Choosing a site for your cherry trees is an important decision. Note that site choice and care for cherry trees is the same for both sweet and sour varieties, except for pH: Sour varieties are at their best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, while sweet cultivars prefer a pH of 6.3 to 7.2. You have some wiggle room, but those are the preferred ranges.
They need full sun—six to eight hours—good air circulation to discourage disease, and well-drained soil, though some varieties aren’t picky about that. The sunlight not only promotes fruiting, but it also helps prevent fungal issues with your trees. A site that gets strong morning sun is a good idea, as that helps dry out dew that might encourage fungal diseases.
Tip: If you live on the southern edge of cherry’s planting zones, it’s ideal if your trees get a bit of protection from the hottest part of the afternoon sun. You may want to set up shade protection otherwise.
Good soil drainage is critical for the tree’s roots. Heavy clay soil or rocky soil is a bad bet for cherry tree health, and fast-draining sandy soil means it will require more frequent watering. As always, a soil test is the best way to check on nutrients, and you should amend your soil accordingly before you plant.
Remember, this is going to be a full-grown tree someday. Keep in mind several things when choosing a site:
- The tree will be a landscaping asset, so you’ll want to show it off.
- The tree may run into utility wires, underground cables and pipes, and irrigation systems if they’re too close.
- Its roots could spread to nearby sidewalks, foundations, or driveways.
- It might block your view of something else when it’s mature.
- Neighboring trees might block sunlight to your cherry tree as they grow.
To avoid these types of problems, plant your cherry trees away from potential obstacles. Your tree’s mature spread should be roughly its height at maturity.
Space sweet cherries 35 to 40 feet apart and dwarfs 5 to 10 feet apart. For sour cherries, space them 20 to 25 feet apart and dwarfs 8 to 10 feet apart.
Tip: Dwarf cherry trees can be grown along wires, fences, or walls in a method known as espaliering. Slowly adjust the branches so they grow in a completely horizontal shape, which promotes air flow and exposure to sunlight, and makes them easier to pick and cover with bird netting.
Have you successfully chosen a site for cherry trees? Please tell us your tips for getting cherry trees to grow in your selected site.