Variety Napoleon


Article by David Marks

Use the checklist below to decide if the Napoleon 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 Napoleon are produced mid to late season, ready for eating, on average, in the second to third weeks of July.
  • Fruits are of larger than average size. They are light red and the flesh inside is light yellow rather than the normal red. The flavour is more acidic than average and the texture is firmer.
  • The picking period lasts two to three weeks and the cherries are produced in two or sometimes three flushes.
  • Napoleon was a chance seedling originating from Germany, the parents are not known.
  • This variety reliably produces a large amount of fruit.
  • Disease resistance is poor and this is not a variety best suited to those who want a low maintenance tree. The main problem is canker but fruit-splitting will also occur.
  • Napoleon is self-sterile and needs a suitable pollination partner (see below).
  • It is fully hardy in all parts of the UK. The blossom appears late in the season and normally misses any frost damage.


Napoleon is rarely to be found in your local garden centre because of the disease problems with this variety. It is however available online from a severalĀ  suppliers.

Napoleon cherries
Picture from public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.


Napoleon is in pollination group 4, self-sterile, it requires a pollination partner to produce a crop of cherries. The following varieties, commonly grown in the UK are suitable::

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


On Colt rootstock Napoleon will grow to about 3.5m / 11ft tall when it has reached maturity after about 7 years. It can easily be pruned to reach a maximum height of 2m / 7ft. On Gisela 5 rootstock it will grow into a 2m / 6ft tall tree but will need more care than if grown on a Colt rootstock.


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 Napoleon 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 Napoleon in the first year according to the suppliers instructions. Prune annually immediately after flowering in later years, in late July. See our detailed article on pruning cherry trees. With Napoleon’s susceptibility to canker it is extremely important to follow the pruning rules carefully.
  • 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.