The Q&A Archives: Planting Cherry Trees

Question: I have two young cherry trees that I want to plant in my yard. What is the best way to do this, placement for sun or shade, fertilizing, etc?

Answer: Sweet, sour, or ornamental cherry trees all grow best in full sunshine, in average, well draining soil. Mature trees can grow 30' high and about as wide, so space your trees at least 15' to 20' apart. To get your trees off to a good start, dig planting holes twice as deep and twice as wide as the rootball, to loosen the soil up. Don't amend the soil, or the roots will stay in the amended portion instead of venturing out where they belong. Refill the hole part way and tamp the soil down so it doesn't settle excessively. Then place a mound of soil in the bottom of the hole and drape the roots over the mound so they fall naturally. Completely fill the hole, gently tamp the soil down to exclude air pockets, then build a small basin over the roots to hold water. Soak thoroughly and then plan to supply about an inch of water per week to each tree for the first year. After that, supplemental water during the hottest summer months is about all your trees will need. Fruit trees usually don't need fertilizing, unless the leaf color is poor or the growth is slow. In fact, too much nitrogen can cause excessive stem, branch and leaf growth at the expense of fruit. This quick growth can be spindly and weak, and prone to storm damage. Cherry trees are favorites of birds, so plan to drape the trees with bird netting if your trees are producing fruit.

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