Growing Sweet Cherry Trees


When is the best time to plant sweet cherry tree in Durham region? Where can i buy it? Is it very difficult to grow? Any planting tips? Does it get pests easily?


A previous post on our website, Buying a cherry tree how to and where? refers you to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) publication Fruit trees in the home garden, which suggests sweet cherry varieties, noting that it is best to plant in the spring, as soon as the ground can be worked (i.e., early May at the latest – it is now May 13, which may be a bit late).  Planting when the weather is too hot is stressful to the tree.  Fall is an alternative.  This article provides detailed information about how to care for the tree, from how to plant it to fertilizing and managing pests and diseases.

OMAFRA has other very helpful sites:

  • Cherry cultivars – sweet and tart  provide additional information specific to cherries.
  • Their list of Fruit tree nurseries in Ontario is a great start in the hunt for the perfect tree for your garden.  You may want to call a few of these nurseries, or peruse their websites.  If you speak with someone at a nursery and they don’t have the tree variety you are looking for, ask them if they know of another nursery that might have it.

Fruit trees like sweet cherry generally need to be cross-pollinated with pollen from another cherry variety with which it is compatible, or they will not yield fruit.  This is discussed in the OMAFRA publications as well as ver briefly in another post on our website, Fast growing fruit tree to plant in Vaughan Ontario .  You may need to plant more than one tree or (if your property is small) purchase a tree that has a few different cherry varieties grafted onto one trunk – e.g., a 4-in-1 tree.   There are a few sweet cherry varieties that are self-fertile, but your tree will produce lots more fruit when it is cross-pollinated with another variety.

As for whether the tree is difficult to grow, cherry trees need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and good air circulation, and, during the active growing period, consume a lot of water; some varieties do not tolerate drought well.  They don’t like  winter temperatures that fall below -23 degrees C (-10 deg F) [this should not be an issue in Durham].  They like well-drained soil, not  soggy soil or heavy clay.  As well, you may want to check with the nurseries about common pests in  your area that attack cherry trees, and how to deal with these.   Birds love cherries, and may need to prevented from taking more than their share of the harvest, e.g., by wrapping the tree in polypropylene mesh/bird netting.