Planting a dwarf cherry tree is great for both your landscaping as well as your tummy. In this article, we’re going to talk about exactly what a dwarf cherry tree is and how you can successfully plant one in your own yard or orchard!
When we refer to a “dwarf cherry tree”, or any dwarf fruit tree, we are simply referring to a tree whose structure is made up of a top half (the top of a regular-sized tree) which has been grafted to the root stalk of another type of tree. The result is a tree that will grow a fraction of the size of the regular variety and produce full-sized fruit. There are dwarf sized trees as well as semi-dwarf. The difference is usually about 10 feet in size, the dwarf being the smallest.
What to consider for Planting Dwarf Cherry Tree?
Select the Type
The first step in planting your dwarf cherry tree is to decide what type of cherries you want your tree to produce. Bing and Van cherries are the most popular types in the United States because they are sweet and perfect for baking or to eat as they are. However, if you’re looking for a tree that produces tart cherries, look into the Montmorency or English Morello trees.
Select the Land
Most cherry trees are ready for harvest in late June or early July, and the dwarf trees have a height around 10 – 15 feet, as opposed to a regular cherry tree’s near 40-foot height. As you can guess, it’s much easier to acquire the fruit of a dwarf tree! Most dwarf cherry trees grow best in particular “zones”. Garden centers and gardening websites will have a guide available detailing which states are included in each zone. As a general guideline, most sweet cherry trees grow best in zones five to nine, while tart cherry trees grow well in zones four to nine.
Once you have chosen the type of cherry tree you want to plant, you need to find a tree to cross-pollinate with it. Some breeds of cherry tree are self fertile, meaning they don’t need another tree to cross-pollinate with; however, most cherry trees have to have the pollen from another tree to produce fruit. Some breeds of cherry trees make a better match for pollination. For example, Bing cherry trees (the most popular type of cherry in the United States) can pollinate well with Emperor Francis, Royal Ann, or another Bing tree. Examples of self fertile cherry trees are: sweetheart, Lapins, and White Gold.
If your chosen cherry tree requires another tree to produce fruit, be sure that you have enough room for both trees. It is recommended that you space the trees about eight to twelve feet apart. The area that you plant your tree(s) in needs to be located in full sunlight and have rich soil. Avoid wet or heavy clay soils and try to find an area of soil that has good drainage. When you first plant your tree, you need to dig a hole twice the size of the cluster of roots. Fill in the area around the tree’s roots with good quality soil. Water the area, but take care not to make the soil too damp.
Pruning the tree is vital to ensure that your tree’s branches are sturdy and spaced out (along more room for the fruit to flourish). Pruning is simply cutting excess branches from the tree when it is fresh from the “nursery”. The first pruning should leave about two branches. You may notice that the center of the tree has one long branch pointing nearly straight upward from the base. This is the “leader branch” and will be the central trunk of the tree as it grows. This must remain intact along with one additional branch on each side, which will become sturdy main branches. As the tree grows, it may require another pruning to trim down the number of main branches to four. These strong main branches will soon have branch-lings sprouting off of them which will provide ample space for tons of fruit growth! Lightly water your tree as the soil requires, but remember that the ideal soil for the tree will be slightly moistened and never soggy as it could rot the roots.
After you have planted your cherry tree(s), expect to wait about 2 – 3 years before seeing any fruit. The wait is well worth it when you consider that the life of the tree will likely be around 35 years! That’s plenty of years of fresh, naturally grown cherries!