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The Sunburst Cherry Tree

Sunburst sounds like a very peppy name. It has sun and burst in its name. So, you would assume that a sunburst cherry tree is going to be an explosion of flavors and quite a delight to eat. The sunburst cherry is the ideal combination of sweet and a hint of cherry flavor that you expect.

Sunburst Cherry Tree

It’s easy to harvest these fruits because of their size. Moreover, if you’ve ever eaten a Stella cherry, it has a similar flavor profile only a bit of an upgrade since it has the most prominent features of this cherry and then some. 

History of the Sunburst Cherry Tree 

Sunburst cherries are a hybrid, meaning they’re a cross between two different varieties of cherries. Specifically, researchers at the Summerland Research Station in Canada crossed a Stella and a Van.

The Stella cherry is known for its sweetness, and so is the Van. However, they both have a unique flavor. The sunburst was introduced in 1965. Today, these cherries are sold in Australia and the United Kingdom. 

Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics

This cherry tree usually reaches around 30 to 35 feet tall. However, you may prune it to be shorter, so you may grow it in a pot rather than in the ground. In the spring, you’ll notice that white flowers form. Soon after, large, red cherries appear on the tree.

These cherries are a deep red color that’s nearly black. Once they reach this dark hue, they’re ready to pick and use to cook or eat. The leaves of the tree are a rich green color. 

Planting Zones

Since these classify as a sweet cherry, zone four is the most suitable area to grow a sunburst cherry tree. That’s because the fruit usually ripens in late July, and this area has the sunlight and temperatures to help them thrive and ripen. Zone four includes states like Vermont, Nevada, Montana, New York, and New Mexico. 

Other zones that these cherries grow well in include zones five through eight. Zone five includes states like Ohio, Utah, Washington, and Pennsylvania. On the other hand, zone six has Kansas, Kentucky, and Arizona. 

Zone seven consists of Alabama, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Idaho, and Maryland. Finally, if you’re in Texas or Florida, for example, you’re in zone eight.

Keep in mind that the zoning for the states doesn’t always fully include the entire state. A state can be broken up into multiple zones, depending on your location in the state. Therefore, you’ll need to check the map before you plant cherries or any kind of plant at that matter. 

This how-to-grow the sunburst cherry tree guide can further assist you in learning how to grow this particular tree. 

Size and Spacing

The average spread of the tree is usually between five and six feet. In other words, they grow upright more than they do outwards. Fortunately, this means that you can plant the cherry trees relatively close to one another. Additionally, you can plant them in close proximity to other trees. 

It’s possible to grow sunburst cherry trees in pots. 


Bee pollinating a white blossom.
A bee pollinating the white blossom.

Sunburst cherry trees are self-pollinators. This means the male and female parts can meet on their own. However, you could benefit from having another cherry tree. The other cherry tree that you’re using to enhance its fertility could be another sunburst tree.

However, you could also add a cherry tree that’s compatible with it, such as a merchant or morello cherry. The merchant is a combination of sour and sweet, while the morello is a classically sour cherry and is only edible for most when it’s completely ripe. 

Keep in mind that having multiple cherry trees will yield more cherries for your sunburst as well as your other tree. 

Tree Care 

Like any other fruit tree, sunburst cherry trees have special requirements to take care of, so they thrive well and produce high-quality fruit. Fortunately, the care isn’t extensive, although you do have certain care “rules” that will result in the best outcome. These include the amount of sunlight and water they receive, as well as when you and how you prune them. 


If you want your sunburst cherry tree to produce the greatest amount of cherries as well as healthy, useable ones, you want to plant it in a place with direct sunlight. Although they could possibly grow in a partially shaded area, you’ll notice a difference in the amount of fruit it produces and the quality of the fruit. 


As soon as you plant the sunburst cherry tree, you want to give it a thorough watering. In the first few weeks of life, you need to water it every other day. For the first year and years thereafter, you want to water it weekly during its growing season. Waterings should be thorough at the roots. When it’s not raining as much, you should make sure you’re out there regularly to water it. You can water it less when you have periods of heavy rainfall for the week. 


Pruning A Cherry Tree
Pruning of the cherry tree.

In the first year, your sunburst cherry tree won’t need much pruning. The instructions from the nursery will give you specifics about your plant. You may also want to prune it to keep it smaller. 

All heavy-duty pruning, including young and older plants, should be done during the growing season to avoid injuring the tree. This is especially true with young plants because they’re more vulnerable to an injury. Specifically, you should prune once the buds emerge on young plants. Mature plants should be pruned in early spring or even after the fruit appears. 

When you’re pruning a mature plant, you should focus on removing dead, decayed, and diseased branches. This prevents any disease from spreading. It also prevents pests or infections from entering any open areas of the branches.

Make sure you never prune during the winter months. This tree is vulnerable to silver leaf, and this could contribute to the onset of it. 

For a more in-depth guide for pruning the sunburst cherry tree, check out this blog.  

Disease & Care

As mentioned, this tree is susceptible to a fungal infection as well as other issues. You can learn all about tree diseases and other care required by reading this blog. 

Common Uses for Sunburst Cherries 

Cherry Cobbler
Rustic Cherry Cobbler (click for recipe)

The fruit is sweet with that cherry flavor you expect without the tang. Generally, this makes this fruit a good pick for fruit desserts. Plus, they’re quite large compared to other varieties, making them easy to remove the pit from and use. 

As mentioned, they’re ideal for baked goods. You may make them into a pie, cheesecake, cobbler, cookie, cobbler, or crispy. Since they’re sweet, feel free to get creative and pair them with tart fruits to enhance the flavor palette. You could also use these cherries to make smoothies or act as a topper on yogurt or ice cream.

You could also use them in lemonade or even a cocktail We have a few ideas to help you let your creative juices flow. Although these are recipes for apple-based desserts, you could add cherries or substitute for cherries. For instance, you could make a cherry fritter. You could also try cherry applesauce. This recipe is for plums, but you can substitute cherries for the plums. 

While the harvesting season is normal for this cherry plant, it’s still only a short time you get to consume homegrown cherries. You can, however, opt to can, dry, or freeze them to use later. You can freeze them for six months in a standard freezer. If you use a deep freezer, you may use them for up to a year. 

For canning, you could opt to use water, syrup, or juice to preserve them. They may be canned either whole or pitted. The freezing process is relatively simple. You wash and dry them first. Next, you place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once they’re completely frozen, you take them out and place them in a freezer-safe storage bag.

The drying process is relatively easy as well. You want to make sure you remove the pit from them first, though. After, you may place them in an oven for 10 hours at a low temperature or use a food dehydrator. If you use a food dehydrator, you’ll want to look at the instructions for your model for specific instructions. 

Health Benefits of Sunburst Cherries 

Firstly, cherries have fiber, which is beneficial for regulating your digestive tract. Sunburst cherries also have vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin K. These fruits possess minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. 

Ultimately, they’re potentially beneficial for heart health and could help with arthritis as well. 

To get a full overview of the health benefits of sunburst cherries, check out this post.  

Where to Buy This Fruit Tree?

These are a bit more difficult to find than the more common types of cherry trees. Nature Hills Nursery in Omaha, Nebraska, does carry them, although they sell quickly. If you can’t find them there, you could perform an internet and check for other nurseries that have them available. Nature Hills will ship anywhere in the US. 

Wrapping Up the Sunburst Cherry Tree

Their name just sounds like they’re flavorful, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised once you plant one just how tasty they really are. You’ll notice that a little bit of care will go a long way when it comes to growing them. What’s nice is that you can choose to grow them in a pot for much of their lives and still reap their reward. 

Excited for more cherry content? Then visit our cherry page for more planting tips, growing guides, recipe ideas, and more!