How to Grow Cherries – A Guide to Growing Cherries
There are two edible types – the sweet eating cherry and the acid cooking cherry. The decorative cherry trees you see blossoming in public parks in the spring are infertile and don’t produce fruit.
- Plant bare rooted stock in November–December.
- Container grown trees can be planted at any time of the year.
- The sweet cherries need to grow in full sun, but the acid cooking cherries can be cultivated in the shade, even on a north facing wall or fence. Although the trees are hardy, they flower early and the blossom needs protecting with fleece if frost threatens.
- The trees are often grown fan-trained, which is a productive method. Young cherries can be difficult to prune into shape and it is best to buy one where the nursery had already carried out the initial shaping.
- Sweet cherries crop best in areas of light rainfall and prefer deep, fertile and well-drained soil. Add well-rotted manure and humus to the planting position.
- Make sure that the grafting union is above the level of the soil when you plant.
- Water regularly to prevent the fruit from splitting.
- Prune cherries in late summer, immediately the crop has finished. The trees can be susceptible to disease and the pruning wounds heal faster at this time of year than in the winter.
- A short season. The fruit will usually be ready in July, depending on the weather.
Pests and Problems with Cherries
- Birds are the biggest problem. You may need to net your tree through much of the year as the birds will not only eat the ripe fruit, but they’ll also take the buds in the spring.
- Prune your tree at the end of the summer (see above) to avoid disease.
- Aphids can attack cherries and the fruit can be damaged by heavy rain.
Varieties of Cherry
- If you are growing just one tree, ensure that it is self-fertile.
- Consider the space you have for the tree and buy a dwarfing rootstock if necessary.
- Harvest July–August.
- The sweet cherries are delicious eaten raw; the acid fruit more suitable for jam-making. Both types can be used in baking.