Every fruit has its peak season, but there are a few, such as cherries, that are truly only good for a month or two each year. A juicy red cherry is a treasure that we gardeners can spend a whole afternoon fantasizing about growing but most of us have to limit ourselves to the daydream. Disease, poor pollination and birds are just a few of the obstacles that stand in the way of a good harvest.
If you considered planting a cherry tree but thought better of it because of the aforementioned drawbacks I suggest you give the idea a second look. Unlike the varieties of yore, modern cherries boast disease resistance, heat and humidity tolerance, compact form and self-pollination. All of these characteristics make successfully growing a cherry tree a realistic venture.
There are actually two types of cherries – sweet (Prunus avium) and tart or sour (Prunus cerasus). Sweet cherries are the type that you will find in the grocery store that you can eat fresh. P. cerasus bears firm, sour cherries that are used for cooking, baking and preserving. Sweet cherries are best suited for areas where temperatures are mild and humidity is low while tart cherries will grow in cooler climates and need about 2 months of winter temperatures below 45Â° F. Washington, Oregon and California produce more than 97 percent of the sweet cherries in the U.S. and the top tart cherry producing state is Michigan. That should give you some indication of their climate preferences.
Of the two sweet cherries are the more difficult to grow, but if you are willing to commit to some hand holding there are modern varieties that are easier than old-fashioned types like â€˜Bing’. Tart cherries are more disease resistant, cold tolerant, accepting of poor soil and reliably self-fertile.
Both types of cherry trees need similar care. Plant them in a spot with full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. Self-fertile cherries will produce fruit without another variety present for cross-pollination. If you select a variety that’s not self-fertile check the tag for a list of cultivars you can plant together for the best pollination. Standard cherries that grow large should be planted 35 to 40 feet apart. You can space dwarf trees 8 to 10 feet apart.
Once you plant your tree keep it consistently watered, but not soaked, for the first year. Deep soak established trees when the top few inches of the soil is dry. A layer of mulch will go a long way toward keeping the soil around the roots moist and cool. And don’t forget to give your cherries and all your trees and shrubs extra moisture going into winter, especially after a dry fall.
When it comes to fertilizer, feed the soil rather than the tree. If the tree appears happy an application of compost in early spring will be sufficient. If you think the tree needs more of a boast do a soil test first to determine what type and how much nutrient should be added. If the growth rate seemed slow the previous year an application of nitrogen may be called for. Apply it at a rate of 1/8 of a pound per inch of the diameter of the trunk. Fruit bearing sweet cherries will grow about 10 to 15 inches every year; sour cherries grow at a rate of 8 to 10 inches every year.
Pruning cherry trees is important for tree strength and fruit production. This task should be done every year. How and when you prune depends on the type of cherry, variety and your climate. For instance, the dwarf sweet cherry ‘Compact Stella’ growing in an arid climate can be pruned in late winter while the same tree growing in a humid region would be better served with a late spring pruning after the blooms fade. My best advice is to research the variety you select and check with your cooperative extension about timing. Oh, and don’t over think the task. You’ll be surprised how easy it is once you are armed with the right information.
My final thought on growing cherries is about birds. They love these treasured fruits as much as we do. You can cut down on the amount you share by covering the tree with bird netting. This is much easier to accomplish if you choose a dwarf variety. Look for sweet cherries grafted onto rootstocks named Gisela, Krymsk or Colt. In addition to the more manageable size these rootstocks offer other advantages such as disease resistance and tolerance of poor soils. Sour cherries are naturally smaller than sweet cherries and there is a selection of varieties that are genetically dwarf.
EARLY SPRING is the ideal time to plant a fruit tree. All fruiting trees that grow in the Pacific Northwest go dormant during the winter months. These trees most easily settle into a new home if they are transplanted while still in slumber — ideally, several weeks before their spring buds break. Spring weather allows the newly planted trees to send out roots and begin photosynthesizing without the stresses associated with excessively hot, dry or freezing weather.
Fortunately, the local nursery industry is generally well-prepared for the spring planting season. Fruit trees begin arriving in local stores as early as February. If you are looking for very specific varieties, start shopping early, because there is always limited stock available. You might also consider mail-ordering your trees directly from a grower, which will provide access to the broadest range of varieties.
Fruit trees can be purchased “bare root” or as potted plants. Bare-root plants are often available earlier in the spring and can be considerably less expensive.
Whichever type you choose, follow these simple practices to ensure the successful establishment of your new tree:
• Know your graft: Almost all fruit trees have been grafted. Grafting is a propagating technique that has been used for centuries. Typically, a branch from a desirable fruit tree (called the scion) is attached to the base of a different variety (called the rootstock). The scion determines the type of fruit, and the rootstock determines the mature size of the tree. When shopping for fruit trees, you’ll likely see a range of graft options, including true-dwarf, dwarf, semi-dwarf or standard-sized trees. In most settings, dwarf or semi-dwarf trees work best.
• Pick a good spot: While many species are somewhat forgiving of poor soil conditions, most prefer a site that is sunny and well-drained. Keep in mind the mature size of your tree. You’ll need to provide it with enough space to fully spread its branches in its new home. And make sure to check the acidity of your tree location — optimum soil pH for most fruit trees is about 6.5.
• Dig the right size hole: The hole should be twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. It is not helpful to dig deeper because loose soil underneath the tree will cause it to sink as the soil settles back into place. Use your shovel or a spading fork to cut gashes into the sides and base of the hole. This will make it easier for the roots to grow into the surrounding soil.
• Planting: Trim off any broken roots, and cut back roots that are long enough to wrap around your planting hole. Place the trunk of the tree in the center of the hole, and fill in soil on all sides. Water the soil as you go, and tamp it around the base with the handle of your shovel. These techniques will help close air pockets, stabilizing the tree and preventing root die-off. It is imperative that the graft union remains at least 2 inches above the surface. The graft union should be visible as a bulbous wound near the base of the trunk. If the base of the scion wood touches the ground, it might send out roots. This can override the dwarfing qualities of the rootstock and result in a full-size tree!
• Staking: Most newly planted trees benefit from staking. A strong support will help the trunk remain upright while it establishes a root system. If you are planting dwarf or semi-dwarf trees, you might want to set up permanent staking. The dwarfing rootstock might never develop a broad-enough root system to support the trunk and branches. Dwarfed trees can tip over, even years after planting. The stake should stand at least as high as the tree’s lowest limb and be set just past the edge of the root ball. You can use tree-staking wraps from a garden center to tie the stake and tree together, or DIY methods such as old hose or nylons. Do not use wire or any material that could gouge the tree.
• Mulching: Apply mulch around the base of the tree to supply nutrients and conserve soil moisture. Keep the mulch at least 2 inches away from the trunk. Mulch that touches the bark of the trunk will make it easier for burrowing animals to gnaw at and girdle (remove a ring of bark) your new tree.
• Care: Water your new fruit tree regularly for at least the first three seasons after planting. Most fruit trees benefit from yearly pruning and fruit-thinning.
Now, the only thing you have left to think about is what type of tree you are going to plant.
- Growing Cherry Trees
- When are Bing Cherries in season?
- “This year the USA cherry season has been longer than normal”
- Sweet Cherries in New England
- Bing CherryPrunus avium ‘Bing’
- Dwarf cherry tree or cherry shrub? Which is better for your garden?
- Which is Best for Your Garden – a dwarf cherry tree or a cherry shrub?
- Dwarf Cherry Shrubs Developed in Saskatchewan for Cold Climates
- Rootstock Choices for your Dwarf Cherry Tree
- Dwarf Cherry Trees are Better for Warmer Climate Zones
- Further Dwarf Cherry Tree Resources
- Tips For Planting Cherry Seeds: Can You Grow A Cherry Tree Pit
- Can You Grow a Cherry Tree Pit?
- How to Grow Cherry Trees from Pits
- Can You Grow a Tree from a Cherry Pit?
Growing Cherry Trees
How to Grow Cherry Trees
There are two types of cherries that you can grow – ‘sweet cherries’ and ‘acid cherries’. The former type makes great fruit to eat straight from the tree or add to a fruit salad and the latter is best as a dessert ingredient for compotes, tarts and pies.
Some cherry varieties require neighbouring cherry trees for successful fruit. The label will stipulate whether the variety is ‘self-fertile’; if it is, you don’t need to worry about it. If not self-fertile choose a neighbouring cherry tree which flowers at the same time for guaranteed fruiting.
Planting Cherry Trees
Cherry trees are normally available as bare rooted or containerised plants that are young (up to five years old) and trained by the growers to grow well and develop maximum harvests. Depending on how you receive your plant will determine in which season to plant it.
- Choose a site which is well-drained and in a position which benefits from good sunlight
- Avoid planting in frost pockets, as opened flowers are susceptible to frost damage, windy or exposed areas should also be avoided to prevent crop damage
- Avoid planting near larger or overhanging trees and do not plant where an old fruit tree has recently been moved to prevent carrying over dormant disease
- If your garden or allotment is visited by rabbits, then adequate protection must be given to the tree trunks using wire netting or plastic tree guards.
Planting Bare-rooted Cherry Trees
Plant bare-rooted cherry trees from November to March. The first step in planting cherry trees is to correctly prepare the soil to do this take the following steps:
- Plant in thoroughly dug soil and incorporate some bulky compost or organic extra manure, a feed of fish, blood & bone or light and easy garden compost
- Remove any deep routed perennial weeds with a fork, shallow-rooted weeds can be removed with a hoe
- Cherry trees will not produce a good harvest of cherries in shallow or sandy soils. If you have this soil in your garden, grow cherries in containers or add a great deal of bulky compost or manure to the soil before planting
After the soil has been prepared correctly, use the following method to plant your cherry trees:
- Dig a planting hole 15cm (6in) wider than the root system once it has been spread out, to a depth whereby the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young tree will be just covered
- This should mean that the graft union (the knobbly part at the base of the stem) is about is 12-15cm (5-6in) above soil level when you have finished planting
- Fork into the sides of the hole to encourage the roots to penetrate the surrounding soil and establish well
- If you want to add a tree-stake for stabilising the tree in a windy site, bang it into the hole before the tree is planted. This means you won’t damage roots by tapping in the stake after the young tree has been planted
- After placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down with your foot. Repeat until you’ve filled the hole with soil. The tree should be firm enough in the soil that it does not up-root when you pull the main stem and it shows resistance.
- Water the area generously after planting and add a layer of warming and moisture-locking mulch around the tree, making sure that the mulch does not come into direct contact with the main stem.
- If you have added a stake, tie to the tree by means of a tree tie ensuring that it’s firmly attached but allows a small degree of movement.
Planting Containerised Cherry Trees
Follow the same instructions as planting bare-rooted cherry trees, but note the following:
- Planting time: Containerised cherry tree can be planted all year round (though avoid high-summer and deep winter)
- Planting method: Remove any weeds that may be growing on top of the container, and tease out some of the roots that are circling around the root ball. This will encourage the roots to penetrate the surrounding soil and establish well.
Feeding Cherry Trees
Incorporating bulky compost and/ or manure into the soil before planting will increase nutrient levels in the soil and give the young cherry tree a good start.
Until they flower, feed with a general purpose fertiliser that you can add to water. Once the tree starts to flower, change this to a feed high in potash, like tomato food, which encourages good flowering and fruiting.
Acid cherries need more feeding than sweet cherries so bear this in mind when applying fertiliser.
Watering Cherry Trees
In the first year of planting, water generously. A good rule of thumb is to water to the point of creating a small pool around the stem. Let this absorb into the ground and repeat. Water morning and evening in times of drought, and one or the other during wet periods.
It’s essential to add a mulch after planting which conserves water in the soil.
Training Cherry Trees
Sweet cherries (Flowers and fruit develop on older stems)
2-3 year old tree: Prune in early spring, prune all main stems to half their length.
4+ year old tree: Prune in late-June: Prune stems that are dead, damaged or diseased. Also prune stems that are overcrowding the centre of the plant- focus on taking out the inward-growing stems. Also take out the suckers (the vertical stems growing from the ground next to the main trunk).
Harvesting and Storing Cherry Trees
Pick sweet cherries when they are ripe and eat as soon as possible so you can benefit from maximum flavour.
You can freeze sweet cherries, though yellow varieties lose vitality when frozen.
Harvest using snippers or secateurs for clean cuts. Picking by hand can introduce diseases. Acid cherries freeze less well, so harvest just before using as a dessert ingredient.
Best Varieties of Cherries
Sweet Cherry ‘Stella’
Sweet Cherry ‘Sun Burst’
Acid Cherry ‘Morello’
Pests and Diseases of Cherries
When are Bing Cherries in season?
By : The Hale Groves Team | On : July 20, 2018 | Category : Fruit Facts
You can find apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits all year round any time you go grocery shopping but you can?t say the same thing for cherries. This is one of the main reasons why gourmet cherries are considered a treat when they finally grace the store shelves or fruit stands.
Bing Cherries Season
The delectable and sinfully luscious Bing Cherries are only available for a limited time each year so it is important for you to know when these decadent drupes will hit the shelves for you to be able to enjoy them.
Bing cherry is a midseason cherry variety. Bing Cherries are large, heart-shaped, dark red to purple-colored cherries with confectionary sweetness best for eating fresh, canning or freezing. They are also a quintessential dessert ingredient when they are in season.
Although considered to be the most cultivated variety and the benchmark standard of all fresh cherries for sale, Bing Cherries are only available in July.
If you want to experience eating the sweetest, crispest and most delicious sweetheart cherries, buy cherries online and enjoy the plumpest, reddest and most flavorful Bing cherries for sale you will ever have the chance to get your hands on.
Bing Cherries Facts
Since we love Bing cherries so much it wouldn?t hurt to know a few things about them.
- Bing cherry was created in 1875 in Willamette Valley, Oregon by horticulturist Seth Lewelling as a crossbred graft from the Black Republican cherry cultivar with the help of his Manchurian Chinese foreman, Ah Bing.
- Bing cherry is named after Ah Bing, a Manchurian Chinese immigrant who worked as a foreman for the Lewelling family and oversaw the production of the family?s orchard where the Bing cherry was created.
- Cherries are not only tasty they area also healthy. They contain vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, boron and anthocyanin – a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemical.
- Cherries can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke, are good for diabetes due to their low glycemic index, offer Osteoarthritis pain relief, lower risk of gout attack and boost bodybuilding recovery.
- Since Bing cherries are seasonal premium fruits, sending Cherry gifts to friends, relatives, loved ones, and even business associates would be the perfect way of sharing happiness and good fortune.
Purchase Bing Cherries
These big, lustrous, long-stemmed cherries are grown in the rarefied air of a few high-altitude orchards in Washington state, where clear starry nights and cold mountain snowmelt produce sweeter, crisper, more delicious cherries than any you’ve ever tasted. Shop Now
“This year the USA cherry season has been longer than normal”
Antico has been importing Stemilt cherries from the USA for many years. The 2019 season’s volume started very low in California due to bad weather, but the volume from Washington was increasing.
The trade war between the US and China has not effected the supply to Australia, according to Oliver Wang, Export manager at Antico. “The exchange rate did effect the price. I believe US exporters have shipped more fruits to Vietnam and Korea than China.
“This year the USA cherry season has lasted a bit longer than normal. We just finished last week and we import exclusively from Stemilt. Stemilt has the longest cherry growing season of any shipper in the U.S., farming in both California and Washington.”
Antico are expecting their Australian cherry season start in October/November as usual. The trees are in flowering and are looking good so far. Exporting should starting from mid-November then extends through to late February with Tasmania Cherry
Antico has its own cherry farms and three packing houses with the latest cherry graders from UNITEC and GP Graders, they work together with the Batinich family and Hallmark Family in Young.
“Our fumigation facility and distribution centre are in Sydney. We have full control on picking-packing-treatment-export, to ensure maintaining the cold chain and delivering the fresh and quality fruits to consumers.
As the demand for Australian Cherries is growing stronger in China and other Asian Countries. We will continuing export our best quality cherry to consumers by air freight.”
Antico also export Australian summer stone fruits, table grapes and citrus and other mixed fruit and vegetables.
Under “Air Cargo Examination/security” Antico International has become a ‘Known Consignor’.
Antico International will be exhibiting at Asia Fruit Logistica Hall 3 stand number T42.
For more information:
Tel: +61 2 9764 3833
Mob: +61 408 418 620
Email: [email protected]
Sweet Cherries in New England
Published by Parlee Farms Follow Us:
Cherries are the second fruit of the “pick your own” season in New England, after strawberries. And we are just days away from the start of the cherry season at Parlee Farms!
Cherries are one of the most beautiful tree fruits! Sweet cherries are known to have plenty of health benefits since they are high in antioxidants, and low in cholesterol, fat, and sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber.
For a pick your own farm, cherry trees on a full-dwarf root stock (smaller trees) are the best option. They are easier for pickers and farmers to navigate and they bear the most fruit. Of the six varieties of sweet cherries here at Parlee Farms that cover almost two acres of land, the majority are the Black Gold and Regina varieties. The Black Gold are self-fertile cultivars and do not require cross pollination. A large cherry variety, it is a cross between Stella and Gold and resists cracking in wet weather. Regina is a popular modern sweet cherry variety, developed specifically to be resistant to rain-induced fruit cracking and splitting.
Cherries grown in New England must overcome a few challenges. The first is the weather. There is a very short time frame for cherries due to the weather conditions in New England. The picking season typically only lasts for about three weeks from late June into mid-July. If it rains often while the fruit is present, it can further reduce the season since cherry trees like well-drained soil. The skin of the cherry is more prone to cracking with too much rain. The second challenge is birds. Some varieties are more attractive to birds than others, but cherry trees need to be protected. The best way to keep the birds away from cherry trees is by covering them with nets. If the trees aren’t covered, the tree will likely be left with bare pits hanging from their stems!
If you enjoy cherries, we hope that you are able to go picking during the short time span that they are available here in New England! Remember, cherries are very perishable and do not ripen after picking. Pick fully ripe cherries and refrigerate them soon after purchase. They can remain fresh in your refrigerator for at least 2 days.
Categorized in: Cherries
This post was written by Parlee Farms
Bing CherryPrunus avium ‘Bing’
- Produces large, heart-shaped fruit with a firm, meaty, purplish-red flesh and a semi-free stone–ideal for fresh eating and preserves.
- Provides up to 50–100 lbs. of cherries per year when mature (standard tree).
- Blooms in early spring, with clusters of white flowers that have a delightful fragrance.
- Is available in standard and dwarf sizes. Our standard Bing seedlings are budded onto Prunus avium mazzard or sweet cherry, and our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (sand cherry).
- Yields uniformly ripe fruit sometime in mid-June or mid-summer.
- Needs regular watering through dry periods.
- Requires cross-pollination with a compatible variety with the same bloom time that is growing within 100′ for standard trees (20′ for dwarf trees). We suggest Black Republican, Sam, Black Tartarian, Schmidt, Cavalier, Stella, Gold, Van, Heidelfingen, Vega, Montmorency, Vista, Ranier and Windsor.
- Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 700–800. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
- Begins to bear fruit in 5–6 years (standard tree).
- Features simple leaves that are dark green, measure 3–6″ long and have blunt teeth on the margin.
- Grows in a rounded shape.
- Develops smooth, glossy, reddish bark studded with short, horizontal, corky stripes.
- Should be planted early in the season because leaf buds open early and the roots are slower to establish.
Dwarf cherry tree or cherry shrub? Which is better for your garden?
Which is a better option…a cherry tree? Or a cherry shrub? Read on to discover the pros and cons of each one.
Which is Best for Your Garden – a dwarf cherry tree or a cherry shrub?
For generations, there was no such thing as a dwarf cherry tree. Instead, cherry trees came in one size only and that size was “large”. Cherry trees can be huge, up to three stories high. But if you have a small garden and no space for a full sized tree, what can you do? Today, you’re spoiled for choice. You can invest in a dwarf cherry tree that’s been grafted onto dwarfing rootstock. Or you can opt for an easy-care cherry shrub. I’ll talk about both of those options in this blog.
Dwarf Cherry Shrubs Developed in Saskatchewan for Cold Climates
If you live in a cold climate, a dwarf cherry shrub may be the best option. Back in the 1940s, a breeder in Saskatchewan started to develop hybrid cherry plants that would grow in a shrub-like form. When he died, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan took over and continued to work on these plants until they were really happy with the taste of the fruit.
The team introduced their first dwarf cherry shrub, Carmine Jewel, in 1999. They followed up in 2004 with the introduction of “The Romance Series of Cherries” including cultivars named Romeo, Juliet, Crimson Passion, Valentine and Cupid. These shrubs produce sour cherries that are perfect for cooking and processing. And they are easier to prune than a dwarf sweet cherry would be.
Full size cherry trees can be two or three stories tall. But dwarf cherry shrubs are an option for small gardens where there is no room for a full size tree.
Rootstock Choices for your Dwarf Cherry Tree
Cherry shrubs are terrific if you’re interested in growing cherries for cooking and processing. But if you want sweet cherries for fresh eating, you may opt instead for a dwarf cherry tree in which a branch from one of your favourite types of cherries (Like Bing, Lapins, Ranier and other popular cultivars) is grafted onto a rootstock from another compatible tree. The rootstock contributes many qualities to the new plant – one of the important ones is that the rootstock can help limit the size of the fruit tree when mature.
Dwarf rootstock has been available for apple growers for a long time. But that was not the case with cherry trees until the 1970s. At that time breeders in Germany starting working to create a root stock that could be used to create a dwarf cherry tree that can be half the size of a full size tree . Over the years a few options have been created including Gisela and Krymsk that offer lots of benefits, including dwarfing qualities. Using those root stock options, your dwarf cherry tree can produce almost any types of cherries including sweet cherries like Bing, Lapins, Ranier and other popular cultivars.
If you want sweet cherries for fresh eating, you may opt instead for a dwarf cherry tree in which a branch from one of your favourite types of cherries
Dwarf Cherry Trees are Better for Warmer Climate Zones
If you live in a very cold climate, cherry shrubs may be your only option. But if your climate is slightly warmer (Zone 5 and up) you’ll have more choice. You will also be able to grow sweet cherries that can be eaten fresh. Sweet cherries aren’t yet available in a compact shrub form. So, if you want to grow sweet cherries, you need to plant a sweet cherry tree. And if your garden is small, make sure your new cherry tree is on dwarfing root stock, otherwise your new tree may soon grow so large that it will take over your garden.
Dwarf cherry trees are produced when the grower takes a branch from a cherry tree that produces tasty fruit (like Bing, or Lapins) and fuses it onto a rootstock from another compatible tree. The rootstock contributes many qualities to the new plant – like disease resistance or increased hardiness. But one of the important features is that some rootstocks will help limit the size of the tree when mature.
Dwarf rootstock has been available for apple growers for a long time. But that was not the case with cherry trees until the 1970s. At that time breeders in Germany starting working to create a root stock that could be used to create a dwarf cherry tree that can be half the size of a full size tree . Today two popular dwarfing cherry root stock choices are Gisela and Krymsk.
So where will you find a good selection of dwarf cherry trees and cherry shrubs? I’ll go through that below. But first, here’s an infographic that summarizes the features of dwarf cherry trees and cherry shrubs.
Further Dwarf Cherry Tree Resources
Before you make your choice about whether to plant a dwarf cherry tree or a cherry shrub in your garden consider learning more about the different options. I cover both topics in more depth in recent episodes of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast, which you can listen to below.
You can learn more about how to select a dwarf cherry tree that will thrive in your unique conditions in my online workshop in Beginner Fruit Tree Care. And then, when you’re ready to shop around and buy a dwarf cherry tree, download my fruit tree nursery resource list so that you can find a nursery that will provide you with exactly that type of cherry you would like to grow in your small garden.
So dwarf cherry tree or cherry shrub? It’s up to you. What will you choose?
You may also be interested in:
- PODCAST: Learning From Tree Leaves and Cherry Root Stock
- PODCAST: Interview with a Cherry Breeder on Dwarf Cherry Shrubs
- PODCAST: Do you have mites in your fruit trees?
Director, OrchardPeople.com Fruit Tree Care Education Online
Susan Poizner is an urban orchardist and the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book Growing Urban Orchards. She is the creator of the award-winning online fruit tree care training program at www.orchardpeople.com and the host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast. She is also an ISA Certified Arborist..
Tips For Planting Cherry Seeds: Can You Grow A Cherry Tree Pit
If you’re a cherry lover, you’ve probably spit your share of cherry pits, or maybe it’s just me. At any rate, have you ever wondered, “Can you grow a cherry tree pit?” If so, how do you grow cherry trees from pits? Let’s find out.
Can You Grow a Cherry Tree Pit?
Yes indeed. Growing cherry trees from seed is not only an inexpensive way to grow a cherry tree, but it’s also lots of fun and delicious!
First off, can you grow a cherry tree in your region? Cherry varieties are hardy through USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9, depending upon the type.
Now comes the hard part. Eat some cherries. That’s a tough one, huh? Use cherries from either a tree growing in the area or purchased from a farmers market. Cherries from the grocers are stored in such a way, refrigerated, that makes starting seeds from them unreliable.
Save the pits from the cherries you’ve just devoured and put them in a bowl of warm water. Let the pits soak for five minutes or so and then lightly scrub them free of any clinging fruit. Spread the clean pits out on a paper towel in a warm area and let them dry for three to five days, then, transfer the dry pits to a plastic container, labeled and fitted with a tight lid. Store the pits in the refrigerator for 10 weeks.
Why are you doing this? Cherries need to go through a cold or stratification period that normally occurs naturally during the winter, prior to germination in the spring. Refrigerating the pits is artificially mimicking this process. Okay, seed planting of cherry trees is now ready to commence.
How to Grow Cherry Trees from Pits
Once the ten weeks has passed, remove the pits and allow them to come to room temperature. You are now ready for planting the cherry seeds. Put two to three pits into a small container filled with planting medium and water the seeds in. Keep the soil moist.
When the cherry seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin them, removing the weakest plants, leaving the sturdiest seedling in the pot. Keep the seedling in a sunny area indoors until all danger of frost has passed for your region, and then transplant outside. Multiple trees should be planted at least 20 feet apart.
Seed Planting Cherry Trees
Growing cherry trees from seed can also be attempted directly in the garden. In this method, you are skipping the refrigeration and letting the seeds go through a natural stratification process through the winter.
In the fall, gather the dried cherry pits and plant them outside. Plant a few since some may not germinate. Set the seeds 2 inches deep and one foot apart. Mark the planting sites.
In the spring, the pits will sprout. Wait until the seedlings are 8-12 inches in height and then transplant them to their permanent site in the garden. Mulch well around the transplanted seedlings to retard weeds and aid in water retention.
And, there you have it! Planting cherry seeds is as simple as that! The difficult part is waiting for those luscious cherries.
Can You Grow a Tree from a Cherry Pit?
Why Growing a Cherry Tree from a Pit is Iffy
When you plant a cherry pit, the embryo inside is a combination of the genetics of the tree which provided pollen and the tree which had the blossom. The offspring will be a combination of these two parent trees and is unlikely to have the exact same characteristics as either of the parents.
Fruit trees, including cherries, are grown using two vegetative propagation methods called budding and grafting. These methods involve taking a small section from a tree with desirable qualities and attaching it to a rootstock especially bred for resistance to pests and diseases.
These methods produce trees which are true to the type of the parent tree because they are actually clones of one of the parents. Because of this, the best way of planting a cherry tree is to buy a sapling tree from a nursery or learn about grafting and budding techniques.
Planting a Cherry Pit for Fun
You still may want to plant a cherry pit and see what happens. This can be a fun and educational project for children, and there is a tiny chance the tree you grow will have fruit good for eating. Even if it doesn’t, it may be a pleasant landscape tree providing shade and food for birds and other wildlife.
Before you put your cherry pit into the soil, it must be exposed to cold temperatures for about two months. This is called a dormancy, or after-ripening, period, and it mimics what happens in nature when seeds from ripe fruit go through the cold of winter before germinating.
To start a cherry tree from a pit:
- Clean the seed of all fruit and put it in a paper bag in the refrigerator for 60 days or longer.
- In the spring, dig a 1 foot (.3 meter) square hole in a sunny location and mix compost with the native soil for drainage and nutrients.
- Plant two or three seeds about 1 inch (2.5cm) deep in the soil, and then place a wire screen over the hole and tuck the edges down into the soil to prevent squirrels or other animals from digging up the seeds.
- Water the area each week and wait for the cherry pits to sprout, then remove the wire screen.
It may take as long as several months before the seeds sprout and start to grow, so be patient.