If you’re a fruit lover, then you have certainly tried and enjoyed one of the all-time favorite summer treats: cherries. These red sweets are perfect for desserts, jams, fruit salads, and anything in between. The best way to make sure you can enjoy them whenever you want is to have them grow right in your garden, pick them up when you’re craving them, and enjoy them fresh.
Cherry trees are an overall delight, providing cool shade in summer, amazing wood, beautiful blossoms, and their delicious mouthwatering scarlet fruit, of course! So, without further ado, let’s talk about growing cherry trees from seed.
We’ve prepared a full guide, plus a few tips and tricks for growing these trees, so you can turn your yard into your own little orchard.
Can You Grow a Cherry Tree from a Pit?
The short answer is yes. As with the majority of fruit trees, the seeds will be enough to create a new tree. However, the cherry tree you’ll grow won’t be the same as the fruit it came from.
Cherry trees that grow from a pit will be a blend between their two parent trees, so they will usually not display the characteristics of either but their own new set. Cherries are usually grown by attaching a section with the desired characteristics to a specimen grown specifically with good pest and disease resistance.
In other words, using a pit means you won’t get a clone of your favorite fruit but rather a child. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try, as there is still a chance of getting good-tasting cherries and creating your own new flavor.
How to Grow Cherry Trees from a Seed Step-by-Step
Let us guide you through the cherry germination! You will be enjoying cherries and fragrant blossoms in no time.
You’ll need a few common and easy-to-acquire household items for this:
- High-quality cherries
- Zip-lock bag or container
- Pots with drainage holes
- Good quality well-draining potting mix
- Mulching material
Stock on supplies to be prepared for the planting season. But don't get too excited! Garden depots can be suc a thrill… Do you really need that extra shovel?
Usually, instructions are boring. We know that so we kept it short and practical for you!
Choose a handful of your desired pits and clean them. You can do this by soaking them in a bowl of warm water to help remove all the remaining pulp. Let them air dry naturally on a sunny windowsill.
Seeds should be exposed to cold between 3 to 5 months before planting. This will mimic the natural process they would undergo in winter and increase your chances of success. To do this, put them in a bag or container in the fridge for the desired time.
If you’re sowing directly on the garden ground, start by adding compost to the native soil in a sunny location. Then plant your seeds about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. For planting in pots, take a few with drainage holes and a well-draining soil mix, and plant a handful of seeds in each.
If you planted your plants in pots to later transplant to their permanent location outdoors, let them grow between 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) and select the best from each pot to continue. When they’re about 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) tall, and there’s no more fear of frost, take them outside. Cover with much when they reach 1 foot (30 cm).
Follow these steps closely to make sure you're successful in planting your very own cherry tree.
Rules for Growing Cherry Trees from a Seed
Now that you know how to plant, it’s important that you also know how to care for your greenies both indoors and outdoors. Cherry trees are not particularly demanding, although this will depend on the varieties you’re planting and how appropriate your local conditions are for these trees.
Here’s what you should be providing for your indoor cherries:
A standard, good-quality well-draining potting soil is good, just stay away from clay soils. Also, plan to repot your trees a few times and make sure always to use pots with drainage holes.
Offer your trees as much sun as possible, placing them near a sunny, preferably south-facing window, with good air circulation. You can even have it outside in the sun for a few hours before bringing it back in.
The cherry trees can sustain almost any temperature during summer. However, to have them yield fruit inside, you’ll have to keep the environment around 42.8°F (6°C).
The main rule is: Water regularly. Cherries prefer moist but not soggy soil until they are established. Be careful not to over- or underwater. Check the soil as often as you can! Remember to cut down on the watering after the trees are established.
It's best to fertilize twice a year after the trees are stable. First, do so at the beginning of spring to promote growth. Then, after they bear fruit, feed your green pets again to restore their nutrient levels.
Who says you can't grow trees indoors? With a ceiling high enough, why not?
Outdoor trees will have slightly different preferences according to their variety, so here are some general considerations:
Well-draining fertile soil is all these greenies need. You can work some organic material or manure into the soil, both to improve drainage and to boost its nutrients.
When you plant them, make sure the spot you pick receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun.
Despite disliking frost, cherry trees require a lot of chill hours (up to 700) to produce fruit. So, the winter in your area should be chilly and have enough cold days for them to be fruitful.
Ideally, the soil should remain moist but not wet while the trees are still young. After maturing, cherries are considered somewhat drought-resistant, so unless you live in a very arid zone, just make sure it doesn’t stay in dry soil for long periods of time.
Pruning is always beneficial for fruit trees. Do it to remove any damaged material, maintain a manageable height, and promote growth. When the trees are young, do it every year from March to April, and after maturing, prune only when needed.
Say hi to your beautiful orchard!
Tips for Planting Cherry Seeds
To increase your chances of success, here are some additional tips you can follow on how to grow a cherry tree from seed:
- Choose pits from locally grown trees, as these will have a bigger chance to be a good fit for your local climate.
- Adding some sterile medium, like potting mix, to your cold treatment can prevent mold and the deterioration of the seeds.
- Either choose seeds from self-pollination varieties or have at least 2 different cultivars near each other to guarantee cross-pollination.
- Choose fertilizers that are low in nitrogen, as these tend to increase leaf production and sacrifice the fruit in the process.
- Use wire screens to protect the seeds that are sowed directly onto the ground.
- When planting cherry seeds directly outdoors in the fall, make sure to cover the topsoil with sand to prevent freezing.
- If you never plant to take the trees to your yard and want to grow them inside, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding with dwarf varieties.
Enjoy your smooth (and smart) planting!
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Cherry Tree from a Seed?
Growing a cherry tree from seed is not a straightforward process. It might take as long as 2 weeks for your seeds to germinate, and this period can be extended for several months, You can wait up to a full year for the seeds to sprout!
To bear fruit, cherry trees grown from seed can take 7 to 10 years to reach maturity, while other varieties can reach maturity in about 4 to 5 years. Again, this is not a very straightforward process, since you won’t know how your seeds will be feeling. These guys can be very moody!
How Tall Do Cherry Trees Grow?
The height will greatly depend on the variety and cultivar, climate, care, and overall growing conditions of a cherry tree. But, on average, the biggest varieties can grow up to 35 feet (10.67 m) tall, while others won’t grow past 9 feet (3 m).
Maintenance and pruning are essential for both small and tall trees. The little greenies require more regular and aggressive pruning, while taller guys just require a small haircut to focus their energy on growth.
Use our tips and enjoy the fruit and bloosoms. We hope this guide will be a true cherry on top of your planting game!
Do I Need to Soak Cherry Seeds Before Planting?
Before planting cherry pits, you can soak them for just a few minutes in warm water, as this will help remove the fruit pulp more easily to prepare for drying and the cold treatment, and later plating.
Do Cherry Seeds Need Cold to Germinate?
Yes, subverting your seeds to a cold treatment will increase your chances of success.
This process imitates the natural occurrence of seeds enduring winter before sprouting in the spring, thereby improving the germination rate.
Can You Grow a Cherry Tree from Store-Bought Cherries?
Technically yes, you can grow a cherry tree from seed with any pit. However, you'll have better chances of success with cherries sourced locally. These cherries come from trees that thrive in your local climate, unlike other varieties that may have grown in vastly different conditions.
Do You Have to Dry Cherry Seeds Before Planting?
After soaking the seeds for cleaning, it is best to allow them to air dry in a sunny location for approximately a week. This reduces the risk of developing mold or rot while they undergo the cold treatment.