Growing Cherry Trees from Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

Photo Cherry seedling

Cherry trees are not only beautiful additions to any landscape, but they also provide delicious fruit that can be enjoyed fresh or used in a variety of culinary creations. While many people choose to purchase cherry trees from nurseries, growing cherry trees from seeds can be a rewarding and cost-effective alternative. In this article, we will explore the advantages of growing cherry trees from seeds and provide step-by-step instructions on how to successfully grow your own cherry tree.

One of the main benefits of growing cherry trees from seeds is the cost savings. Purchasing a cherry tree from a nursery can be quite expensive, especially if you are looking for a specific variety. By growing your own cherry tree from seeds, you can save money and have the satisfaction of nurturing a plant from its earliest stages.

Another advantage of growing cherry trees from seeds is the opportunity to experiment with different varieties. When purchasing a cherry tree from a nursery, you are limited to the varieties that they have available. However, by growing your own cherry tree from seeds, you have access to a wide range of cherry varieties that may not be readily available in nurseries.

Selecting the Right Cherry Seeds for Planting

When selecting cherry seeds for planting, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, it is important to choose seeds from a reputable source. This ensures that you are starting with high-quality seeds that have the best chance of germinating and producing healthy trees.

In addition to quality, it is also important to consider the specific variety of cherry tree that you want to grow. Different varieties have different growth habits, fruit characteristics, and climate requirements. Research the different varieties available and choose one that is well-suited to your climate and personal preferences.

Some popular cherry varieties that are well-suited for growing from seeds include Bing cherries, Rainier cherries, and Stella cherries. Bing cherries are known for their sweet flavor and dark red color, while Rainier cherries are prized for their yellow skin and sweet-tart flavor. Stella cherries are a self-fertile variety, making them a good choice for home gardeners.

Preparing the Soil for Cherry Tree Seeds

Cherry trees thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting cherry tree seeds, it is important to prepare the soil to create the optimal growing conditions.

Start by removing any weeds or grass from the planting area. This will help prevent competition for nutrients and water. Next, loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will improve drainage and allow the roots to penetrate the soil more easily.

Once the soil is loosened, incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve the soil structure and provide essential nutrients for the growing cherry tree. Spread a layer of organic matter over the planting area and mix it into the soil using a garden fork or tiller.

Planting Cherry Tree Seeds: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step Description
1 Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil.
2 Prepare the soil by removing weeds and adding compost.
3 Soak the cherry tree seeds in water for 24 hours.
4 Plant the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil.
5 Water the soil thoroughly and keep it moist.
6 Wait for the seeds to germinate, which can take up to 6 weeks.
7 Thin out the weaker seedlings, leaving only the strongest ones.
8 Transplant the seedlings to their permanent location after they have grown to 6 inches tall.
9 Continue to water and care for the cherry trees as they grow.

Now that you have prepared the soil, it’s time to plant your cherry tree seeds. Follow these step-by-step instructions for successful germination:

1. Soak the cherry seeds in water overnight to help soften the outer shell and promote germination.

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

3. Plant one cherry seed in each pot or cell, burying it about 1 inch deep in the potting mix.

4. Water the pots thoroughly after planting to ensure that the soil is evenly moist.

5. Place the pots in a warm location with indirect sunlight. A temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for germination.

6. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Check the pots regularly and water as needed.

7. Germination can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the variety of cherry tree and the conditions. Be patient and continue to care for the pots until you see signs of growth.

Watering and Fertilizing Cherry Tree Seedlings

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

Watering requirements for cherry tree seedlings:
– Water the seedlings regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
– Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.
– Water deeply, allowing the water to penetrate the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
– Mulch around the base of the seedlings to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Fertilizer recommendations for optimal growth:
– Fertilize cherry tree seedlings with a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 formula.
– Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, usually every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
– Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive vegetative growth and reduced fruit production.
– Monitor the seedlings for signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth, and adjust the fertilizer accordingly.

Protecting Cherry Trees from Pests and Diseases

Cherry trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that can damage or even kill the trees if left untreated. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect cherry trees:

Common pests that affect cherry trees:
– Aphids: These small insects feed on the sap of cherry trees, causing distorted growth and honeydew buildup.
– Cherry fruit fly: The larvae of this fly burrow into cherries, causing them to rot and drop prematurely.
– Cherry slug: These small, black slugs feed on the leaves of cherry trees, causing skeletonization and defoliation.

Common diseases that affect cherry trees:
– Brown rot: This fungal disease causes fruit rot and can spread rapidly in wet conditions.
– Cherry leaf spot: This fungal disease causes dark spots on the leaves, leading to defoliation and reduced fruit production.
– Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves, stems, and fruit of cherry trees.

To prevent and treat pests and diseases, it is important to practice good cultural practices such as proper watering, pruning, and sanitation. Regularly inspect your cherry trees for signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate action if necessary. This may include applying organic or chemical insecticides or fungicides, depending on the severity of the infestation or infection.

Pruning Cherry Trees for Optimal Growth

Pruning is an important part of cherry tree care and is essential for promoting optimal growth and fruit production. Here are some key points to keep in mind when pruning cherry trees:

Importance of pruning cherry trees:
– Pruning helps maintain the shape and size of the tree, making it easier to manage and harvest.
– Pruning improves air circulation and sunlight penetration, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
– Pruning removes dead or diseased wood, improving the overall health of the tree.
– Pruning stimulates new growth and encourages fruit production.

When and how to prune cherry trees:
– Prune cherry trees during the dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
– Start by removing any dead or diseased wood, making clean cuts just above a healthy bud or branch.
– Thin out crowded branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration. Remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other.
– Maintain an open center or vase shape by removing the central leader and encouraging lateral branches to grow outward.
– Avoid heavy pruning, as this can stimulate excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.

Transplanting Cherry Trees to Larger Containers

As cherry tree seedlings grow, they will eventually outgrow their initial pots and need to be transplanted to larger containers. Here are some guidelines for transplanting cherry trees:

When to transplant cherry tree seedlings:
– Transplant cherry tree seedlings when they have outgrown their current pots and have developed a strong root system.
– This is typically done when the seedlings are about 6-12 inches tall and have several sets of true leaves.

Steps to transplant cherry trees to larger containers:
1. Choose a container that is at least 2-3 times larger than the current pot and has drainage holes.
2. Fill the new container with a well-draining potting mix, leaving enough space at the top for watering.
3. Carefully remove the seedling from its current pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
4. Place the seedling in the new container, making sure that it is centered and at the same depth as it was in the previous pot.
5. Fill in around the roots with additional potting mix, gently firming it down to eliminate air pockets.
6. Water the newly transplanted seedling thoroughly to settle the soil and ensure good root-to-soil contact.

Moving Cherry Trees Outdoors: Hardening Off

Before moving your cherry trees outdoors permanently, it is important to harden them off gradually. Hardening off is the process of acclimating seedlings to outdoor conditions, such as sunlight, wind, and temperature fluctuations. This helps prevent transplant shock and ensures a successful transition to the garden.

Importance of hardening off cherry trees:
– Hardening off allows seedlings to adjust to the increased light levels and temperature fluctuations outdoors.
– It helps strengthen the seedlings and prepares them for the harsher conditions they will face in the garden.
– Hardening off reduces the risk of transplant shock and increases the chances of survival and successful growth.

Steps to harden off cherry trees before moving them outdoors:
1. Start by placing the seedlings in a sheltered location outdoors, such as a covered porch or patio, for a few hours each day.
2. Gradually increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outdoors over a period of 7-10 days.
3. Gradually expose the seedlings to direct sunlight, starting with a few hours in the morning or late afternoon and gradually increasing the exposure.
4. Protect the seedlings from strong winds by placing them in a sheltered location or using windbreaks such as fences or trellises.
5. Monitor the seedlings closely during the hardening off process and watch for signs of stress, such as wilting or yellowing leaves. Adjust the exposure as needed to prevent damage.

Harvesting Cherries from Your Own Cherry Tree

After all your hard work and patience, it’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of your labor! Here are some tips for harvesting and enjoying cherries from your own cherry tree:

When to expect cherry tree fruit:
– The time it takes for cherry trees to bear fruit can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions.
– In general, most cherry trees will start producing fruit 3-5 years after planting.

Tips for harvesting and enjoying your own cherries:
– Harvest cherries when they are fully ripe but still firm. They should have a deep color and come off easily when gently twisted.
– Avoid picking cherries when they are wet, as this can increase the risk of fungal diseases.
– Handle cherries gently to avoid bruising or damaging the fruit.
– Enjoy cherries fresh, or use them in a variety of culinary creations such as pies, jams, or preserves.
– Store cherries in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. They can also be frozen for later use.
Growing cherry trees from seeds can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy these beautiful trees and their delicious fruit. By selecting the right cherry seeds, preparing the soil, and following the proper planting and care instructions, you can successfully grow your own cherry tree at home. Remember to protect your cherry trees from pests and diseases, prune them for optimal growth, and provide the necessary water and fertilizer. With patience and care, you will soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor with a bountiful harvest of cherries from your very own cherry tree. So why not give it a try and start growing cherry trees from seeds today?