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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Prunus tomentosa, Failure to fruit, Fruit trees--Cross-pollination

I have had a Nanking cherry bush that I planted 3 years ago. The first year, as I expected, it didn't produce flowers or fruit. The second year, it produced some flowers and about 4 small green cherries, which disappeared off from the bush in about a week. This year, it had a lot of flowers, but only produced 2 small green cherries, which also disappeared in about a week. I only have the one bush, and it seems very healthy otherwise. Is it due to being so young still? Do I need a second plant? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) "is not self-fertile. Two or more shrubs should be planted within 100' of each other to ensure cross-pollination."

Information from Alberta, Canada's Agriculture and Rural Development website (no longer available online) has some suggestions on cross-pollination:
"Nanking cherries need cross pollination, for fruit production, therefore more than one plant is required, or an early flowering plum such as Brookgold, Bounty or Dandy. Mature plants reach heights of up to 2 m. Plant in rows 3 m apart with 2 m between the plants in the row. Prune annually to prevent shrubs from becoming too dense. Remove no more than one-third of the total number of branches at one time. This allows the plant to replace older wood with young, vigorous wood."

There is a chapter on Nanking cherry in Lee Reich's Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention (Timber Press, 2004) in which he states clearly that cross-pollination is needed (some information on the web says that it is self-fruitful...which might be true to a small extent, but you will have a much better crop with cross-pollination). Some key points: Nanking cherry does well in sun and well-drained soil. Full sun is preferable, but it will still bear fruit in a shadier spot. It grows vigorously, and can live 50+ years. "Annual pruning, though not a necessity, brings out the best in any Nanking cherry in terms of yield and fruit quality. Prune in late winter with the aim of keeping a bush open so that all branches are bathed in sun and quickly dried by breezes. Accomplish these goals by shortening some branches, removing others entirely, and leaving still others untouched. This pruning will also stimulate a steady supply of young, fruitful branches each year."

Date 2017-05-05
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August 01 2017 12:36:01