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MORELLO CHERRY TREE


The Morello variety produces cherries which are ideal for cooking. Some call them acid cherries others call them cooking cherries. Forget letting them ripen fully and eating them (as some suggest) uncooked, they are still over-acidic. Out of all the cooking cherry varieties the Morello is supreme in the UK. It is self-fertile, rarely damaged by frost and produces large crops.

The existence of the "Crown Morello" is a total mystery. It is a Morello in all but name yet it grows larger than the normal variety which can be unsuitable for most small to medium sized gardens. If you want a cooking cherry tree, our advice is to stick with the Morello.

Use the checklist below to decide if the Morello variety is correct for you and your garden. If this is not the correct variety, see our cherry tree varieties page, to select another variety which may suit you better.

  • The fruits are produced late season, ready for harvesting, on average, in the third to last weeks of July.
     
  • Fruits are smaller than sweet cherry trees but this is normal for this type of tree. They are mid red and have a very acidic but full flavour, perfect for pies, jams, tarts and flavouring.
     
  • The picking period lasts a week. They freeze extremely well if the end purpose is for cooking.
     
  • Morello cherries have been grown in the UK for over 400 years. The parents of this variety are unknown
      
  • This variety reliably produces a large amount of fruit.
     
  • Disease resistance is good all round. They produce fruit in all but the coldest parts of the UK. It has been given an Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
     
  • Morello is self-fertile and does not need a pollination partner.
     
  • It is fully hardy in all parts of the UK (however, see above about blossom).

WHERE TO BUY MORELLO CHERRY TREES

Morello is often to be found in your local garden centre and is also available online from several  suppliers.

Morello cherries
Picture from public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR MORELLO CHERRY


Morello is in pollination group 4, self-fertile, it does not require a pollination partner and will produce a large crop of fruit as a stand alone tree. The following varieties, commonly grown in the UK, can be pollinated by Morello: 
  • Van, pollination group 3, eating variety
     
  • Penny, pollination group 3 to 4, eating variety
     
  • Summer Sun, pollination group 3 to 4, eating variety
     
  • Merton Bigarreau, pollination group 4, cooking variety
     
  • Stella, pollination group 4, eating variety
     
  • Sunburst, pollination group 4, eating variety
     
  • Napoleon, pollination group 4 to 5, cooking variety

HOW LARGE WILL MORELLO GROW


On Colt rootstock Morello will grow to about 3.5m / 11ft tall when it has reached maturity after about 7 years. It can easily be pruned to reach a maximum height of 2m / 7ft. On Gisela 5 rootstock it will grow into a 2m / 6ft tall tree but will need more care than if grown on a Colt rootstock.

CONDITIONS FOR GROWING MORELLO CHERRIES


The following are the key rules for growing this variety, click here for more detailed information about growing and pruning cherry trees:
  • Plant and grow in a semi-shade or full sun position. It is sometimes claimed that Morello cherry trees will grow in full shade or north facing positions. This is true but your tree will suffer to some degree in these situations
     
  • The best time to plant Morello is in late autumn to early winter. It can be planted at other times of year but will require watering more frequently to ensure it establishes well.
     
  • Plant the tree to the same depth as it was in the pot. If planting bare-rooted trees you will see a natural soil mark just above the roots which indicates the correct depth for planting.
     
  • Spread an 8cm / 3in layer of mulch around the base of the tree but not touching the main trunk. A mulched circle of about 1m / 3ft will be sufficient. This will retain moisture in the soil below and greatly help the tree to establish well.
     
  • Water very well, immediately after planting.
     
  • Stake the tree for life on a Gisela 5 rootstock. On Colt rootstock the tree will only need staking for the first two years of its life.
     
  • In the first summer after planting the tree, water well if conditions become dry.
     
  • Prune Morello in the first year according to the suppliers instructions. Prune annually immediately after flowering in later years, in mid-April to mid may. See our detailed article on pruning cherry trees. Note that the Morello cherry tree produces most of its fruit on one year old wood so is pruned (as explained in our pruning article) in a slightly different way compared to sweet cherries.
     
  • An annual mulch in late Spring will help to retain moisture and an even supply of water.
     
  • If any pests or diseases appear treat them as soon as possible. Consult our cherry tree pest and disease page for detailed information on identifying and treating problems.