Rainier Sweet Cherry

Prunus avium ‘Rainier’

Description & Overview

Rainier sweet cherry has exceptionally large fruits with a high sugar content. The fruit is yellow with a nice red blush. Noted for its wonderful flavor and fruit quality. Highly prized and much sought after for its delicious fruit.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 25 feet
Mature Spread: 15 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate
Growth Form: Tree
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Site Requirements: Well-drained site
Flower: White
Bloom Period: Mid-May
Foliage: Green
Fall Color: N/A
Fruit Notes: Exceptional fruit size and sugar content.

Suggested Uses:

We offer sweet cherries on standard rootstocks. They will grow 20-25′ tall unless height is controlled by proper pruning.

Wildlife Value:

Relished by birds and raccoons.

Maintenance Tips:

Rainier sweet cherries are prone to bacterial blight. Do not prune in spring during wet conditions. Netting the trees while the fruit is ripening or providing other means of bird control may be necessary to obtain a good crop.


Rainier sweet cherry is prone to fruit cracking if heavy rains occur when the fruit is ripening. The thin skin makes it bruise easily when picked.
It is not the easiest sweet cherry variety to grow. Rainier always commands a higher price on the open market due to these issues. Yet it has a cult following with sweet cherry aficionados due to the very sweet large sized fruits that are known for their exceptional flavor and unique color. Considered by many to be the “King” of sweet cherry varieties.

Wisconsin is not a major sweet cherry growing region due to our harsh climate. Sweet cherries are being successfully grown in Door County (famous for tart cherry production) and also in S.E. Wisconsin. They are not a foolproof crop and will not always produce a nice crop every year. We offer them to those willing to take the risk and want to enjoy luscious sweet cherries produced in their own yard when yearly growing conditions are favorable. Best planted in areas of zone 5 in Wisconsin.

Leaf Lore:

Rainier was developed by Washington State in 1952 at the Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. It originated from a cross of ‘Bing’ x ‘Van’.

Companion Plants:

Rainier must be cross-pollinated with a different sweet cherry variety in order to bear fruit.