In the east, cherry trees have been planted for their fruit and aesthetic beauty for thousands of years. Cherry trees have been incorporated into local folklore the world over. In some countries--such as Japan--festivals are devoted to cherry trees when they blossom in late winter and early spring. Though the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree in his youth may be a myth, Washington, D.C. holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival in late March and early April.
Black cherry trees, common in North America, are one of the largest cherry trees. Due to their hardy nature, black cherry trees tolerate both warm and cold climates. The Kwanzan and Yoshino cherry trees bear no fruit and are grown for their abundance of cherry blossoms. Sweet cherries like the Bing and Stella varieties are a popular choice for gardeners. Sour cherry trees like Montmorency produce firm sour cherries suitable for cooking.
Cherry trees should be planted in the spring or fall in a sunny location. Cherry trees need plenty of space. Depending on the species of tree, cherry trees should be planted 25 to 40 feet away from other trees and plants. When digging a hole to plant the cherry tree, it should be not only deep enough to cover the roots, but it should also be wide enough to allow for root spreading. Soil should be fertilized and aerated before planted, as fertilizers can burn otherwise healthy cherry tree roots.
Cherry trees should be watered weekly or bi-weekly depending on the climate and how much rain an area receives. Cherry trees are usually prolific growers, and most do not require much in the way of fertilization unless the soil is particularly sandy. Pruning should be done early in the spring to remove dead limbs and promote growth for the coming season.
The most rewarding time for cherry trees growers is harvest time. Cherries are harvested from late summer through fall, when the fruits are red. Cherries picked with the stem intact will last a week or more as opposed to cherries harvested without the stem. Freshly harvested cherries will retain much of their flavor for up to 6 months if they are frozen soon after harvesting.