Garden Detective

Garden detective: Cherries need the right match

I have two cherry trees; one is four years old and the other is three years old. One is a Bing cherry and the other, I don’t know. Both bloomed fairly well but had no cherries. Is there a universal cross-pollinator that I could plant to pollinate my two cherry trees? Or can you recommend a pollinator for the Bing?

Rita Rostin, Pilot Hill

According to UC master gardener Carol Hunter, sweet cherries require a pollinizer. The following cherry trees (among others) can pollinize a Bing: Sam, Van and Black Tartarian. Other possibilities include Ranier, Hartland, Angela and Glacier.

What’s interesting is that some varieties specifically won’t pollinize a Bing, including Emperor Francis, Kristin and Stella.

Another issue associated with fruit set is whether the two trees needed for that purpose are in bloom at or near the same time. If the blooming cycles do not coincide, there can still be a lack of production.

An alternative to planting another tree is to bud or graft one or more other varieties onto the existing tree. Cherry bud wood and instructions on grafting are available each winter from the California Rare Fruit Growers during their annual scion exchange, usually held in January.

You can learn more about cherries from the University of California’s Fruit and Nut Education website, available at:

We get questions all the time from neighbors asking what is this plant? We have no idea but would like to know ourselves. It has big glossy leaves that look like something a frog would sit on in a pond! Can you help?

Phyllis Schwartz, Encinitas

That’s Farfugium japonicum, a pretty perennial that looks right at home in woodland settings (frogs optional). It’s a Japanese relative of the aster and grows from rhizomes. It prefers afternoon shade and a forestlike setting. It’s ideal in borders near trees.

Some varieties have yellow spots, which gives this perennial the common name “Leopard Plant.” Most farfugium bear spikes of yellow daisylike flowers in spring or summer.