Variety Merton Bigarreau


Article by David Marks

Merton Bigerreau was raised by the John Innes Horticultural institute and released in 1924. The parents are Knights Early Black and Napoleon Bigarreau.

Use the checklist below to decide if the Merton Bigarreau cherry tree variety is correct for you and your garden. If this is not the correct variety, see our cherry tree varieties page, to select another variety which may suit you better.

  • The fruits of Merton Bigarreau are produced mid-season, ready for eating, on average, in the second week of July
  • Fruits are of medium size. They are dark red, virtually black and have a sweet and very full flavour.
  • The picking period is ten days.
  • This variety reliably produces a good amount of fruit.
  • Disease resistance is below average and is liable to suffer from both canker and fruit-splitting.
  • Merton Bigarreau is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner to produce fruit.
  • It is fully hardy in all parts of the UK (however, see above about blossom).


Merton Bigarreau is not often to be found in your local garden centre but is available online on (almost exclusively) Colt rootstock. One supplier of this variety at a reasonable price is Keepers Nursery who also supply them grown on Gisela 5 and F12/1 rootstocks. It can beĀ  bought as both a potted tree (generally more expensive) all year round or as a bare-rooted tree from October to March (cheaper). We would recommend buying bare-rooted.

Merton Bigarreau
Picture from public sector information licensed under the Open Government
Licence v2.0.


Merton Bigarreau is in pollination group 3, self-sterile and and needs a suitable pollination partner to produce fruit. The following varieties produces blossom at roughly the same time and are suitable for pollinating Merton Bigarreau. They are easily obtainable in the UK:

  • Merton Glory, pollination group 2, eating variety
  • Lapins, pollination group 2 to 3, eating variety
  • Penny, pollination group 3 to 4, eating variety
  • Summer Sun, pollination group 3 to 4, eating variety
  • Stella, pollination group 3 to 4, cooking variety
  • Sunburst, pollination group 3 to 4, eating variety
  • Van, pollination group 3, eating variety


On Colt rootstock Merton Bigarreau will grow to about 4m / 13ft tall when it has reached maturity after about 7 years. With an annual prune it can easily be kept to 2.4m / 8ft high for a manageable tree in most gardens. On Gisela 5 rootstock it will grow to approximately 2.4m / 8ft.


Click on the box below to see the full range of cherry tree varieties which we have reviewed in detail. Click on any one of them to see the full variety review.



The following are the key rules for growing this variety, click here for more detailed information about growing and pruning cherry trees:

  • Plant and grow in a full sun position.
  • The best time to plant Merton Bigarreau is in late autumn to early winter. It can be planted at other times of year but will require watering more frequently to ensure it establishes well.
  • Plant the tree to the same depth as it was in the pot. If planting bare-rooted trees you will see a natural soil mark just above the roots which indicates the correct depth for planting.
  • Spread an 8cm / 3in layer of mulch around the base of the tree but not touching the main trunk. A mulched circle of about 1m / 3ft will be sufficient. This will retain moisture in the soil below and greatly help the tree to establish well.
  • Water very well immediately after planting.
  • Stake the tree for the first two years of its life on a Colt rootstock. If planted on Gisela 5 rootstock the tree will require staking for its life.
  • In the first summer after planting the tree, water well if conditions become dry.
  • Prune Merton Bigarreau in the first year according to the suppliers instructions. Prune annually in later years, soon after the fruit has stopped being produced which will be about the third week of July for Merton Bigarreau. See our detailed article on pruning cherry trees.
  • An annual mulch in late Spring will help to retain moisture and an even supply of water.
  • If any pests or diseases appear treat them as soon as possible. Consult our cherry tree pest and disease page for detailed information on identifying and treating problems.