How to Grow a Black Cherry Tree


The black cherry tree, Prunus serotina, is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. Other names include choke cherry, rum cherry and wild black. The tree is fast-growing and can grow up to five feet annually. It can reach a height of 50 to 100 feet at maturity and have a spread of 25 to 40 feet. The tree is known for its white flowers, its fruit which can be harvested from June through October, and for its beautiful wood, which is popular in furniture making. It is grown for both ornamental and commercial purposes.

Step 1

Choose a planting site for your tree that has open sun and well-draining soil. This tree does not thrive without full sun and does not tolerate wet soil conditions.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is twice the depth of the tree's planting container, or root system, and that is 24 inches in diameter.

Step 3

Take the removed soil and add compost or peat moss to it. The ratio of additive should be 50 percent of the soil. For instance, if you are working with four gallons of soil, add two gallons of compost or peat moss to it. Mix thoroughly.

Step 4

Place the tree into the planting hole and refill it with the amended soil. Pack the dirt tightly around the base of the tree to remove any air pockets which may be surrounding the root system.

Step 5

Water thoroughly. Once the water has absorbed, add more soil to the site if the soil has shifted to below ground level. Plan to water the tree weekly to keep the soil moist. This species cannot tolerate drought, but it will not grow in overly wet soil.

Step 6

Add a 2 to 3 inch layer of compost or peat moss around the tree to a diameter of 24 inches.

Step 7

Apply ½ cup of a 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of the tree one month after planting. Do not let the fertilizer touch the tree's trunk. Plan to repeat this application monthly until fall. Then, resume the fertilization applications the following spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • Unlike other trees, the black cherry has a very shallow root system of around 24 inches. Even its feeder roots only extend to a depth of 36 to 42 inches. Because of this, the black cherry is susceptible to being damaged and toppled in severe wind.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Peat moss or compost
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer


  • USDA Plant Guide: Black Cherry
  • U.S. Forest Service: Black Cherry

Who Can Help

  • The Forester: Black Cherry Seedling Planting Instructions
Keywords: grow black cherry, plant black cherry, black cherry tree

About this Author

Joyce Maxwell is a writer and editor for print and online markets. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English with a psychology minor at a southern university. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, as well as being picked up by health and education groups. Maxwell is a writer and title flagger for Demand Studios.