Growing Cherry Trees

The biggest offender of growing cherry trees in your garden is the weather. They are very particular about their climate.

-They don’t like long hot summers.

-They need a chilling out period during the winter.

-They don’t need a late frost!

The other garden enemy of the cherry tree is birdlife. Fruit trees will guarantee a huge garden bird population flocking to your garden.

But if you want to eat the cherries you will have to guard against the birds. They can strip a tree in less than half an hour. See below for ways of keeping the cherries for yourself!

Preparation

If possible, decide on the site for your tree/s some months in advance of planting. Soil Ph should be between 6.2 and 6.8. Check and adjust accordingly.Land must be well-drained. Cherry trees can’t tolerate wet feet.

Check the site throughout a rainy spell:
Dig a hole 2 or 3 feet deep. If the rainwater stays in the bottom of the hole for any length of time, the land isn’t well-drained enough for growing cherry trees.

Dig over the soil, remove all weeds and dig in well-rotted animal manure if available.

Choosing a cherry tree

From the small wild cherry thousands of years ago, our enjoyment of cherries has developed and we now expect to eat sweet varieties whenever in season.

Wild cherry trees can pop up all over the garden. Thanks to the birds spitting out the pips on their own doorstep! Tut!

This system can work well if the birds stay up in the heights of the old wild cherry trees, because they tend to ignore the garden cherry trees tucked away in the vegetable plot. That’s the theory but it doesn’t always work like that.

Browse your local garden centre catalogue or drop into a local nursery to have a look at the varieties available in your region.

Because cherries are sooo particular, many varieties have been developed to cope with different temperatures and viruses.

When you buy your cherry trees check instructions for:

Pollination requirements: as a rule sour cherries – the wilder varieties – are self-pollinating. Sweet cherries generally need cross-pollination and should be planted near a compatible variety.

Regional Compatibilty: Double check the variety is suitable for your region. Extreme temperatures will require a very special variety.

Planting Instructions: Growing cherry trees in your garden requires a little fore-thought. They are trees after all! There are a few dwarf varieties on the market and these may have specific planting instructions.

This is a cute patio version available from Amazon (UK)

Patio Cherry ‘Little Stella’ 4L Pot Fruit Tree

Here’s a superb sweet cherry that’s been specially raised for patio growing. Lapins hails from Canada and is considered to be an improved Stella which is one of it’s parents.

Patio cherry tree

They also have plenty of artificial trees and some cherry seeds but artificial trees don’t produce cherries and seeds take forever to grow into fruit-bearing trees! Have a look but check out local suppliers as well.

Planting

As mentioned above, instructions should be double checked before you plant your cherry tree.

Here is a rough guide to growing chery trees in your garden;

-Dig a large hole in your prepared soil, 18-24 inches (45-60cms) depending on the age and variety of tree.

-Tease out the roots of your tree, unless instructions state otherwise.

-Place the root ball at the bottom of your hole and fill in with soil. Press down firmly. When all soil has been packed back in the hole, use your heel to firm the tree in place.

-If required, place a stake in the ground next to the tree. This should be done before planting the tree so as to minimize damage to the roots.

-Water well.

Growing cherry trees – After Care

It’s easy to forget to water trees in the garden. New trees, especially fruiting trees, need lots of water until they are established. During hot summer periods your cherry trees will still require water to ‘swell’ the cherries.

Netting

Netting is considered dangerous to birdlife and it’s true, birds do get caught in nets sometimes, although there are wildlife friendly nets available at most garden centres and suppliers.

Or build a cage type affair to put over your trees when they start fruiting.

Build a square wooden frame that will sit over your tree and stretch very fine netting round all four sides and over the top. The very fine netting will stop the birds getting caught up, and you can enjoy a healthy crop of cherries.
This system works well when growing cherry trees on a small scale. If your trees are big or you have many of them, other methods such as bird scarers may be more appropriate.

The Harvest

Pick the fruit as it becomes ripe. Eat fresh off the tree or bake cherry tarts and pies.

Fresh cherries will store well for a number of days in a cool place.

Growing cherry trees successfully does need a little time and energy – but worth every delicious mouthful.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

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