There is a bit of confusion about what a cherry bush is; there are some in the group of flowering ornamental cherries, grown for landscape screens or along the street, not for fruit. One example of the flowering ornamental is the chokecherry, which is a shrub with the botanical name prunus virginiana. The chokecherry has a sour albeit edible fruit that appears in August or September. In spring, the clusters of beautiful white flowers are especially fragrant. Leaves change colors in fall making a good fall tree or shrub as well. Some types, native to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, are especially drought and heat tolerant.
Another completely different cherry is the type grown for its fruit. One easy to grow cherry bush with delicious fruit is the Surinam, also called a Pitanga cherry. Originally from tropic zones of America, it is found in abundance in the Florida Keys; Its classification is Eugenia uniflora — a shrub or bush of a few feet to 25 or more feet tall, with lovely red leaves in early winter.
The Surinam is named for the location of the same name, and known for its showy white flowers that bloom in late winter to spring with a wonderful fragrance. It prefers regular shaping and full sun, although it can grow in a random habit, and partial shade is acceptable. The desired size is around 5 feet for a more attractive plant, and for the most fruit. It can be used as a hedge, but hedge trimming with make the fruit scarce.
There are two varieties of the Surinam cherry bush, one with a tart fruit, and the other a sweet, dark cherry referred to as a black cherry, called Lolita–definitely the one for eating and canning. The fruit begins in yellow, then turns orange, and then deep red to black when ready to harvest.
If given needed irrigation, the Surinam cherry bush grows in virtually any region regardless of dry season, but it grows without any significant care in subtropical or tropical areas. New plants should not be exposed to temperatures below 28 degrees. It is adaptable to all types of soil, but the best is a rich well-drained soil. It does not do well in soil containing sand.
For the best fruit crop, grow in a sheltered area. The fruit may not appear for several years after planting. In 3 or 4 years, it will have cherries about 1 inch across. Once the fruit starts to appear, wait 2 to 4 weeks for ripening. Fruit should be harvested up to twice a day to keep producing. Do not pick fruit until it almost falls off the vine.
The cherries make great preserves, pies, and fruit salad ingredients. The fruit seed should not be eaten, and cherries should not be given to pets as they can cause diarrhea. The plant can be very invasive when its frequent visitors, birds and insects, eat the fruit and drop seeds.