How to Grow Cherry Trees

Introduction

Whether your goal is fresh snacks, pies, or landscape interest, growing cherry trees is a fruitful endeavor, especially if you keep the following in mind.

There are so many reasons for growing cherry trees: the satisfaction of picking your own homegrown fruit, creating family memories, preserving your harvest to enjoy during the cold winter months ... the list is a long one! As you probably know, there are two types of cherries:

Sweet cherries are what you usually see at the supermarket. They have a “meaty” texture, much like a firm plum, and a rich, sweet flavor and can be eaten fresh, cooked, frozen or dried. Sweet cherries grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 7; most are self-sterile, but will produce more and larger fruit with a different sweet cherry variety in the vicinity. These cherry trees typically take about 4 to 7 years after planting to bear fruit. Sweet cherry trees will yield approximately 15-20 quarts for dwarf trees, and 30-50 quarts for semi-dwarf trees. The yield will vary based on sunlight, available nutrients, soil quality/drainage and local weather conditions during the season.

Sour cherries are most often used for cooking, especially pies and preserves. Sour cherries, also referred to as tart cherries, are noticeably smaller than sweet varieties. They grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 6.

These cherry trees typically take 3 to 5 years to begin bearing fruit, depending upon the tree size (dwarf trees will bear sooner) and the variety. Sour cherry trees will yield approximately 15-20 quarts for dwarf trees, and 20-60 quarts for semi-dwarf trees. The yield will vary based on sunlight, available nutrients, soil quality/drainage and local weather conditions during the season.

Some important points to remember about growing cherry trees:

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right location for your new cherry trees. This requires some pre-planning to give your trees the best chance for success:

  • Do you understand your trees’ pollination needs?
  • Is this location you’ve chosen going to have enough sun?
  • Does this location have the right type of soil for your cherry trees?
  • Is there enough space for the trees to mature?

Learn how to prepare your soil prior to planting. You can also learn how to plant bare-root and potted cherry trees. The instructions are very easy to follow.

After getting your cherry trees securely settled in their new home, you can address the “Care & Maintenance” phase. Learn how often and how much to water and how to prevent problems that arise from under- or over-watering.

Trees need to eat, too! Fertilizing is critical to whether your trees just survive, or thrive. Equally important is when to start/stop fertilizing. Did you know that continual feeding to keep the trees from “going hungry” can actually make them vulnerable to winter damage?

The Care & Maintenance section will also instruct you how about pruning cherry trees. Pruning keeps the tree’s canopy strong and open to light — essential to the quality and quantity of the fruit. Here, we also review common cherry-tree insect and disease issues, and explain the importance of spraying to control existing problems and help prevent future ones.

Discover great tips on all these topics and others (like harvesting cherries) in our “How To Grow Cherry Trees” series. You can navigate to any article by using the “In This Series” menu, or follow the “Next/Previous” navigation markers at the end of each article.

Getting Started

Acclimate

Acclimate (ac·cli·mate): "To become accustomed to a new climate or to new conditions. Also to harden off a plant."
Acclimating cherry trees helps minimize stress when planting. Because our potted cherry trees are grown in our controlled greenhouse environment, they may arrive to you already sprouting tender new growth. This fragile growth can be sensitive to things like:

  • Temperature (below 50ºF or above 90ºF)
  • Frost snaps
  • Strong/direct sunlight
  • Wind

These conditions are more likely to occur in early spring, but can happen during other times of year, depending upon your growing zone. We strongly recommend following this simple process prior to planting cherry trees that are leafed out:

Step 1. Upon arrival, keep your cherry trees in their pots and place them in a sheltered, shady spot outdoors, like a covered patio or porch. Leave them there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day. Bring them back indoors each night.

Step 2. After 2-3 days of this hardening-off process, begin transitioning the cherry trees from their shady spot to one that provides some morning sun. Return them to the shade in the afternoon. If you’re not home during the day, try moving the trees to an area that receives less-intense filtered sunlight instead. Be sure to bring the trees indoors again overnight.

  • Water as needed to keep the roots from drying out. If the soil in the pots is dry to the touch, then it’s time to water them. You may occasionally mist the leaves with water, because the environment indoors has less humidity than outdoor air.
  • Observe the foliage daily. If signs of leaf injury/burn appear prior to planting, move the trees back into filtered sunlight and start from Step 1 again. Proceed to Step 2 when conditions improve.

Step 3. After 7-10 days, your cherry trees should be ready for planting in their permanent home, as long as temperatures are forecasted to stay between 50ºF and 90ºF. For best results, try to transplant on a cloudy day.

  • If daytime temperatures are expected to drop below 50ºF within the next day or so, continue to repeat Step 2. Monitor your trees (and the weather) until conditions are more suitable for planting.

Please note: These are general recommendations. Your particular growing environment might require a slight modification to these guidelines, because some trees can take more (or less) time than others to harden off. Factors like the current season’s weather, individual trees, and your location can affect the acclimation process.

Location

The best tactic for success: Plan before you plant!
Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new cherry trees? Avoid many future problems by considering all facets of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • The immediate surroundings
  • Spacing
  • Room for future plantings

Cross-Pollination

Stark Bro’s sells both sweet cherry trees and sour cherry trees along with some popular heirloom cherry varieties. Many of our cherry trees are self-pollinating, meaning your mature tree will bear fruit without requiring another cherry variety’s pollen; however, additional nearby (within 50 feet) cherry trees of a different variety can improve fruit-set and yield. Remember, two of the same variety will not work for cross-pollination (with the exception of seed-grown cherries) and sweet cherry trees and sour cherry trees are not recommended pollinators for one another.

Self-pollinating cherry trees work well for small spaces, because another cherry tree is not required for fruit production. Consider planting one of these popular self-pollinating cherry trees:

Sun, Soil Type and Drainage

Cherry trees thrive in a location that gets full sun and has a well-drained, fertile soil. “Full sun” is defined as at least 6 to 8 hours of sun each day. Sunlight is critical to fruit production and quality, and also helps keep fungal issues from getting a foothold. Keep this in mind when choosing a location for your new cherry trees.

Good soil drainage is necessary to keep a cherry tree’s roots healthy — and healthy roots are the foundation of a healthy tree. If your native soil is composed of heavy clay that retains water after rainy weather, you should choose a different site for your cherry tree. Conversely, if your site has fast-draining sandy soil, then your cherry tree may suffer drought stress and require more frequent watering. We do not recommend planting cherry trees in either rocky or heavy, pure-clay soils. If you can’t plant elsewhere, try improving the soil prior to planting.

Even if your yard’s soil isn’t the best, take heart: cherry trees can be very adaptable and respond well to soil additives like compost or fertilizers. How you amend your soil depends heavily on your individual location, so communicating with your local county Cooperative Extension is a wise first step. In general – to help with water distribution – you can add coir like our Coco-Fiber Planting Medium to your cherry tree’s planting hole, or mix in one-third sphagnum/peat to the soil at planting time.

As an alternative to all of that digging, you can:

  • Build a bottomless raised bed (at least 12 inches deep and at least 3 to 4 feet around); or
  • Plant your cherry tree in a container. Plant your new tree in a 5-gallon container, to start. You can “pot-up” cherry trees into successively larger containers as the trees outgrow them.

Surroundings

Cherry trees, with their breathtaking blossoms, can also be a landscaping asset — so choose a planting site with this in mind. Imagine your new cherry tree as a full-grown tree, and think everything through:

  • Are there utility wires or any other obstructions overhead?
  • Are there underground cables, pipes, irrigation systems, utilities or other lines to avoid?
  • Is there a sidewalk, driveway, or foundation within the range of your cherry tree’s mature spread?
  • Might your cherry tree block the view of something you want to see, once it’s fully grown?
  • Will neighboring trees be in the way, or block sunlight from your cherry trees as they grow?
  • Even a year or two after planting, a cherry tree can be very hard to successfully transplant, so take the time to plant it in just the right place the first time!

Space Wisely

Growers often ask about the recommended planting distances for cherry trees to keep them away from patios, sewer lines, water pipes, etc. Ordinarily, patios will not be a problem because the soil beneath them is dry and compacted, and the roots will not be as encouraged to grow into this area. Conversely sewer and water lines tend to be wet, which will encourage cherry tree roots to grow around them if planted too closely.

A smart distance is somewhere beyond your cherry tree’s estimated maximum spread, which is roughly equal to the mature height of the cherry tree you choose to plant. Our recommendations are below:

  • Dwarf: 8 to 14 feet
  • Semi-Dwarf: 12 to 18 feet

Space for Future Plantings

If you’re new to planting cherry trees, or you’re planting them in a new location, it’s wise to start with just a few. Later on, especially after you have enjoyed the benefits of growing your own cherries firsthand, you may want to expand your orchard. Always err on the safe side and leave room for future cherry trees, other fruit trees, berry plants, and other garden plants. You’ll be glad you did.

Spacing between trees:

Dwarf Sweet, 8-10 feet
Semi-Dwarf Sweet, 15-18 feet
Standard Sweet, 18-25 feet

Dwarf Sour, 8-10 feet
Semi-Dwarf Sour, 12-15 feet
Standard Sour, 15-18 feet

Space for Future PlantingsTree SpacingApproximate Tree Sizes

Planting

Successfully establishing a young cherry tree starts with your planting site and planting method. Once a cherry tree is well established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit.

Cherry trees require fertile, balanced soil for good growth, so before you plant, test the soil where your trees will live – including the soil pH. Refer to the section on Soil Preparation for tips on testing your soil.

Sweet and sour cherries have similar needs, but sweet cherries are fussier about drainage and pH, which should range between 6.3 and 7.2. Sour cherries are more adaptable to a wider range of soils, and prefer a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Take a look at the established trees and plants around the site. Do they look healthy? Are they growing well? This will help give you an idea of the success you can expect with new plantings in the same area. Remember to steer clear of heavy clay soil or any soil that is poorly drained, especially if you’re planting sweet cherry trees.

Cherry trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool, especially if they arrive bare-root and dormant. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Do not expose roots to temperatures that are freezing or below. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

Steps to Planting Cherry Trees

Planting Bare-root Cherry Trees

  • Before planting: soak the cherry tree’s roots in a bucket or large tub of water for 1 to 2 hours. This keep the roots from drying out while you dig the planting hole. Avoid soaking roots for more than 6 hours. Remember: do not expose roots to freezing temperatures (or below) prior to planting.

  • Dig the planting hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily spread and grow. Keep the more nutritious topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it will do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix aged/rotted manure, garden compost, coir or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. The peat moss should either be baled sphagnum or granular peat. Note: Peat is acidic (has a low pH), so if you use this rather than neutral coir, it may affect the soil pH around the roots. Coir, like our Coco-Fiber Planting Medium, can be added instead of peat – or just work in 2 inches or more of organic material with the existing soil.
  • Place the cherry tree in the center of the planting hole with its roots down and spread out. Holding onto the trunk to keep it vertical, backfill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. Important: keep the graft union (the noticeable “bump” in the lower trunk) 2-3 inches above the ground for dwarf and semi-dwarf types. Read more about Planting Budded and Grafted Cherry Trees below.
  • Fill in the soil carefully around the roots, tamping it down firmly as you refill the planting hole. This will eliminate air pockets that could damage the roots.
  • Especially if you’re planting on a slope, create a rim of soil around the planting hole about 2 inches above ground level. This is called a “berm” and it works to catch water so that it can soak in, rather than run off and cause soil erosion. Spread the soil evenly around tree.
  • Read more about Digging a Planting Hole and Planting Bare-Root Fruit Trees.

Planting Potted Cherry Trees

Cherry trees that are grown and shipped in our Stark® EZ Start® 4"x4x"10" bottomless pots are a result of our continuing quest for providing you with the best trees with a robust root system. By following these simple instructions, you’ll be assured of getting your new potted cherry tree off to the best possible start.

  • Before planting: When your cherry tree arrives, carefully take it out of the package. Your potted tree has been watered prior to shipment and should arrive with damp soil around the roots; however, it does need another drink when it arrives at your home. Be sure the water reaches all of the roots, all the way to the bottom of the container. If you can’t plant your tree immediately, keep the roots hydrated and keep the tree in a sheltered location until you’re able to plant. Do not place your potted cherry tree in a bucket of water. This could cause the roots to rot and weaken, or even kill the tree.
  • Your potted cherry tree is ready for planting as soon as it arrives. To remove the tree from its temporary container, simply grasp the sides of the pot and carefully slide the tree out. If the tree’s roots do not easily slide out of the container, you may need to gently pry the inside edges of the container away from the root system, and loosen it until the roots slide freely from the pot.

Note: do not plant the plastic Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pot in the ground. It is not intended to break down over time as your cherry tree grows, and it will cause root restriction, injury and may even be fatal to the tree. The pot your tree arrives in is only intended to be a temporary container.

  • While some potting soil might shake loose, most of it should remain around the cherry tree’s roots. Gently separate, untangle, and spread out the tree’s roots and place it, soil and all, into the prepared planting hole. Backfill the hole with topsoil, same as you would a bare-root cherry tree (see above). Water thoroughly.
  • Your potted cherry tree may have come with a bamboo stake, which helped straighten the tree as it grew in its pot. We recommend that you keep the tree staked when you plant to help keep it growing straight. You may remove the bamboo stake and replace it with a different tree stake, if you prefer.

Post-Planting

Thoroughly water your newly planted cherry tree. A deep soaking with about a gallon of water is perfect. If a soil test determines that fertilizer is needed, then it is recommended that you wait a few weeks after planting to fertilize new cherry trees to protect their sensitive roots. If planting in the fall, wait until spring instead to apply fertilizer.

Mulch

Apply 2-3 inches of organic material like wood bark (rather than an inorganic material, like rocks) around the root zone of your cherry tree. Mulching helps discourage weeds and prevent evaporation, water pooling and freeze injury around the trunk going into winter. In the fall, double the mulch layer or add a layer of straw for winter protection.

Note: Rodents and other small gnawing critters could take advantage of mulch that is applied too thickly. They may chew the tree’s bark as a snack – a type of injury that can be fatal, especially to new cherry trees.

One final point: Please be sure to remove the nametag from your cherry tree. As the tree grows, this small piece of plastic can choke off its circulation, causing damage like girdling and even tree death. If you’d like to keep the tag on your tree, retie it loosely with soft twine and be sure to keep it from becoming restricted as the tree grows.

Soil Preparation

Preparing the soil before you plant will greatly improve your cherry tree’s long-term performance and promote strong, healthy new growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested prior to planting, and even annually after planting, to determine if it’s lacking in any essential minerals or nutrients. You can use one of our digital soil meters to test your soil or collect a soil sample to send to your local county Cooperative Extension for testing.

Once you know what’s lacking in your soil, you can amend it with whatever it needs: minerals, nutrients, pH correction or organic matter, which will help break up poor soil.

Common Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Puddles often form on clay or silt soils, and these soils become easily compacted.
  • Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay-based, but are a generally a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. They will vary in moisture absorption and retention.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist, regardless of water content. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but will not retain water for long-term use.

When to Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done any time of year, providing that the ground is not overly saturated with water or frozen. If your soil composition needs amending, you can use any of these, depending upon your goal:

  • Compost (good for any soil)
  • Sand (if your soil is clay-ey)
  • Manure (good for any soil)
  • Garden lime (if native soil pH is too low/acid)
  • Sphagnum/peat moss (if native soil pH is too high/alkaline)

Your yard can provide you with lots of free organic materials, such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients naturally, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Adding organic materials like compost will improve the composition of most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can soak in and roots can spread.

Care & Maintenance

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the nutrients in your soil, especially nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages green vegetative growth, which is exactly what you want to promote before your cherry tree reaches its fruit-bearing years.

Always test your soil prior to applying any fertilizers. Different soils can have varying amounts of native elements needed to support cherry tree growth and development. If you discover your soil lacks any necessary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphates, potash, etc.), be sure to choose a fertilizer that supplements the soil’s nutrient deficiency.

Get to know your soil and discover the importance of soil testing prior to making any changes.

About Fertilizers

  • Fertilizers – both synthetic and organic (naturally derived) – are soil amendments labeled with a “guaranteed analysis” of nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), and Potash (K).
  • Alternately, there are organic soil amendments, like compost and aged/rotted manure. They are used like fertilizers, but they are not technically fertilizers. You can make your own organic soil amendments, like compost, out of food or garden scraps, or even get compost, manure, and other organic soil amendments from a trusted local source. While these help add nutrients to the soil to support your cherry trees, they will not have a “guaranteed analysis” value.
  • In general, cherry trees thrive when macronutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) are present. Nitrogen helps encourage vegetative growth (leaves and branches). Phosphorus encourages root and blossom development. Potassium/Potash is responsible for the efficacy of the cherry tree’s natural disease-resistance and systems supporting its overall health, kind of like an immune system. A water-soluble fertilizer that is specifically formulated for use on young cherry trees provides the nutrients these trees take in during their initial years in the ground as they become established.

Cherry trees are light feeders and prefer a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 10-15-15. Take care not to over-fertilize, or you may produce a tree that is unbalanced, which can affect fruit production and leave the tree susceptible to pests and disease.

Macronutrients

Nitrogen, phosphorus/phosphates, and potassium/potash are the “big” macronutrients cherry trees need to grow normally. They are present in healthy soil, but may be added when soil is deficient. Nitrogen is the nutrient most used by growing cherry trees; it moves throughout the soil, is leached off by normal growth and must be replaced by synthetic or organic compounds. The main source of nitrogen is decaying organic matter. Signs of macronutrient deficiency in cherry trees include reddish or pale colored leaves, narrow or shrunken leaves and dead spots on leaves.

Micronutrients

Cherry trees also need micronutrients in the soil, which help make the macronutrients available to the tree. For example, molybdenum helps fix nitrogen to the soil. Copper and zinc prevent color mottling and misshapen leaves. Calcium is another essential micronutrient that cherry trees thrive on that improves leaf and fruit quality. The easiest way to add micronutrients is by adding aged compost or a good, balanced fruit tree fertilizer that states micronutrients are part of the formula.

When to Fertilize Cherry Trees

  • In nutrient-rich soil, you can withhold using fertilizers until your cherry trees begin bearing fruit (average: 4-7 years for sweet cherries; 3-5 years for pie/sour/tart cherries). If your new cherry trees don’t put on several inches of new green growth during the growing season, consider fertilizing starting the following spring.
  • Typically for cherry trees, once a year is enough — apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, about two or three weeks before the tree blooms. You can still fertilize after bud break, but by no means any later than July. For any specific fertilizer application instructions, always refer to the information printed on your product’s label. Be mindful that local advisories on fertilizing may be in effect during certain times of year. For the sake of your local environment, please adhere to these restrictions.
  • Many fruit trees require more nitrogen after they start bearing fruit, but not cherry trees. Each year, test the soil to see what it needs, and if the nitrogen levels appear low, then apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in small amounts a couple of weeks before bud break in early spring. Mulch your trees and keep weeds at bay, since weeds will compete with your cherry trees for nutrients.

To prevent the chance of injury as the growing season winds down, do not fertilize past July 1st.

Read more about fertilizing:

Pest & Disease Control

As it grows, a cherry tree may experience issues caused by pests or diseases. Factors such as location, weather, and upkeep play a part in which issues your cherry tree encounters and how well it stands up against them. Disease-resistant cherry trees are easy-care options for growers who prefer a low-spray or no-spray orchard, and – for all cherry trees – routine maintenance* can help keep most problems at bay.

*Examples of good practices are: adequate watering, fertilizing only as needed, seasonal pruning, preventative and active spraying, fall cleanup and winter protection.

The following are merely intended as a means of identifying potential issues. Don’t be alarmed – a cherry tree may experience a few of these in its lifetime, but certainly not all at once.

Cherry Tree Pests

Aphids

Tiny, pinhead-sized insects, varying in color depending on the type. Will cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices.

Symptoms: Leaves curl, thicken, yellow, and die. Aphids produce large amounts of a sticky residue called “honeydew” that attracts insects like ants. Honeydew also becomes a growth medium for sooty mold.

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Cherry Fruit Fly

Adults are similar in appearance to a housefly, but smaller. Larvae are yellowish-white grubs. Traps are an option for luring adults.

Symptoms: Small, pinpoint-sting marks visible on fruit surface. Eggs are laid under fruit skin. Hatched larvae tunnel, making railroad-like mining pattern.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Moths

Includes: Orange Tortrix, Oriental Fruit Moth, Codling Moth, Winter Moth, Western Tussock Moth, Cherry Scallop Shell Moth, etc.

Adults are moths that vary in size and appearance. Larvae are pinkish-white with a red-brown head, about ½-inch long. Pheromone traps are an option for luring moths.

Symptoms: Damage first appears on vegetative growth, and left untreated will eventually infest fruit. Larvae tunnel in through the stem and often exit near the pit.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT

Borers

Includes: American plum borer, Pacific flatheaded borer, Peach twig borer, Peachtree borer, Shot hole borer

Adults are small brown beetles that may target the graft location (in young cherry trees) for laying eggs as well as damaged or sunken areas. Grubs have horseshoe-shaped heads and cream-colored bodies. Difficult to control once infested. Preventative spraying (including the ground around the roots) is a strong defense. Traps – in the form of tanglefoot-coated logs or posts that are later removed from the site and burned – are an option for luring adults.

Symptoms: A thick, gummy substance (sap) leaking from round holes on the trunk or in a crotch of the tree. Grubs tunnel through trunks, weakening and eventually killing the tree. Eggs hatch and larvae tunnel into tree’s vascular tissue.

Control: Manual

  • If infested, use a fine wire to try to pierce, mash, or dig grubs out.
  • Traps (tanglefoot-coated logs or posts) can lure adults. Remove from site and burn after trapping.
  • Preventive spraying (including the ground around the roots)

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer

Additional Resources

  • Contact local county Cooperative Extension for further advice

Japanese Beetle

Adult is a metallic-green beetle, which skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are cream-colored grubs that feed on turf roots prior to maturity. Turf pest-control may help reduce grub populations; check turf product labels for timing and control of grubs. Traps are an option for luring adult beetles.

Symptoms: Adults are often seen in groups – large infestations can cause stunted growth and stress by skeletonizing a majority of the leaves.

Control: Manual

  • If infestation is minimal, knock Japanese beetles into a jar of soapy water solution (they will become immobile when frightened as a defense mechanism)

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

Leafhopper

Small, active, slender-winged insect appearing in various colors. Usually found on undersides of leaves.

Symptoms: Slows new growth; leaves become whitened, stippled, or mottled. Leaf tips may wither and die. Prone to carrying diseases to and from plants and trees; damaged caused by leafhoppers may be greater than the feeding done directly by the insect.

Control: Manual
Hand-removal of webbed foliage and keeping area free of weeds and debris may be enough to manage the pest.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Mites

Pinpoint-sized arthropods, appearing in many different colors depending on the type. Often found on undersides of leaves.

Symptoms: Sap feeding causes a bronze appearance in leaves. Severe infestations exhibit some silken webbing. Droughts or dry spells are advantageous for mite infestations.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Scale

Usually on bark of young twigs and branches, encrusted with small (1/16-inch) hard, circular, scaly raised bumps with yellow centers. May also be on fruit.

Symptoms: Sap feeding weakens the tree.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Tarnished Plant Bug

Yellowish-brown, winged insect that may have black spots or red stripes.

Symptoms: Damage is caused by injecting toxins into buds and shoots, causing stunted vegetative growth and sunken areas (or “cat facing”) on fruit.

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Neem Oil

Tent Caterpillar

Adults are moths. Caterpillars are a hairy, grayish brown with cream-colored spots or stripes down the back.

Symptoms: Encases large areas in webbing and feeds on enclosed leaves.

Control: Manual

  • Remove webs with a rake (caterpillars are removed with webs) and burn.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

Thrips

Tiny, slender, fringed-wing insects ranging from 1/25-inch to 1/8-inch long. Nymphs are pale yellow and highly active. Adults are usually black or yellow-brown, but may have red, black, or white markings.

Symptoms: Feeding occurs on vegetation by puncturing and sucking up the contents, causing appearance to be deformed or discolored (similar to damage by mites and lace bugs).

Control: Spray

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Cherry Tree Diseases

Armillaria Root Rot

Also “oak root fungus”, “shoestring rot”, and "mushroom rot"

All stone-fruit rootstocks are susceptible to Armillaria root rot, which smells distinctly like mushrooms and occurs on the upper roots and/or crown of the tree. This destructive fungus lives within dead and living roots is transferred from root system to root system. It can live for up to 30 years.

Symptoms: Roots infected with Armillaria mellea have whitish-yellow fan-shaped mats between the bark and the wood. The tree trunk is girdled. Dull, yellowed, or wilted foliage is usually the first sign of trouble; infected trees usually die slowly.

Control: Manual
Exposing an infected crown and upper root area of a cherry tree may help to slow its growth into the crown. In spring, remove soil from around the base of the tree to a depth of 9 to 12 inches. Leave the trunk exposed for the remainder of the growing season. During the spring, summer, and fall, keep the upper roots and crown area as dry as possible. Recheck the hole every few years to make sure it has not filled in with leaves, soil, and other matter; the hole must be kept open and the crown and upper roots exposed.

Botrytis Rot

Damage commonly occurs to stone fruit and their blossoms during a wet, cool season. It appears on ripening fruit as brown spots and becomes covered with light brown spores.

Symptoms: Appears similar to brown rot (below). Fungus will overwinter in the soil and in plant debris.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Brown Rot

Includes: mummy rot and twig and blossom blight

Brown rot is a fungal disease that commonly affects stone-fruit trees, including cherry trees, especially after a long, warm, wet spring. It is one of the most common cherry-tree diseases. It affects the fruit tree’s flowers and fruit crop, but is not fatal. Fortunately, brown rot is easy to spot, prevent, and treat.

Symptoms: Blossoms turn brown and wither, but stay on the tree. Small sunken spots may appear at the base of infected blossoms, in the twig itself. Gummy brown “sap” may seep from these sunken areas. Leaves at the twig ends appear shriveled. Furry gray or beige mold forms on affected blossoms or twigs. The fungus rapidly spreads to the fruit.

Control: Manual
Plant a resistant variety, like Stark® Gold™ Sweet Cherry in a well-drained location. Prune regularly to keep trees open to light and air circulation, and remove any pruning debris, damaged or diseased fruit and limbs, as well as fallen fruit to avoid sites for fungi to thrive (do not compost). Thin fruit to avoid good fruit touching infected fruit. Disinfect your pruners between cuts to avoid spreading the fungi.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide

Spray preventatively if brown rot is problematic in your area, even before symptoms appear.

Buckskin (X-disease)

Buckskin disease is spread by some leafhopper species and is managed by planting disease-free stock, controlling weeds that host leafhoppers and removing leafhopper vectors and all diseased trees.

Symptoms: Diseased trees produce leathery, bumpy fruit that is pale in color, even at harvest-time. On Mahaleb rootstocks, trees rarely have fruit issues, but will suddenly droop above the graft union. Buckskin disease (also called “X-disease”) is caused by a phytoplasma organism in the cells of infected trees. Trees are usually infected in summer and fall, but will not show symptoms until the following year.

Control: Manual
Prune off infected twigs and limbs where cankers have affected the branch.

Cut out cankers that are less than half the branch circumference. Use a small, sharp knife and score the wood all the way around the canker, about an inch away from it. Dig the tip of the knife into the wood and bark as you work, and maintain a 1-inch margin around the circumference of the canker.

Slip the knife under the bark and remove the diseased inner bark, which is usually a rusty brown color. Round the edges of each incision to promote rapid healing, but do not remove the wood from the uninfected area below the canker.

Clean up any wood chips or debris and either burn it or dispose of it in the trash. Do not compost infected debris. Bleach the knife used to excise the canker, rinse and pat dry.

Apply fungicide spray to small wounds during wet periods and during dormant periods.

Canker (bacterial and cytospora)

Cytospora canker is caused by the fungus Cytospora spp. and attacks trees via weak or injured bark. Bacterial canker is caused by Pseudomonas syringae. Both tend to occur during cool, wet weather. They act and are treated similarly.

Symptoms: Infection appears as yellow-orange and black regions that later ooze a gummy substance which may have a foul odor. Cankers eventually develop in the branches, encompassing the circumference of the wood until it dies.

Control: Manual

Prune off infected twigs and limbs where cankers have affected the branch.

Cut out cankers that are less than half the branch circumference. Use a small, sharp knife and score the wood all the way around the canker, about an inch away from it. Dig the tip of the knife into the wood and bark as you work, and maintain a 1-inch margin around the circumference of the canker.

Slip the knife under the bark and remove the diseased inner bark, which is usually a rusty brown color. Round the edges of each incision to promote rapid healing, but do not remove the wood from the uninfected area below the canker.

Clean up any wood chips or debris and either burn it or dispose of it in the trash. Do not compost infected debris. Bleach the knife used to excise the canker, rinse and pat dry.

Apply fungicide spray to small wounds during wet periods and during dormant periods.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide
  • Bonide® Thuricide® BT
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Crown Gall

Caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens — a bacterium that inhabits the soil and causes rapid, abnormal growth (developing into galls). Can spread through injury to roots in the soil as well as through gardening tools carrying the bacterium.

Symptoms: Trees appear stunted and slow growing; leaves may be reduced in size. In mature, fruit-bearing aged trees, may see little or no fruit. Woody, tumor-like growths called galls appear, especially at the crown (ground level) and below. Growths can restrict water and nutrient flow, but often the damage isn’t extensive enough to cause immediate or total death. If tree has died, inspect roots for hard, woody ‘tumors’ to identify Crown Gall as the cause. Note: Crown Gall is not the only thing that can cause stunted trees.

Control: Prevention

  • Purchase gall-free nursery stock. Crown gall symptoms are generally well developed on finished nursery stock, making inspection a useful prevention strategy.

Additional Resources

  • Contact local county Cooperative Extension agent for further advice

Phytophthora Root Rot and Crown Rot

Soil pathogens in the genus Phytophthora can cause crown and root rot diseases of almost all fruit and nut trees, as well as most ornamental trees and shrubs. This disease appears if the soil around the base of the tree remains wet for prolonged periods, or when the tree is planted too deeply.

Symptoms: Infected trees often wilt and die quick as soon as the weather warms up. Leaves may turn dull green, yellow, or even red or purplish. Symptoms may develop first on one branch then spread to the rest of the tree. Dark areas appear in the bark around the crown and upper roots. Gummy sap may ooze from the diseased trunk. Reddish-brown areas may show between the bark and wood.

Control: Manual
Good water management/drainage is the key to prevention. Never cover the graft union with soil and try to avoid direct watering of the crown. If you suspect crown rot, carefully cut away affected bark at the soil line. Trees can sometimes be saved by removing soil from the base of the tree down to the upper roots and allowing the crown tissue to dry out.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Powdery Mildew

Caused by Podosphaera leucotricha — a fungus that overwinters in buds and emerges during humid, warm weather progressively throughout the growing season.

Symptoms: Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt-like patches on buds, young leaves, and twigs. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. New shoots are stunted.

Control: Spray

  • Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Other Cherry Tree Issues

No Blossoms or Fruit

Sweet cherry trees take about 4 to 7 years after planting (on average) before they bloom or bear fruit. Pie/Sour/Tart cherry trees bear a little sooner, within 3 to 5 years after planting. If enough time has been allowed to pass, and the cherry tree is otherwise healthy, there are a few things to do to help it become fruitful.

  • Make sure a pollinator variety is present. Most cherry trees require another different variety of cherry tree to be fruitful. Note: Sweet cherry trees and Pie/Sour/Tart cherry trees are not reliable pollinator for one another.
  • Make sure your cherry tree variety is recommended for your zone. Low winter temperatures can injure sensitive fruit buds and blossoms, hindering fruit production.
  • Space trees far enough apart to help avoid nutrient or light competition. Adequate space encourages a healthy and productive tree. Spacing can be estimated by the mature spread of the tree.
  • Prune to help keep the fruiting wood and vegetative wood in balance so that there isn’t too much leaf development in lieu of blossom development in mature trees — or too much fruit-bud development and not enough leaves to “feed” the fruit.
  • Know your soil. Soil conditions, and the presence of necessary nutrients, help keep a cherry tree’s roots supplying nutrients through its vascular system. If the soil is poor, or poorly drained, this affects the health and viability of the tree as a whole. If the tree is being over-fertilized, especially with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, it may develop lush, vegetative growth (leaves and branches) instead of developing fruit buds or blooming.

Additional Resources:

Sunscald and Sunburn (Scorching)

Sunscald/sunburn occurs during hot, dry growing seasons — with or without humidity in the air, but most commonly when humidity is low. Sunscald is also called winter injury or “southwest injury” as it commonly affects the southwest side of tree trunks during winter. Brown, crispy edges appear on leaves. Warm, clear days cause bark to expand and nights that are several degrees cooler will cause the bark to contract, damaging cells and causing splits and cracks in the trunk.

  • Protect trunks prior to winter with tree guards or a diluted solution of water and white latex paint (50/50).
  • Water new trees every 7 to 10 days during the growing season (if there is no rain within the week), or as needed (as the soil becomes dry to the touch).
  • During the growing season, consider constructing a temporary shade cloth to protect trees from the sun on hot, dry days. Water as needed (see above).

Additional Resources:

Water Stress

Can be caused by both overwatering and underwatering. Overwatering commonly presents as pale green to yellow leaves and leaf drop, which can weaken a tree, lead to root rot, and ultimately kill the tree. Underwatering often presents as discolored (usually yellowed), dry leaves. Tree may appear to wilt overall. Prolonged lack of water can kill the tree.

  • Water new trees every 7 to 10 days during the growing season (if there is no rain within the week) or as needed (as the soil becomes dry to the touch).
  • If planted in a location where the soil does not adequately drain water after heavy rains (leading to standing water), relocate the tree as soon as possible.
  • If drought-like conditions persist, consider slow-trickle drip irrigation to allow water to reach the roots rather than wash over soil surface.

Additional Resources:

Wind Injury

Symptoms: Can involve injury such as leaning/uprooted trees, breaks, tears, or wind-burned foliage. Depending on the severity of the injury, a cherry tree can either bounce back from minor damage or succumb to the wind-caused harm. This is determined on an individual basis and the health of the tree before the damage occurred.

Control: Manual

  • Adequately tamp soil around the tree’s roots (and thoroughly water) at planting time to remove air pockets and ensure good contact with the soil. Air pockets and loose soil around the roots can cause the tree to rock easily, leaving it vulnerable to leaning or uprooting.
  • Use tree stakes for new trees, dwarf trees, and trees planted in high-wind areas to help support upright growth and avoid leaning, uprooting, and breaking.
  • Selectively thin fruit that may be weighing down limbs to reduce stress from the weight, and avoid tears or breaks during gusty weather. Be aware: pests and disease may also take advantage of resulting broken or torn areas if damage occurs.

If tender new foliage is blown or whipped around by the wind, it may appear discolored (dark — like a burn or bruise). Damaged leaves can be removed to encourage healthy, new growth.

Pruning

Pruning is a very important part of proper cherry tree care and maintenance; however, many people think the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind when you set out to prune your cherry trees:

  • Have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way – including the experts.
  • In the best interest of your tree, it is preferable to do some pruning versus no pruning.
  • If an cherry tree is left unpruned, it may not become fruitful, it will not grow as well, and – in some cases – it may not be encouraged to grow at all.
  • There are three main reasons you should prune your cherry tree: its survival, stimulation and shaping.

Survival

When your cherry tree is dug up from our fields to be shipped to you, and any time a tree is transplanted, the root ball loses many of its fine feeder roots. These hair-like, delicate roots are important to the process of absorbing moisture and nutrients in the soil. Pruning, in this instance, helps balance the top growth of your tree with the root system, giving the roots time to re-establish in your yard to support existing top growth and new growth.

When your bare-root cherry tree arrives from Stark Bro’s, our professionals have already pre-pruned your tree for you. Because of this, you do not need to prune it again at planting time. The only pruning necessary at that time would be to remove any broken or damaged branches and/or roots.

Plan to prune your cherry trees every year during their dormant season. In Zone 6 and north, you should wait until late winter. A good reference book, such as Pruning Made Easy, can be invaluable for providing additional visuals and answering questions you may have during the pruning process.

Stimulation

In addition to the survival benefits, pruning an cherry tree stimulates stronger, more vigorous growth from the remaining buds. After a single growing season, a cherry tree you prune will be bigger, with stronger branching than a similar, unpruned cherry tree.

Shape and Structure

Equally as important to the benefits above, your cherry tree needs to be pruned to provide a strongly structured shape. The natural shape a cherry tree takes on is not always the best for its maximum fruit production. Stark Bro’s cherry trees are pruned in the nursery row for proper shaping to get you started and corrective pruning must continue at home. If you keep up with your pruning and shaping each year, it will be a reasonable task mostly involving small, easy-to-heal cuts.

Always prune sweet cherry trees to a “Central Leader” or “Main Leader”. This structure encourages scaffold development, which supports the canopy and keeps the fruit from becoming overexposed to the sun and other elements. Pie/Sour/Tart cherry trees can be pruned to a modified central leader or more of an “Open Center” or “Vase-Shaped” structure. This structure keeps the canopy open to light and air circulation, which helps protect fruit and sustain quality.

Pruning Tips

  • First dormant season (a year after you plant the tree): Remove the central leader and direct the tree growth toward three or four strong scaffolds. Choose branches that are evenly distributed around the trunk. Maintain about 6 inches of height between the scaffold branches, keeping the lowest branch at least 18 inches from the ground. Leave some small branches on the lower trunk to encourage trunk strength. Prune back scaffold branches to one-third of their length.
  • Second dormant season: Prune back fast-growing new shoots but leave twig growth, which will be future fruit-bearing wood. Choose and encourage additional scaffolds, if needed.
  • Third dormant season: Prune off any broken limbs or crossing branches, but don’t do any more major pruning until the tree has produced a good-sized crop.
  • Mature-tree pruning: Once the basic shape of your cherry tree has been established, make your pruning decisions in line with which branches are bearing fruit. Most trees produce fruit on the previous year’s long stems and on short branches (spurs), each of which will bear fruit for several years. Each year, cut out a portion of the older fruiting wood to keep rejuvenating the tree. Prune back each of last year’s stems to half their length.

Pruning angles

Narrow, V-shape crotch angles in the limbs are an open invitation to disastrous splitting later on, particularly when your cherry tree is supporting a large fruit crop. For your tree’s branches, choose wide 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles.

Pruning to a bud

Make sharp, clean cuts close enough (about ¼-inch away from the next outward-pointing bud) so you won’t leave a clumsy stub that’s hard to heal over. Stay far enough above the bud so it won’t die back. Slant the cuts and the new growth will develop beautifully.

Every branch has buds pointed in various directions. Because you want vigorous new growth to spread out and away from the center of the tree, make your cut above a bud that’s aimed outward. These are usually located on the underside of the branch. This helps your cherry tree develop a solid structure, keeping it strong and productive for years.

Pruning Whips (Unbranched Trees)

Unbranched cherry trees are ideal if you want more control over which branches are allowed to develop — as you might in certain artful pruning styles like espalier. Prune whips back to 28- to 36-inches above the ground at planting time. After the new branches have grown 3 to 5 inches in length, select a shoot to become the leader and the rest become the tree’s scaffold limbs.

Off-season Pruning

Sometimes pruning needs to be done even when the season isn’t ideal. If a branch is broken by the wind or by a heavy load of fruit, emergency treatment is necessary. When taking action due to injury, prune to clean up any ragged edges; making a flush cut that leaves no stub.

It does not benefit the cherry tree to wait until dormancy to prune damaged, dead, or diseased limbs or to remove unwanted growth like suckers and watersprouts. These should all be completely removed as soon as you see them.

Fruit-Thinning

There are several good reasons to thin fruit:

  • To reduce limb breakage
  • Increase the size of the remaining fruit
  • Improve fruit color and quality
  • Stimulate floral initiation for next year’s crop

Home gardeners can effectively thin cherry trees by hand if needed. During the spring, cherry trees may will start to drop or abort underripe fruit. This is a natural process that allows the tree to mature the remaining crop load. If not corrected through thinning, cherry trees may bear biennially (fruits only every other year) or bear heavily one year, then bear a comparatively light crop the next year. Thinning may seem counterproductive in theory, but it really is a benefit to your cherry harvest in the long run.

Spraying

First and foremost, be sure to familiarize yourself with the existing or potential pest and diseases issues for cherry trees in your area. Your local county Cooperative Extension is an excellent resource for this information. Documents for identification and control, assembled by your local state universities, may even already exist online. Your local independent garden centers and local growers are also invaluable sources of pest and disease control in your area.

In high-density areas, a proper and consistent spray schedule can be paramount to the survival of your cherry tree. Many potential issues can be prevented with sprays before they become problematic. To get the most return on the investment of your time and energy, spraying cherry trees should be done consistently and thoroughly following the guidelines below.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on the labels of the products you have in hand. Do not combine any chemicals unless the labels on each chemical spray involved specifically state that you can safely do so.

A well-rounded home spray program for cherry trees includes dormant-season as well as growing-season sprays for pests and diseases. Research your location and learn about any pests or disease that are common in your area. If you know cherry tree diseases are common in your area, consider planting easy-care, disease-resistant cherry trees if possible.

Note: Contact your local county Cooperative Extension for alternative suggestions and advice on cultural and chemical control methods if certain sprays offered by Stark Bro’s are not recommended for use in your area.

When to Spray Cherry Trees * Dormant Season (late winter/early spring, before bud break) * Growing Season: Bud Break (emergence of new growth) * Growing Season: After Blossom (after petals drop*)

*gives bees and other beneficials a chance to safely pollinate the blossoms

It bears repeating: Always follow instructions printed on the label for more detailed information about timing and application methods.

Pest Control Sprays:

Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil

  • For: Overwintering eggs, larvae, and pests including European red spider mites, adelgids, scale insects, apple aphids, bud moth, leafrollers, light brown apple moth, red bug, codling moth larvae, psylla, blister mites, galls, whitefly larvae, and mealybugs.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when temperatures are between 40ºF and 90ºF.

Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew Garden Dust

  • For: Codling moth, leafminers, leafrollers, oriental fruit moth, tufted apple budmoth
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 10 days, up to 6 times per season (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 7 days before harvest.

Bonide® Insecticidal Soap

  • For: Adelgids (woolly aphids), aphids, lacebugs, mealybugs, mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, scale insects, plant bugs, sawfly larvae (pear and rose slugs), psyllids, tent caterpillars, thrips, spider mites, earwigs, and whitefly.
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, weekly or bi-weekly as needed.

Bonide® Thuricide® BT

  • For: Redbanded leafroller, tufted apple budmoth, variegated leafroller, tent caterpillar, fruit tree leafroller, gypsy moth
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break or After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed when eggs or newly hatched larvae first appear.

GardenTech® Sevin® Bug Killer

  • For: Apple aphid, apple maggot, apple mealybug, apple pandemic, apple rust mite, apple sucker, avocado leafroller, bagworms, black cherry aphid, black scale, leafrollers, lecanium scales, lesser appleworm, lesser peachtree borer, meadow spittlebug, omnivorous leaftier, strawberry fruitworm, orange tortrix
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Active. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective.
  • Application: Follow the label. To avoid fruit drop, apply 30 days after full bloom. Apply as directed, every 7 days, up to 8 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 3 days before harvest.

Disease Control Sprays

Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental (wettable powder)

  • For: Primary scab, black rot (frogeye), botrytis blossom-end rot, Brooks fruit spot, sooty blotch, fly speck, black rot, black pox, botryosphaeria rot, bitter rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (pre-bloom, bloom, petal fall), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not use in conjunction with wettable sulfur, hydrated lime, or oil sprays. Apply as directed, every 10- to 14-days as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest. Not for use in California (contact local county Cooperative Extension for recommended alternatives).

Bonide® Copper Fungicide

  • For: Fireblight, anthracnose, bitter rot, black pox, black rot, Brooks spot, flyspeck, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, summer scab, white rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (may include bloom period), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, making sure to adhere to specified intervals to avoid phytotoxicity and other issues in apple trees.

Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide

  • For: Botrytis (leaf blight, blast, vine rot), purple blotch, neck rot, downy mildew (suppression), early/late blight, leafspots and foliar blights (including: anthracnose, black spot, botrytis, shothole, fusarium leafspot, twig blight, brown rot, scab, stagonospora leaf scorch, etc.), flower spots and blights (including: botrytis flower spot, flower blight, etc.), stem canker, stem end rot, phytophthora (leaf blight, dieback), powdery mildew, rust (cedar apple rust, cedar hawthorn rust, cedar quince rust, etc.), mummy berry, eastern filbert blight, leaf curl, shothole (coryneum blight), lacy scab (russet) – and more
  • Timing: Growing Season – Bud Break (avoid use during bloom period to prevent injury), Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active. Controls fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed (interval varies) as needed. Avoid spraying plants during extremely hot and sunny weather. Do not apply within one week before or after application of an oil/oil-based pesticide.

Combination Sprays for Pests & Diseases

Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

  • Pests: Ants (excluding fire ants, harvester ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants), aphids, apple maggot, beetles, mites, moths, spider mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, leafminers, caterpillars, whiteflies, spittlebugs, mealybugs, scale, thrips, psyllids, plant bugs, fruit flies, earwigs
  • Diseases: Scab, powdery mildew, rust, blight, brown rot
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90ºF. Do not use within 21 days of an oil spray. Apply as directed, every 7- to 10-days, or after rain as needed. Can be used up to 1 day before harvest.

Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

  • Pests: Apple maggots, codling moths, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, plum curculios, aphids, bud moth, Forbes scale, eastern tent caterpillar, red-banded leafroller, mites
  • Diseases: Bitter rot, black rot, frogeye leaf spot, Botryosphaeria (white rot), botrytis rot, bullseye rot, Brooks fruit spot, flyspeck, cedar rust, quince rust, scab, sooty blotch
  • Timing: Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 85ºF. Apply as directed, no more than once within 7 days, up to 2 times per year (max) as needed. Can be applied up to 14 days before harvest.

Bonide® Neem Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, scab and flower, twig and tip blight, and alternaria.
  • Timing: Dormant Season, Growing Season – Bud Break, Growing Season – After Blossom
  • Type: Mainly preventative, also active. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs, and pests on contact. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Oil-based, so apply in early morning/late evening to minimize the potential for leaf burn. Apply as directed, every 7- to 14-days as needed.

Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, beetles, leafrollers, loopers, mealybugs, leafhoppers, leafminers, thrips, borers, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, hornworm, earwig, chiggers, worms, and other insect pests.
  • Diseases: Powdery mildew, black spot, brown spot, dollar spot, snow mold, downy mildew, anthracnose, rust, leaf spot, botrytis, needle rust, blight (flower blight, twig blight, and tip blight), scab.
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom (for early disease prevention), Growing Season – After Blossom (for pest and disease control on contact).
  • Type: Mainly active, also preventative. Controls pests on contact. Pests must be present for spray to be effective. Controls and prevents fungal diseases.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, every 7 to 14 days, as needed. Do not use more than 1 time per day on the same plants. Do not use more than 10 times per season. Do not apply when temperatures are below 45ºF. Do not apply to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Apply in early morning or late evening to minimize potential for leaf burn. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Monterey Horticultural Oil

  • Pests: Aphids, mites, scale, whiteflies, sawflies, loopers, leafhoppers, leafminers, leafrollers, psylla, mealybugs, thrips, worms, and more.
  • Diseases: Black spot, powdery mildew, rust, sooty mold
  • Timing: Growing Season – Pre-Bloom, Growing Season – After Blossom, Dormant Season
  • Type: Mainly preventative. Controls overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Application: Follow the label. Apply as directed, as needed. Do not apply when temperatures are below 32ºF (no heat restriction for use – unique for an oil spray). Do not apply during drought or to wilted or otherwise stressed plants. Test for plant sensitivity prior to broad use.

Watering

Unless your cherry trees are growing in an area where irrigation is usually needed for growth (desert areas, drought areas, containers, etc.), you probably won’t need to water your cherry trees more than what the rain naturally provides after the first growing year. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new cherry trees off to a great start.

General Watering Guidelines

  • If the growing season brings about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, you shouldn’t need to provide any additional water; however, if it gets really dry in a week’s time, you can give your young cherry tree a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly around the root zone. This gives the water a chance to soak in and down to the roots instead of running off over the soil surface. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once. Give your cherry tree enough water to soak the ground all around the roots.
  • It’s important to note that, even if you’re in the midst of a “brown-lawn drought”, you shouldn’t water too much. Once every 7- to 10-days (or even once every two weeks) is plenty. Worse than dry, thirsty roots are waterlogged, drowning roots.
  • Although a little depression in the soil helps by preventing runoff during growing-season watering, it’s important to bring the soil around the tree up to the level of the surrounding soil for the winter. If this settled soil is not filled in, water could freeze around the trunk and injure the tree.

Note: These guidelines are far from strict, so just be sure to water as needed. Cherry trees do not need lots of water every day; however, if you discover that your soil or your location’s environment require more frequent watering to avoid drought-stress to your cherry trees, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Pay attention to your cherry trees and the soil they’re planted in as the best reference for when they need water.

Keep in mind, many parts of the country have restrictions on water usage. Be sure to adhere to your county or state’s restrictions when watering new cherry trees, and contact your local department in charge of water usage for more information.

Other Topics

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things under consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit once it’s picked.

Sweet cherry trees will start bearing fruit in 4-7 years under normal growing conditons with proper maintenance and care.

Sour cherry trees will start bearing fruit in 3-5 years under normal growing conditions with proper maintenance and care.

When to Harvest

One sure sign that red cherries are getting ripe is when the birds start visiting your tree for breakfast. But when it’s for lunch and dinner too, you’ll probably want to keep these freeloaders away. One way to do this is to cover your tree with lightweight nets. Our Garden Nets keep fruit safe from attack. They are easy to use and last for years. Thin tiny fruits within three weeks after bloom so your tree can produce large fruits you’ll be proud of.

It’s best to wait until just the right time to pick the fruit off your trees. The sugar content increases significantly during the last few days of ripening, so wait to harvest your cherries until they are firm and fully red. Tart cherries will come off the stem when they are ripe; sweet cherries should be tasted in order to tell if they’re ready to pick. Neither type of cherry will continue to ripen after it has been picked.

Harvest season for cherry trees in most areas begins in early June and runs through late July, depending upon the variety and growing location.

Annual Average Yield per Tree

Sweet Cherries
  • Dwarf, 8-10 gallons
  • Semi-dwarf, 10-15 gallons
  • Standard, 15-20 gallons
Sour Cherries
  • Dwarf, 3-5 gallons
  • Semi-dwarf, 12-18 gallons

Storing Cherries

Cool storage preserves cherries for the near-term. Fresh cherries will keep for about 7 days in the refrigerator, stored in perforated plastic bags. They will keep up to 10 days if you leave the stems on them. Don’t wash the fruit until you’re ready to use it or you’ll expose the cherries to quicker spoilage.

For longer keeping, some kind of preserving method will be required: canning, freezing or drying. Prior to any preservation, carefully pick through your harvest and discard any damaged or potentially infested fruit. They could negatively affect the integrity of your finished product and lead to spoilage that could be potentially harmful, or even dangerous to one’s health.

Sweet cherries can be easily pitted with a mechanical cherry pitter and then preserved for long-term storage. They can be frozen, dehydrated/dried, freeze-dried, canned, juiced or made into wine or liqueurs. Sour/tart cherries are most often used for jams, preserves, pies, cobblers, crisps and other desserts. If cooking with frozen cherries, thaw them beforehand for best results.