Growing a fruit tree is a great way to supplement some of your monthly food bills with homegrown food, while at the same time providing beauty to your yard. Cherry trees are among the first fruit trees to blossom each spring, and produce sweet, juicy fruit that is a favorite of almost everyone. Cherry trees originate in Eastern Europe and Western Asia and have been cultivated for thousands of years. Cherry trees are generally low maintenance and easy to grow from seed or from saplings.
Requirements for Growing a Cherry Tree
While growing cherry trees is not very difficult, the place in which you plant your cherry tree has to meet some requirements. These prerequisites are as follows:
1. Cool Winters
Most varieties of cherry trees require long and cool winters in order to produce enough blossoms in the spring that can turn into fruit. Fruit trees require a period of time called chill time which accumulates throughout cold weather seasons. Chill time begins as soon as the leaves fall off of the tree and extends to the first bloom. Cherry trees require between 600 and 700 hours of chill time to produce ample and healthy blossoms. The ideal temperature range for cherry trees during the winter is between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cherry trees can grow to be more than 30 feet tall, so plenty of space is necessary. If growing more than one tree, they need to be planted at least 18 feet apart.
Cherry trees require rich soil that drains well and do not require fertilizer.
Germinating a Cherry Seed
Cherry trees can be grown from either saplings or from seeds. In order to grow a cherry tree from a seed, the following steps need to be taken:
1. Select several cherries from the varieties that you would like to grow. Several seeds are needed for the germination process because the failure rate can be high.
2. Remove the fruit from the seeds and allow the seeds to dry and turn brown/
3. In the fall, take the dried out seeds and soak them in water for 24 hours.
4. Place the soaked seeds into a bag of peat moss or compost and place in the refrigerator for 90-120 days.
5. After 90-120 days some of the seeds should have sprouted. Plant these seedlings into pots about 1/2 inch deep and place into a warm and sunny area.
6. Let the tree grow till it is approximately 12-15 inches tall and then transplant into its permanent location.
Planting a Sapling
An easier and quicker method of planting a cherry tree is to grow it from a sapling. These steps should be taken when planting a cherry tree sapling:
1. Decide on a location for the cherry tree. The soil should drain well and the area should receive a lot of sun.
2. Dig a hole that is big enough to fit the root system, leaving ample space around the bulb.
3. Spread out the roots so that they are not crowded.
4. Place soil onto the roots to hold the tree in place.
5. Apply a generous amount of water, but do not flood the hole.
6. Fill in the hole with the remaining soil and gently pat the top.
7. Water the soil around the tree, but guard against over watering.
Fertilizing and Maintenance Tips
Cherry trees generally do not require much fertilizing, but they do require regular watering. Trees should be watered at least once a day and twice a day on hot days. If you do choose to fertilize your cherry tree, use a nitrogen rich fertilizer and spread it around the base of the tree. Most cherry trees need pollinators to bear fruit. Pollinators can either be introduced by buying bees or allowed to enter the yard freely.
Cherry trees need pruning to allow for air and sunlight to reach all parts of the tree. Here is how to prune a cherry tree:
1. Wait till spring when the first blossoms come out.
2. Remove all broken branches.
3. Carefully trim all tangled branches.
4. Cut larger branches carefully to make smaller branches grow.
It will take between 3 and 5 years for a cherry tree to produce fruit. Harvest usually occurs in the middle of summer and lasts until late summer.