Nanking Cherry Tree

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Cold-Hardy Sour Cherry Nanking Cherry Tree

  • Beautiful, Hardy Edible Ornamental Shrub
  • Profusion of Fragrant White Flowers in Early Spring
  • Tasty, Abundant Bright Red Fruit
  • Wide Shrub or Small Tree
  • Extremely Cold Tolerant
  • Use as a Special Hedge or Specimen
  • Pest and Disease Resistant
  • Tolerant of Periodic Drought
  • Feed Songbirds or Harvest Nanking Cherries for Pies, Jelly and Wine
  • Great Choice for Nature Lovers and Foodies in Cold Climates

For homeowners in the cold winter zones from 2 - 6, Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is a wonderful, easy-care bush to add to the landscape. You'll love the fruit's tangy, sweet-tart taste for fresh eating or baking into pies.

The spring flowers are spectacular! Rosy pink buds cover the shrub in early spring, and open to showy white flowers. This reliable early bloomer is so welcome after the long winter.

The flowers are both fragrant and frost tolerant, which makes this plant a true harbinger of spring. Of course, the white blooms are also a welcome nectar source for butterflies and pollinators.

Nanking Cherry has a long history of proving delicious red fruit in harsh climates. The berries seem to glow against the attractive, textured foliage. Each cherry is a brilliant, translucent red jewel.

Use it as a long hedge along a fence or a single specimen. Or, create an orchard in a backyard homestead. This is the earliest Cherry to flower, and it produces an abundance of tasty cherries.

Nanking Cherry is not reliably self-fertile. To achieve fruit set, plant two or more shrubs close by each other to ensure proper cross-pollination for the best fruit production.

Plan to start harvest as they ripen in early to mid-summer, depending on your location. Or, just leave them for your local bird population. It's a win-win either way!

We'll tempt you to harvest some for yourself, as many people swear by the Nanking for wine and mead production. Or, use it to craft beautiful clear jellies and wonderful jams. You'll find pages of recipes for Nanking Cherry on the Internet. It would take years just to try them all.

The highly-textured, quilted, dark green, toothed leaves are decorative in their own right. They are downy on the underside. The soft-textured foliage turns a soothing yellow in the fall.

Even the bark is beautiful, lustrous and ornamental. It delivers visual interest in winter as it exfoliates to show pattern variation of shiny reddish-brown bark peeling to orange as it ages.

This is a great conversation plant with fragrant blooms, attractive soft green foliage and wonderful bright red fruit. In time, this plant develops a picturesque rounded form in the landscape. Order today!

How to Use Nanking Cherry in the Landscape

Use it for massing in a hedge or planted on a slope. Include it in your mixed borders as a lovely backdrop for smaller plants. Or, plant two or three shrubs together for a fabulous fruiting specimen to create a marvelous focal point in a lawn planting.

The soft features make it the perfect accent along a driveway or running along a fence. Add it to windbreaks for color, fragrance, fruit and to add charm and personality.

Nanking Cherry has tremendous value for screening and hedging. Plant them 6 - 8 feet apart to create a free-form, natural hedge. Measure from the center of the first shrub to the center of the next.

If desired, the Nanking Cherry can be pruned into a single trunk tree, or a multi-trunk specimen for a focal point in the landscape.

For a special treat in mid-winter, cut several branches and bring them indoors. You can force them to bloom in sunny spot. Just arrange the branches in a tall vase and change the water daily. You'll thrill to seeing the buds open indoors.

Easily create a wildlife habitat with several Nanking Cherry bushes added to anchor a Butterfly Garden. The birds, butterflies and pollinators will thank you!

#ProPlantTips for Care

This plant is very well-known in the Asian Far East, where it's found in most home gardens and on commercial plantations throughout Russia. A heavy usage means there are a lot of common names. You might hear Downy Cherry, Mountain or Mongolian Cherry, Hedge Cherry, Chinese Bush Cherry or Manchu Cherry.

Whatever you call it, it's a hard-working landscape plant with a lot of ornamental features. This tough plant is really useful in areas where hardy plants are required, but few are available. Nanking Cherry is the earliest-blooming Cherry and one of the best producers for extreme temperature areas.

Brought to the United States in 1882, the plants cold hardiness, early-blooming along with its natural dwarfing, were all considered exciting traits.

The yummy fruit is too soft for most commercial purposes, and is not often available any other way than growing your own. Eat them fresh, or prepare into pie filling, make jams or jelly or freeze them.

The Nanking Cherry adapts to a variety of soil conditions and pH levels. Give it a full sun location and well-drained soil for best results. Be careful to water it regularly while the plant is young.

Nanking can handle periodic drought, once it's established in your native soil. This is a great choice for semi-arid climates with cold winters and hot summers.

Prune Nanking Cherry to thin out dead and diseased branches after fruiting is done. Open the center of the plant to sunshine and air circulation each year.

If you are looking for a plant that is beautiful, helps wildlife, and can give you fruit as well, this is a great choice. Order Nanking Cherry today.

Buying Options for Plants

Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.

Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!

Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.

  • Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
  • Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.

Nature Hills Container Size by Volume

Keep in mind, specific varieties and different growing conditions can affect the rate at which plants grow. Variations in size may occur.

Young Plants to 18 Months
Size Volume
2"x2"x3" Ranges from .18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume
4.5" Container Equal to .65 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume
Sprinter Pot Equal to .63 dry quart / .69 dry liter in volume
4" Container Ranges from .31 to .87 / .35 to .96 dry liter in volume
6" Container Equal to 1.4 dry quarts / 1.59 dry liters in volume
1 Quart Equal to 1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume
5.5" Container Equal to 1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x5" Ranges from .8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x6" Ranges from 1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x9" Ranges from 1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume
4"x4"x10" Ranges from 1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume
Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old
Size Volume
2 Quart Equal to 2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume
#1 Container Ranges from 2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume
5"x5"x12" Equal to 3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume
Plants 2 - 4 Years Old
Size Volume
#2 Container Ranges from 1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume
#3 Container Ranges from 2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume
Plants 3 - 5 Years Old
Size Volume
#5 Container Ranges from 2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume
#6 Container Ranges from 5.25 to 6.01 dry gallons / 23.12 to 26.42 dry liters in volume
#7 Container Ranges from 5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume

About Plant Sentry™

Plant Sentry is designed to protect both consumers and the nursery trade from invasive plant pests and diseases. Sites that display the Plant Sentry protection badge are protected from consumers buying and nurseries shipping material carrying invasive pests and diseases.

This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.

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To obtain a more accurate shipment time-frame, simply enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box to the right. Our plants are grown all over the country and lead time on items may be different because of this. Once your order is placed, you will also receive the specific shipment time-frame information as part of your order confirmation. Once an item ships, you will receive shipment notification and tracking numbers, so you can follow along while your plant travels to your doorstep. We use FedEx, UPS, or USPS at our discretion.

Due to winter weather we have put a hold on shipping to the areas shown below in grey. You can still order now and we will ship the plant to you during an appropriate time for your zone.

*If you have found your zone already, it will be highlighted in the table below.
Color Zone Times
3 Spring 2019
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Shipping Rates

At Nature Hills we handle, package and ship the products you order with the utmost care to ensure healthy delivery. Shipping and handling charges are calculated based on the tables below. Please note that some items include an additional handling surcharge, these will be noted on the item's product page.

From To S&H
0 - 19.99 24.99
20 - 49.99 29.99
50 - 69.99 34.99
70 - 99.99 39.99
100 - 129.99 44.99
130 - 149.99 48.99
150 - 150+ Approx 28%

Click here to see our full rates

Historical, Beautiful, Nutritious Sour Cherry Selection

The Nanking Cherry may be one of the most diverse fruiting plants known. This is a true edible ornamental that has been cultivated for 1000's of years throughout eastern Asia. It combines the fine qualities of a beautiful flowering shrub and tremendously healthy fruit - all growing on a plant that will withstand some of the harshest climates known.

The Nanking Cherry, also known as Prunus tomentosa, is a native sour cherry variety found in China, Korea, Mongolia, and surrounding areas. Although typically classified with the sour cherries, the Nanking Cherry has good sweetness and rarely is too sour to eat fresh.

Nanking Cherry comes true from seed, so there can be a little difference in flavor or hardiness depending on where the mother plant originated. Used in Asia primarily for the abundant flower and the nutritious fruit, the plant's dependable fruit production made it a staple in the Asian diet.

Though the Nanking Cherry looks like a cherry, it is actually closer related to a plum. Because of this, P. tomentosa has been used as a dwarfing rootstock for peaches, plums, and some cherries for many years. Although, more recent research has determined that the Nanking Cherry should only be used for dwarfing certain selections, due to a shorter tree life and lesser production issues.

Introduced into the United States in 1892 by the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University, the Nanking Cherry's many qualities were quickly recognized. Most obvious was the hardiness of the plant, which drew the attention of cold climate growers across the nation. The plant was particularly adapted to the upper Midwest's cold winters and hot dry summers.

By 1935, it was considered a potential commercial crop for these regions with cultivars being introduced from the University of Minnesota. This never materialized, and the developed cultivars have all been lost.

However, the Nanking Cherry's popularity in the home garden market grew tremendously. The plants great adaptability to USDA Zones 2 - 7, and the ability to tolerate drought conditions, were key to the variety's popularity. The edible and ornamental aspects of this tree only add to the demand.

Little maintenance is required to establish this plant as a hedge or windbreak. A wonderful, fragrant spring flower display followed by the early fruit set adds to the home garden value.

Nanking Cherry is a nutritious fruit high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. The fruit is best eaten fresh but is also used to make jams and juices. The Nanking Cherry has also been a popular tree among the Bonsai community in Japan and is becoming popular with Bonsai enthusiasts in the United States today.


Nanking Cherry Tree Is Suited to Grow in Zones 2-6
Growing Zones 2-6
More Information
Brand Nature Hills' Choice
Botanical Name Prunus tomentosa
Mature Height 8 - 10 feet
Mature Spread 10 - 15 feet
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Widely Adaptable
Moisture Low
Growth Rate Medium
Flower Color Deciduous
Foliage Deciduous
Foliage Color Green
Fall Color Yellow
Pollinator Friendly Yes
Fruiting Time Early to Mid-Summer