Many people like cherries because they are sweet and juicy. If you love this fruit too, you had better keep the seeds next time you eat the fruits. Growing cherries from seeds can be fun. They may germinate and may not germinate. However, it is worth trying. If you are interested in doing it, you must know how to plant cherry seeds.
- 1 What does Cherry Trees Look Like?
- 2 When and Where Plant Cherry Seeds
- 3 Cherry Varieties
- 4 How to Plant Cherry Seeds
- 5 Tips to Plant Cherry Seeds
- 6 Growing Cherries from Rootstocks
- 7 Caring and Harvesting
What does Cherry Trees Look Like?
Prunus avium, or sweet cherry, is a perennial tree. It is originally from temperate regions, such as Europe and Western Asia. Before you start the process of how to plant cherry seeds, it is important for you to know what the tree looks like. Therefore, you know what to expect from it.
1. Size and lifespan
Cherry trees can grow very tall if planted at the right environment. When they are not pruned properly, it can grow over 15 m tall. Moreover, a cherry tree can last for ages. If you are lucky, you can harvest the cherries for almost 60 years.
2. Leaves and flowers
Cherry leaves are simple and ovals. Meanwhile, cherry flowers are white and 2.5 cm long. They bloom in early spring. Cherry trees will not be flowering until they reach maturity. They usually take at least 7 years to mature.
The flowers from most sweet cherry varieties are not self-fertile. They require other trees to pollinate. Therefore, you need to grow more than one cherry tree. In addition, it is recommended to have two different but compatible cultivars to ensure the success of pollination. In consequence, you must know how to plant cherry seeds from different varieties.
Meanwhile, sour cherry flowers are self-fertile. Therefore, you can have one sour cherry tree in your garden and still be able to harvest the fruits. In addition, some sour cherries can be cross-pollinated with certain sweet cherry varieties.
After the flowers are pollinated, the tree will develop fruits. Most of these fruits are dark red with a pit or seed in the middle. They are about 1.3 cm to 2.5 cm in diameter. There are two types of cherries, i.e. sweet cherries and sour cherries.
Sweet cherries are sweet. They are best eaten raw. However, sour cherries are acidic. They are perfect for pies, jam, and canned cherries. In addition, raw sour cherries contain higher vitamin C and A compared to the sweet cherries.
When and Where Plant Cherry Seeds
If you want to begin growing cherry seeds, it is important for you to do it at the right time and place. Therefore, you can have better luck in how to plant cherry seeds.
1. When to plant
The right time to start the process of how to plant cherry seeds is at least 12 weeks before the last spring frost. It is because the germination process of these seeds takes a lot of time. If you start it at that time, you will have seedlings that are ready to transplant in the spring when the last frost has passed.
2. Where to plant
Since cherry trees come from temperate region and require chilling hours to break their dormancy, they can only grow in certain areas. These areas must have these criteria.
a. Hardiness zones
Cherries are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. However, it depends on the varieties. Sweet cherries, for example, grow well in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 7. Meanwhile, sour cherries are hardy in zones 4 to 6. Therefore, if you live in one of these zones, you can try to perform the steps of how to plant cherry seeds.
As cool season trees, cherries require certain chilling hours to break dormancy. This chilling temperature is about 7oC. If they get enough chilling hours, they will bloom in the spring and produce fruits in the summer. But, if they don’t get enough chilling hours, they won’t be flowering and fruiting.
Different varieties need different amount of chilling hours. Most of them need 700 to 900 hours of chill. However, some cherry varieties need less than 700 hours of chill. Therefore, they can be planted in areas with mild winter. That’s why it is important to choose the right cultivar before you start the process of how to plant cherry seeds.
When you plant cherry trees, you must choose a sunny spot for them to grow. In addition, you need to make sure that the trees have good air circulation. Sun and good air circulation will prevent fungal infection.
Cherries love to grow in deep, loose, and well-drained soil. In addition, the soil must be slightly acidic to neutral. Check the soil acidity before you start the steps of how to plant cherry seeds. If the pH levels range between 5.5 and 7.5, you can plant the seeds in it. Most importantly, the soil must be rich in organic soil.
These fruit trees need moderate amount of water. The soil around the trees must not be wet or dry for a prolonged period. It can affect the tree badly. Therefore, you must maintain the moisture of the plant properly.
When you are growing cherries, you will find many different varieties to grow. Those varieties are generally grouped in two categories.
1. Sweet cherry
This type of cherry tree is usually taller than sour cherry tree. In addition, many varieties of sweet cherries need other trees to pollinate so that it is perfect for a large backyard.
This midseason cherry variety is hardy in USDA hardiness zone 5 to 9. It is not very tall, about 5.5 m tall. You can harvest Bing cherries between mid-June and early July. Bing requires cross-pollination. It is best paired with Montmorency and Rainier.
This self-fertile cherry tree is perfect for you who only want to have a cherry tree in the backyard. It doesn’t need a pollination partner. In addition, it offers you with sweet, plum, and firm cherries. This late season cherry grow best in hardiness zone 5 – 8. However, Stella can grow quite large, up to 9 m tall and 3 m wide.
3. Black Tartarian
This variety produces purplish black cherries. This early season tree is not very tall, about 4.5 m tall. Therefore, you can pick the fruits easier. It is also perfect for a smaller backyard. However, it is not capable of self-pollination. Some of the recommended pollination partners are Bing, Montmorency, and Stella. Black Tartarian is hardy in zone 5 to 8.
Many farmers and gardeners love to grow this mid-season cherry. Therefore, you will not find difficulty in getting its seeds for your project of how to plant cherry seeds. Rainier is one of the sweetest and most juicy cherry that you can get. In addition, this variety will give you large harvest.
Rainier cherry need other cherry trees to yield fruits. For best result, you must have Stella or Montmorency along with it in your backyard. Rainier usually grows up to 7.5 m tall. Moreover, it grows well in hardiness zones 5 to 9.
2. Sour cherries
Prunus cesarus or sour cherry may not your best choice if you have a sweet tooth. However, this type of cherry can help sweet cherry’s pollination process. Therefore, you need to consider growing it and finding out the steps of how to plant cherry seeds from this variety.
This midseason sour cherry is very popular. One of the reasons for this popularity is that it is self-fertile. In addition, it can help sweet cherries to yield excellent fruits. Montmorency grows best in zones 4 to 7. Moreover, it usually grows up to 5 m tall.
b. Early Richmond
This variety of sour cherry is quite compact, between 2.4 and 5 m tall. In addition, it produces tart midsize cherry earlier than other sour cherries. Early Richmond is self-fertile. However, you can also cross-pollinate it with other varieties. If you live in USDA zones 4 to 8, you can try to grow this variety.
Another sour cherry that you can consider is Meteor cherry. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8. In addition, it doesn’t take much space. A mature Meteor cherry grows between 3 and 4.2 m tall. In addition, this late season cherry requires low maintenance.
How to Plant Cherry Seeds
Growing cherry seeds is more affordable. However, it takes time and may give you different cherries from the mother plant. Overall, it is worth trying and fun. To start the process of how to plant cherry seeds, you need to get cherries from farmers market. Cherries in this market usually have seeds with better germination rate. Therefore, you will have better luck in germinating them.
In order to germinate the seeds, you can follow these steps of how to plant cherry seeds.
1. Preparing the seeds
At this stage, you need to buy some cherries and eat them. After that, collect the pits or seeds and clean them from the fruit flesh. You may need to soak them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes so that you can clean them easier. After that, scrub the seeds clean.
Stratification is chilling the seeds in the fridge for 10 weeks. Before you store them in the fridge, you must dry the seeds with paper towel gently. After that, put the seeds in an airtight container. Next, place the container in the fridge for 10 weeks.
3. Sow the seeds
If you have chilled the seeds for 10 weeks, you can start sowing the seeds.
- Put the seeds out of the container and let them come to room temperature.
- Prepare 2 or 3 small containers and fill them in with seed starting mix or high quality garden soil.
- Plant 2 or 3 seeds in a container and mist the soil regularly.
- Keep the containers indoors and wait for the seeds to germinate.
When the seedlings emerge, keep the soil moist and place them near a sunny window. After the seedlings are 5 cm tall, you need to thin them so that you have one healthiest seedling in one container. Harden the seedlings off and transplant them when the temperature is warm enough.
Tips to Plant Cherry Seeds
If you want to have better experience in how to plant cherry seeds, you can follow these tips.
1. Choose the right variety
Not all cherry varieties are suitable for your regions. Therefore, you need to choose the right variety. In choosing the cherry varieties, you need to consider the tree size, hardiness, and chilling hour requirement. If you live in the southern regions, it is better to choose a variety with short chilling hour period.
2. Work the soil properly prior to transplanting
This fruit tree needs deep, loose, and well-draining soil. Therefore, you need to work the soil properly before you transplant a cherry tree. In addition, you must add compost or all-purpose fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil.
It is necessary for you to space the trees properly so that they can cross pollinate easily and have good air circulation at the same time. If you grow sweet cherries, you need to space them up to 12 m apart. If you have sour cherries, you must space them 7.5 m apart.
4. Be patient
When it comes to how to plant cherry seeds, you need to be patient. Germinating the cherry seeds takes lots of time. However, waiting for the tree to bear fruits need much more time. You may need to wait 7 to 10 years for the first harvest.
Growing Cherries from Rootstocks
If you have difficulties in performing the steps of how to pant cherry seeds, you can choose to grow cherries from rootstocks. Growing cherry rootstocks takes less time. It also allows you to harvest the cherries in about 4 years. You can purchase them easily online or in your nearest nursery.
To grow cherries from rootstocks you need to prepare the planting location first. After that, you need to transplant them carefully so that the roots are not damaged. They may need some time to establish. Therefore, you need to take care of them properly.
Caring and Harvesting
Caring for the tree is essential in the process of how to plant cherry seeds. However, the best care you give to your cherry trees will give you rewarding harvest. Meanwhile, harvesting the cherries must be done carefully because the fruits are easily damaged. These are the recommended care and harvesting method you must do.
1. Caring for the cherry trees
- Water regularly so that the soil stays moist
- Mulch the soil to maintain moisture.
- Fertilize young trees in the spring.
- Prune the trees in late winter every year.
- Fertilize mature trees after harvest.
- Protect your cherries from birds by covering the trees with netting
Harvesting cherry is the best part of how to plant cherry seeds. Cherries must be harvested when they are fully ripe. The sign of ripe cherries are darker skin color. To pick the cherries, you had better use scissors. You must use this equipment to cut the stalks of the cherries. Therefore, the fruits will not be damaged.
Know that you know how to plant cherry seeds, you can try growing them immediately when the weather is right. To be successful in it, you must purchase high quality cherries. Therefore, you will have better cherry seeds.