The Stella sweet cherry variety was introduced by the research station at Summerland, British Columbia, and has since become popular mainly because it is self-pollinating. Unlike most sweet cherry trees it doesn't need another tree to produce fruit. All sweet cherry trees, including Stella, are easily frost-damaged and grow best in mild climates. A little extra care will ensure Stella trees are healthy and productive for many years.
Sweet cherries, including Stella, generally live 20 to 30 years, although they are more difficult to grow than apples and may die for no apparent reason, according to Cornell University New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Although they are self-fertile, plant more than one tree if space allows to compensate for tree failure.
Stella cherry trees are prone to winter damage when planted in northern locations. Planting them in a location protected from high winds by buildings or other trees helps minimize winter damage and prolong their longevity. Choose a site at the top of a slope where cold air can drain away. Apply white paint to the bark of the tree in the winter if the sun is harsh and bright.
One of the main reasons for premature death of Stella cherry trees is wet soil, advises Cornell University New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Plant all sweet cherries in well-drained, slightly sandy soil to prevent root rot.
Stella cherry trees are susceptible to many diseases and pests, such as bacterial canker that may kill it prematurely. To prevent diseases, plant the tree where it gets good air circulation and spray cherry trees as indicated by a local county extension office to treat specific problems.
Stella cherry trees are prone to branch breakage, which can shorten the life of the tree. Left untended, the branches form close together and may break away from the trunk altogether in severe weather. Prune the tree when it is young to form a strong central leader trunk. Prune lateral branches so the crotches, where the branches meet other branches, are at least 12 to 18 inches wide. By pruning the tree to form strong, wide scaffold branches, the tree is less likely to sustain severe injury.
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