How to Grow Sour Cherry


The sour cherry tree is a medium sized, deciduous tree with a naturally round crown. It reaches about 15 feet at maturity and develops rich green foliage with sharp tips. Similar to the sweet cherry, the sour cherry produces fragrant, white colored flowers in clusters of up to four. The sour cherry differs from the sweet cherry in several ways. The sour cherry is generally the last tree to bloom in the late spring and the sour cherry is self-fertile, requiring no pollinator to produce its fruit. It is a relatively easy tree for which to care and requires very little pruning.

Step 1

Select a warm, sunny location for the sour cherry tree. Choose a fertile, well-drained location with cool, humid climates. Ensure that the location provides at least 18 feet of space between trees to promote good air circulation, as recommended by The University of Georgia.

Step 2

Prepare the planting location by tilling the soil to loosen any compacted soil. Remove any weeds or vegetation from the area to eliminate competition with your sour cherry tree.

Step 3

Inspect the cherry tree prior to planting. Comb out the root system and look for damaged, broken or dying roots. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to trim away damaged roots from the system. Trim the roots back to just past the damage. Trim dead roots back to the root ball. Avoid removing more than one-third of the root system to prevent growth stunt.

Step 4

Dig a hole for the sour cherry tree that is slightly deeper and wider than the root system, as recommended by the Michigan State University Extension. Position the tree in the center of the hole and backfill the hole until the roots are covered. Water the hole to remove air pockets, and then fill the hole the remainder of the way. Irrigate the tree thoroughly to promote a good establishment.

Step 5

Prune your sour cherry, beginning immediately after planting. Prune the tree to develop a central leader with well-spaced, scaffold branches, as instructed by the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension. Trim the interior branches of your sour cherry tree annually, in the early spring, to promote air circulation and penetration throughout the tree. Remove any dead or dying branches and stems as they appear to redirect your tree's energy to more viable areas.

Step 6

Irrigate the cherry to tree to ensure consistent soil moisture. Provide your sour cherry tree with a deep irrigation that reaches about 20 feet below the surface to the roots, as recommended by Phytosphere. Irrigate the sour cherry tree about every ten days and adjust the irrigation levels for periods of drought and rainfall.

Step 7

Feed your sour cherry tree about every 30 to 45 days during the growing season. Use a well-balanced, slow release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. Feed the sour cherry tree on the lawn's feeding schedule, as recommended by the Michigan State University Extension.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never allow the sour cherry tree to dry out.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Water


  • Michigan State University Extension: Growing Cherries on Home Ground
  • Phytosphere: How to Water Your Tree
  • University of Georgia: Cherries
  • New Mexico Stare University Cooperative Extension: Pruning the Home Orchard
Keywords: sour cherry care, growing sour cherry, sour cherry tree

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.