Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Grow Black Cherry Trees

Many people grow black cherry trees for the valuable wood or as an ornamental landscape tree. The berries of the tree feed wildlife and birds. Relatively fast-growing, black cherry trees grow up to 5 feet a year. The tree prefers cool and moist summers and cannot withstand ongoing strong winds due to their weak roots. Most black cherry trees roots grow only 24 inches deep. A few feeder roots will extend 36 to 42 inches down, but not enough to hold the tree upright in extreme wind. Grow black cherry trees in full sun and away from other plants for best results.

Select a planting location in the open sun with well-draining soil. Black cherry trees will not thrive in shade or partial shade. Black cherry trees do not care for wetlands and will not tolerate drought conditions for very long. Plant seedlings in the spring for best growth.

Locate black cherry seedlings a minimum of 8 feet away from other trees and vegetation. This spacing allows the tree to grow straight and tall. Black cherries naturally prune themselves when planted 8 feet away from other trees. As a black cherry grows taller, the side limbs will die off.

Remove all sod in a 2-feet diameter where you plan to plant the seedling. Till the soil and remove all weed growth within the 2-foot circle.

Dig a hole large enough to hold the seedling and its roots. Mix the removed soil at a ratio of 50 percent peat moss with 50 percent soil. This gives the seedling a head start by allowing excellent moisture retention in the soil.

Place the seedling in the hole. Compact the dirt around the base of the seedling and water thoroughly. Keep the soil moist but not overly wet.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of peat moss around the base of the seedling to keep weed growth back and retain moisture. One month after planting, apply 1/2 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of the tree and water thoroughly. Feed the tree once a month until fall and then cease feeding until the following spring.


If deer or porcupine are a problem in the area where you plant the black cherry seedlings, consider installing an electric pulsing fence so the wildlife do not consume the seedlings. If planting a grove of black cherry trees, thin the trees out when their trunks reach approximately 6 to 9 inches in diameter. Keep the best specimens, and thin the trees back to 16 to 20 feet apart.

Garden Guides