How To Plant Sour Cherry Tree

Planting a sour cherry tree is a great way to add beauty, shade, and fresh fruit to your garden. With a little bit of preparation and elbow grease, you will be proud to have the perfect sour cherry tree in your yard. Here are the steps you need to take in order to plant a sour cherry tree.

Step One: Choose the Right Tree

The first step to planting a sour cherry tree is to choose the right variety. Sour cherry trees are available in a few different varieties, from the larger, high-yielding cultivars to smaller dwarf trees. Choose the variety that best suits your needs, as each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s also important to make sure the tree is healthy, as an unhealthy tree won’t produce as much fruit.

Step Two: Choose a Location

The second step is to choose the right location for your sour cherry tree. The location needs to be well-drained and in full sun, with at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. There should also be at least two feet of space between your tree and any other structures or trees, as too much competition can stunt your tree’s growth.

Step Three: Prep the Soil

The third step to plant a sour cherry tree is to prepare the soil. The soil should be well-draining, as too much moisture can cause the tree’s roots to rot. It should also be rich in nutrients, as this will help encourage healthy growth. To prepare the soil, add plenty of organic matter such as compost or aged manure, then use a garden fork or spade to mix the material into the top 12-15 inches of soil.

Step Four: Dig the Hole

The fourth step is to dig the hole for your sour cherry tree. The hole should be round and slightly larger than the root ball of your tree, about two feet deep and two feet wide. Make sure that the walls of the hole are even, as this will help your tree establish strong roots.

Step Five: Plant the Tree

The fifth step is to plant the tree. Place the tree into the hole and make sure that the root ball is even and facing the right direction. Backfill with soil and gently compact it to ensure that there are no air pockets. Once the tree is firmly in place, use your foot to press down the soil around the base.

Step Six: Water and Mulch

The sixth step is to water and mulch your new tree. Water your tree thoroughly, saturating the soil down to the roots. Make sure you water regularly for the first few months, especially during dry spells. Mulch the base of your tree with organic material such as leaves, straw, or wood chips to help retain moisture and prevent weeds.

Step Seven: Stake and Prune

The seventh and final step is to stake and prune your tree. Stake your tree with a stake that is taller than the tree and secure it into the ground with strong stakes. Prune away any branches that could potentially compete with the main stem, as this will ensure your tree develops strong, healthy branches.

Fertilizer and Care

Fertilizing your sour cherry tree is an important part of caring for your tree. Always use a fertilizer that is specifically designed for fruit trees, and use it according to the instructions on the package. Fertilize your tree in the early spring and again in the late summer. Additionally, avoid using herbicides and pesticides, as these can harm your tree and the wildlife in your garden.


Sour cherry trees typically begin bearing fruit in the third or fourth year after planting. When the fruit is ripe, it will turn a deep red-purple color. Be sure to pick the cherries quickly, as they can rot easily. For the best flavor, pick cherries when they are fully ripe and enjoy them fresh or use them to make jams, jellies, and pies.

Winter Care

Winter care is essential for keeping your sour cherry tree healthy. Prune any dead or diseased branches off your tree, and use a layer of mulch to protect the roots from the cold winter temperatures. Additionally, wrap the trunk of the tree with a tree wrap in the late fall to help protect it from frost.

Pests and Diseases

Sour cherry trees can be susceptible to pests and diseases, so it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Common pests include aphids and Japanese beetles, while common diseases include powdery mildew and leaf spot. If you notice any signs of a pest infestation or diseases, act quickly and use a natural pest control to mitigate the damage.

Dwarf Trees

Dwarf sour cherry trees are great alternatives to planting a full-sized tree. They require less space and are easier to care for, but they typically produce smaller yields. If you are short on space, a dwarf tree may be the right choice for you.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is an effective way to protect your sour cherry tree from pests and diseases. Planting herbs and flowers near your tree can attract beneficial insects, while planting pest-deterring plants such as garlic and marigolds can help deter pests. Additionally, planting nitrogen-fixing plants such as clover or alfalfa near your tree will help provide essential nutrients to your tree.


Pruning your sour cherry tree is essential for maintaining a healthy tree. Prune away any dead or dying branches, as well as any branches that are overgrown or competing for light. Make sure to prune in the late winter or early spring before the tree begins to bud. By pruning regularly, you can ensure that your tree will be healthy and productive for many years to come.

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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