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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things You Will Need
- Self-pollinating dwarf cherry tree
- Container with drainage holes, 12 inches in diameter or larger
- Slightly acidic potting soil
- Plant saucer (optional)
- Wood and clay containers cause soil to become dry faster than containers made of plastic, metal and ceramic material.
- Because fruit forms on year-old shoots, you can prune off new growth to keep your tree compact and tidy.
- The website Treehelp.com advises that summer is the best time to prune cherry trees because a disease called silver leaf can occur if you prune it at other times of year.
- 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.