Growing Cherries from Seeds: A Beginner’s Guide

Photo Cherry seeds

Growing cherries from seeds can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for any gardener. While it may take a bit more time and patience compared to growing cherries from grafted trees, the process of growing cherries from seeds allows you to have a unique and diverse collection of cherry trees in your garden. In addition, growing cherries from seeds can be a cost-effective way to start your own cherry orchard or simply enjoy the beauty and taste of fresh cherries in your backyard.

One of the main benefits of growing cherries from seeds is the opportunity to experiment with different varieties and flavors. When you grow cherries from seeds, you never know what kind of tree you will get. Each seed has the potential to produce a unique cherry tree with its own characteristics, such as flavor, size, and color. This can be exciting for gardeners who enjoy trying new and different varieties of cherries.

Another benefit of growing cherries from seeds is the sense of accomplishment that comes with nurturing a plant from its very beginning. Watching a tiny seed grow into a healthy seedling and eventually into a mature cherry tree can be incredibly satisfying. It allows you to have a deeper connection with your garden and appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature.

Selecting the Right Cherry Seeds for Planting

When it comes to selecting cherry seeds for planting, there are a few factors to consider. First, you need to decide what type of cherry tree you want to grow. There are two main types of cherries: sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour cherries (Prunus cerasus). Sweet cherries are typically eaten fresh, while sour cherries are often used for cooking and baking.

Once you have decided on the type of cherry tree you want to grow, you can start looking for cherry seeds. You can find cherry seeds at nurseries, garden centers, or online seed suppliers. It is important to choose seeds from a reputable source to ensure that they are of good quality and have a high germination rate.

When selecting cherry seeds, it is also important to consider the climate and growing conditions in your area. Some cherry varieties are better suited for certain climates, so it is important to choose seeds that are adapted to your specific region. Additionally, consider the space available in your garden and choose cherry seeds that will grow into trees of a suitable size.

Preparing the Soil for Planting Cherry Seeds

Before planting cherry seeds, it is important to prepare the soil properly to provide the best growing conditions for the seedlings. Cherry seedlings prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They also require a slightly acidic soil pH, ideally between 6.0 and 6.5.

To prepare the soil for planting cherry seeds, start by removing any weeds or grass from the planting area. This can be done by hand or with the help of a garden hoe or tiller. Once the area is clear of weeds, loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to improve drainage and aeration.

Next, incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and structure. This can be done by adding compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic materials to the planting area. Mix the organic matter into the top few inches of soil using a garden fork or tiller.

Finally, test the soil pH using a soil testing kit. If the pH is too high (alkaline), you can lower it by adding sulfur or peat moss to the soil. Follow the instructions on the product packaging for proper application rates.

Planting Cherry Seeds: Step-by-Step Guide

Step Description
1 Select a healthy cherry seed
2 Soak the seed in water for 24 hours
3 Prepare a pot with well-draining soil
4 Plant the seed 1 inch deep in the soil
5 Water the soil and keep it moist
6 Place the pot in a warm and sunny location
7 Wait for the seed to germinate, which can take up to 6 weeks
8 Transplant the seedling to a larger pot or outside in the garden
9 Continue to water and care for the cherry tree as it grows

Once the soil is prepared, you can proceed with planting cherry seeds. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Soak the cherry seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. This will help to soften the seed coat and improve germination.

2. Fill small pots or seed trays with a well-draining potting mix. Make sure the containers have drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

3. Plant one cherry seed in each pot or cell, burying it about 1 inch deep in the soil. Gently press the soil down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

4. Water the pots or trays thoroughly after planting to settle the soil and provide moisture for germination.

5. Place the pots or trays in a warm location with indirect sunlight. The ideal temperature for germinating cherry seeds is around 70-75°F (21-24°C).

6. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the germination period. This can be achieved by misting the soil with water or using a spray bottle.

7. Germination can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months, depending on the variety of cherry and growing conditions. Be patient and continue to provide the necessary care for the seedlings.

8. Once the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the garden.

Watering and Fertilizing Cherry Seedlings

Proper watering and fertilizing are essential for the healthy growth of cherry seedlings. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Watering requirements for cherry seedlings:
– Cherry seedlings prefer evenly moist soil, but they do not tolerate waterlogged conditions.
– Water the seedlings deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
– Avoid overhead watering, as this can promote fungal diseases. Instead, water at the base of the plants using a drip irrigation system or a watering can with a narrow spout.
– Mulching around the base of the seedlings can help to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

Fertilizer requirements for cherry seedlings:
– Cherry seedlings have relatively low nutrient requirements, especially during their first year of growth.
– Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
– Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive vegetative growth and reduce fruit production.
– Monitor the seedlings for any signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth. If necessary, apply a foliar spray or additional fertilizer to correct the deficiency.

Protecting Cherry Seedlings from Pests and Diseases

Cherry seedlings are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. Here are some common problems to watch out for and tips for prevention and treatment:

Common pests that affect cherry seedlings:
– Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects feed on the sap of cherry plants and can cause stunted growth and distorted leaves. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control aphids.
– Cherry fruit fly: The larvae of this fly feed on cherry fruits, causing them to become discolored and rotten. Use sticky traps or insecticides labeled for fruit fly control to protect the fruits.
– Cherry slug: The larvae of this sawfly skeletonize the leaves of cherry trees, causing defoliation. Handpick the slugs or use insecticides labeled for sawfly control.

Common diseases that affect cherry seedlings:
– Brown rot: This fungal disease causes fruit rot and can also infect blossoms and shoots. Remove infected plant material and apply fungicides labeled for brown rot control.
– Leaf spot: This fungal disease causes dark spots on the leaves, which can lead to defoliation. Remove infected leaves and apply fungicides labeled for leaf spot control.
– Powdery mildew: This fungal disease forms a white powdery coating on the leaves, shoots, and fruits. Improve air circulation and apply fungicides labeled for powdery mildew control.

Pruning and Training Cherry Trees for Optimal Growth

Pruning and training cherry trees is important for maintaining their health and promoting optimal growth. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Importance of pruning and training cherry trees:
– Pruning helps to remove dead or diseased wood, improve air circulation, and shape the tree for better fruit production.
– Training involves guiding the growth of the tree to a desired shape or form, such as an open center or central leader.

Techniques for pruning and training cherry trees:
– Prune cherry trees during the dormant season, preferably in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
– Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches.
– Thin out crowded branches to improve air circulation and light penetration.
– Train young cherry trees by selecting a central leader or main trunk and removing competing branches.
– Maintain an open center by removing inward-growing branches and keeping the center of the tree open to sunlight.

Harvesting and Storing Cherry Fruits

Knowing when to harvest cherry fruits is crucial for achieving the best flavor and quality. Here are some tips for harvesting and storing cherries:

When to harvest cherry fruits:
– Sweet cherries are typically ready for harvest in late spring or early summer, while sour cherries are ready in mid to late summer.
– Harvest cherries when they are fully ripe but still firm. They should have a deep color and a sweet aroma.
– Gently twist or cut the cherries from the tree, leaving a short stem attached.

Tips for storing cherry fruits:
– Store cherries in a cool place, such as the refrigerator, immediately after harvesting.
– Place the cherries in a breathable container, such as a paper bag or perforated plastic bag, to prevent moisture buildup.
– Do not wash the cherries until you are ready to eat them, as excess moisture can cause them to spoil.
– Cherries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but they are best enjoyed fresh.

Common Problems and Solutions in Growing Cherry Trees from Seeds

Growing cherry trees from seeds can sometimes come with its own set of challenges. Here are some common problems that may arise and their solutions:

Common problems when growing cherry trees from seeds:
– Low germination rate: Some cherry seeds may have a low germination rate, resulting in poor seedling growth. To improve germination, scarify the seeds by gently rubbing them with sandpaper or soaking them in warm water for 24 hours before planting.
– Slow growth: Cherry seedlings may grow slowly in their first year, especially if they are not receiving adequate sunlight or nutrients. Ensure that the seedlings are planted in a sunny location and provide them with regular watering and fertilization.
– Lack of fruit production: Cherry trees grown from seeds may take several years to start producing fruits, and the quality of the fruits may vary. If you are looking for consistent fruit production and specific fruit characteristics, consider grafting or purchasing grafted cherry trees instead.

Tips for Successful Cherry Seedling Growth

In conclusion, growing cherries from seeds can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for any gardener. By selecting the right cherry seeds, preparing the soil properly, and providing the necessary care and attention, you can successfully grow your own cherry trees and enjoy the beauty and taste of fresh cherries in your backyard.

Remember to choose cherry seeds that are adapted to your climate and growing conditions, and provide them with well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Water and fertilize the seedlings appropriately, and protect them from pests and diseases by practicing good garden hygiene and using appropriate control methods.

Prune and train your cherry trees to promote optimal growth and fruit production, and harvest the cherries at the right time for the best flavor and quality. Finally, be prepared to face common problems that may arise when growing cherry trees from seeds, and take appropriate measures to solve them.

With these tips and guidelines, you can increase your chances of success in growing cherry trees from seeds and enjoy the beauty and bounty of these delicious fruits in your own garden. Happy gardening!