planted cherry tree seedlings in pots for the summer and they grew well…
We planted cherry tree seedlings in pots for the summer and they grew well Now winter is coming and wonder what to do with them. We live north of Toronto. Should we leave them outside covered or should we bring them in the house.
We plan on planting them next year at our cottage in the Ottawa valley


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

The following information from one of our earlier posts (Overwintering apple tree seedling/sapling) discusses planting or overwintering indoors apple seedlings. Even though the species is different, the same information applies to your situation:

What a lovely project!  As you know that apple trees do not produce apples that are true from seed I won’t repeat those cautions.  I assume that you just want to see if you can actually grow an apple tree.

I agree with the response to the earlier post to Toronto Master Gardeners and suggest that you do not try bringing your seedling inside for the winter.  If you were to do so you would want to keep it in either an unheated garage or a cold cellar.  There is always the risk that it will dry out (or get overwatered) as happens with many woody plants that are brought indoors.  Instead keep it outside.  I suggest that you plant it in a spot where it will be protected from the worst of winter winds.  You could do this either in the pot or directly in the ground.  If the location is not where you ultimately want the apple tree to grow, I suggest burying the pot in the ground, making sure that the soil covers the top of the pot.   You want  creating conditions which will protect the roots, to the extent possible, to ensure that they do not dry out and are protected to the extent possible from the freeze/thaw cycle.  Make sure that you water well before freezeup.  You could mulch the buried container, or the young seedling with sawdust, wood chips or leaves to insulate against freeze/thaw.  Try and make sure that mulch is not right next to the stem of the seedling as otherwise you will have created cozy conditions for any mice, rabbits etc. that might chose to nest under the mulch for the winter and nibble on your seedling.  Your greatest risks in wintering outdoors are the roots drying out, rodents and freezing/thawing.  Taking steps to mitigate against these risk should let your seedling  survive and thrive outdoors throughout the winter..

Should you consider trying to grow your seedling on in a pot, here is a link to a very informative article from Orchard People who gave a workshop at Evergreen Brickworks on how to overwintering fruit trees ” “

Good luck with your seedling.