Cherry tree varieties offer sweet fruit, tart fruit and outstanding flower production. Sweet cherry tree varieties grow to heights of 30 feet, tart cherry trees reach only 20 feet in height and flowering cherry trees range in size from dwarf to large 20-foot specimens. Tart cherry trees and flowering cherry trees do not require a pollinator but the sweet cherry tree must be planted near a tart cherry tree to ensure adequate cross-pollination.
Traditional fruit-producing cherry trees require ample growth. Plant tart cherry trees 20 to 24 feet apart and sweet cherry trees 25 to 30 feet apart. Ornamental cherry tree spacing varies with variety, cultivar and hybrid. Many are grown in dwarf or weeping fashion and require very little room. Fruit-producing cherry trees that are grafted onto dwarf root stock require far less spacing, according to Purdue University.
Choose seedlings that are at least one year old to plant. When planted, most cherry trees require staking for the first five years to prevent the tree from sustained wind damage. Planting in the early spring offers the greatest insurance that the tree will live and thrive, but the cherry tree can be planted in the fall.
Cherry trees grow well in full sunlight for maximum fruit or blossom production. The trees grow in a wide range of soils with ease. The soil must be well-draining because the cherry tree will not tolerate wet roots.
Keep the cherry tree's root system moist prior to planting. Cherry trees easily perish if their root system dries out prior to planting. Plant the tree at the same level it was planted in its nursery container. Adding abundant organic material such as aged manure or peat moss will help ensure the young tree's growth.
Mulching and Cultivation
Add two to three inches of mulch around the base of the cherry tree to keep weed growth at bay and help maintain soil moisture. Keep the soil around the cherry tree moist but not wet. Cultivate around the tree lightly to remove weed growth. Take care to not dig too deeply around the tree, or its shallow root system could be damaged.
Fertilizing and Painting
Fertilize the cherry tree in the spring using a 12-12-12 general purpose fertilizer. Apply nitrogen during the growing season if the soil is deficient. Painting the sun-exposed trunk of the cherry tree with white latex paint will help prevent the tree from suffering sun-scald from the hot summer sun.
Light pruning of young cherry trees in the spring is required to maintain their overall appearance and help the tree branch out adequately. Older cherry trees rarely require pruning except to remove dead or diseased wood. Depending on the older tree's growth and location, the tree may require heading back of lateral branches every few years.