Can Cherry Trees Thrive in Florida? Types & Tips for Success

Cherry trees are a show-stopper in every garden. If you’re in hot and humid Florida, you must be wondering whether cherry trees are suitable for this climate or not. 

Can you grow a cherry tree in Florida? You can grow ornamental cherry trees in Florida without any problems. However, traditional cherry trees that bear fruit are not suitable for Florida as they need cold weather and chilling hours to flower and fruit, but you can grow varieties like Barbados, Taiwan, Okame, and Kawanzan in Florida. 

There’s more to cherry trees than meets the eye. If you don’t care about the fruits and your goals are purely ornamental, you’ll find lots of cherry trees to adorn your garden in Florida. Read more to find out about these varieties.

Growing a Cherry Tree in Florida – What To Know

It’s not that difficult to grow a cherry tree in Florida. As long as you don’t expect the tree to bear delicious cherries, you’ll find lots of cherry tree varieties to grow.

Growing Ornamental/Cherry Blossom vs. Traditional Cherry Trees

Many plants and trees have the word cherry in their name, although they’re not real cherries of the genus Prunus. These are called ornamental cherry trees and have nothing to do with the traditional cherry trees that bear fruits.

Traditional cherry trees need chilling hours and cold temperatures to bloom and fruit. This is why you won’t find them growing in Florida.

Ornamental cherry trees like Black Cherry, Barbados Cherry, and Weeping Higan are not true Prunus varieties, but they are adapted to the hot and humid weather of Florida. 

Preferred Grow Zone of Cherry Trees

Cherry trees require at least two months of cold temperatures before flowering, so they do well in moderate Zones 5 to 7. If you don’t have cold winters in your area, there’s little chance for the cherries to blossom or fruit.

Ideal Temperature & Chilling Requirements for Cherry Trees

As long as the temperature in the winter drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, your cherry trees will thrive and blossom year after year.

As for the chilling hours, they vary from one variety to the next. Some varieties, like Lapin, need between 400 to 450 chilling hours, while Kordia will not flower unless they get between 700 to 750 hours of cold temperatures.

Best Parts of Florida To Grow Cherry Trees

You can grow different varieties of ornamental cherry trees in different parts of Florida. North of Lake Okeechobee where the temperature is relatively moderate, you can grow cherry varieties that favor partial shade, such as Black Cherry.

However, varieties that prefer colder winters, such as Sargent Cherry, can only grow in Florida’s panhandle. 

As for the south, it’s usually warm all year round with hot summers. There you can grow varieties that originate in South and Central America, such as Barbados Cherry. This is why these ornamental cherries are popular all over Florida.

Top Tips for Growing Cherry Blossom Trees in Florida

Ornamental cherries or cherry blossom trees are easy to grow in Florida as long as you choose the right variety for the part of Florida where you live.

Even with the right variety, it’s easy for things to go wrong, especially if this is your first cherry blossom tree. Here are some tips to help you get it right the first time.

  • Use stakes: Florida is known for its hurricanes and strong winds. The young cherry trees need support until they develop a mature root system and the trunk gets thick enough to withstand the hurricanes. So always tie the young tree to three stakes surrounding it for support.
  • Keep soil moist: Although Florida gets a decent rainfall annually, you shouldn’t rely on the rain alone to water the tree. Cherry blossom trees thrive in well-draining, moist soil. Keep the soil moist, and don’t let it dry out.
  • Fertilize: Cherry blossom trees can get by without fertilizing. However, to encourage robust growth and get the tree to blossom more, feed it in the spring with organic compost or homemade fertilizers.
  • Watch out for pests: The hot and humid weather in Florida is fertile grounds for lots of pests and wildlife. The ones to watch out for are those that feed on the leaves and flowers. So, protect the tree by covering it with an anti-pest wrap, like this strong netting. It will also keep wildlife and predators from eating the tree. Once the trunk develops and the canopy is beyond the reach of the animals, you can take off the anti-pest wrap.
Two rows of cherry trees in full bloom with green grass.

Best Cherry Tree Varieties To Grow in Florida

Every part of Florida has one or more cherry blossom tree varieties that will grow well. Some favor the moderate northern parts of Florida, while others can only grow in the panhandle. Here are some varieties to consider for your garden.

Okame

Okame is an ornamental tree that can grow up to 30 feet with pink blooms that open in the early spring. 

  • Mature size: 15 to 30 feet
  • Bloom color: Pink
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Best for Grow Zones: 6 to 9

Kwanzan 

This cherry comes from Japan, but it has adapted to the climate in Florida quite well. Its pink flowers bloom in March and April.

  • Mature size: 30 to 40 feet
  • Bloom color: Pink
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Best for Grow Zones: 6 to 9

Taiwan

This is a small tree or a large shrub, depending on how you look at it. Originally from Japan and Taiwan, it’s an ornamental tree with large pink flowers. 

  • Mature size: 10 to 25 feet
  • Bloom color: Pink
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Best for Grow Zones: 7 to 9

Weeping Higan

A very decorative tree with cascading branches and trailing flowers. At bloom time, the whole tree is covered with pink flowers that make it the focal point in the garden.

  • Mature size: 15 to 25 feet
  • Bloom color: Pink
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Best for Grow Zones: 5 to 8

Barbados

Originally from South America, this cherry not only blooms but also fruits. It grows mainly in South Florida where the temperature and humidity are almost similar to its natural habitat.

  • Mature size: 20 feet
  • Bloom color: Pink or rose
  • Bloom time: Spring and summer
  • Fruit description: 1-inch juicy pink fruit
  • Best for Grow Zones: 6 to 9

Where To Buy Cherry Blossom Trees in Florida

Cherry blossom trees are quite popular in Florida — so much so that you can practically find the variety that best grows in your Zone in the local nursery.

You can also buy the saplings online. Make sure it’s a reputable source, like FastGrowingTrees.com, and that the cultivar suits your microclimate.

Related Questions:

Can You Grow Cherry Trees in Texas?

Texas is home to four native varieties of Black Cherry. It’s the best blossom cherry tree to grow in Texas.

Can You Grow a Bonsai Cherry Tree in Florida?

If you can grow the cherry cultivar in your garden, then you can grow it as a bonsai tree indoors. 

Final Thoughts

Florida has fertile soil and various growing zones that are suitable for different blossom cherry cultivars. However, traditional cherry trees cannot grow in Florida as they need cold winters and long chilling hours.

Leave a Comment