How to Choose and Plant a Cherry Tree

Sweet cherries are fabulous to eat straight from the tree and their sour counterparts are excellent for cooking and jam. David Hall reviews how to choose, plant and maintain these delicious fruit trees.

Created by David Hall on Thursday, 27th of August, 2015.

Cherry Tree

Soil and Position

Both types will do well in deep, loamy soil that is well drained, sour varieties can tolerate poorer soils. The pH should be 6.0 – 7.0. Sweet cherries should be planted in a sunny position while sour varieties can do well on north facing walls and in more shady situations. As they flower early, keep trees away from positions that are susceptible to frost and shelter from cold winter winds. A dressing of lime when the tree is planted is recommended.

Form and Height

Cherries can grow into very large trees, perhaps the largest of all fruit trees. This means that they are impractical for the small garden and very difficult to manage. Picking fruit that hasn't been eaten by birds can be problematic.

Grow sweet cherries as staked bush trees only with a dwarfing rootstock such as 'Gisela 5' that will grow to about 10ft in 5 years or preferably as fans on a south facing walls.

Sour cherries can be grown on the 'Colt' rootstock to reach about 12ft tall or trained against a wall.


Pollination can be slightly complicated as some sweet cherries need pollination from other 

These are all self-fertile:

Sweet Cherries:

Stella (Probably the best to choose - regular cropper, large black fruit)

Lapins (black fruit in late summer)

Sunburst (black fruit in mid-summer)

Sour Cherry:

Morello (Proven to be the best cooking cherry with dark red fruits)


Container grown trees can be planted at any time of the year. Water the tree while it is still in the container. If the soil is easy to work, it is necessary only to dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball. If the soil is poor, dig deeper and wider, and mix in some organic matter or fertiliser with the top soil that has been dug out. Take the tree from the container and tease out the roots quite vigorously if they are pot bound. Returning the top soil, plant the tree at the same level as it was in the container. Firm the soil. Place two short stakes inside the wall of the hole and a cross bar. Tie the trunk of the tree to the cross bar, water thoroughly and mulch.

For bare rooted trees, plant in their dormant period i.e. late autumn and winter. Dig a hole about 3ft in diameter, putting the top soil to one side. If the soil is poor, mix into the top soil some organic matter and fertiliser. Drive a sturdy stake (at least 2ins in diameter) deep into the hole, ensuring the top will be well several inches below the lowest branch. Fill the hole, shaking the tree to work the soil around the roots. Note the previous soil level (visible on the tree stem) and ensure that the tree is planted at the same level. Firm in, mulch and tie to stake.


Cherries will benefit from a well balanced spring feed and organic mulch. Keep well watered especially when the fruit is developing. Keep the surrounding area free from weeds. Use fleece to protect blossom from frost, but allow in pollinating insects during the day. Net the fruits to protect them from birds.

Related Articles

HTA Plant Show 2016

HTA Plant Show 2016

As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Friday, 24th of June, 2016.

What To See At This Year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

What To See At This Year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes place next month and Nathan James Dodd looks forward to what you'll discover at the largest annual show of its kind.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Monday, 20th of June, 2016.

How Thrive's Accessible Gardening Changes Lives

How Thrive's Accessible Gardening Changes Lives

The Society for Horticultural Therapy is an organisation generally known as Thrive, and David Coton recently learnt more about their projects, training and consultancy.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 16th of June, 2016.

New Report Wants NHS To Prescribe Gardening

New Report Wants NHS To Prescribe Gardening

Once again a report has been published linking the benefits of gardening with healthy minds and bodies. The King's Fund findings are outlined by Nathan James Dodd, and they include recommendations that gardening should be promoted as a way of improving health.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Monday, 30th of May, 2016.

comments powered by Disqus


View RSS Feed


David Hall David Hall

View Profile

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

GardenSite Donates Christmas Tree To Hospice

GardenSite Donates Christmas Tree To Hospice

Our garden centre has been part of the local community for over 60 years, so when one of our partners, David Coton, received a request to donate a Christmas tree to a nearby hospice, he had no hesitation in helping them out.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Wednesday, 7th of December, 2016.

How To Choose A Real Christmas Tree

How To Choose A Real Christmas Tree

Many people believe that Christmas would not have the same festive feel without the scent of a 'real' Christmas tree. They're naturally fresh, giving off a lovely aroma, and here Martyn Loach gives advice on which ones to buy..

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 6th of December, 2016.

Premier Christmas Lights

Premier Christmas Lights

There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Monday, 28th of November, 2016.

Why Choose An Artificial Christmas Tree

Why Choose An Artificial Christmas Tree

When purchasing a Christmas tree, you may or may not be aware that you're continuing a centuries old tradition that was enthusiastically adopted by the Victorians. An artificial tree as Andy Taylor explains is just a modern take on this age old practice.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Monday, 5th of December, 2016.