Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes

Two years ago I planted three Nanking Cherry Bushes along the fence in our garden. I’d read about what a beautiful ornamental shrub they make and how productive they are, and thought they’d be a perfect addition to our edible landscaping. They’ve done well here in zone 7, I definitely plan on planting more around the garden where they can get full sun. Maybe I can propagate some cuttings?

March 2016: The Second Year

Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes- in bloom

Here’s what the Nanking Cherry Bushes looked like in March. They’ve grown extremely quickly from the 12″ plants that I initially received. The blooms came early, so the plants actually began bearing before the last frost. We lost some of the developing fruit when heavy frosts came in April, but fortunately the entire harvest wasn’t spoiled.

Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes

The blossoms are lovely pink flowers with a sweet fragrance. They were constantly buzzing with bees in early Spring.

May 2016: Harvest


Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes

Pretty much every branch on the bush is loaded with cherries. They’re small fruits, about a 1/2 inch in size, with a pit in the middle. The flavor is a nice combination of sweet, tart, and tangy. They’d be great for jellies or pies, but are also tasty straight off the bush.

Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes

My children have greatly enjoyed our weekends home when they can sit out in the garden under the bushes, stripping the branches clean of their ripe red cherries and spitting the hard pits. I imagine the birds have enjoyed them as well.

When I first put them in the ground, buried at the same depth the soil was at when they shipped, they looked so far apart spaced at a distance of 6 feet. Two years later the branches are touching with just enough space to stand between the bushes for harvesting. If you decide you want to plant a few Nanking Cherry Bushes around your place, definitely give them adequate space to grow. They make a lovely edible hedge.

If you can’t find Nanking Cherry Bush plants locally, you can order them online. I got mine from Gurney’s. Another nursery that I’ve ordered from and have been happy with is Stark Bro’s, which carries a similar variety called Hansen’s Bush Cherry. It might be worth having both varieties to see if the season can be extended. It looks like Hansen’s cherries might set fruit later than Nankings, which would give you a longer harvest time.

Update April 2017: Growing Big

The cherry bushes are growing like crazy! I definitely would like to plant more. They’ve been super easy to grow, and really aren’t picky about the soil they’re growing in. Very low maintenance.

The branches are covered with growing fruits. I can’t wait to harvest them in a few more weeks!

8 thoughts on “Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes”

  1. I PLANTED 3 nanking plants 4 years ago. The last 2 years they produced like crazy. This year the one bush at the end lost all it’s leaves just when the berries started turning. I am wondering if this one is diseased and how do I know?

  2. I just planted six Gurneys nanking cherries today.

    One looks dead but the others are starting to bud out.

    I can’t believe how fast yours grew in two years!

    You’re right about looking silly being spaced so far apart as dormant sticks.

    I did mine at seven feet spacing with rows about eight to nine feet apart.

    Were in Crossville Tennessee. Zone 7. I hope ours grow as fast as yours!

    I also planted two flat wonder peaches to go in the new orchard.

    I love permaculture farming!

  3. Hi, I planted one Nanking Cherry bush and iv had it for 3 years and no fruit. That am I doing wrong.. I love the bush its so pretty. Please help.

  4. Nanking cherries – great for beautiful, delicious jelly.
    Syrup: use alone or mix with other fruits like apples or rhubarb, for pancakes or waffles, ice-cream or yogurt topping; sugar to taste with honey or cane sugar…
    And keep the waterproof pits you get after cooking them down, they’re great for bean bag games or to set camera on, if no level surface. No waste.


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