Flowering cherry trees have been a perennial favorite in the United States since they were introduced from Japan in 1912. Unfortunately for gardeners in Georgia, the hot, humid climate of the southeast is not favorable for growing most varieties of cherry. Preferring cooler climates with long winters, cherry trees in Georgia are usually found only at the higher elevations of the Piedmont Plateau or in the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, recent trials have found limited success with sour varieties such as early Richmond, Montmorency and Ranier at elevations as low as 700 feet above sea level.
Choose a healthy 1-year-old cherry tree recommended for your area. The University of Georgia Extension Service and local extension offices can provide information on recommended varieties for your specific climate.
Select an exposed location that is is full sun at least half of the day. The soil must drain well, as cherry trees do not tolerate wet ground.
Test the soil to determine the pH level. Cherry trees need slightly acidic soil, ideally within a range of 6.2 to 6.8. Amend the soil to correct the pH, if necessary.
Dig a planting hole at least twice the width of the root ball or container diameter. Place the tree in the hole so the base of the trunk sits 1 inch above ground. Fill in the hole with soil, and irrigate with 1 to 2 inches of water after planting.
Spread a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree, which will help retain water and keep weeds down. Straw, grass clippings, wood chips, shredded bark or a combination of these make a good mulching material. Keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the trunk to prevent rot.
Prune the cherry tree to a single leader after planting to encourage root development. In Georgia, rainfall is usually adequate to keep the tree hydrated. Hand-water whenever rainfall is light. No fertilizer should be applied when planting or during the first year of growth.