Cherry tree in pot

Contents

Cherries

It might just be me, but cherries remind me of a good old Aussie Christmas – prawns, cold meat and salad, backyard cricket and the ever present bowl of deep red, super sweet cherries. Mum would grab a couple of kilos of cherries from the supermarket and my brother and I would be through the lot in a couple of hours…bliss on a hot, sticky summer’s day!

Growing up in Queensland, having my very own cherry tree in the backyard was an impossible dream, as they adore a cooler, less humid climate and a lovely cold winter. This makes them a pretty good choice for the home patch across much of the southern states, Tasmania and highlands, especially those areas that experience bracingly cold winters.

If your area experiences a short burst of cold weather through winter, fear not. Whacking a good layer of mulch over the soil before winter hits will prevent the soil from warming too quickly, meaning happier and more productive cherries.

Soil is a big factor in the success of these sweet stone-fruit, and a deep, well-draining soil full of delicious organic matter (like compost and aged manure) is an absolute must-have. A neutral pH is just fine, and a position in full sun will suit both the sweet and sour varieties of cherries perfectly.

One thing to bear in mind is that cherries can get to a fair size, and many of them require cross pollinating, meaning you will have to pop in more than one tree, or grab a “multi-graft”. Big old cherry trees can get to a whopping 10 – 15m over time, so, if space is going to be an issue, why not consider a dwarf hybrid?

Cherries can have a few issues with pests and diseases, namely the dreaded Pear & Cherry Slug. This hideous larvae of the Black Saw-fly can make a real mess of cherry trees, so to prevent slug problems, feed your cherries a couple of times a year with seaweed tea to keep up the vigour of the tree. If you do encounter this ugly little pest, try sprinkling some wood ash around the base of the tree, and onto affected foliage. This generally works to discourage the little blighters. Check out our factsheet on pear & cherry slug here.

Now for the fun stuff – picking a cherry variety. Good SGA Certified garden centres should have a great range of both sweet and sour cherries, as well as multigrafts and dwarf hybrids. Some of the varieties you may come across include:

Bing: A late season variety which is great for enjoying fresh, as jams or preserving. A very popular sweet cherry with good flavour. A moderate cropping variety, this tree will provide you with medium to large, heart shaped fruit, with a juicy firm red flesh. The skin is dark red with an attractive lustre. Flavour is sweet. Cross pollinators:Stella, Blackboy, Van, William’s Favourite. Incompatible with Napolean.

Black Boy: Medium-sized, round-oblong, dark red skin, firm, very dark red flesh. Good resistance to cracking. Reliable cropper. Fruits mid to late December. Used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. Beautiful ornamental tree. Spring blossom. Cross-pollinators include: Napoleon, Van, Bedford, Bing, Flavorite, St.Margaret, William’s Favourite.

Lapin: Large, sweet dark red cherries. Great for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. A beautiful ornamental tree. Autumn colour. Self pollinating.

Morello: Sour Cherry. Vigorous, multibranched, upright, medium sized tree. Small to medium sized dark red fruit with tart flavour. Fruits late December to January. Used for brining, cooking, preserves and wine-making. Superior flavour when cooked. Beautiful ornamental tree. Self pollinating.

Napoleon: Medium to large size fruit. Pink blush over light yellow skin. Sweet sprightly flavour. Productive and vigorous tree. Fruits early to late December. Used for fresh fruit, glace, crystallizing and preserving. A beautiful ornamental tree. Cross pollinators include: Blackboy, St Margaret, Van, Williams Favourite.

Royal Rainer: An early to mid-season variety which is great for enjoying fresh, as jams or preserving. An attractive new blush style fruit, that has only recently been introduced in Australia. Excellent sweet, good flavour with white flesh. Pollinators: Stella, Simone, Lala Star, Van and Grace Star.

Simone: A early to mid season maturing red Cherry. Large sweet red cherries with firm juicy flesh and of excellent quality. A small tree.Self-fertile.

St Margaret: Large, heart-shaped fruit. Dark red, almost black skin. Firm, flavoursome and juicy dark flesh. Good cropper. Fruits late December to early January. Used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. Attractive ornamental tree. Pollinates with Blackboy, Napolean, Stella, Bing.

Starkrimson: Large, heart-shaped crimson red fruit, firm flesh and good flavour. Heavy cropper. Compact tree. Fruits mid to late December. Used for fresh fruit, jam and excellent for preserving. Self-Pollinating.

Stella: Large, heart-shaped red to almost black skin, dark red, firm flavoursome flesh. Large crops in heavy clusters. Early to late December. Great in small gardens where space is limited. The best choice for the home gardener. Self pollinating. Universal pollen donor.

Sunburst: Very large fruit, red skin. Medium firm texture, dark red flesh. Very productive. Fruits throughout December. Fresh fruit, jam and preserving. Self-pollinating.

Van: A delicious dark Cherry that bears heavy crops and has excellent quality fruit. Used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. A mid to late season maturity. Juicy and large sweet dark red Cherries with excellent flavour. An attractive heart shaped fruit.

Pollinators: Stella, Napoleon, Blackboy, Sunburst.

Multi-grafted Varieties

Royal Rainier/Van: Self-pollinating combination.Heavy cropping tree, great for limited spaces and smaller gardens. Royal Rainier is a white-fleshed, sweet cherry, while Van is reported by some to be the tastiest cherry of the all. A good combo for cherry lovers!

Blackboy/Napoleon: Self-pollinating combination. Very productive and popular mid season combination. Prune to ensure equal growth of both varieties. Watch for birds and cherry slug. Little pruning required after framework established. Fruits on the end of short spurs. Blackboy: Large, sweet fruit, dark red in colour, flesh firm and juicy. Napoleon: Large fruit, light colour, with firm sweet flesh. Both varieties used for fresh fruit, jam and preserving. A beautiful ornamental tree.

Royal Rainier/Stella: Self-Pollinating. A good option for the cherry lover with limited space. Watch for birds and cherry slug. Little pruning after framework established. Fruits on the end of short spurs. Mature trees will produce large crops in heavy clusters. This multi gives you the benefit of having two different, yet very sweet and tasty cherries at the same time, as they are both mature around mid season.

Dwarf Hybrids

Black “Cherree” Trixie Miniture Cherry: Delicious, juicy dark-skinned heart shaped cherries borne on a small, self pollinating tree. A delight for small spaces and big pots. 2.5m x 2.5m

White “Cherree” Trixie Miniature Cherry: White fleshed, heart shaped cherry with a lovely blush to the skin. Fruit is sweet and quite pretty. Will reach 2.5m x 2.5m at maturity. May need to cross pollinate with black “Cherree” Trixie.

Planting fruit trees near to a house or wall

We are often asked how close can a fruit tree be planted to the wall of a house. There two main kinds of concern:

  1. On certain clay soils houses can develop cracks by the action of tree roots. The risk is related to the size of the tree and therefore, in the case of fruit trees, on how dwarfing or invigorating the rootstock is. A rule of thumb for other trees, on at-risk soil types, is to have a separation distance at least equal to the mature height of the tree. For fruit trees grafted on dwarf rootstocks that means 3m or so, and for fruit trees on vigorous rootstocks allow 6m or more.
  2. Fruit trees, like other trees, can also be a nuisance. They can grow to block light, abrade the fabric of a building as they sway in the wind, damage fences by growing through them or cause damp. Roots can push up paving stones, fallen leaves can clog gutters and drains, and paths can be made slippy. Even the fruit, if not picked, can attract wasps and be unsightly. Bear this in mind when considering where to plant your new young fruit tree!

Fruit trees can often be planted closer to buildings than large ornamental trees because the rootstocks constrain the spread of the roots. In this respect fruit trees are often a better choice than ornamental trees if you are planting near to the house.

Sometimes planting a tree next to a wall, which may or may not be part of a building, is a good idea. Walls, especially south-facing ones, provide a sheltered and relatively warm microclimate that favours some fruit trees, especially if trained against the wall as a fan or espalier. Wall-trained trees should be planted at least 20cm (8 inches) from the wall to allow for the radial growth of the trunk. To keep root problems to a minimum, dig the planting hole about 20cm-40cm away from the wall, and lean the young tree into the wall, so that the roots are away from the base of the wall. You can also prune the roots on the wall side, and if necessary protect the back of the planting hole with paving slabs. In general you are not likely to experience structural problems from the roots of a semi-vigorous fruit tree in this situation, and such a tree should be capable of growing 3m-4m across and 2m-3m high.

If in doubt, seek the advice of a professional arboriculturalist or consult the book The A-Z of tree terms: A companion to British arboricuture.

Container Grown Cherry Trees: Tips On Growing Cherries In A Pot

Love cherry trees but have very little gardening space? No problem, try planting cherry trees in pots. Potted cherry trees do very well provided you have a container that is large enough for them, a pollinating cherry buddy if your variety isn’t self-pollinating, and have selected a variety that is most suited to your region. The following article contains information on how to grow cherry trees in containers and how to care for container-grown cherry trees.

How to Grow Cherry Trees in Containers

First off, as mentioned, be sure to do a little research and select a variety of cherry that is most suited to your area. Decide if you have space for more than one potted cherry tree. If you select a cultivar that is not self-pollinating, keep in mind that you need enough space for growing two cherries in pots. There are some self-fertile varieties if you decide you don’t have enough space. These include:

  • Stella
  • Morello
  • Nabella
  • Sunburst
  • North Star
  • Duke
  • Lapins

Also, if you don’t have room for two trees, look into a tree that has cultivars grafted to it. You may also want to look into a dwarf variety of cherry if space is at a premium.

Container grown cherry trees need a pot that is deeper and wider than the root ball of the tree so the cherry has some room to grow. A 15-gallon (57 L) pot is large enough for a 5-foot (1.5 m.) tree, for example. Be sure that the container has drainage holes or drill some in yourself. If the holes seem large, cover them with some mesh screening or landscape fabric and some rocks or other drainage material.

At this juncture, prior to planting, it might be a good idea to set the pot on a wheeled dolly. The pot is going to get awfully heavy when you add the tree, soil, and water. A wheeled dolly will make moving the tree around much easier.

Look at the cherry tree’s roots. If they are root bound, prune out some of the larger roots and loosen the root ball up. Partially fill the container with either a commercial potting soil or your own mix of 1 part sand, 1 part peat, and 1 part perlite. Place the tree atop the soil media and fill in around it with additional soil up to 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm.) below the rim of the container. Tamp the soil down around the tree and water in.

Caring for Potted Cherry Trees

Once you are done planting your cherry trees in pots, mulch the topsoil to retain moisture; container-grown plants dry out more quickly than those in the garden.

Once the tree has fruited, water it regularly. Give the tree a good deep soaking a few times a week depending upon weather conditions to encourage the roots to grow deep into the pot and prevent fruit cracking.

When fertilizing your cherry tree, use an organic seaweed fertilizer or other all-purpose organic food on your container grown cherry. Avoid fertilizers that are heavy on the nitrogen, as this will give it gorgeous, healthy foliage with little to no fruit.

What does the cherry blossom tree symbolise?

Cherry blossom has traditionally symbolised the ephemeral nature of beauty and life itself. In Japan people have picnicked under the spectacular displays of blooming cherry tree’s since at least the 8th century in a celebration known as Hanami. Cherry blossom only lasts two weeks and so the celebration is a time of reflection on the fleeting nature of existence.

Do cherries grow on a cherry blossom tree?

Yes, and all are edible. However, cherry blossom trees have been bred over centuries specifically for their blossom and so the fruit may be very small and won’t have a good taste. Be careful of wild cherries or black cherries as these may need to be cooked and always try to identify the tree before eating them.

Do cherry blossom trees lose their leaves?

Yes, cherry blossom trees are deciduous. Their ornamental factor is richly supplemented by their autumn displays of various colours and tones.

Can you eat the cherries on a cherry blossom tree?

Yes. However, cherry blossom trees have been bred over centuries specifically for their blossom and so the fruit may be very small and won’t have a good taste. Be careful of wild cherries or black cherries as these may need to be cooked and always try to identify the tree before eating them.

Where is the best place to plant a cherry tree?

Cherry blossom trees are best planted in areas of full sunlight and protection from the wind with deep, fertile, preferably alkaline soils. To fully bloom the tree will need around 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Dry, cold winds may also damage the flower buds leading to their premature death.

How close to house can you plant a cherry tree?

A mature blossoming cherry tree will need around 4 hours of direct sunlight and 1.5 meters between its base and any wall, such as a house, for its roots to develop. If you want to plant your tree close to your house be mindful of petal and leaf full and if this will cause any unwanted mess.

What is the best time to plant a cherry blossom tree?

A cherry blossom tree if it is pot-grown can be planted at any time of year and only in the dormant months if it is bare-root but it is always important to ensure the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

Are cherry blossom trees fast growing?

Cherry blossom trees have a moderate of medium growth rate and usually take between 10 and 20 years to reach their mature height. The eventual height of the tree however is dictated by the rootstock on which it is grown but the rate of growth remains the same.

How tall does a cherry blossom tree get?

Cherry blossom trees on a dwarfing rootstock will reach an eventual height of around 2-3 meters but those on a vigorous rootstock will grow up to around 8-10m tall. Despite the differences in height the rootstocks do not affect the growth rate of the tree which will remain moderate. The exact cultivar of tree will also define the eventual size and shape with some trees being more naturally dwarfing than others.

How do you prune a weeping cherry tree?

To prune a weeping cherry tree you should cut two thirds of the branches to the nearest outside bud directing the growth outwards to form a neat umbrella shape. Additionally it is always important to remember to prune out any dead, dying or diseased branches along with any cross branches to allow sunlight and air to reach the leaves. The best time to prune a cherry tree is in late summer and this is to prevent the spread of disease such as silver leaf canker.

When should you prune a cherry tree?

With many plants the correct time to prune is in late autumn and winter however the cherry tree is more susceptible to diseases such as silver lead canker and as such the majority of the pruning should be done in mid summer, around June or July.

How long do cherry trees live for?

Cherry trees typically live for around 20-40 years but the lifespan is entirely dependent on the variety. Ornamental cherry trees have only a short lifespan with many barely making it past 20 years whereas the cultivars more prized for their fruit tend to live for around 30-40 years.

What causes cherry tree leaves to curl?

Curling leaves on cherry trees is usually a sign of aphids of black fly but could also be a symptom of Leaf Curl disease and is caused by a fungus called Taphrina cerasi and usually carried by the wind. Leaf Curl disease is a fungus which infects the branches and usually causes clusters of growth in the centre of the tree’s canopy with the leaves turning red in colour and are marked with white spores.

Why No Blossoms on My Flowering Cherry Tree?

Reasons why a flowering cherry tree may not blossom include a lack of sunlight, late damaging frosts or a warm winter as cherry trees need a certain amount of time in near freezing temperatures during their dormancy.

Is my Cherry Blossom tree dying?

If your cherry trees fails to produce any flowers or foliage it may well be dead, however the true indication will come from the wood; if it is is try and breaks easily under pressure this suggests the tree has died. Cherry trees also have a green lining under the bark, you can make a small incision and if this green layer has turned brown and dry unfortunately the tree has died.

When do cherry blossoms flower?

Cherry tree’s tend to blossom in mid-April however exactly when is entirely dependent on the weather as they will only bloom simultaneously throughout the country in periods of extending sufficient mild temperatures. Unseasonably early warm weather or late frosts could offset bloom and in Japan they have a special blossom watch after the daily weather report!

What is peak bloom?

Peak bloom is defined by the day(s) in which 70% of the trees are blooming. Unseasonable weather may prompt some trees to bloom early but these may then be killed off by frosts, peak bloom indicates a sustained period of sufficient temperatures to prompt a mass bloom from the cherry trees.

If you are a fan of cherry blossom trees head over to our website where we have over 100 to choose from.

Liam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

See all of Liams posts.

Japanese Cherry Blossom

The cherry blossom is the symbol of Japan, as well as being the symbol of spring. The blooming is celebrated in Japan with cherry blossom festivals, which are an attraction for both locals and tourists from around the world. For hundreds of years the Japanese have enjoyed themselves by picnicking under these blossoming trees in the spring.

Visits are made to mountains to view the wild cherries (usually wild forms of Prunus serrulata). In Tokyo and other centres the parks are planted with the Tokyo cherry, (P. x yedoensis). In temple gardens old specimens of P. subhirtella may also be seen.

But, you don’t have to go to Japan to enjoy cherry blossoms. These trees can be found in abundance in cold climate and mountain areas of Australia. To view the ornamental flowering cherries at their spring peak Peter Valder visited the aptly named ‘Cherry Cottage’ at Mt Wilson in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

Other places to view cherries in the Blue Mountains include the towns of Leura and Katoomba where flowering cherries are used as street trees and are in peak bloom in mid-October. Cherries can also be found in parts of the Dandenongs and in the Adelaide Hills and in cool climate gardens in much of southern Australia.


Plant details

Botanical name: There are many different species and cultivars of cherries but the most commonly grown in gardens is Prunus serrulata.

Common name: Japanese flowering cherry, oriental cherry

Family: Cherries are members of the rose family, Rosaceae.

Climate: These are cool climate plants which do best in mountain and tableland areas and other regions with cold winters and mild summers such as parts of Victoria, Tasmania. These trees will grow in the cooler, elevated districts of Sydney but may be short lived.

Climate map – Japanese flowering cherry, oriental cherry

Uses:

  • The many different species and varieties cater for many different uses including:upright columns
  • weeping specimens
  • specimen tree
  • shade tree
  • autumn colour
  • cut flowers

Likes:

  • deep, well-drained soil
  • a sunny position with shelter from hot winds in spring and summer

Dislikes:

  • waterlogged soil
  • hot or humid climates

Flowering times

Although flowering cherries are at their peak in spring, there are three main flowering times for the Japanese cherry. The expected size where given is shown as height and width.

Early: Prunus subhirtella is the first group to flower. Some well known examples of this include:

‘Autumnalis’ – upright shape with flowers beginning in autumn and continuing through winter. Pale pink flowers fade to white.

‘Pendula’ – a beautiful weeping shape which has palest pink flowers fading to white. Growing this on a 2-3m (6-10′) standard understock will show it off to its best.

‘Fukubana’ – an upright cherry with small, double, bright pink flowers.

Mid season: The early flowering cherries are then followed by:

Prunus x yedoensis (Tokyo cherry) which is a large tree with a possible height and width of 9m (to around 30′). The dark green foliage contrasts with the almond-scented single white flowers. This tree is widely planted in Tokyo where old specimens may be 15-20m tall (up to 60′). The Tokyo cherry is also the cherry that blooms in front of the White House in Washington.

Late: The late flowering cherries follow and the best of these include:

P. ‘Amanogawa’ – an upright specimen which has a shape similar to a pencil pine. This cherry has attractive semi-double shell-pink flowers which are fragrant and appear in late spring. Size: 10x4m (30×12′).

P. ‘Fugenzo’ and P. ‘Kanzan’ (Sekiyama) – have large double bright pink flowers and bronze young leaves.

P. ‘Mikuruma-gaeshi’ – palest pink flowers in dense clusters.

P. ‘Ojochin’ – large, single white flowers from pink buds. This flowering cherry with bronze young foliage. Size: 4.5×3.5m (16×10′) wide.

P. ‘Shirofugen’ – long stalked double white flowers with bronze leaves which turn to an orange-red colour during autumn. This fragrant flowering cherry is very late, almost the last to flower.

P. ‘Shirotae’ (Mt Fuji) – fragrant, semi-double white flowers with horizontal branches forming a low spreading shape. Size: 6x8m (18×25′).

P. ‘Shimidsu-sakura’ (Okumiyaku) – pink and white with pendulous flowers and gracefully spreading branches. The young green foliage puts on a dazzling autumn display. Size: up to 4x5m (12×15′).

P. ‘Tai Haku’ – sometimes called ‘The Great White Cherry’ this tree has very large single white flowers with bronze leaves. Size: A vigorous and spreading specimen which may grow to 8x6m (25×18′).

P. ‘Ukon’ – yellowish green semi-double flowers which appear from mid-October onwards. This tree has brown-bronze juvenile foliage. Size: height and spread to 10m (30′).

Warm climate cherries

People who live on the coast shouldn’t despair if they can’t grow Japanese cherries. Peter recommends trying Prunus campanulata (commonly known as the Formosan, Taiwanese or bell cherry) as this doesn’t require the cold climate that the others do. The frost hardy Formosan cherry grows to a height and spread of around 6-8m (18×25′) and has a slender habit. The deep rose-red flowers are seen in winter and are attractive to nectar feeding birds. It is one of the first cherries to flower.

Open garden

‘Cherry Cottage’ is at Queens Avenue, Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. It is open to the public during April and May and then from September until early November. There is a succession of flowering cherries from late August to October but they are at their peak during September and early October. As well as cherries, there are also massed planting of evergreen and deciduous azaleas, bulbs and many other cool climate plants. Cherry Cottage will close for this season this year on Sunday 9 November.

Further information

For details of gardens and features of the Blue Mountains call the Blue Mountains Tourist Authority. Phone: (02) 4739 6266.

Planting a dwarf cherry tree is great for both your landscaping as well as your tummy. In this article, we’re going to talk about exactly what a dwarf cherry tree is and how you can successfully plant one in your own yard or orchard!

When we refer to a “dwarf cherry tree”, or any dwarf fruit tree, we are simply referring to a tree whose structure is made up of a top half (the top of a regular-sized tree) which has been grafted to the root stalk of another type of tree. The result is a tree that will grow a fraction of the size of the regular variety and produce full-sized fruit. There are dwarf sized trees as well as semi-dwarf. The difference is usually about 10 feet in size, the dwarf being the smallest.

What to consider for Planting Dwarf Cherry Tree?

Select the Type

The first step in planting your dwarf cherry tree is to decide what type of cherries you want your tree to produce. Bing and Van cherries are the most popular types in the United States because they are sweet and perfect for baking or to eat as they are. However, if you’re looking for a tree that produces tart cherries, look into the Montmorency or English Morello trees.

Select the Land

Most cherry trees are ready for harvest in late June or early July, and the dwarf trees have a height around 10 – 15 feet, as opposed to a regular cherry tree’s near 40-foot height. As you can guess, it’s much easier to acquire the fruit of a dwarf tree! Most dwarf cherry trees grow best in particular “zones”. Garden centers and gardening websites will have a guide available detailing which states are included in each zone. As a general guideline, most sweet cherry trees grow best in zones five to nine, while tart cherry trees grow well in zones four to nine.

Cross Pollination

Once you have chosen the type of cherry tree you want to plant, you need to find a tree to cross-pollinate with it. Some breeds of cherry tree are self fertile, meaning they don’t need another tree to cross-pollinate with; however, most cherry trees have to have the pollen from another tree to produce fruit. Some breeds of cherry trees make a better match for pollination. For example, Bing cherry trees (the most popular type of cherry in the United States) can pollinate well with Emperor Francis, Royal Ann, or another Bing tree. Examples of self fertile cherry trees are: sweetheart, Lapins, and White Gold.

Space

If your chosen cherry tree requires another tree to produce fruit, be sure that you have enough room for both trees. It is recommended that you space the trees about eight to twelve feet apart. The area that you plant your tree(s) in needs to be located in full sunlight and have rich soil. Avoid wet or heavy clay soils and try to find an area of soil that has good drainage. When you first plant your tree, you need to dig a hole twice the size of the cluster of roots. Fill in the area around the tree’s roots with good quality soil. Water the area, but take care not to make the soil too damp.

Pruning

Pruning the tree is vital to ensure that your tree’s branches are sturdy and spaced out (along more room for the fruit to flourish). Pruning is simply cutting excess branches from the tree when it is fresh from the “nursery”. The first pruning should leave about two branches. You may notice that the center of the tree has one long branch pointing nearly straight upward from the base. This is the “leader branch” and will be the central trunk of the tree as it grows. This must remain intact along with one additional branch on each side, which will become sturdy main branches. As the tree grows, it may require another pruning to trim down the number of main branches to four. These strong main branches will soon have branch-lings sprouting off of them which will provide ample space for tons of fruit growth! Lightly water your tree as the soil requires, but remember that the ideal soil for the tree will be slightly moistened and never soggy as it could rot the roots.

Harvesting

After you have planted your cherry tree(s), expect to wait about 2 – 3 years before seeing any fruit. The wait is well worth it when you consider that the life of the tree will likely be around 35 years! That’s plenty of years of fresh, naturally grown cherries!

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  • I love cherries and that is why I grow them in my apartment in the city.

    Most people don’t realize you can grow cherries indoors and that they are one of the best fruit trees for low light situations.

    That is why I decided to write this complete guide on how to grow a dwarf cherry tree indoors so more people can learn to how to grow a cherry tree indoors and enjoy the satisfaction of eating your homegrown cherries, yum!

    To grow a cherry tree indoors choose a self-pollinating dwarf variety and plant it in a large pot. Give it a deep watering a few times per week and use fertilizer during the growing season. Dwarf cherry trees are ideal for growing indoors because they only require 6 hours of sunlight.

    Check out this video with awesome examples of bonsai cherry trees:

    What sort of cherry tree is best for growing indoors?

    If you choose to grow a full-size cherry tree they can grow to between 6 and 8 meters so I wouldn’t recommend this for indoor growing unless you live in a castle.

    The best type of cherry tree for growing indoors would be a dwarf or bonsai variety.

    Sweet cherries are good for eating fresh but acid cherries are good for cooking so remember this when you are choosing.

    I would recommend something like the North Star variety as they grow to a maximum of between 2 and 3 meters but like all indoor fruit trees can be kept a lot smaller with pruning.

    The North Star Variety is also self-pollinating/ self-fruiting which means you only need one tree.

    Some other self-pollinating varieties include Stella, Morello, Sunburst, Duke and Lapins.

    Check what variety is best for your local climate and remember some varieties require two to produce fruit.

    Check Available Cherry Tree Varieties

    Should you grow a dwarf cherry tree from a pit or buy a young tree?

    If you decide to grow a cherry tree from a seed it is best to get one from cherries bought at a farmers market or off a local tree, as store-bought cherries aren’t very reliable due to the way they are stored.

    When you grow a cherry tree from a pit it can take 4 or 5 years or longer before it will start to produce any fruit.

    It might be easier to buy a young tree from a store if its the fruit you are interested in.

    How to germinate cherry seeds

    To grow a cherry tree from a pit clean the seeds so there is no fruit remaining on them and dry them out.

    Put the seeds in a sealable container and fill it with soil so the seeds are covered.

    Put this container in the fridge for two to four months and time it so its early spring when you remove them.

    When you take the seeds out the fridge give them a water for the first time and move them to a brighter warmer area.

    Keep the soil moist during this period and move the seedlings to a sunnier area as shoots start to emerge.

    When the seedlings have at least 2 sets of leaves it’s time to transfer it to a pot or container (do this process with multiple pits as they are not all guaranteed to start growing).

    This video shows how to grow cherries from seed:

    What sort of pot is best for a dwarf cherry tree?

    When you are choosing a pot or container for your cherry tree remember the bigger the pot the bigger your tree can grow.

    A 15-gallon pot or container would be ideal for a 5-foot tree.

    You might want to put your pot on a trolly before filling it if you plan on moving it about.

    You can start with a smaller pot and repot your dwarf cherry tree as it grows.

    What sort of soil is best for a dwarf cherry tree?

    Put a layer of stones at the bottom of your pot to encourage good drainage.

    Put some soil in the pot so that when you place the tree in it the base of the tree is only between 1 and 4 inches below the surface.

    Use a basic potting soil or if you want to make your own mix use 1 part sand, 1 part peat and 1 part perlite.

    You should mulch the topsoil with bark or shingles to help the soil retain moisture.

    How much light does a dwarf cherry Tree require?

    Cherry trees only require 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive.

    The more sunlight the better.

    That is why I always use an LED grow light on a timer to give my cherry tree some extra sunlight.

    If your cherry tree doesn’t get enough light then it won’t produce as much fruit, that’s why I say the more light the more cherries!

    Check out my articles on affordable Led lights that actually work and the best Led grow light strips for more info.

    How often should I water my potted cherry tree?

    Potted trees will dry out a lot quicker than if it was planted in a garden.

    You should give your tree a good soaking that gets deep into the soil a few times a week. Monitor it and use your judgment if it needs more or less.

    Use mulched bark or shingles on top of the soil to help retain the moisture in the soil.

    It’s important to use a regular amount of water so don’t let it sometimes dry out and sometimes be soaking you want to keep it constant.

    What temperature is best for cherry trees?

    Cherry trees will grow in practically any climate so don’t worry about it too much.

    Dependant on the variety you choose to grow the ideal temperature may be different but even if you don’t have the ideal temperature don’t worry your tree will still grow.

    The only requirement is that during the winter months your tree will need a temperature between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit if you want it to produce fruit the next growing season.

    What is the best fertilizer for a cherry tree in a pot?

    When the fruit has set your tree will benefit from using a fertilizer. I use organic seaweed fertilizer but any all-purpose organic feed will do.

    Avoid feed that it heavy on nitrogen as they will encourage heavy foliage growth but not much fruit and that defeats the purpose.

    Your tree may also benefit if you use fertilizer in early spring about a month before bloom to ensure a good growing season.

    How to prune an indoor cherry tree in a pot

    Prune your cherry tree by pruning away any diseased or deadwood.

    Thinning out your tree this allows more sunlight through to the rest of the tree and this encourages healthy growth.

    Avoid pruning during the winter as it is harder for your tree to recover during the winter and may become affected by a disease.

    Prune away any branches that are in a direction you don’t want your tree to grow, upwards or sideways to prevent your tree from getting too big.

    You can prune any undesired sprouts away at any time during the growing season.

    How to pollinate a cherry tree

    Even if you have chosen a self-pollinating cherry tree I would recommend giving it a helping hand.

    There are different methods for helping your tree to pollinate.

    The first method I would recommend would be to use a small soft brush like a paintbrush.

    Brush the inside of the flowers to help move the pollen from the small stems inside the flower onto the central stem.

    The second method is easier but nowhere near as precise, give the tree a good shake!

    Should I thin out any heavy clusters of cherries?

    You don’t have to thin out the cherries on your tree but you may decide to if in previous seasons a lot of fruit has dropped off your tree early.

    Thinning out the fruits will make the remaining fruits larger and of better quality. Ideally, you don’t want more than 10 cherries on each cluster.

    When to pick cherries from a potted tree

    Depending on the variety of cherries you grow there will be different signs when your cherries are fully ripe.

    Check what color your variety of cherries will turn when ripe, different colors they may turn when ripe include dark red, bright red, black or yellow.

    Cut your cherries off with scissors so as not to damage the stem as it will also produce cherries the next year.

    How to store freshly picked cherries from the tree

    When you are storing cherries you need to keep them out of direct sunlight as this will make them shrink and shrivel up.

    If you plan on eating your cherries immediately and leave them on the counter they will be good for 2 – 3 days.

    To extend the life of your cherries put them in a sealed plastic bag or container and keep them in the fridge, this will keep them good for between 3 days and 2 weeks.

    It’s important to keep them in a sealed container as they will absorb then taste like any smells in your fridge and I’m guessing you don’t want cherries that taste of blue cheese or fish!

    What to do if your cherry tree stops producing fruit

    If your cherry tree isn’t producing fruits it may still be too young as sour cherry trees only start producing fruit at 3 – 5 years and sweet cherry trees at 4 – 7 years.

    You may not be watering and fertilizing your tree the correct amounts.

    This means you may be using too much water or not enough fertilizer so try adjusting your feeding routine.

    Your cherry tree may not be getting pollinated which would result in no fruits, that’s why id always recommend a self-pollinating variety for indoor growing.

    See the above section on how to pollinate a cherry tree.

    To grow a cherry tree outdoors

    When planting a cherry tree in your garden it will need an area with deep well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine.

    If you plant a sour cherry tree then one will do and it will self-pollinate. If you choose a sweet cherry tree you will need to plant multiple trees so they will pollinate each other.

    When your tree is young it will need support so use a cane or stick to help support it.

    Apply mulch like bark or shingles on the ground where the roots will be to keep the moisture in the ground.

    Water and fertilize your tree when young and when it’s older it won’t require much care unless you want to encourage bumper crops.

    Common cherry tree problems and how to solve them

    Like all fruit trees, there are many problems that you may come across when growing cherry trees indoors.

    Here I address two of the major areas bacterial problems and fungal disease:

    Bacterial problems – Cherry leaf spot and Twig Canker are two bacterial diseases that may affect cherry trees. Leaf spot which is also called shot hole disease causes holes to appear in the leaves and also discoloration of the leaves. Twig Cankers appear as watery lesions on the bark. The best way to deal with these problems is to deal with them when you first spot them by cutting off infected branches immediately.

    Fungal Diseases – Various forms of mildew, rot, and blight are common on cherry trees. These problems can be hard to deal with when they are established so the best cure is prevention. Help prevent these diseases by not allowing any leaves to decompose in your pot and quickly prune any diseased branches you come across.

    Cherries – planting & pruning

    During the growing season – from Spring through to Autumn – you will be buying cherry trees in a pot or container. This allows for the convenience of planting during the better weather and establishment is generally quite fast but you do need to make sure you are around to water them very regularly for the first few weeks after planting, until they are established. An additional benefit of planting during this time is that the trees are not so sensitive to any delay in planting and generally they will keep for as long as you want them to and are ready to plant, as long as they are watered in the containers they arrive in, of course. They should be situated in a sheltered spot out of the wind and protected from too much sun ss this will reduce stress whilst they are waiting to planted our properly.

    CHOOSING THE BEST ROOTSTOCKS Cherry tree size chart

    As with all fruit trees cherries are grafted or budded on to a rootstock which controls and determines to a large extent, the height of the tree. It is important to make an informed decision as to which rootstock is the best for your situation and requirements, infact it is probably the single most important factor in the choice of your tree. The various growing methods will also be reliant on the correct rootstock as not all training methods are suited to all rootstocks. Although the range of rootstocks available is smaller than with, say, apples, there is still a good range of stocks that will suit your needs whatever they may be.

    Colt rootstock

    Has until recently been by far the most popular and suitable stock for general garden cultivation. It is only moderately vigorous – much less so than the older stocks which preceded it – and probably still the best choice except for rather small gardens. It is quite amenable in it’s growth which with normal pruning will come in at around 9-12’ with a similar spread. It can be contained to a little less by festooning or judicious pruning, or even be grown in a large half barrel. It promotes heavy yields and is quite cold tolerant. It is also said to impart some bacterial canker resistance. Suitable for most reasonably drained soils.
    Colt rootstock is the best choice for fan training, as a semi vigorous bush tree, and for festooning. Space 9-12’ apart as a bush tree. Very good for orchard planting or in a lawn.

    Gisela 5 rootstock

    A new dwarfing rootstock for cherries and now already the most popular choice by far for smaller gardens and container work. Gisela 5 is very tolerant of heavier pruning and is easily maintained at a convenient 6’ or so. The spread is similar. It requires better so than Colt and is best avoided if your soil is light or impoverished. Ideal in containers, as a small bush tree in the border, as a columnar tree and in the fruit cage. Not so suited to fan training as Colt. This is the stock used for creating column trees and is the fastest stock to come into bearing. Space 6-8’ apart as a bush tree.
    Tabel was introduced a little before Gisela 5 and is a very dwarfing rootstock. It has proved satisfactory in gardens and can be kept even marginally smaller than the Gisela 5; mature trees of just 5-6’ have been reported. But it has fallen out of favour to a large extent and this is primarily because of the difficulty faced by nurseries in growing it to a reasonable saleable standard. There tends to be a lot of grade-outs for this rootstock which means the percentage of saleable trees is quite low or at least that they have to be grown on for a further year before they are big enough to sell which has not made it popular commercially. Tabel rootstock is still sometimes available and is an ideal container tree, but it does need good conditions to grow well and can be poorly shaped and reluctant to grow unless treated well. Use only as a small bush tree.

    Gisela 6 rootstock

    Is much less grown than Gisela 5 stock but offers a compromise between that stock and Colt being roughly between the two in stature. It is a heavy cropping stock and also more tolerant of poorer soils than Gisela 5. It is compatible with most varieties. Space 8’ apart as a bush tree.

    Seedling cherry stocks, FI21 and Myrobalam- Vigorous cherry trees

    These super-vigorous, big trees are seldom used these days as Colt is now the preferred rootstock for general orchard growing so even where a larger tree is required these stocks seem to have little place. Capable of achieving 20’ or more with ease, harvesting is difficult and it is almost impossible to protect the fruit from birds. They do have the advantage of being very hardy vigorously growing trees suitable for most soils and would perhaps have a place in a large paddock or grassland. Cropping maturity is the longest of any of the rootstock options but mature trees are capable of very heavy crops. Use only as large bush or standard trees. Space 18-20’ apart.

    SOIL PREPARATION & PLANTING

    The soil should be in a fairly friable state and well dug over before planting with an application of blood fish and bone, bonemeal a well balanced NPK fertilizer or growmore. If planting in grass then circles of 18” across should have been removed for each tree and a hole of 18-24” dug and replaced with well friable soil mixed with some fertilizer, since the ground beneath grass is often quite compacted. It is best, but not essential, if the soil is prepared some weeks in advance of planting.
    To plant dig a hole that is large enough to take the roots or rootball without cramping, first drive in the stake place the tree in the hole so that the uppermost roots are covered by about 2” of soil. Infill with good friable soil and firm very well. It is important that no air pockets are left below the soil around the roots. Make sure the soil where you have planted is level with the surrounding ground and that there isn’t a low where water might collect as no newly planted tree likes to sit in water. When you are satisfied water the new tree in – copiously with a bucket or hose if it as pot grown tree, or just enough to settle the soil around the roots if it is a bare rooted one.
    Container grown Cherrytrees will require watering in the early morning and evening for the first few days following planting and thereafter once a day for 3-4 weeks until established. Bare root trees should not need watering again unless they become stressed after leafing in the Spring.

    A CHERRY TREE IN A POT

    Dwarfing trees are ideal in a container of around 25 litre capacity using a loam based compost. Dwrafing roottsock Gisela 5 is the most suitable, and a self fertile sweet variety such as Sunburst or Stella should be chocen. Water daily during the growing season and feed with luquid seaweed extract or osmocote tablets.

    AFTERCARE

    Pruning Cherry trees

    One of the most important aspects in influencing the quantity and quality of the cherry crop is that of pruning the tree. Although the subject might seem daunting at first, I often feel that to prune badly is preferred to not pruning at all – especially with cherries that can show uncontrolled vigour quite quickly if not curbed. To have a tree growing in such a way is not necessarily a good thing as cropping will be delayed. One of the reasons for pruning all fruit trees is to promote the kind of growth that actually bears the fruit – not all growth does this. So to allow your trees to grow merrily away with no intervention not only promotes a poorly shaped tree, you might be waiting forever for a crop, or at best only get a few fruits. There are of course different pruning methods for bush, column, and fan trees.

    The bush tree

    Is the most commonly cultivated tree form. Regardless of whether your trees are on colt, a vigorous stock, or on a dwarfing one the principles are the same, but with the dwarfing trees you will have less growth to deal with.
    All pruning should be done in the Spring or early Summer, to avoid infection of silver leaf disease. But winter pruning can be unavoidable in some circumstances. If silverleaf has been a problem locally then paint main cuts with arbrex or similar.
    Plums and cherries can both be grown in a natural shape with very little pruning. Leave the tree almost entirely un-pruned until it settles down to fruiting, just remove the odd branches that re overcrowding the tree, if any. If you require more laterals that are produced naturally, simply shorten some of the side shoots, In later years just prune to keep the tree tidy, preferably in Summer (July).
    THE DWARF PYRAMID. This is by far the best trained form for plums and cherries if you require your tree to remain an easily manageable size. Plums can even be grown in a fruit cage using this method and all trees are easily netted from birds, which is very important with cherries. After planting the tree it can be left until the Spring and as growth starts the main stem should be cut back to 4 feet from ground level. This may have been done at the nursery before despatch. During the Summer, usually in late July, all of the new side branches should be shortened to about 8 inches, pruning to a downward pointing bud, the leader (main stem) should be left un-pruned. If the side shoots appear too close together, remove some completely to leave a well shaped tree. All shoots below 18 inches from the ground should be completely cut off.
    Following Spring & future seasons As growth starts in the Spring, the leader should be cut back by about half to two thirds of the new growth, pruning to a bud the opposite side to the previous year’s pruning. In future years when the tree has reached the required height of 8-9 ft the leader should be cut back in May to control at this height. In Summer each year all of the current season’s growth of each branch should be shortened to about 8 leaves, all laterals growing from these branches should be pruned to 6 leaves, any vigorous shoots near the top of the tree should be cut out.
    Your tree is now maintained in an easy to manage heavy cropping form

    The fan trained tree

    We supply nice young trees in a good place to start your training.

    Start with a young year old tree and immediately remove the top third of the growth. If it is feathered prune just above two conveniently placed branches; these will form the basis of your fan. Normally this is about 18” from the ground but it will depend on the positioning of 2 good feathers which you can use. It can also be varied to your own preferences and there are not hard and fast rules as to where the first branches should be – sometimes a fan will be grown with a short leg and other times it may be branched quite close to the ground. If your trees is an unfeathered maiden and does not yet have side shoots then prune to just above 2 good opposite buds and these will form your first laterals from which to work.
    The first Spring shorten these two laterals to about 10-12”. You will now have a tree that looks a bit like a stumpy capital ‘T’ but don’t worry. This is a good basis from which your fan will develop. These two shortened side laterals will now produce several new upwardly mobile leaders during the course of the growing season. Leave them be until the next Spring and then stand back and survey your tree. Most of the work will now have been done but you will need to remove any new growths that are heading towards the wall or fence and any that are crossing or too congested. Having done this you should now have a nicely balanced tree – congratulations, your fan shaped tree has been trained!
    Later that summer, and in subsequent summers, you can shorten again a selection of less importasnt laterals and you can also trim the top most growths so that the tree stays within the boundaries of your wall or fence. Finally, in Autumn of the same year trim again the laterals that you shortened earlier in the summer, to about 3 pairs of leaves. You will find fruit buds will form on these shortened branches to carry next years crop.

    The columnar cherry tree

    Is the easiest growing method to prune. Pruning takes place in the second half of the summer and is simply a matter of trimming back all of the side growths to about 3”. Established trees only need to be pruned once a year but young trees show more vigour and you may need to go over them again in late Autumn. In subsequent years the practice is continued late each summer. Flower buds form on the base of the previous years growth. The leader can be shortened once a year, at the same time, if desired and to keep it within an acceptable height. This promotes better branching lower down and a new leader will form from a bud just below where you cut.
    If you tree has any bald patches along the trunk, which can happen especially lower down, you can encourage dormant buds to shoot by nicking the bark with a sharp knife just above the bud. This often encourages them to shoot.

    How long does it take to grow a cherry tree to fruiting age

    A reasonable question we often get asked! Remember that the more dwarfing the tree, then the more quickly it will bear fruit. Sometimes it is assumed that a vigorous tree that grows more quickly will crop sooner, but the reverse is actually true as a quickly growing tree will be sending out long vigorous growths but not the type of growth that will actually fruit until it is properly mature. For a dwarfing stock such as Gisela 5 you can often get fruits within 2 years of planting, sometimes even the first year following planting. For more vigoorus stocks such as Colt and F121 the in is 3 years, or maybe 4.

    Planting younger trees is your route to a quicker crop. Young trees establish more quickly than older ones and receive less of a ‘check’ after planting, and will go on to fruit more quickly as a result.

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