How Can You Grow A Cherry Tree

Cherry Tree Varieties

Growing a cherry tree in your yard can yield delicious, juicy fruit while adding beauty and character to your outdoor space. Before starting, it is important to know the different varieties of cherry tree available, as each has unique characteristics and requirements. Most cherry trees are self-fertile, meaning one tree can be enough to produce fruit. Sour or tart cherry trees, like the ‘Early Richmond’ and ‘North Star’ varieties, are often used for jams and pies. Sweet cherry trees, such as the ‘Rainier,’ ‘Black Tartarian,’ and ‘Stella’ varieties, are commonly eaten fresh and make excellent ornamental trees.

Choosing The Right Location

When selecting your cherry tree, you must consider how much sunshine and rain the area receives. Cherry trees prefer a sunny and sheltered location and some varieties are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than others. Temperature is an important factor in cherry production, with adequate amounts of heat required for flowers to form and set fruits. Dr. Martha Mutschler, a horticulture expert at Oregon State University, recommends planting cherry trees in areas that can protect the tree from strong winds and freezing temperatures.

Cherry Tree Planting

Cherry trees should be planted in spring or fall and should be spaced 12- 15 feet apart. When planting, make sure the rootstock and graft union are 2 inches below the soil. Water the tree regularly until established, then water sparingly during dry periods but never at night. Make sure the tree is not over-watered, as this will cause root rot.

Care and Maintenance

Keep the soil free of weeds and fertilize annually in spring with a low-nitrogen blend fertilizer. Prune cherry trees in late winter until established, then twice a year to ensure quality and quantity of fruit. Pruning also helps with disease and pest control by providing better airflow.

Pest and Disease Control

Common diseases to watch out for on cherry trees include brown rot, black knot, and bacterial canker. If a tree is infected with any of these, its productivity and appearance can suffer. Monitor your tree regularly for signs of disease and contact plant health experts like Certified Treecare Safety Professionals (CTSPs) if you need help. Pests including aphids, emerald ash borer, and sap-sucking bugs can damage cherry trees. To avoid damage, set up traps and use horticultural soap or diatomaceous earth for control.

Harvesting and Storing Cherries

Depending on the variety, cherries will be ready for harvesting from late June to early August. Check cherries on the tree every 3-4 days and store in a cool, dry place.

Propagating Cherry Trees

When wanting to propagate cherry trees, it is best to root cuttings or use a technique called layering. Both involve taking healthy parts of an existing tree and using them to start another tree that will be a clone of the existing one. Layering is done by carefully digging a hole on the side of an existing tree and burying a branch in the hole. Once the branch has rooted, you can dig it up and plant it in a new location.

Grafting Your Cherry Tree

Grafting is another way to propagate your cherry tree. It involves taking a piece of the desired tree and attaching it to the rootstock of another tree. When grafting, it is important to make sure the graft is done correctly and the buds and cambium layer are aligned perfectly. Done correctly, the rootstock tree will take on the desired characteristics of the grafted tree.

Preparing for Cold and Windy Weather

When exposed to winter’s chill, cherry trees can be damaged. Before the winter season, make sure to wrap or mound the trunk with burlap and plastic to protect it from cold and wind. Avoid pruning trees during frosty or windy weather and mulch heavily to protect your tree.

Summer Care Tips

During the summer months, cherry trees need plenty of water, but don’t let the tree sit in water. If possible, use drip irrigation to provide consistent and slow amounts of water to your tree. Monitor the cherry tree for yellowing or wilting leaves and use a pest or disease control product if needed, as summer humidity can increase chance of pest and disease infestations.

Netting for Fruit Protection

Like most fruit trees, cherry trees can experience damage from birds and animals wanting to take a bite out of the fruit. To protect your cherries from wildlife, you can construct a netting system that hangs over the tree. Make sure the netting is sturdy and large enough to cover the entire tree, and be sure to use heavy-duty stakes and clips to ensure it is securely in place.

Checking for Ripeness

Before harvesting, look to see if the cherries have developed a rich, red or blackish colour and gently press the cherry to see if it comes off easily. If the cherry is not loose, wait a few days and try again. Ripe cherries should also have a sweet aroma and some may have insect damage on the skin, which is normal. Different varieties of cherries have slightly different harvest times and generally the first cherries are ready to be harvested in late July and can last until September.

Gordon Wesson is an environmentalist and author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing for many years about topics related to trees, the environment, and sustainability. In particular, he is passionate about educating people on the importance of living in harmony with the environment and preserving natural spaces. He often speaks at conferences and events around the country to share his knowledge with others. His dedication to protecting our planet makes him one of the leading voices in his field today.

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