The Regina cherry tree has become a popular variety in the United States thanks to its resistance to cracking and ability to bloom through spring frosts. But even more well-known is its incredibly unique fruit. This fruit changes in color and flavor as it ripens, altering from tart and bright red to sweet and deep purple.
You will need to plant one to two other sweet cherry varieties alongside your Regina cherry tree to get a bumper crop. But despite these needs, this tree is a comparatively low-maintenance cherry variety. With basic care and the right conditions, the Regina cherry can thrive in any garden.
History of the Regina Cherry Tree
The Regina cherry is a fairly new variety. It had its start in Germany in the 1950s at the Jork Fruit Experiment Station and was introduced commercially in 1998. The variety is the result of cross-breeding between the Rube and Scheiders Spate Knorpelkirsche varieties.
Despite its relatively short time on the world market, it has rapidly gained attention for its delicious fruit. Now, the variety is grown all around the world.
Tree / Fruit Characteristics
On its own, the Regina cherry tends to yield small crops. However, you can increase the fruit yield by planting other types of cherry trees nearby to improve the likelihood of cross-pollination.
The Regina cherry is clingstone, meaning that its stone is embedded in its flesh and does not separate easily. It was bred to be resistant to cracking, a common problem with many other cherry varieties.
These extra-large cherries can be harvested in late June. The tree blossoms with white, fragrant flowers in late spring.
The Regina cherry tree has dark green, oblong leaves. It is striking both in the spring during flowering and in the autumn, when the leaves turn orange and red. For this reason, the variety is often grown as a solitary ornamental, even if it does not produce a large amount of fruit.
The Regina cherry thrives in zones five through eight. It needs a good amount of sunlight to thrive. However, it can do well in colder regions because it blooms late in the spring. This lets it avoid any late frosts that could threaten the blossoms or fruit.
Size and Spacing
The Regina cherry tree can vary significantly in size. At full maturity, it may be anywhere from 10 to 16 feet tall. Its canopy is wide, spreading about 10 feet. A good rule of thumb is to plant it at least 10 feet away from other trees.
The Regina cherry tree needs another cherry tree variety planted nearby to promote cross-pollination. You may even want to plant two other varieties for a total of three cherry trees. For the best results, choose varieties that bloom at the same time as the Regina cherry.
Cross-pollinators should be other varieties of sweet cherry, with the exception of the Van cherry. Good choices include: Morello, Sweetheart, Sunburst, Stardust, Celeste, and Amber Heart.
The Regina cherry requires some basic fertilizing and ground care to thrive. However, its care needs are minimal. The bulk of its care is in pruning, especially in the early years. You may also want to plant it in a sheltered place in your yard to protect it from strong winds, which can cause damage.
Adequate sunlight is vital to ensuring that your Regina cherry tree blooms. This variety needs at least six hours of direct sun every day, though more is acceptable. Take this into account when planting your tree.
Regina cherry trees need a moderate amount of water in well-draining soil. Too much water can sicken the roots, so avoid watering too often. Good soil drainage keeps the roots moist but not soaked.
The tree only needs about an inch of water every two weeks or so. The best way to water is to place a hose at the bottom of the tree and let it trickle until the roots and surrounding soil are moistened.
Pruning is one of the most important parts of keeping your cherry tree healthy. The process, as with other types of fruiting plants, directs nutrients to fruiting branches by removing dead or extra limbs.
The best time to prune your Regina cherry tree is late in the winter, before the tree begins to blossom. Focus on thinning the center of the tree to let sun and nutrients reach the remaining branches. Make sure to remove any branches that cross with others, especially if they are close enough to cause friction.
Common Uses For The Fruit
There are many ways to use Regina cherries in the kitchen. They can be cooked, made into preserves, or enjoyed raw.
What Do Regina Cherries Taste Like?
Regina cherries have a deliciously bold flavor that changes as they ripen. If harvested early while the skin is still red, they are sweet with a tang. If left on the tree, they will darken to a rich purple and become bold and sugary sweet.
Regina cherries are perfect for adding to baked goods, like pies, crisps, cobblers, and crumbles. Baking uses both fresh and dried cherries, so there is no end to your options. Many of these baked goods, such as pies and muffins, also freeze well, so you can make them during the fruit harvest and enjoy them through the following months.
Cherries are also delicious for incorporating into savory dishes. You will find them paired with meat as a glaze, sauce, or chutney.
Although cherries are delicious when cooked, there is nothing like a fresh cherry right off your own tree. Regina cherries are clingstone, so they may be difficult to pit and slice. If you do so, use a cherry pitter, straw, or sharp knife to remove the stones.
Raw cherries are delicious in many recipes. For the healthiest results, eat them unpeeled. The skin contains important vitamins.
Some of the ways to use raw cherries include:
- Fruit salad
- Home-squeezed juice
- Ice cream
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Cherries are a great fruit for canning and preserving. They are popularly made into jam, jelly, syrup, and even homemade liquor. To make a super simple cherry preserve, try stewing them in a pot on the stove along with lemon juice and other fruits.
Dried cherries can also be made at home with a food dehydrator. Once drained of their juice, they remain tart and flavorful, making them perfect for adding to trail mix or incorporating into cake, bread, muffins, and more.
Cherries also freeze well. To store, remove the pits and place in a large plastic bag. This will let you store them for months and use them in cooking or baking at any time of the year. You might also enjoy freezing cherries for making homemade popsicles.
Health Benefits of Regina Cherries
Regina cherries are full of important nutrients. These juicy fruits improve hydration, which is vital to balancing your gut microbiome. They are also high in vitamins that promote good cholesterol, a healthy immune system, and blood pressure.
Cherries may also help fight inflammation and the diseases that are associated with it, like heart disease.
Where To Buy Regina Cherries
Regina cherries originated in Europe. These days, however, they are grown across the United States and in many other regions. They also ship extremely well. This all means that you may be able to find them in your local supermarket.
If they are not available to you there, check with a local grower or scope out a farmers’ market to see if you can score some of this sweet fruit.
You can buy other types of cherry trees online at Nature Hills Nursery.
How Long Does It Take The Regina Cherry Tree To Start Producing Fruit?
The Regina cherry takes longer to produce fruit. You can expect to get a crop between four and seven years after planting. In the meantime, make sure to fertilize and water to improve the likelihood of a good crop.
What Tools Do I Need To Prune The Regina Cherry Tree?
To properly prune your cherry tree, use sharp shears that cut neatly. Clean them well before using to make sure that you don’t spread disease to the tree. For best results, cut branches at an angle.
If you want to grow a unique cherry tree, the Regina cherry is a perfect choice. This variety has gained popularity in just a few decades, both on the commercial market and among home growers. They might also find a home in your garden.