Cherry trees are desired both for their aesthetic beauty and for their delicious fruit. Growing cherry trees however can be difficult, especially when trying to grow them for their fruit. It is possible to grow cherry trees and to produce fruit if you live in the right areas. Depending on the variety of cherry tree the recommended growing zone is anywhere from 2-8. (Growing zones map) One of the most common types of cherries is the Bing cherry. The Bing cherry tree has a recommended growing zone of 4-8.
One of the major things to consider when thinking about purchasing cherry trees is the fact that if you’re looking to grow them for their fruit and not just because they are beautiful trees you will most likely need at least two trees. Some of the sour varieties of cherries that are used mostly for baking will self-pollinate but the sweet varieties do not therefore two trees are required to produce any fruit. They should probably be planted at least 18 feet apart so make sure you have enough room for your cherry trees before deciding to purchase them.
In order to produce a large number of cherries most trees will need very frosty, cold winters. They will still produce fruit after mild winters; they merely will not produce as many as they would following a very cold winter.
Cherry trees will tend to grow in any type of soil although they should be planted in a well drained area as they do not do well in very wet soil. In fact, better cherries are produced when there is little or no rain around the time that the trees fruit. This however, obviously is not a controllable factor. Cherry trees should not be mulched and a lot of fertilizer does not do much of anything for them so there’s no reason to waste it. The best thing for your cherry trees is an annual sprinkling of poultry manure.
Be very careful when pruning your cherry trees. Cherries are produced from fruiting spurs on the branches of trees. The fruiting spurs that bear fruit however are at least 2 years old so if you cut this off while pruning you may have very few cherries to harvest that year or the next year. Only prune in order to shape the tree slightly and removed dead twigs and branches. It is much better to prune during very dry weather as cherry trees are very vulnerable to fungal diseases and are likely to catch them if pruning is done during damp or wet weather.
Once your cherry tree begins to produce fruit it will start attracting birds that enjoy the taste of cherries as much as you do. You can drape cheesecloth over the branches of your tree and then held in place with heavy string, rope or clothespins. Cheesecloth will still allow sun and air to reach your tree so that it will stay healthy and the birds won’t be able to get to your cherries however it isn’t the most attractive solution if you’re concerned about the way your yard or garden looks. Another thing you can do is take aluminum foil plates such as those that pies come in and tie a string through their centers and hang them from the branches of your cherry trees. The sound of them rattling together and the sun reflecting off of them might scare the birds away. Still not necessarily aesthetically pleasing but it will help insure that you get some of your cherries instead of the birds.
As said before cherry trees are very susceptible to fungal diseases. For this reason it is a good idea to use a Bordeaux spray on your trees in the winter. You can find this at any gardening center or nursery. Holes in the branches and trunk of your tree are usually a sign of wood borers. These are a problem for your tree. You can try to kill them by stabbing wire into the holes or spray insecticide directly into the holes and fill with wood putty. Pear and cherry slugs may also plague your cherry trees. These can be dealt with by spraying with a solution of Derris.
It is possible to start your trees from seeds and while the places that sell the seeds often will replace those that do not germinate it is a difficult thing trying to grow trees from seeds. I would recommend buying or ordering young plants. To avoid becoming discouraged just remember that it will take your tree about 3-5 year before it will mature and begin producing fruit.
Start planting and growing. The sooner you start the sooner you will be able to have delicious cherries without having to drive to the grocery store.