The Barbados cherry is a large, bushy shrub or small tree attaining up to 20 ft (6 m) in height and an equal breadth; with more or less erect or spreading and drooping, minutely hairy branches, and a short trunk to 4 in (10 cm) in diameter. Its evergreen leaves are elliptic, oblong, obovate, or narrowly oblanceolate, somewhat wavy, 3/4 to 2 3/4 in (2-7 cm) long, 3/8 to 1 5/8 in (9.5-40 mm) wide, obtuse or rounded at the apex, acute or cuneate at the base; bearing white, silky, irritating hairs when very young; hairless, dark green, and glossy when mature. The flowers, in sessile or short-peduncled cymes, have 5 pink or lavender, spoon-shaped, fringed petals. The fruits, borne singly or in 2’s or 3’s in the leaf axils, are oblate to round, cherry-like but more or less obviously 3-lobed; 1/2 to 1 in (1.25-2.5 cm) wide; bright-red, with thin, glossy skin and orange-colored, very juicy, acid to subacid, pulp. The 3 small, rounded seeds each have 2 large and 1 small fluted wings, thus forming what are generally conceived to be 3 triangular, yellowish, leathery-coated, corrugated inedible “stones”.
HOW TO GROW
Planting in ground – Barbados Cherry Trees are fast growing and require space to stretch out, so plant your rows on 18 foot centers or for individual trees choose a location at least 10 feet from other trees or shrubs.
Planting in pot – Barbados Cherry Trees grow very well in containers as long as you provide an adequate size pot for root development. Select a pot 18-24 plus inches in diameter and 20 plus inches in height, with adequate drain holes. Glazed pots require far less watering than raw terracotta pots due to their porous nature.
Soil – A well draining soil is of primary importance as Barbados Cherry Trees roots do not like to be wet and will rot if allowed to sit in water for extended periods. A mixture of soil, sand and perlite is highly recommended for proper drainage.
Indoor light – A bright and sunny solarium or window location with a more southern exposure is best for growth and fruit production. Many customers have reported harvesting fruit from trees that live in home and patio environments.
Outdoor light – Barbados Cherry Trees prefer bright light and direct sun. If possible 12 hours of bright sun light is best for growth and fruit production though we have gotten remarkable results growing these trees in 30% shade year round.
Water – When watering Barbados Cherry Trees make sure to lightly soak the soil and then do not water again until the top 2 inches are dry. Depending on light conditions, location and foliage watering may be required weekly or daily. Be sure to not over water, mucky soil will almost always cause decay and ultimately kill the tree.
Fertilizer – It is recommended that you fertilize at the same time as you water using a time released fertilizer 8-3-9 or similar to help your Barbados Cherry Trees grow and produce a substantial crop. These trees are moderate feeders and may require multiple feeding during the growing season. It is important to follow the fertilizers labeled instructions as to not burn or kill the tree.
- Thinning is not necessary.
- Apply mulch to retain moisture.
- Drape netting over trees to protect the fruit from birds.
- Water routinely in dry areas.
- There is no difference in care between sour and sweet cherries.
- Brown Rot
- Black Knot
- Bacterial Canker (cut out any branches with signs of black knot or bacterial canker as soon as possible)
- The fruits are considered beneficial to patients with liver ailments, diarrhea and dysentery, as well as those with coughs or colds. The juice may be gargled to relieve sore throat.