How to Grow Cherries

How to Grow Cherries

 **These are beautiful trees to have because they have a pretty bark, pretty flowers, and delicious fruits.

**There are two basic types of edible cherries: sweet ones and sour ones. Sweet cherries are best for eating fresh and sour cherries are used mostly in cooking or preserves (they are often called pie cherries). Sour cherries are easier to grow, grow in zones 4-7, and have less problems with insects and diseases. Sweet cherries are hardy in zones 5-8. Sour cherry trees reach 15 feet tall and Sweet cherry trees reach 25 feet tall, though both come in dwarf varieties so that you can reach all of the fruit.

 

Position:

**Give either or both cherry trees a sunny spot, preferably with a lot of southern sun exposure. Avoid cold valleys where frost can destroy your harvest.

**The soil must be well-drained. Cherries will not thrive in a soggy soil. They need light, rather sandy soil, though sour cherries can handle a heavier soil than the sweet ones can. The soil should be fertile.

**The ideal pH level is 6.5, but they will accept between 5.5-8.0. If you do not yet own a pH soil tester, here is a suggested one.

 

Propagation:

**Almost all cherry trees you buy are grafted, usually on cherry rootstocks. Buy 1 or 2 year old dormant trees that are 4-5 feet tall and cut them back by a third.

**Cherries are best planted in early spring before buds swell, except in warm climates, where fall planting is fine. Click here to read my post on Early Spring Garden Planning.

**While planting cherries, do not let the roots dry out at any time. Cut off any roots that are either damaged or long and straggly. Organic matter such as compost or moistened peat moss should be dug into the general planting area. The soil should be loosened in the bottom of the planting hole and for several feet around it. Set the young tree at the depth at which it grew in the nursery or a bit deeper than that, and be sure to firm the soil around the roots to avoid having any air pockets which  might cause the roots to dry out. Apply a mulch to protect the roots and balance moisture. Protect the trunk against mice with wire mesh. Paint the trunk with white tree paint to prevent sun scald.

 

Maintenance:

**Water cherry trees deeply if the weather is very dry at flowering time or just as fruits are ripening. The trees do not need a lot of feeding, in fact, too much feeding can lead to disease and a sparse harvest. Only give a topdressing of fertilizer if your soil’s fertility is too low. Do not feed the trees after early summer, however, or they will form new growth that will not harden in time for winter.

**Cherry trees need only a little pruning. Prune them to open up the top to encourage all the fruits to even ripen. Pruning is best done when the trees are dormant.

**The biggest challenge with cherries, especially sweet cherries, is beating birds to the crop. Netting is about the only thing that helps (currently). If your tree is tall, net the lower branches and allow the birds to get to the top branches because those are hard to pick anyway. You can also plant a mulberry tree nearby, because birds like mulberries more than cherries and you could trick them into leaving your cherries alone in this way. If you do this, however, make sure you have a cherry tree and a mulberry tree that have harvests at the same time, otherwise, you are just really spoiling those dang birds.

**The other pest to cherries is the tent caterpillar. Break up their nests quickly by hand or use a shop vacuum cleaner if grossed out.

 

Harvesting:

**You can get about 3 bushels of cherries from a sweet cherry tree and 2 bushels of cherries from a sour cherry tree. You get about 1 bushel of cherries from dwarf varieties of either kind. Pick when they are the right size, color, and taste and are easily picked.

**Cherries keep best with their stems on, but if you are going to use them right away, try to pick them without the stems to spare the fragile spurs. Otherwise, pull the stems off the spur gently with a twisting motion.

**Sweet cherries keep well if refrigerated for a few weeks. Sour cherries should be made into jams or pies as soon as possible.

 

How to Grow Cherries

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Comments (13)

[…] 13. Cherries: Cherry tree are best planted in the early spring in cooler climates, but they can be planted in the fall season if you live in a warmer climate. Here is more info on growing Cherries. […]

Thank you for the information! I am interested in possibly planting a cherry tree in my front yard, which is south facing, yay! I didn’t see any mention as to whether or not you need more than one tree for cross pollination? Any idea? Thanks for a great website!

Thanks for visiting and commenting! 🙂 I didn’t mention it, and I need to change that! There are different cherry tree varieties out there for both sour and cherry trees. Some varieties are self-pollinating so you only need one. There are plenty of those varieties out there, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one for your climate. Good luck!

[…] it all. However, I am trying to be realistic. I hope to plant an elder tree (for elderberries!), a sweet cherry tree and sour cherry tree, strawberries, blueberries, and some random unique fruit (maybe gooseberries or […]

hi, … I transplant my cherry plant last Saturday and it looks not very happy…. the lift are kind of close and down…. is this normal?

berenice gallegos

the leaves I meant… sorry English is not my native language..

I don’t know where you live, but cherries are best planted in very early spring or late fall, when there aren’t even leaves on them (usually). Depending on where you live, mid-May might be too late in the season. Also, what type of soil do you have? One problem that can occur with ANY plant in hard soils is that you dig a hole, put in the plant, add new/better dirt, and think it’s all good. However, that can very easily create a ‘water trap’: you deeply water it (or it rains) and the water can’t get into the hard, old dirt, so it just sits there, slowly drowning your plant. Based on the very brief info you gave me, it might be one of these 2 things. Hope that helps!

I recently took a weekend vacation to a historical site with beautiful cherry trees with luscious fruit. I kept several of the seeds hoping the seeds could take. Do you think its possible? Any ideas on the best way to start the seeds?

Starting fruit from seed takes a LONG time. I don’t have a lot of knowledge on that, since I always get fruit trees from 1-3 year old plants. It might work, though. Try it and find out! Good luck, and thanks for visiting and commenting!

I tried to net the cherry tree, but was unsuccessful.
The birds are feasting on my unripe cherries.
Can I harvest the whole crop now before they are ripe, and ripped them inside?
How long will this take and what is the best way o do this?
This is the first year I have a lot of cherries on my tree
Thanks for your help!

I’ll make this comment public. Maybe someone can help you have a better harvest in the future! Sorry you had this issue!

I live in southeast Texas and I planted two cherry trees, different varieties. We have Sandy, slightly acidic soil. The trees are about three yrs. Old and about 10 ft tall. When should I fertilize them and when might I expect cherries?

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