning — only once or twice annually.
To prune your cherry tree, make sure to use sharp, clean shears. This ensures that you will not pass any diseases to the tree with a dirty blade.
Common Uses For The Fruit
Lambert cherry trees produce large, bright red fruit in the shape of a heart. These cherries are familiar to most people living in North America, as they are one of the most popular commercial varieties. There are many ways to use them, from preserving to eating right off the tree.
What Do Lambert Cherries Taste Like?
Lambert cherries have rich, dark flesh that is bursting with juice. They are crisp and sweet, perfect for cooking, preserving, or enjoying just as they are.
Lambert cherries are delicious when cooked. Cherry pastries and pies are famous, but these rich fruits are also perfect in crisps, cobblers, bread, sauce, and glaze. They can be incorporated into cooking and baking either fresh or dried.
Here are some other ways to use your Lambert cherries:
- Cherry chutney (for chicken or pork)
- Bread pudding
- Cherry sauce
- Cherry cake
- Cherry barbecue sauce
- Cherry tart
- Cherry cobbler
Lambert cherries are delicious when eaten raw, and this is the most popular way they are enjoyed. It is hard to resist a sweet, juicy Lambert cherry that is perfect straight from your garden.
But there are also many ways to incorporate raw cherries into recipes. Here are some great ways to use Lambert cherries:
- Fruit salad
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Lambert cherries are ideal for preserving. There are endless ways to do this. Make them into jam, jelly, or preserves like maraschinos. Alternatively, use them in homemade sauce or chutney.
Cherries freeze extremely well and are delicious used in homemade ice cream. To freeze, remove the pits and place in a plastic bag.
Dried cherries are easy to make at home and keep in the pantry for months. You can use them in both sweet and savory recipes.
Health Benefits of Lambert Cherries
Lambert cherries are full of vitamins that help support health and reduce risk of disease. Cherries improve hydration and have high levels of antioxidants. These vitamins improve immune health while reducing inflammation that can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and bad cholesterol.
Where To Buy Lambert Cherries
Lambert cherries are one of the most varieties on the commercial market, so you can easily find them at your local grocery store. Alternatively, look for them at a farmers’ market.
Where To Buy Lambert Cherry Trees
You can buy Lambert cherry trees from professional growers like Nature Hills. This will arrive as a rootstock that is ready to place in your garden.
What Fruit Trees Grow Well Alongside Lambert Cherry Trees?
Keeping another sweet cherry variety in your garden will improve your tree’s fruit production. However, there are a few other fruit trees that grow extremely well nearby, including apple, pear, and plum trees.
Is The Lambert Cherry Tree Prone To Pests/Disease?
The Lambert cherry tree is not overly prone to diseases and pests. However, it may develop bacterial canker, especially if it gets too wet or cold. To protect the tree from disease, spray it with a specially formulated copper spray during the autumn and winter.
Birds are often attracted to the bright, abundant fruit. You can deter them by using netting or flash tape.
What Fertilizer Should I Use?
Lambert cherries need some basic fertilizing when first planted. Peat moss or compost are good choices. These provide extra nutrients while also letting the soil stay loose enough for the roots to spread.
Once the tree matures, it will only need fertilizer every two or three years, preferably in early spring.
Lambert cherries have remained popular for close to 200 years, and it is not hard to see why. Their resilience, large harvests, and delicious fruit make them ideal for both commercial and home growers.