How to Buy Wild Cherry Trees


A wild cherry tree (Prunus serotina) is also known as a black cherry, rum cherry or mountain black cherry tree. It is native to the eastern half of the United States and grows best in full sun. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and other wildlife feed on the black cherries, and people harvest them to make wine and jams. There are several things to consider before buying a wild cherry tree for your yard or garden.

Step 1

Call your local utility companies, such as those that provide water, gas, electric, phone and cable service, to check if there are any underground obstacles near where you plan to plant your tree. This should be the first step before buying and planting any tree.

Step 2

Buy your wild cherry tree in the early spring. Planting is stressful on the tree and so is the summer heat, so avoid planting when it's hot. If spring has passed, wait until the fall to buy your wild cherry tree.

Step 3

Decide between buying your wild cherry tree from a reputable local, catalog or online nursery. Catalog and online nurseries are often a more economical option, especially if you are buying other items at the same time. However, at your local nursery, you can examine the tree prior to purchasing. Check to see which nurseries offer warranties with their trees. This may be a deciding factor for you, especially for an online or catalog nursery where you are buying a tree you didn't examine first.

Step 4

Choose what size wild cherry you wish to buy. Of course, the larger the tree, the more expensive it will be. You may not have a choice of sizes with an online or catalog nursery, but at your local nursery, larger trees with more years of growth are usually available. Some larger and more mature trees must be transported and planted by professionals if you cannot transport it or manage it without proper equipment (e.g., hydraulic tree spade). Smaller trees are easier to plant and are more likely to survive the transplant.

Step 5

Select a tree at your local nursery that appears to be healthy. The leaves should look fresh, green and not wilted. Do not buy a tree with signs of insect damage or disease. Be sure to look under the leaves and on the branches as well. For example, purple or brown spots on top of the leaves may indicate cherry leaf spot disease; leaves that are partially eaten may indicate an infestation of tent caterpillars; and black knots on the branches may indicate black knot disease, which is common among cherry trees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Cherry trees usually grow to about 45 to 60 feet tall, but they can reach 90 feet in optimum conditions. Their width is typically between 35 and 50 feet. If there are wires, houses or other obstructions within this growth range, you may want to change the planting site or choose a smaller tree.


  • University of Illinois Extension: Black Cherry, Wild Cherry
  • USDA Forest Service: Black Cherry
  • University of Connecticut: Prunus serotina
  • National Gardening Association: Plant Care Guide- Cherry
Keywords: wild cherry tree, buy cherry tree, Prunus serotina

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.