Cherry tree root systems

Cherry Trees

There are two basic types of cherry trees, sweet cherries and sour cherries. The sweet cherry is the one you can eat right off of the tree. The sour cherry is commonly used in baking. The renowned cherry pie is usually made with a sour cherry. Cherry trees can grow to 30 feet tall or more, depending on the rootstock. Rootstocks commonly used are Mahaleb, Colt, Mazzard and GM61/1. Cherries ripen early and most are ready for harvest in late spring.
As a general rule sweet cherries need a pollinizer and most sour cherries are self-fruitful and do not need a pollinizer. Not all sweet cherries can act as a pollinizer so be sure to check what other cherry tree is needed to produce fruit. Pruning every year is also suggested in order to maintain a healthy tree. Pruning should be done in the spring, before the new growth begins. Remove dead or unhealthy branches and limbs. Thin the areas of the tree where the growth is very bushy. Cherries have to be picked ripe. They do not ripen well after they have been picked. There are red, black, yellow and mottled cherries. Recent information about tart or sour cherries show that they have among the highest levels of disease fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits. They are delicious and healthy, a great combination. Our cherry tree offerings are listed above.

Cherry Tree Care

Dwarf cherry tree or cherry shrub? Which is better for your garden?

Which is a better option…a cherry tree? Or a cherry shrub? Read on to discover the pros and cons of each one.

Which is Best for Your Garden – a dwarf cherry tree or a cherry shrub?

For generations, there was no such thing as a dwarf cherry tree. Instead, cherry trees came in one size only and that size was “large”. Cherry trees can be huge, up to three stories high. But if you have a small garden and no space for a full sized tree, what can you do? Today, you’re spoiled for choice. You can invest in a dwarf cherry tree that’s been grafted onto dwarfing rootstock. Or you can opt for an easy-care cherry shrub. I’ll talk about both of those options in this blog.

Dwarf Cherry Shrubs Developed in Saskatchewan for Cold Climates

If you live in a cold climate, a dwarf cherry shrub may be the best option. Back in the 1940s, a breeder in Saskatchewan started to develop hybrid cherry plants that would grow in a shrub-like form. When he died, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan took over and continued to work on these plants until they were really happy with the taste of the fruit.

The team introduced their first dwarf cherry shrub, Carmine Jewel, in 1999. They followed up in 2004 with the introduction of “The Romance Series of Cherries” including cultivars named Romeo, Juliet, Crimson Passion, Valentine and Cupid. These shrubs produce sour cherries that are perfect for cooking and processing. And they are easier to prune than a dwarf sweet cherry would be.

Full size cherry trees can be two or three stories tall. But dwarf cherry shrubs are an option for small gardens where there is no room for a full size tree.

Rootstock Choices for your Dwarf Cherry Tree

Cherry shrubs are terrific if you’re interested in growing cherries for cooking and processing. But if you want sweet cherries for fresh eating, you may opt instead for a dwarf cherry tree in which a branch from one of your favourite types of cherries (Like Bing, Lapins, Ranier and other popular cultivars) is grafted onto a rootstock from another compatible tree. The rootstock contributes many qualities to the new plant – one of the important ones is that the rootstock can help limit the size of the fruit tree when mature.

Dwarf rootstock has been available for apple growers for a long time. But that was not the case with cherry trees until the 1970s. At that time breeders in Germany starting working to create a root stock that could be used to create a dwarf cherry tree that can be half the size of a full size tree . Over the years a few options have been created including Gisela and Krymsk that offer lots of benefits, including dwarfing qualities. Using those root stock options, your dwarf cherry tree can produce almost any types of cherries including sweet cherries like Bing, Lapins, Ranier and other popular cultivars.

If you want sweet cherries for fresh eating, you may opt instead for a dwarf cherry tree in which a branch from one of your favourite types of cherries

Dwarf Cherry Trees are Better for Warmer Climate Zones

If you live in a very cold climate, cherry shrubs may be your only option. But if your climate is slightly warmer (Zone 5 and up) you’ll have more choice. You will also be able to grow sweet cherries that can be eaten fresh. Sweet cherries aren’t yet available in a compact shrub form. So, if you want to grow sweet cherries, you need to plant a sweet cherry tree. And if your garden is small, make sure your new cherry tree is on dwarfing root stock, otherwise your new tree may soon grow so large that it will take over your garden.

Dwarf cherry trees are produced when the grower takes a branch from a cherry tree that produces tasty fruit (like Bing, or Lapins) and fuses it onto a rootstock from another compatible tree. The rootstock contributes many qualities to the new plant – like disease resistance or increased hardiness. But one of the important features is that some rootstocks will help limit the size of the tree when mature.

Dwarf rootstock has been available for apple growers for a long time. But that was not the case with cherry trees until the 1970s. At that time breeders in Germany starting working to create a root stock that could be used to create a dwarf cherry tree that can be half the size of a full size tree . Today two popular dwarfing cherry root stock choices are Gisela and Krymsk.

So where will you find a good selection of dwarf cherry trees and cherry shrubs? I’ll go through that below. But first, here’s an infographic that summarizes the features of dwarf cherry trees and cherry shrubs.

Further Dwarf Cherry Tree Resources

Before you make your choice about whether to plant a dwarf cherry tree or a cherry shrub in your garden consider learning more about the different options. I cover both topics in more depth in recent episodes of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast, which you can listen to below.

You can learn more about how to select a dwarf cherry tree that will thrive in your unique conditions in my online workshop in Beginner Fruit Tree Care. And then, when you’re ready to shop around and buy a dwarf cherry tree, download my fruit tree nursery resource list so that you can find a nursery that will provide you with exactly that type of cherry you would like to grow in your small garden.

So dwarf cherry tree or cherry shrub? It’s up to you. What will you choose?

You may also be interested in:

  • PODCAST: Learning From Tree Leaves and Cherry Root Stock
  • PODCAST: Interview with a Cherry Breeder on Dwarf Cherry Shrubs
  • PODCAST: Do you have mites in your fruit trees?

Susan Poizner

Director, Fruit Tree Care Education Online

Susan Poizner is an urban orchardist and the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book Growing Urban Orchards. She is the creator of the award-winning online fruit tree care training program at and the host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast. She is also an ISA Certified Arborist..

In this publication, we will analyze how many cherries does a cherry tree produce in various growing conditions.

A cherry tree can produce 0, 20, 50, 100, 400 kilos of cherries depending on the weather, terrain, care applied… Personally the most I have caught a cherry tree has been 400 kg . A huge cherry tree of the Sunburst variety.

Factors that influence the kilos that a cherry tree can produce

The kilos a cherry tree can produce are influenced by multiple factors. Variety of planted cherry, weather, pollination, maturation date, planting density, rootstock, tree age, treatments performed, resistance at cherry tree plagues and diseases…

Cherry variety

Some varieties of cherry can become very productive, however, the size of the cherries will be greatly affected. Lapins, Sunburst, Van, Frisco, Celeste, Black Star, Royal Tioga, New Star, Crystal, New Moon, Starking, Bing, 4-84, Somerset, Royal Helen, Sweet Heart… They are varieties of cherries that can reach high yields.

Maturation date

Generally, early ripening cherry varieties are less productive. This is because the tree has less time to produce cherries.


Irrigation is a good way to prevent cherry trees from experiencing water stress during the summer. Cherry trees affected by drought weaken and suffer the attack of big-headed worm, which can dry them.

Having strong cherry trees will help us obtain quality cherries, although excess vigor can reduce cherry production.


The self-fertile cherry varietieshave a greater ease of curdling, so they usually outperform the self-sterile varieties.

Cherry tree fertilizer

Cherry trees need to be well nourished to produce.

It is important to control nutritional deficiencies and provide specific fertilizers to improve quality and production.

Control of pests and diseases

The application of phytosanitary treatments is essential to keep diseases and pests of the cherry tree controlled.

Fungi such as moniliacan significantly reduce the kilos of cherries produced by a cherry tree.

Pests such as the black aphid from the cherry treecan steal a large part of its sap from the tree, reducing quality and productivity.

Age of the tree

Cherry trees take several years to bear fruit, they need more than 5-7 years to reach their productive potential.

Plantation framework

A smaller distance between cherry trees, these will be smaller and the production of cherries per tree will be smaller.


The accumulation of chill hours is essential for the cherry tree to bloom properly. On the other hand, rainy climates favor the presence of diseases (cherry leaf spot, Stigmina carpophila…) that will need to be controlled.

Size occupied by the tree

The density of plantation influences of important form in the kilos of cherries produced by tree and surface.
Plantation cherry trees made in high density will hardly produce more than 20kg of cherry. Although one hectare can exceed 20,000 kg of cherry produced.

Cherry tree pruning

The cherry tree pruning, is an effective tool for regulating tree load. When cherry trees are not pruned correctly, they can become overloaded. Although trees can produce many kg of cherries, they are of poor quality. In many cases, it will not be profitable to pick up these cherries, which in the end, have to stay in the field, favoring the presence of pests.

So, how many kilos of cherries does a cherry tree produce?

We have seen the factors that can influence the kilos produced by a cherry tree, now I will give several examples of how many kilos of cherries a cherry tree produce. In my case I speak of Kg of cherry net, once the cherries with defects (cracked, chopped by birds…) have been removed. In the cases that are going to be exposed, the gross production of the cherry tree can be between 5 and 15% higher.

Location: Arenas de San Pedro (Ávila).

Care taken: pruning, payment, control of pests and diseases.

Reinforced 15-year-old cherry tree with the variety 3-13, plantation frame 5×5 meters, irrigation of support for. The first interesting production with 10kg, 3 years after crown graft. Caliber 28-32 mm.

30-year-old Sunburst cherry tree, grafted into avium rootstocks and nestled among centuries-old olive trees, the estimated planting frame is 12×10 meters, dry land. Maximum production obtained: 400 kg, regular productions above 200 Kg. Gauge 24-28 mm and 28-32 mm respectively.

30-year-old Summit cherry tree, grafted into avium rootstocks and nestled among centuries-old olive trees, the estimated planting frame is 10×9 meters, dry land. Maximum production obtained: 150 kg, irregular productions, with only 10 kg years. Caliber 24-30 mm and 30-32mm.

15-year-old Lapins cherry tree, grafted onto avium rootstocks and located between cherry trees with 5×5 meter frames, specific supportive risks. Maximum production obtained: 100 kg, with annual productions exceeding 50 kg. Caliber 22-26 mm and 24-28 mm.

The above examples are mainly from very productive cherry varieties. The estimated average production for cherry trees is 30 kilos of cherry per tree and 12,000 Kg / ha.

How many kilos of cherries does one hectare produce?

In commercial plantations in the United States, it is recommended that the kilos of cherry per hectare do not exceed 15,000-20,000 kg. Although some operations allow production of 30-40 tons of cherry per hectare, the quality and sales prices of the cherry plummet.

However, these numbers are for high density plantations and the most productive varieties.
Actually, in Spain the plantations are very old and the production of one hectare of irrigated cherry trees is less than 6,000 kg / h a.

Recommended reading

In what month is the cherry picked up?

What properties do cherries have?


We have translated the information on our website from Spanish to English. Note that some words may have seen their meaning altered during their translation.

Are the roots of cherry trees dangerous to house foundations?

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more hot questions

How deep does a cherry tree trunk grow into the ground?

At some level, the tree’s root system will branch out into the ground much like the branches of the tree above ground but clearly not as deep as the height of the lowest branches. So it is not like a trunk all the way down – though some trees do have tap roots but not a Cherry.
If you are going to dig a fire pit, you only need to grind down as deep as you need for the pit but think about whether the heat of the fire may necessitate grinding down a little deeper in order to place a buffer of stones between the rest of the trunk and the level where the fire will be.
Keep in mind that over the years as the tree root rots, the ground will sink some depending on how big the tree is. Tree roots extend well beyond the drip line of the tree but the sinkage area is usually most pronounced closer to the tree. You might want to think about that when designing your fire pit and the area surrounding it to allow for absorbing any sinking that can occur over the next few years.
Case in point. I bought my home 20 years ago. There was a slight depression near the driveway in the lawn that was roughly 7 feet in diameter. It is now a deep depression going about a foot to a foot and a half deep and reaching about 8 feet in diameter. I never saw the tree but surmise it must have been a very large Oak since there are several Oaks in the area. That’s how long it has taken to sink that deep. I’m not sure if it is done sinking at this point.
I hope this helps.

Prunus salicifolia, Mexican Bird Cherry

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Mexican Bird Cherry should be grown in full sun or partial shade on well-drained, non-compacted soil in a location where it will not receive excessive heat or competition from grasses. Although somewhat tolerant of dry conditions, Cherry will respond best to rich, moist soil and a heavy mulch to keep the root zone cool. Plants should not be disturbed after becoming established and have a fairly shallow root system, making them susceptible to damage from anything stacked, stored, or parked within the drip line and slightly beyond.

A regular fertilization program with slow release nitrogen is recommended to keep plants vigorous. Too much nitrogen in the soluble form could stimulate sprouting. Foliage from most members of this genus is considered poisonous when ingested. Cherries compartmentalize decay poorly meaning that decay can spread rapidly inside the tree following mechanical injury to the trunk or removing large branches.

Provide good drainage in an acidic soil for best growth. Crowns become one-sided unless they receive light from all around the plant, so locate in full sun. Select a different plant if soil is poorly drained, but otherwise cherry adapts to clay or loam. Roots should be kept moist and should not be subjected to prolonged drought.

If you plant Mexican Bird Cherry, it is probably best to locate it away from walks and pavement. The tree appears to be tolerant of drought in its native habitat where roots are allowed to explore a large volume of soil, but growth is often poor in restricted soil spaces characteristic of urban areas.

Cherry blossom trees are perfectly adapted to the UK’s climate and will flourish in your garden. As cherry trees can be quite large, it is important is to choose a location large enough to accommodate the variety you choose. The most important message to take home is the need to regularly water young trees, especially in the months after planting.

Location, Location, Location

Be sure to check the eventual height and spread of your tree before deciding on a suitable location. Cherry trees can be very large. Prunus ‘Kanzan’, for example, can grow to above 10m tall.

Cherry trees benefit from full sun, but will suffice in shady locations.

Planting in a sheltered location is recommended to prevent uprooting in strong winds. Avoid waterlogged soils.

Planting near a building should be fine, but the distance away should be based on a tree’s spread. Most cherries are grafted onto rootstocks, which ensures the roots are weak and are unable to damage foundations.

If you are worried your tree will be too large for your garden, you can always plant in a large pot (40-60cm+ depending on the variety) which will constrain a tree’s growth.

Water, Water, Water

The message we wish most to convey to your customers is the need to water your tree regularly and thoroughly in the months after planting. This will help your tree recover from the effects of transplant shock in which a tree loses much of its water absorbing capacity.

Planting Your Tree

Follow steps A for containerised trees and steps B for bare root trees.

  1. Ensure your tree is hydrated before planting.
    1. Give the rootball a good watering. Free up any spiralised roots.
    2. Leave your tree’s roots to soak in water for half an hour. Pruning woody roots back a few inches can help stimulate the growth of new water-absorbing roots.
  2. Dig a square hole three times the radius of the rootball, but only a few inches deeper than the rootball. Loosen any compact soil around the sides.
  3. Place your tree in the hole. Ensure the graft point is above the soil. The highest roots should be no more than an inch below the ground. (Containerised trees roughly level.)
  4. Fill your hole with a mix of garden soil and compost. Do not compress the soil!
  5. Plant a stake with the stake facing away from the prevailing wind.
  6. Give your tree a good watering.
  7. Add a layer of mulch. Mulch helps improve moisture levels. Ensure the mulch doesn’t touch the base of the tree.
  8. Depending on your location, a rabbit guard can be useful as hungry rabbits will nibble on bark come winter.
    1. Cutting back branches will produce a better balance between the root system and top growth, ensuring your tree does not rock in the wind. Cut the central stem back up to a third and branches by half, snipping right above buds.

Jorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

Cherry Water Needs: Learn How To Water A Cherry Tree

Each year we look forward to the beautiful, fragrant cherry blossoms which seem to scream, “spring has finally come!” However, if the previous year was extremely dry or drought-like, we may find our spring cherry blossom display lacking. Likewise, an extremely wet growing season can also cause significant problems with cherry trees. Cherry trees can be very particular about their watering needs; too much or too little water can have drastic effects on the tree. Continue reading to learn how to water a cherry tree.

About Cherry Tree Irrigation

Cherry trees grow wild throughout much of the United States. In the wild, they easily establish in sandy-loam or even rocky soils but struggle in heavy clay soils. This is true for the home garden and orchards as well. Cherry trees require excellent draining soil to grow, blossom and fruit properly.

If soil is too dry or cherry trees experience drought stress, leaves can curl, wilt and drop. Drought stress can also cause cherry trees to produce less blossoms and fruit or lead to stunted tree growth. On the other hand,

waterlogged soils or over-irrigation can lead to all sorts of nasty fungal diseases and cankers. Too much water can also suffocate cherry tree roots, causing stunted trees that don’t bloom or set fruit and can ultimately lead to plant death.

More cherry trees die from too much water than too little. That’s why learning more about cherry tree watering is so important.

Tips for Watering Cherry Trees

When planting a new cherry tree, it is important to understand cherry water needs to get the tree off to a good start. Prepare the site with soil amendments to ensure the soil drains well but will not be too dry.

After planting, watering cherry trees properly their first year is extremely important. They should be watered the first week every other day, deeply; the second week, they can be watered deeply 2-3 times; and after the second week, water cherry trees thoroughly once a week for the rest of the first season.

Adjust watering as needed in times of drought or heavy rainfall. Keeping weeds pulled around the base of cherry trees will help ensure that the roots get the water, not the weeds. Putting mulch, like wood chips, around the cherry tree root zone will also help retain soil moisture.

Established cherry trees rarely need to be watered. In your region, if you receive at least an inch (2.5 cm.) of rain every 10 days, your cherry trees should be receiving adequate water. However, in times of drought, it is important to provide them with some extra water. The best way to do this is to place the hose end directly on the soil above the root zone, then let the water run at a slow trickle or light stream for about 20 minutes.

Make sure all the soil around the root zone is thoroughly wet. You can also use a soaker hose. The slow stream of water gives the roots time to soak up the water and prevents wasted water from runoff. If drought persists, repeat this process every 7-10 days.

There is no question that trees can enhance the curb appeal of your home. However, they can’t tell you when they have had too much water, or when they may be dying – literally – of thirst. For those who are tree-savvy, though, there are a few tell-tale signs an issue may be present. Trees have a way to provide subtle clues.

Getting to know what these clues are and then watching for them is the best way to ensure a tree remains healthy. Get to know the signs of an over or under watered tree here.

The Difference in Under and Over Watering Trees

Both over and under watering a tree can be dangerous. However, each of these issues can lead to a different set of problems.

Signs You are Under Watering Your Trees

  • Curling or wilted leaves that turn brown at the edge or tips.
  • A sparse color canopy and undersized leaves, yellowing leaves or leaf scorch.
  • Early leaf drop or untimely fall color.

Signs You are Over Watering Your Trees

  • The leaves are green by they are extremely fragile and may break easily
  • The new growth on the tree withers before it has the chance to fully grow, or it becomes light yellow or green.
  • The ground around the tree is always wet.

How to Know if Your Tree is Getting Too Much or Too Little Water

In both situations, both over and under watering, the symptoms trees show may be similar. The good news is, there are two ways you can figure out if your tree is in need of more, or less, water.

The first method is to use a long screwdriver and insert it into the soil beneath the tree. If it is too hard to do, then your tree will need more water. The other method is to dig six to eight inches below the tree and grab some soil. It should feel moist and cool. If the soil is completely soaking wet, then it means you are overwatering. If it isn’t sandy or drenched, roll it into a ball. If the ball crumbles, then your tree will need more water. Poke the ball of soil and if it doesn’t budge, then you likely have clay soil.

How You can Fix or Save an Over Watered Tree

If you have discovered your tree has been over watered, then it is struggling to breathe. The extra water is going to be taking over the air pockets in the soil, which means the roots of the tree are getting too much water and not enough oxygen. This can lead to stress, fungi and root rot. To fix these issues do the following:

  • Don’t water the tree for a few weeks.
  • If you have clay soil, mix some compost into help it drain.
  • Inspect around the tree to see why water is pooling after it rains and take steps to correct the problem.

If you still can’t figure out the problem related to whether or not you are over or under watering your tree, contact the professionals. They will be able to help you figure out what you need to do to help you tree remain healthy.

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