Care of Cherry Trees

Overview

Cherry trees come in both sweet and sour varieties (sour cherries are sometimes called pie cherries), and there are many cultivars to choose from. The fruit from both sweet and sour cherry trees can be made into jam, jelly, pies and more, and sweet cherries can be eaten straight off the tree. Like most fruit-bearing plants, cherry trees require lots of sun and a good amount of water. Choosing the right variety of cherry tree for your location will help ensure success.

Step 1

Pay attention to your climate. Sweet cherry varieties like Bing or Royal Anne need a warmer climate than sour cherries like Montmorency or Morello. However, all cherries need a period of cold weather in the winter and they prefer cooler summers, so gardeners in tropical climates likely won't be able to successfully grow cherry trees.

Step 2

Consider why you want to grow cherries. Different cherry varieties have flavors that range from sweet to tart, and it's a good idea to sample a few varieties before planting a tree. Visit your farmer's market to try some locally grown cherries. The vendors there can also give you some valuable information for growing cherries in your region. If you want to grow cherries primarily for cherry blossoms in the spring, consider a native variety of cherry, such as pin cherries or chokecherries, both of which are popular with birds and other wildlife.

Step 3

Choose the right spot for your cherry trees. Cultivated cherry trees need full sun. Wild cherry trees can tolerate a bit more shade, but they will do best in sunnier conditions. Some cultivated cherries need well-drained soil, while others do best in moister soil. In nature, wild cherries often grow near streams and creeks.

Step 4

Plant your cherry tree by digging a hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Build a small mound inside the hole to spread the roots out over. Back fill the site with soil and water well. Cover the soil with a few inches of mulch, such as shredded bark or dry leaves, but leave 1 or 2 inches of space around the trunk. Mulch helps regulate soil moisture and temperature and also keeps down most weeds.

Step 5

Water your cherry regularly the first year, and thereafter water as necessary to maintain proper soil moisture. All cherries will need more water when the fruit is ripening.

Step 6

Prune your cherry tree as necessary to maintain a desirable shape. Fruit trees such as cherries should have a strong central trunk with whorls of branches resembling scaffolding, and the branches at the bottom of the tree should be allowed to grow out further than the branches at the top, so that they get enough sunlight. Remove branches and twigs as necessary with pruning shears or a hand saw to achieve this shape. For the first year, select the central trunk and primary scaffold branches in the summer, but save most of the pruning for the winter or very early spring, when the tree is dormant. As the cherry tree matures, however, more pruning may be done in the summer.

Things You'll Need

  • Cherry trees
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears or hand saw

References

  • Flower & GardenTips: Growing Cherry Trees
  • St. Lawrence Nursery: Pie Cherries
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Training & Pruning Fruit Trees
Keywords: cherry tree care, grow cherries, fruit tree pruning, wild cherries, native cherry tree

About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.