How to Care for Tartarian Cherry Trees

Overview

Black Tartarian cherry trees are popular among fruit growers and home gardeners because they produce an abundance of dark, sweet cherries. Tartarian cherries ripen in late June and are small to medium-sized, purple-black fruits. The trees will grow in a variety of climates in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. They are a good crop for growers in the northern U.S. because of their hardiness and short harvest time.

Step 1

Water carefully. If you are planting a new crop of Tartarian cherry trees, water well for at least two weeks to help the tree acclimate, then taper off to a normal watering schedule. If your tree is established, let the weather guide you on how much to water. In periods of hot, dry weather, water as often as two or three times a week, but if rain falls, you won't need to water. In the winter, water no more than once a month or not at all if there is snow cover.

Step 2

Mulch around the base of the cherry tree. Don't push the mulch right up against the bark, but place a good 2- or 3-inch layer of mulch in a wide circle around the base. Growers in colder climates should use 4 to 6 inches of mulch to shield against cold and frost.

Step 3

Fertilize at the right times. Cherry trees need fertilizing in the spring, summer and early fall. The spring fertilization will encourage new growth; the summer application will help the trees set fruit; and the fall fertilizing will help the tree store up nutrients for the winter. Use a nitrogen and mineral slow-release fertilizer designed for fruit trees.

Step 4

Prune at least yearly. Cut any broken, dead, dying or diseased twigs or branches as soon as they are evident, but also prune to encourage the best fruiting. Sweet cherry trees like Tartarian produce most of their fruit on 1- to 3-year-old spurs or shoots off older growth. Each year, prune spurs older than three years, and keep the volume of spurs even throughout the circle of the tree's branches. Also, prune off one of any pair of branches that cross to keep air and light circulation strong.

Step 5

Train the branches. Tartarian cherry trees are among the dark, sweet cherry trees that tend to grow upward rather than outward and without training may not produce much fruit at all. Cut back vertical growth in favor of lateral branches, and train branches using an open vase form for best shape and fruiting. This includes spreading young shoots to wider angles using clothespins and removing lower and narrower branches each fall for the first few years of the tree's life. Discontinue training pruning after three or four years so that the tree fruits better, as it won't fruit to its potential until severe pruning is stopped.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Clothespins

References

  • Willis Orchards: Planting and Care
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Growing Cherries
Keywords: growing cherry trees, black cherry growing, Tartarian cherry maintenance

About this Author

Kim Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University.