How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Lapins’ Cherry Trees

Cherry trees are surprisingly easy to grow for a home gardener and lovely trees to have as ornamental plants. In summer, your reward is the glistening, dark red fruits forming in clusters on long stalks. The fruit is sweet, firm, and ready to eat straight off the tree or harvested and baked into a cherry pie. In this article, gardening expert Wendy Moulton gives you tips on growing ‘Lapins’ cherry trees!

A close-up reveals 'Lupins' cherry branches laden with delicious and juicy cherries, their dark red hues promising sweetness. Surrounding them, lush green leaves provide a verdant backdrop, enhancing the allure of the cherries. The branch, gracefully arching, showcases nature's abundance in its simple elegance.


Cherry blossoms on a spring day are a beautiful sight in any garden. The ‘Lapins’ cherry tree is ideal for its flowers, sweet fruit, and autumn foliage. Trim it for a compact tree that’s perfect for small gardens. Unlike many fruit trees, it’s self-pollinating. You only need one to grow delicious fruit!

‘Lapins’ cherries make excellent medium-sized trees for pots and containers, too. In this article, we break down the necessary planting and care notes. Then, all you need is the tree!

‘Lapins’ Cherry

‘Lapins’ Cherry trees:

  • are beautiful in all seasons
  • are self-pollinating
  • produce sweet, firm cherries
  • grow well in the ground or in large pots
  • thrive in zones 5-9

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A close-up of 'Lupins' cherry tree branch exposing clusters of sweet red cherries, glistening with ripeness under the sunlight. The green leaves, a testament to vitality, complement the dark fruit, forming a picturesque scene of natural harmony. The branch extends gracefully, bearing the promise of a bountiful harvest.
This tree thrives in full sun with moderate watering requirements.
Genus Prunus
Species Prunus avium ‘Lapins’
Family Rosaceae
Native Area Developed in British Columbia, Canada
Watering needs Medium
Height and Spread 15-20 feet high x 10-15 feet wide
Maintenance Pruning
Hardiness Zones 5-9
Exposure Full Sun
Pests Aphids, and other sucking insects
Diseases Bacterial canker and cherry leaf spot
Soil Type Any soil, well-draining
Flowering time Spring
Fruiting time Summer
Attracts Pollinators when in flower

What Is It?

Prunus avium ‘Lapins’ is a hybrid cherry developed to increase the number of self-fertile hybrids on the market. It was named for and developed by Karlis Lapins, an immigrant from Latvia.

While working at the Summerland Research Center in British Columbia, Canada, he developed the cherry into a late-maturing cross of ‘Van’, a hardy variety and prolific bearer of fruit, and ‘Stella,’ a cultivar used as a universal pollinator of other cherry trees. It was developed in 1971, but only released in 1983 after Lapins’ retirement. The tree, named in his honor, is more productive than many other commercial cultivars.

Native Area

A close-up reveals ripe red cherries dangling from cherry tree branches in the orchard, promising sweet indulgence. Vibrant green leaves provide a lush backdrop, absorbing sunlight and adding depth to the scene. The trees stand tall amidst a sea of lush green grass, thriving under the warmth of the sun.
The ‘Lupins’ cherry was cultivated in British Columbia.

Prunus avium, often called wild cherry, sweet cherry, or bird cherry, originated in Europe, Asia, and North Africa and became naturalized in North America. The ‘Lapins’ cherry was developed in an agricultural research center in British Columbia. You can also find it under the label ‘Cherokee’.


Glistening under sunlight, ripe purple cherry fruits hang delicately on branches, promising succulent sweetness. Each fruit boasts a glossy sheen, hinting at its juiciness and ripeness. Surrounding them, vibrant green leaves provide a lush backdrop.
RHS Garden Merit signifies ‘Lapins’ cherry’s exceptional quality and resilience.

‘Lapins’ is a vigorous grower and a productive tree that makes sweet, even-colored red cherries immune to splitting. The fruit has a mild, sweet taste that is good for fresh eating and cooking for jams and sauces. At the height of the harvesting season, the trees can produce 15-20 gallons of fruit. In spring, it further enhances the garden with fragrant white blossoms.

This cherry was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Garden Merit, one of only eight cultivars of cherries that have had the honor for their hardiness and general excellence in a fruit tree.

This low-maintenance plant tolerates temperatures to -10°F (-23°C), and is considered hardy, and once established, is quite drought-tolerant.

This tree is self-pollinating and doesn’t require any other cherry trees to set fruit. However, more than one cherry tree will increase yields.


In a sun-drenched orchard, cherry trees stand tall, adorned with clusters of vibrant red fruits. Their branches sway gently amidst a sea of verdant leaves, creating a picturesque scene. Sunlight filters through the foliage, casting warm rays over the lush green grass below.
Ensure ample sunlight for optimal fruit production.

Set your cherry trees into the garden in either autumn to set it up before spring or in spring to get a harvest the following season.

Choose a position with enough space for the cherry to grow. It will grow up to 40 feet high if it is not pruned down to keep it compact, but in general, it will grow 15-20 feet high with a spread of 10-15 feet wide. Make sure that there are no other competing trees or buildings that will confine the space. The fruit will need sunlight in all parts of the tree to produce the best fruit.

Dig a hole at least twice the width and at the same depth as the root ball. Enrich the dug-out soil with a load of compost mixed in. Plant the tree so the graft union is 2-3 inches above the soil and backfill with the enriched soil. As you add the soil, press the soil firmly down to remove any air pockets. This helps prevent any bacterial infections from getting to the roots.

Make a basin around the tree to help direct water to the roots where needed most. Give the tree a good watering after planting before adding a layer of mulch to the area, making sure not to touch the tree trunk, which could cause infections.

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In a garden, a gardener, clad in sturdy gardening gloves, carefully plants a cherry tree sapling into nutrient-rich soil. Surrounded by verdant green grass, the scene epitomizes growth and renewal. With meticulous care, the gardener nurtures the young tree, fostering its journey towards fruition.
Choose planting spots carefully for cherry tree longevity.

When you plant a cherry tree, ensure it will be there for a very long time and that your chosen position has all the important factors noted above. It is best not to transplant a cherry tree once it grows and produces fruit. Instead, wait for a dormant period to plant your tree in the ground.

Growing from Seed

A delicate cherry seedling thrives in a nursery, its tender green leaves reaching for sunlight, surrounded by rich soil. The small black pots it's planted in provide stability and nourishment, adorned with a layer of wood mulch for moisture retention.
Buying a pre-grown tree from a nursery is more efficient.

Growing a cherry from a pit is possible, but you will have to wait seven to ten years for the tree to produce fruit. It is much better to buy a tree that has been expertly grown by a nursery, and it is easy enough these days to get a tree, making sure it will grow in your area first.

How to Grow

These cherries are easy to grow and care for but will need the basic requirements to perform well and produce the all-important fruit crops we all want at the end of the day.


A vibrant cherry tree branch bursts with ripe, red cherries, dangling amidst lush green leaves. The branches stretch gracefully, bearing the weight of the succulent fruits, while the leaves sway gently in the breeze, basking in the warmth of the sun.
For optimal performance, ‘Lapins’ cherries require 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.

‘Lapins’ cherries need at least 6-8 hours of sun daily to perform at their best. They will tolerate some shade, but the fruit yield will not be as high as in full sun.


A close-up of clusters of cherries hanging. The cherries glisten with moisture, reflecting light softly. Suspended delicately from slender stalks, they sway gently in the breeze, ripening with vibrant hues. Surrounding them, lush green leaves provide a backdrop of freshness and vitality.
Avoid overwatering ‘Lapins’ cherry trees if there’s enough rainfall.

Water ‘Lapins’ cherry trees once a week during the growing season. They require an inch of water every 7-10 days and more when it’s hot and dry. If rainfall is sufficient, don’t add extra water; they prefer not to be waterlogged.

Dig down two to three inches into the soil to check if your tree needs water. If it’s dry, it needs water. Water at the base of the tree will get straight to the roots. While they don’t like too much water, they also don’t do well with long periods of drought, so it’s important to monitor how much water they get naturally.


A close-up of well-draining potting mix. The soil appears loose and airy, promoting healthy root growth. Speckles of white fertilizer mix are scattered throughout, enriching the soil with essential nutrients. Its texture suggests optimal conditions for nurturing plants, promising flourishing growth and vibrant foliage.
Clay-based or waterlogged soil should be avoided.

Although they are adaptable to any type of soil, as long as it is well-draining, they will do so with a good amount of compost added at the planting stage and a layer of mulch to conserve water and keep the weeds down. Avoid clay-based soil or soil that carries too much water.


Ripe purple cherries hang in clusters, their glossy skins reflecting sunlight. Each cherry promises sweetness with its plumpness, ready to burst with flavor. Surrounding them, vibrant green leaves provide a lush backdrop, adding to the scene's natural allure.
‘Lapins’ cherries need frosty winters for fruiting.

To set fruit, the ‘Lapins’ cherry tree needs at least 400-600 hours of chill timeat a temperature of 44°F (7°C) or below. Generally, ‘Lapins’ cherry trees are hardy up to -10°F (-23°C).


Cherry tree branches stretch out, adorned with cherries in hues of yellow and orange, hinting at their ripeness. Amongst the foliage, lush green leaves sway gently in the breeze, adding a touch of freshness to the composition. In the distance, a clear blue sky sets the perfect backdrop for nature's vibrant display.
Sweet cherry varieties dislike humid climates and mild winters.

None of the sweet cherry varieties like high humidity or mild winters. In areas with higher humidity, your tree may struggle with diseases, or it may not produce as well.


 A woman's hand, adorned in pink gardening gloves, carefully dispenses yellow fertilizer onto the soil around a cherry tree. The lush green grass serves as the backdrop, with a watering hose and a green container of fertilizer nearby, ready for use in the garden.
Prevent frost damage by avoiding summer fertilization in cold climates.

Use a balanced fertilizer to feed the trees in spring to give them a boost to produce lots of flowers and then fruit. In climates with warmer winters, fertilize again in mid-summer.

Avoid fertilizing in summer in colder climates as the new growth would suffer in frosty conditions. Dig lightly around the tree’s base and water the fertilizer in well. Avoid fertilizer on the tree trunk and place it 6-8 inches away.


Precision is shown as a hand wields pruning shears, trimming branches adorned with vibrant cherry tree leaves. The careful snip of the shears removes excess growth, ensuring the tree's health and vitality as it continues to flourish in the garden.
Prune ‘Lapins’ annually for low-maintenance care.

‘Lapins’ are considered low-maintenance trees once established, but annual pruning and feeding are essential. Always remove any dead or diseased plant parts as they appear on the tree.


A gardener's gloved hand carefully trims the cherry tree branches with pruning shears, shaping them for optimal growth. The branches of the cherry tree are hard and brown. Its vibrant green leaves flutter in the gentle breeze, soaking in the warm sunlight.
Cut crossing branches to aid flowering and fruiting.

A year after planting in late winter, prune the tree to remove damaged and diseased branches. It is also time to trim down the size to keep it compact.

Pruning needs to be done every year to increase fruit production. Cut any crossing branches away and get light to the tree’s center. This helps with flowering and setting fruit in summer.


A gardener carefully plucks ripe purple cherries from the cherry tree branch, their glossy skins glistening in the sunlight. The branches of the tree sway gently, laden with clusters of luscious fruit, ready for harvest. Among the leaves, the cherries peek out, enticing and ripe for picking.
Ensure cherries are ripe by tasting before harvesting.

‘Lapins’ will be ready for harvesting from late June to August. Ensure that the fruit is ready for picking by tasting it first. Cherries will not ripen off the tree, so it’s important to ensure all the fruit is an even red color and ripe before harvesting. Twist the stems off the branches and carefully pack them so they are not damaged.

Common Problems

‘Lapins’ are not plagued by many problems. They have a good resistance to bacterial blight and are known for their ability to withstand fruit cracking. You may have a problem with birds and other animals eating the ripe fruit, but bird netting will help keep these critters from eating your harvest.


A hand delicately cradles a cherry tree branch, adorned with lush green leaves. Upon closer inspection, tiny black bean aphids scurry along the undersides of the leaves, their presence subtle yet noticeable. Amidst the foliage, a solitary red cherry fruit gleams, promising sweetness to come.
Combat sap-sucking pests like aphids with water or insecticidal soaps.

Sap-sucking insects, like aphids, are a problem for many gardeners. However, they are easy enough to control, starting with a jet of water or by using insecticidal soaps.


Young cherry trees, once vibrant and full of life, now appear withered and brown, likely succumbing to disease. The surrounding field is a stark contrast, lush and verdant with green grasses swaying gently in the breeze, providing a backdrop of natural vitality against the trees' decline.
Damaged or waterlogged trees are more susceptible to diseases.

In general, cherries tend to suffer from bacterial canker, which is something to look out for. This disease mainly affects the branches, buds, leaves, and fruit. Dark areas form at the base of buds, and gummy substances form in spring and fall. Leaves and buds will wilt and die.

This disease is often caused by damaged trees or those stuck in waterlogged soils with poor drainage. This serious disease should be treated immediately. If you have already removed damaged branches and the disease persists, follow up with an appropriate copper-based spray.

Also, look out for cherry leaf spot that form purple spots on the upper side of the leaves. The diseased leaves will fall off and carry their fungus with them, overwintering in the leaf pile. This is often a result of poor air circulation or not enough sunlight. Gather the fallen leaves, burn them, and treat the tree with a suitable fungicide. Practice proper pruning in the dormant season to prevent further infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ‘Lapins’ cherry tree self-fertile?

Yes, this variety only needs one to set fruit, unlike other varieties that need two of the same variety or another variety to help pollinate the trees so that they can set fruit.

How big are ‘Lapins’ cherries?

The fruits can reach an inch in diameter with sweet fruit similar to the common ‘Bing’ variety.

Are ‘Lapins’ cherries good for pies?

This variety is excellent for pies because it is a sweet cherry. It is good for canning and making sauces, jams, and jellies for desserts and ice creams. The cherries are also delicious eaten fresh, straight off the tree.

Final Thoughts

For a smaller cherry tree, ‘Lapins’ is an excellent choice. It can be pruned to keep it compact and doesn’t need another tree to set fruit. This is a bonus for those with limited space who want this beautiful tree for its ornamental value and edible fruit.

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