The cherry is a fruit tree native to Europe. Growing cherry trees offers many advantages over other fruit trees. Indeed, the tree produces fleshy fruit, valued for their sweetness and high vitamin C content. It also provides the orchard with a very aesthetic flowering. Finally, the cherry tree is a hardy and easy to grow species, requiring little or no maintenance, and which adapts to all climates.

The cherry tree likes to grow on sunny land that is sheltered from strong winds, and withstands altitude up to 3300 feet. If sour cherries like calcareous soil, planting them on heavy soil has the effect of increasing the secretion of gum.

Overview of the cherry tree 

The cherry tree is known by the scientific name Prunus cerasus. It is an ornamental tree with a beautiful spring blooming. The white flowers are small and grouped in pairs or clusters. There are several varieties of cherries. The Montmorency cherry tree yields delicious fruit which are used for the preparation of clafoutis. The Sweetheart is included in the preparation of many canned goods and desserts.

The cherry’s dense and deciduous foliage make it a shade tree, taking red colours in autumn. In a traditional orchard, cherries can be planted in combination with other fruit trees. With its elegant shape, it fits perfectly in the middle of the shrubbery or in hedges. The flowering cherry branches are used to make beautiful flower arrangements such as ikebana.

Techniques for growing cherries

Planting bare-rooted seedlings is carried out in 1.5-2 ft. deep holes, from October to April. Standard cherries must be spaced out 25 to 40 feet, while the semi-dwarf only requires 20 to 25 feet of space between plants. To have good fruit, it is recommended to mix varieties when planting to encourage pollination. This process is referred to as cross-pollination. To fertilize several trees, setting up one pollinating tree is sufficient to cover a 30 yard range. If you opt for the planting of a single tree, the use of a self-fruitful variety, such as the bigarreau cherry or the sour cherry is recommended to have fruit.

Cultivation on a balcony or terrace is possible if using a dwarf variety. The planting container should be large, with a side length of approximately 16 inches. The land must consist of compost for roses and garden soil in equal amounts. Given that its fertile organs start deteriorating when the temperature falls below 26°F, the cherry cannot be planted in areas where winter is harsh. If the trees’ first harvest occurs when they reach three years of age, the maximum production is obtained from the sixth year.

Maintaining cherry tree plantations

Pruning will be conducted on branches during the winter, keeping them at a length of approximately 20 inches. Pruning wounds are treated with a healing product. Shape pruning is performed at the beginning of vegetative growth, after flowering or in autumn, by removing the largest branches as to give the cherry a harmonious shape. In fall, a supply of organic manuring, followed by a provision of fruit-tree fertilizer in the spring, guarantees the cherry’s good fruiting.

Monilinia fructicola is among the diseases that attack the cherry trees when the branches die. Preventive measures consist of applying Bordeaux mixture. By clustering together on young shoots, aphids also obstruct the plant’s development, leading to leaf distortion. To this end, an anti-aphid treatment is helpful if the infestation is too intense. The use of pheromone bait or insecticide is effective against cherry flies.

Some recommendations to follow

To stimulate offshoot branches, it is recommended to let cherry trees grow naturally during the year following planting. Since the cherry loses its gum to discharge, pruning should occur as little as possible. When necessary, merely cut off the most vigorous branches as well as those crossing in the crown. Bare-root seedlings that are not planted within eight days should be stored in a shaded trench in the garden.

Birds appreciate cherries and can entirely decimate a grove within a few days. Preventive measures include the use of a net to make the plantation unattainable. This material is available in specialized stores. The installation of glittering objects such as CDs or aluminium foil is effective although it is not a radical solution. 

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Published in Planting by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011