Dwarf Cherry Bush: The Perfect Solution for Small Spaces

If you’re interested in growing a cherry tree in your garden or yard but space is limited, there is an alternative solution available.

It’s called a dwarf cherry bush, and it has all the beauty of the standard cherry but without the sprawling size and maintenance issues.

What is a bush cherry? The bush cherry tree is a species of cherry tree with a compact height and spread that averages about 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It grows in Zones 3 to 6 and starts producing fruits about 2 years after planting. The fruits are usually sour. Harvest time is between July and August.

While cherries come in a wide range of varieties and species, not all of them are suitable for small spaces. Read more to find out about dwarf cherry trees and how they’re different from regular bush cherries.

Difference Between a Dwarf Cherry Tree and Bush Cherry

The main differences between these species are in the size and annual yield. Other than that, they have many similarities.

Dwarf Cherry TreeBush Cherry
Mature height15 feet8 feet
Mature width12 feet8 feet
Sweet or sourDepends on varietyGenerally sour
Fruit-bearing age2 years2 years
Bloom timeMay to JuneMay to June
Average yield20 to 30 pounds15 to 20 pounds
Life expectancy20 – 30 years20 – 30 years

Bush Cherry Types & Growth

Before you plant a bush cherry, make sure you have chosen the right variety for your region and specific space.

Due to its fast growth rate, you’ll need to tend to the young bush carefully until it establishes and becomes relatively independent.

Cherry Bush Varieties

Cherry bush trees come in three different varieties. These are Nanking Cherries, Korean Cherries, and fall-bearing cherries.

Some hybrids and cultivars, such as the every-popular Carmine Jewel, have been cultivated from these three major types. 

How Big Does a Dwarf Cherry Bush Get?

A dwarf cherry bush tree averages about 8 feet tall and the same in width. With regular pruning, you can keep its size compact.

How Fast Do Cherry Bushes Grow?

Cherry bushes have a fast growth rate for a tree their size. In the right conditions, you can expect the tree to gain between 10 and 15 inches every year.

This is why within 2 years, the tree is ready to flower and produce fruits.

Do Cherry Bushes Spread?

On average, the cherry bush has slightly less width than height. The mature tree averages 15 feet tall and around 12 feet wide. However, you can control its width with regular pruning. 

As far as invasiveness goes, because of the shallow roots that grow more horizontally than vertically, suckers may appear within or beyond the drip line. Simply remove them as they appear, and they shouldn’t cause any problems.

Where Is the Best Place To Plant a Cherry Bush?

For fruit-bearing cherry bushes, the best place to plant them is a sunny spot that gets between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight during the spring and summer.

Make sure the young bush is protected from strong wind, and don’t plant it under a taller tree that casts a shadow over it.

How Do You Shape a Cherry Bush?

Cut upright branches to encourage side growth. Remove thin, damaged, and diseased branches while pruning. Do the same for branches hanging downward or those growing out of shape.

When Do Bush Cherries Bloom?

Bush cherries bloom in late spring or early summer in the northern hemisphere. The exact month of flowering depends on the type of cherry bush and the Growing Zone, but in general, it falls between May and June.

Do Cherry Bushes Lose Their Leaves in Winter?

Cherry bushes are deciduous just like standard cherry trees. In the winter, the leaves will drop, and the bush will go dormant until the next spring.

Since the bush has a relatively small canopy, you won’t have a lot of trouble raking those leaves.

Do Bush Cherries Like Sun or Shade?

Bush cherries favor the sun, especially the fruit-bearing varieties. Ornamental bush cherries can tolerate some partial shade, but avoid planting them in full shade.

Shade could stunt their growth and lead to fungal infections and other diseases.

Cherries From a Cherry Bush

Like a standard cherry tree, cherry bushes produce fruits, but the taste differs depending on the variety you’re growing. Some have a sweet taste, but the majority are sour or have a tart aftertaste. 

Are Cherry Bush Cherries Edible?

Cherry bush cherries are edible for the most part. In fact, you can use these cherries to replace regular cherries despite their tart taste.

They’re usually softer than regular cherries when ripe and turn dark red in July or August.

What Is the Sweetest Bush Cherry?

Many people consider Juliet Bush Cherry to be the sweetest bush cherry variety. The cherries have the same size, flavors, and taste as cherries from a standard cherry tree.

How Long Does It Take a Bush Cherry To Produce Fruit?

Bush cherries are quick to grow and mature compared to standard cherry varieties. Within the first two years after planting, the bush will start flowering and producing fruits.

Loads of cherries on a Nanking cherry bush.

Cherry Bush Care

Despite its compact size, the cherry bush requires a fair amount of care, especially in the first two years.

Once the bush establishes, it becomes relatively independent and can take care of itself in terms of feeding and water.

However, to give the bush a good start, you need to pick the right spot to plant it and make sure it gets plenty of sunlight.


Pick a spot that is sheltered from strong winds and gets 6 to 8 hours of sun during the spring and summer. Make sure the soil is loamy and drains well.

If the summers in your area are rather hot, then partial shade in the afternoon will protect the bush. Time your planting to be a couple of weeks after the last frost since the young sapling has little tolerance for frost.

Watering & Fertilizing

Check that you don’t have hard water in the tap before watering your cherry bush. If you do, you can use rainwater.

Allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry out between irrigations. Apply a balanced fertilizer (this one is excellent) once every 3 weeks during the spring and summer. 

How and When To Prune a Cherry Bush

The best time to prune the cherry bush is in the late winter or early spring before the first signs of growth. Pruning it in the winter can weaken the tree and make it less tolerant of cold weather.

Trim upright and downward branches to encourage lateral growth. Take out thin branches and overgrown ones to get the bush into shape.

Make inner paths in the canopy to improve ventilation and increase sun exposure for the inner branches. 


The cherries ripen sometime between July and August, though this depends on the variety and the growing zone. Ripe cherries are soft and dark red.

Start harvesting as soon as they ripen; otherwise, birds will eat them off the tree. You can store fresh cherries in the fridge for up to a week. 

Closing Thoughts

The cherry bush and dwarf cherry tree are two species that can grow in small spaces in the garden or yard. However, the cherry bush is smaller than the dwarf cherry.

They both have a fast growth rate and will start flowering and bearing fruits about 2 years after planting.