The North Star Cherry isn’t just your everyday cherry tree—it was created by blending modern science with traditional horticulture. The North Star Cherry was developed by researchers to create a tree that was not only hardy and disease resistant, but also had delicious fruit. The North Star Cherry tree has stood the test of time for over 50 years.
This is your one-stop guide to everything about North Star Cherries. Whether you are looking to grow your own or you need some culinary inspiration, we’ve got it all!
History of the North Star Cherry
The North Star Cherry has one of the most unique histories when it comes to cherry trees. This cultivar got its start as a new type of cherry tree developed by the University of Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm crossed the English Morello with the Serbian Pie No. 1 to create the North Star cherries that we love today. They completed their project in 1950 and this tree has been a staple of gardens ever since.
North Star Cherry Tree Characteristics
The North Star Cherry tree is a dwarf cherry tree that technically makes the cut for being a “micro tree.” Don’t that let small footprint fool you, this tree was bred for its astonishing fruit yield and hardy qualities.
This tree gets 8 to 10-feet tall with a spread of 6 to 8-feet. These features make this tree a great choice for even the smallest gardens. The white flower color retains that iconic quality you want from cherry trees. In the fall, this tree turns a stunning shade of purple.
The North Star Cherry also makes a great ornamental tree for both its vibrant colors and its small overall size.
Learning how to grow the North Star Cherry starts with understanding where you can grow this tree. The North Star Cherry is ideal in zones 4–8. This means that gardeners anywhere in the United States can grow this tree with the exception of some of the most far northern or southern climates.
Size and Spacing
We mentioned earlier that this is technically a “micro tree” which means that you can expect a very modest size from this cherry. The North Star Cherry tree tops out at around 10-feet tall with a maximum of an 8-foot spread. These sizes can be pruned back to fit your garden and promote tree health.
While some full-size cherry trees need upwards of 35-feet of space between each tree, the North Star Cherry tree only needs 5 to 10-feet of personal space. Remember that the smaller your North Star Cherry, the less space it will need.
When we said that this tree was one of the best cherry trees, we meant it.
One of the reasons that the North Star Cherry tree is so popular is because it is a self-pollinating tree. The North Star Cherry does not require a second tree for pollination. It is worth noting that having more than one North Star cherries typically improves fruit yield.
Now that you know all about the North Star Cherry tree, how do you take care of one?
The North Star Cherry tree is like most fruit trees in that it loves being out in the sun. This fruit tree is calcified as a “full sun” tree meaning you should plan for 6 to 8 hours of sunshine every day.
The North Star Cherry tree prefers to keep its moisture levels under control. This means that gardeners should plan for well-drained soil and medium watering. How much watering counts as medium?
In order to make sure your North Star Cherry has a medium moisture content, only water this tree when the soil is dry one inch down from the surface.
To get the best results from pruning your North Star Cherry tree, skip the fall pruning. This tree should be pruned in the winter in order to promote the growth of new fruiting wood.
Diseases & Care
While this tree was crossbreed to be disease-resistant, that doesn’t mean it won’t face some hazards out in the world.
Black knot, bacterial canker, and mildew are all a few of the conditions that can affect the North Star Cherry tree. There are also insect pests to consider ranging from aphids to flies. In order to fight off these hazards, the best thing you can do is to care for your North Star Cherry.
Regular waterings, planting in an area with enough sunlight, and taking care of tree health problems early is the best way to make sure your North Star Cherry tree lasts for years to come.
So what’s the benefit of all this hard gardening work? North Star cherries, of course!
Common Uses For The North Star Cherry
The North Star Cherry tree grows fruit that is good for basically everything. These cherries are great in deserts, jams, and even pies. They are also great in sauces and transformed into frozen treats that are perfect for the summer.
Let’s find out just what we can do with one of the best cherries around.
Check out all Minneopa Orchards Cherry Recipes Here.
What Does This Fruit Taste like?
This cherry tree has a unique taste. The North Star Cherry is very tart at first, but quickly develops into a nice, sweet-sour flavor. These fruits are great for both cooking and eating raw as their flavor makes them versatile in the kitchen.
North Star Cherries can change their flavor depending on how you cook them.
Cooking and baking North Star Cherries is one of the best ways to control their tart flavors. Whether you’re cooking them down into a sauce or preparing a jam, this will bring out the sweet, layered flavors of the North Star Cherry.
Adding a little heat, sugar, or acidity to your cooking will allow the natural flavors of the North Star Cherry to shine. If you’re too eager to try out your new cherries, you can always have them raw.
These cherries are great to eat right off the branch, but look out for those pits!
The North Star Cherry is delicious as a summer snack. Simply pit these cherries and throw them into a bowl. You’ll be able to get a candy-like snack while supporting your health.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
These recipes will let you keep your North Star Cherries even long after they’ve gone out of season. Canning, freezing, and otherwise preserving your cherries lets you highlight certain flavor profiles while boosting the shelf life of your fruit.
Most methods of preserving this cherry also change its flavor. They have a way of boosting the sweetness which tempers the tart qualities. If you’re looking to get the most out of the flavor department, it’s best to cook North Star Cherries shortly after cooking.
Recipes Using the North Star Cherry
Are you looking for recipes that use the North Star Cherry? We’ve got you covered! Here’s where you can find recipes for sauces, deserts, syrups, and everything in between!
Health Benefits of the North Star Cherry
Want a healthy snack that can also be transformed into everything from rice dishes to ice cream? The North Star Cherry is not only tasty, it’s also very healthy. Here are a few of the benefits associated with this fruit.
- High antioxidants make this cherry count as a Super Fruit
- Anti-inflammatory abilities
- Low in calories
- High in vitamins
Where To Buy This Cherry Tree?
The North Star Cherry tree is readily available on online garden supply stores. You can find the North Star Cherry as well as a USDA organic version of this tree.
It’s also available in many local garden supply stores.
Where To Buy These Cherries
The North Star Cherry fruits in the summer. When the middle of summer starts to roll around, you can find these cherries popping up in grocery stores, farmers markets, and stands all over the country.
These cherries might be a little harder to find in your local supermarket, but there are smaller and regional markets throughout the country that stock these cherries each and every year.
Wrapping up The North Star Cherry
The North Star Cherry tree is a cultivar developed by the University of Minnesota to have not only a delicious tasting fruit, but also a hardy and easy to grow character. North Star Cherries can be preserved or used in countless varieties of dishes. Gardeners can grow a North Star Cherry in their yards in most climates in the United States.
The North Star Cherry is definitely our pick for one of the best cherry trees out there. Excited for more cherry content? Then visit our cherry page for more planting tips, growing guides, recipe ideas, and more!
Thursday 23rd of June 2022
We love our approximately 10 year old North Star cherry tree and it’s cherries. Last year was a very large crop. Tree was lightly pruned during dormancy late February. Now it is bigger and more leafy, but the 2022 crop is very minimal. Any suggestions for improving in 2023?
Saturday 25th of June 2022
Sounds like it was pushed into biennial bearing. Last year's crop was probably too much for the tree and it's in recovery mode this year.
Next year it's going to push a lot of blooms and you should thin the fruit (it's feels painful to do). That should bring it back to annual bearing.
Tuesday 10th of May 2022
I just bought this cherry tree and am so excited to watch it grow and bear fruit. When is the best time to net it so the birds don’t steal the cherries?
Tuesday 17th of May 2022
The way it usually works is both you and the birds are watching very very closely... If you walk past your cherry tree in the morning and think "these cherries are so close - I'm going to pick them tomorrow" then the birds will probably eat them this afternoon!
If you think you're within a week or even 3-4 days of being ripe and the birds HAVEN'T eaten them - put the netting on!
Friday 12th of November 2021
Thank you! I'm new at pruning the new fruit trees I have planted and appreciate your help. I have a North Star Cherry, a Lapin Cherry, a Fuji apple and a Moorpark Apricot.