Sour cherries can be grown all over the state. Mahaleb is the standard rootstock for sour cherries but the semi-dwarf rootstocks such as Gisela are also becoming more popular. Plant sour cherries in a location with well-drained soil and full sun. Mature sour cherry trees need to be pruned every year. The most common sour cherry disease in Illinois is cherry leaf spot that can be controlled by applying recommended fungicides. Suggested varieties include 'Montmorency,' 'Meteor,' 'Suda Hardy,' 'Mesabi,' and 'North Star.' All are called self-fruitful, which means cross-pollination is not needed.
Sweet cherries can be grown in central and southern parts of the state. Plant any two or more varieties of sweet cherry for cross-pollination. Mazzard is the standard rootstocks for sweet cherries but dwarfing rootstocks such as Gisela are also becoming more popular. Mature sweet cherry trees need to be pruned every year but less severely compared to other fruit trees. The suggested varieties include 'Black Tartarian,' 'Glass,' 'Ranier,' 'Stark Gold Yellow,' 'Stella,' 'Van,' and 'Windsor.' 'Stella' is reported to be self-fruitful and can be planted alone.
Harvest ripe cherry fruits as soon as possible in order to avoid fruit cracking that occur when it rains. Cover cherry trees with nets to protect mature fruits from birds.