How To Grow Barbados Cherry

Barbados Cherry AKA Acerola Cherry AKA West Indian Cherry

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

When I was growing up I remember eating the acerola vitamin C chewables. They reminded me of a sweet tart. Well, little did I know then, that one day I would be growing a tree/bush of the cherry they were made from. And what a wonderful fruit it is! The cherries are about the same size as the typical bing cherry we are used to, but slightly more acidic. It is the high quantity of vitamin C that makes it tart. They are also quite high in Vitamin A. And when fully ripe they are bright red. When it is mature, one tree can produce 30-60 lbs of fruit in a year. That’s a lot of Vitamin C!

 

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

How to use Barbados Cherry

I just love walking out to the back yard and picking them right off the bush. Most of them get popped directly into my mouth. Hey, if someone else wants some they can walk out to the bush can’t they? Barbados cherry is a delicate berry that will not ship because they bruise easily. They will burst their very thin skins and all that wonderful juice will escape. So they need to be eaten right away. Also they will start loosing their Vitamin C very quickly. Just another reason they need to be eaten or frozen soon after picking. They will only last about 3 days in the refrigerator. But the good news is they ripen a little at a time, not all at once, so a daily visit to the bush will get you your berry fix and your vitamin C all at once. And prevent fruit drop. If you want to make something from them you can put them in a bag in the freezer until you have enough to make jams, syrup, juice or wine. Or oh so many other things. Put a few into your morning smoothie or chop some and put over salmon. Yumm! I’ve also read that the bark is used to reduce fever. You’ll have to research that further as to how to use it, but I thought it was interesting.

 

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

How to grow Barbados Cherries

So now I’ve got your attention, and you want to grow your own Barbados Cherry. I don’t blame you one bit. These wonderful plants grow well in zone 8 and up. When mature they can withstand brief temperature down to 28°. But if your weather is colder than that, this bush will grow quite happily in a large container. I grew mine that way for 2 years until I decided where I wanted to plant it. It produced fruit right from the start.

 

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today! Learn how.

Planting Your Tree

Your Barbados Cherry will do best with a ph of 5.5 to 6.5. You will also want to dig the hole at least twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Then fill it with rich amended soil. Apply 3″-4″ of mulch but don’t let it touch the trunk as that can cause fungal diseases. You will want to irrigate your tree in dry weather. In Florida we feed in February, May, July & September. with a balanced fertilizer + trace minerals. You need to feed it 1/4 lb the first year and 1 lb for each year of growth there after. It is susceptible to root knot nematode. So good sterile soil in the hole and keeping it mulched will both help that.

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

Is This A Tree Or A Bush?

Well it depends on you. You can prune this tree into almost any shape you wish and in fact it will make a great hedge if plants are spaced 10′ – 12′ apart and kept pruned. If left to it’s own device it can get quite leggy.

 

When Does It Flower And Fruit?

Barbados Cherry will flower almost year round, in waves. When it gets dry it takes a break and when it gets a good rain it will flush out with it’s beautiful “crepe myrtle” type flowers. When it is finished it will stop until it has another dry spell and then wet spell and then it will flush out again. It takes about 22 days from flower to fruit maturity. This fruit is primarily pollinated by bees. So a healthy local bee population is essential for a good cherry crop. This tree will continue to bear fruit for approximately 15 years.

 

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

How to Propagate (get more cherry bushes)

The Barbados Cherry does not have a stone like the northern cherries. Each cherry has 3 tri-cornered seeds. They can be eaten but are usually spit out. These have a very low seed germination rate. The most popular method to raise new trees is from cuttings. Cut a fresh twig. Remove most of the leaves. Use root hormone and put it in a pot with potting soil. Then keep moist for 2 or 3 months. When it starts to put out new leaves you know it has taken root. Leave it a little longer to get a good start before transplanting it.

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today! Learn how.

 

I hope you give The Barbados Cherry a try. I’m so glad I planted one. We enjoy ours so much. Both Thing One and Thing Two have asked me to start one for each of them. I’m sure you will enjoy yours too.

Barbados Cherry - Very high in Vitamin C. This Cherry is easy to grow and wonderful to eat. Plant one in your garden today!

If you liked this, check out how to grow some other tropical fruit Carambola, Papaya, Pineapple or Mango.

Happy Gardening and Have a Ducky Day!

19 thoughts on “How To Grow Barbados Cherry”

  1. Wonderful information! I didn’t realize that it’s actually a bush and not a tree- I just bought one and the branch was so droopy because it wasn’t tied to the stick that was in the same pot, so I went ahead and tied it. Do you think I should remove the stick and let it drop over- your picture above resembles how mine was…

    Reply
    • Tying it up is fine as long as it is not tied tight. You don’t want your tie to girdle the branch. Make sure the tie is stretchy and it is checked often. Pruning to get a good shape is helpful too. Check out the post: Pantyhose in the garden?

      Reply
  2. Hello thank you for the useful topic
    I am living in gulf area middle east
    I have this tree
    But I have a problem
    The tree set alot of bloom flower but after some time the most of the flowers fall off only few become fruit
    What is the problem
    Thanks and excuse my English 🙂

    Reply
    • Salim, There are many things that can cause blossom drop. The amount of water, temperature, nutrients. But the most likely thing is the lack of pollinators. One thing you can do is plant flowers that attract pollinators around your bush. In some areas that don’t have many pollinators, you may want to keep a beehive. Good Luck.

      Reply
  3. Loved reading about the barbarous cherry tree. I am so excited that mine has blossoms for the first time! I planted it three years ago but is growing in tree form, not bush.

    Reply
  4. Hi Mary,

    I am planning to start a food forest in my garden and am wondering how long it takes for Barbados cherry to start bearing fruit after it has sprouted?
    I’ll only be living in this house for another 1.5 years, so time is quite a constraint.
    On the plus side, I live in Uganda, almost right on the Equator, so temperatures are high and so is rainfall…perhaps that may speed things up?

    All the best & thanks for your post!

    Emile

    Reply
    • Emile,
      I’m sorry, I’ve never grown them from seed, but even from air layering it took a couple of years for ours to start producing. I’m sure the soil and climate will have a lot to do with it though. Maybe you can keep it in a large container and take it with you. Just be sure the container has a saucer under it so it doesn’t root into the ground, like I did. 🙂

      Reply
  5. I wish there were indoor growing helps here or somewhere! With or without led grow lights! I have a 5’ tree I got from a Nursery in Florida, and I have 7 remaining green cherries, about 5/8” in size, and I’m in Anchorage, Alaska, and I water it about every two days in it’s 15” container, when branches start wilting and hanging down! Soon after I water it, the new branches are straight and rigid again, and it’s full of new growth, and the new leaves are at least several times larger than the older leaves that it came with! I do rarely ever take it outside, but will, occasionally, when bees may be flying around! Do I need a larger container, or any other suggestions?

    Reply
    • If it is wilting for lack of water after only a couple of days, I’m sure it needs a bigger pot and maybe a more absorbent potting mix. This bush will get at least 12′ tall so it will have a big root ball. Wow! Growing a tropical plant in Alaska! That’s pretty cool. If it blossoms and you don’t want to take it outside, try hand pollinating it. A little, soft paintbrush does a great job.

      Reply
  6. Hey Mary!
    I’ve just found this gorgeous tree at my grandparent’s backyard!

    I would like to freeze them so I can collect enough to cook with! Can I make a pie from the frozen cherries? How would you go about it?

    Reply
    • The problem with a pie is the seeds. It is not a true cherry so it doesn’t have a stone, but 3 seeds. It would be a job to remove them all. However you could stew it (kind of like a jam) and make a pie that way. It would be worth a try. Bet they would make a great jam too come to think of it. 🙂 Let me know how it comes out.

      Reply
  7. Hi Mary! I have a young cherry tree, about 2 1/2 feet tall, that is growing quite well. It has put out 3 long branches full of new leaves. I was wondering if I should prune it back so that the main trunk grows thicker, and has more upwards growth, or leave It alone?Thank you for all your tips!

    Reply
    • The barbados cherry is a bush, not a tree. It will have many branches. That being said, it can take on the shape you want in your landscape, I let mine “free form”. It has many branches and I only prune it to get rid of dead branches and control it so I can mow around it. It is shaped much like a crape myrtle so I’m sure it could be pruned like they do those. I like to keep mine “droopy” co I can pick more fruit.

      Reply
  8. I’ve got a Barbados tree that I bought at Home Depot. It bloomed twice and gave us cherries. Then winter came and it stopped, plus started looking sad. Now that it’s warmed up, I’ve planted it in the ground. Now all the leaves are turning yellow. Any idea what the problem is? I’m in central Florida.

    Reply
    • Mine always looks sad this time of year too. It is at least semi-deciduous and it likes a LOT of water. It will likely come back and bloom again. I have found that a period of not watering it and then watering it heavily spurs the bloom cycle.

      Reply

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