How Long do Cherries Take to Grow?

Growing cherry tree.

Cherries are a summer favorite that may be found in pies, preserves, and as a light snack on their own. You can plant a cherry tree in your home garden if you have enough space and time. But how long do cherries take to grow?

How Much Time Does it Take for Cherries to Grow?

Cherry trees require a minimum of three years to grow fully, and they start producing fruit after four years. Most fruit crops do not bear fruit the year they are planted, but once they do, they can bear fruit for years—a mature cherry tree can yield 30–50 quarts of fruit per season.

Which Cherry Trees are Right for Your House?

Although there are over 1,000 different varieties of cherries, only a few are routinely grown. There are a few things to consider while choosing the type of cherry tree to plant at home.

Sweet Cherry

The most common type of cherry is Prunus avium or sweet cherry. Rainier, Montmorency, and Bing sweet cherry types are self-sterile, which means they must be planted in groups of at least two to three for cross-pollination. They grow in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9, but this varies depending on the type.

Stella Cherry

Stella cherries are a self-pollinating dwarf variety that is only a few years old. Stella cherry trees do not require cross-pollination from a second compatible tree, making them ideal for modest home gardens. Stella cherry trees thrive in USDA zones 5 to 8, but each type is unique.

Sour Cherry

Prunus cerasus, or sour cherries, are more typically picked for preserving or jam making. These self-fertile tart cherry trees are self-fertile. Sour cherry trees are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 6; however, this varies by variety.

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Tips for Planting Cherry Trees

If you want to plant cherry trees, take a look at some useful tips that will assist you in your endeavor.

Prepare the Seed

Cleanliness is one of the most critical aspects of preparing the cherry seed for planting. Scrub the cherry under running water after removing it to get rid of any remaining fruit pulp. If any flesh remains on the seed, it may decay when planted, preventing the seed from germinating.

Before cherry seeds may come out of dormancy, they must be chilled. Cold-moist stratification, which fools the seed into breaking dormancy, can be used to simulate this period. Wrapping the cherry seed in damp peat moss, placing it in a plastic sandwich bag, and refrigerating it for six to eight weeks is the way to go.

Sow the Seed

Immediately after removing the cherry seed from the refrigerator, plant it. Preparing the soil by digging it up to a depth of at least 10 inches is a good idea. The looser dirt allows the new roots to enter the soil more easily as they grow. To help with drainage, add 4 inches of peat moss to the soil.

Cherry seeds should be planted 2 inches deep. If you’re going to plant more than one, make sure they’re at least 12 inches apart. After planting, water the bed thoroughly until the top 10 inches of soil are damp. While the cherry seed germinates, keep the soil wet but not saturated.

Care for the Seedling

Weeds are the most dangerous enemy of cherry seedlings. They compete for moisture and soil nutrients with the young plant. Keep a 3-foot radius around the cherry seedling weed-free. To stop any harm from coming to the seedling’s roots, it is safer to hand-pull the weeds.

Top-dress the soil around the seedling with a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch when it reaches 6 inches in height. Mulch keeps weeds at bay while also retaining moisture in the soil. It also boosts soil organic matter and beneficial bacteria.

When to Harvest

Standard sweet cherry trees produce fruit four to seven years after being planted into the garden and are normally eaten fresh. Dwarf types can provide fruit as soon as two years after they are transplanted. The roots of grafted trees may be two to four years old, whereas the tops of the trees are one to two years old.

Final Thoughts

Cherries are ready when they are strongly colored—dark red, golden yellow, or virtually black, depending on the variety—and firm, with a little give. Instead of removing (and potentially harming) the fruit, use pruning shears to clip it by the stems.

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