How to Grow Cherry Trees in Containers

Overview

Succulent, red-ripe cherries explode with flavor in your mouth. If you love this springtime fruit but have a small yard, limited time or poor soil, you can grow a cherry tree in a container on your patio or balcony if you have a sunny spot. And you can move your container indoors if your winters are very cold. Dwarf trees are best suited to life in a container---you won't get as much fruit as in-ground trees produce, but a few handfuls of cherries will make your efforts worthwhile.

Growing Cherry Trees in Containers

Step 1

Purchase a grafted dwarf cherry tree. The varieties called "Stella" and "Sweetheart" are self-pollinating---most other types of cherry trees require a second tree in their vicinity in order to provide pollination to the flowers.

Step 2

Spread a 1-inch layer of gravel in the bottom of your container to improve drainage. Then fill it about half full with potting soil that has a pH between 6.2 and 6.8, which is considered slightly acidic. Take your cherry tree out of its nursery pot and set it in the container. Fill to within 2 inches of the rim with additional potting soil and firm it down gently with your hands. Place it on a saucer if you need to protect a wooden deck from water damage.

Step 3

Water your potted cherry tree when the soil surface becomes dry. Do not over water, especially during winter and other times when the weather is cool.

Step 4

Fertilize your potted cherry tree lightly once a year, in early spring before flower buds begin to form. Make manure tea with 1 qt. of chicken manure mixed with 1 gallon of water or sprinkle about 1 cup of blood and bone meal on the soil surface.

Step 5

Prune your tree during summer, after you harvest all fruit. Prune dead or misshapen branches back to the branch collar at the main trunk and thin branches to allow light to enter the tree's central region and to improve air circulation around the branches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use a saucer under your container if you needn't protect a deck or other surface because the water it holds can cause your tree to develop root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Self-pollinating dwarf cherry tree
  • Container with drainage holes, 12 inches in diameter or larger
  • Gravel
  • Slightly acidic potting soil
  • Plant saucer (optional)
  • Fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida: Growing Fruit Crops in Containers
  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Growing Fruit Crops in Containers
  • Flower Pot Heaven: Cherry Trees---Hints on How to Plant and Grow Them
  • Flower and Garden Tips: Growing Cherry Trees
  • Tree Help: Cherry

Who Can Help

  • Raintree Nursery: Dwarf Giessen Cherry Rootstock
Keywords: cherry tree, container gardening, gardening fruit

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.