The cherry blossom is a symbol of spring-like lightness and intensifies the anticipation of the new garden year. Hobby gardeners therefore only consider their garden complete when there is at least one cherry tree in it. Thanks to the impressive sweet cherry for large areas and the compact sour cherry tree for the small garden, nobody has to do without the popular stone fruit plant with its paradisiacal attributes. Find out everything about cherry tree care below. Marvel at the uncomplicated planting and explore the effective treatment of diseases.
Table of Contents
- Plant family of the rose family (Rosaceae)
- Genus of the stone fruit family (Amygdaleae)
- Types of sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and sour cherry (Prunus cerasus)
- Growth heights 15-20 meters or 1-10 meters
- Elliptical leaves with a serrated edge up to 15 cm long
- White flowers in April and May
- Sweet or sour fruits from June to August
- Hardy and deciduous
- Trivial names for the sweet cherry: wild cherry, heart cherry
- Trivial names for the sour cherry: sour cherry, sour cherry
In common usage, the name cherry tree refers to both species. Botanists assume that the sour cherry originated as a cross between a sweet cherry and the wild form of a steppe cherry. The differences between the two species are limited to growth height and crops. The following instructions regarding care, plants and diseases therefore always include both the sweet cherry and the sour cherry.
Site conditions and soil composition
For a lavish bloom to appear in spring, followed by juicy cherries, a cherry tree needs every ray of sunshine it can snag. Soil expectations are also at an unsurprising level.
- Sunny, warm location, sheltered and a little breezy
- Humus, nutrient-rich soil, well drained and fresh
- Ideally slightly calcareous with a pH of 6.5 to 7
A cherry tree will bring you little joy in compacted, waterlogged soil, because it hardly thrives here, and there are no blossoms and fruits. In slightly dry, loamy, sandy soil, on the other hand, the central roots spread out in all directions and provide the wood with everything it needs.
Fall is the best time to plant a cherry tree. Alternatively, the fruit tree can be planted in the ground as container goods in spring, when late frosts are no longer to be expected from mid-May. In the run-up to planting, the soil at the chosen location is prepared to ensure rapid growth. Thoroughly loosen the soil while removing all weeds, stones and old roots. If you have good garden compost available, work a well-measured portion into the plaice and add a handful of horn shavings.
- Place the root ball in a bucket of water and let it soak
- Meanwhile, dig a planting hole with 1.5 times the volume of the root circumference
- Lay out drainage from coarse, inorganic materials such as gravel or grit on the sole
- Pot out container goods, pull apart the root area slightly or scratch thinly
- Cut off kinks and root strands that are too long on a young plant with bare roots
- Do not plant the cherry tree deeper than before and water it generously
It is advisable to hammer in a support pole next to the cherry tree when planting. In this way, the wood is protected from windthrow right from the start. A stable wooden post is rammed into the ground in the pit that is still open and later connected to the tree with a raffia band, sisal or straps. In a wind-exposed place, it is advisable to surround the cherry tree with 3 stakes, arranged in a triangle.
Consider planting distance
The wide range of growth heights goes hand in hand with the diverse selection of cherry trees. In this respect, it makes sense to inquire about the area in which the final height will be when purchasing the young plant. A bird cherry reaches heights of 20 meters and more uncut, while the Vistula grows much lower. The distance to the house, to the neighbors and to the other plants in the garden plays an important role if you want to prevent later trouble. The rule of thumb for the distance to the house is to keep a minimum distance of half the final height. The neighborhood law of the federal states determines the distance to the neighboring property and to the street. As a rule, the distance from a tree must not be less than 2 meters.
In view of the expansive crown, it is advisable to leave enough space around the cherry tree. If you want to plant other types of pollinators, they will still do their job from a distance of 100 meters, as practice has shown.
Until a freshly planted cherry tree has established itself in the garden, it needs a higher amount of attention. This applies in particular to the water supply, which should not be interrupted during the start-up phase. From the second year at the latest, maintenance work is reduced to a minimum.
- Only water a cherry tree when the natural rainfall is not sufficient
- A thick layer of mulch made from grass clippings, leaves or compost keeps the soil moist
- If compost is added regularly, fertilization is limited to 20 g of lime per m²/year
Repeated fertilization with comfrey manure has also proven to increase the yield. The natural mixture of 10 liters of rainwater and 1 kg of fresh leaves contains all the important nutrients. Sprayed on the tree disc once a month during the growth period, comfrey slurry promotes vitality and resistance.
Depending on the variety, the cherry tree shows rapid growth. As a result, an annual shape and maintenance cut is essential. Otherwise, long whips form, the fruit load is reduced and diseases spread.
- Cut the wild cherry and sour cherry immediately after harvesting
- Warm, dry, slightly overcast weather is advantageous
- Shorten old fruit shoots by about a third
- Thin out deadwood, inward branches and stunted branches
- Branches that are too long can be shortened to 2 or 3 eyes
Aim for as many young shoots as possible with a length of 30-40 cm, because these are particularly fertile. The scissors are always applied 3-5 mm above a leaf node, in a slightly inclined position. Older cherry trees tend to be a bit sluggish. In this case, cut up to the beginning of each new shoot. In this way, you encourage a sweet cherry as well as a sour cherry to sprout more with numerous new flower buds.
An adult cherry tree is very hardy and can easily withstand temperatures down to -28° Celsius. When young, it is less endangered by frost than by the intense winter sun. In the worst case, crevices and cracks appear that not only affect the decorative appearance. Pests and fungal spores lurk eagerly for such access to the inside of the tree.
- Wrap the cherry tree in jute ribbon for the first two years
- Optionally, reed bandages or bast mats also serve the purpose
- From the third year, coat the bark with a milk of lime paint
Apply the lime coat in autumn up to the crown. The trade offers ready-to-use mixtures. Experienced hobby gardeners like to apply the white paint themselves. 1 part slaked lime and 10 parts water are mixed thoroughly, adding some horn meal for strength. The mixture should swell for some time until it has a viscous consistency. Before you apply the white sunscreen with a paintbrush, remove moss and loose pieces of bark with a wire brush.
Proper care is invaluable for robust disease resistance. Unfortunately, a Prunus avium does not become completely immune in this way. The following diseases can afflict him.
Monilia peak drought
This fungal disease is caused by the spores Monilia laxa. The infection manifests itself in wilted flowers and limp, drooping young leaves. Once the disease occurs, it is difficult to eradicate because the pathogens overwinter in the branches and fruit mummies, only to strike again the following spring. The fungus primarily targets young shoots and spares older wood. The following countermeasures have proven effective:
- Preferably plant resistant varieties
- Avoid a cold location with waterlogging
- In cold, wet weather in spring, wrap the young shoots in fleece
- Do not leave fruit mummies on the tree
- Thin out regularly and cut off any suspicious shoots
Effective fungicides are not allowed for the home garden. The only options are various biological preparations that can be used to prevent infection. A mixture of stone flour is part of it, like Ulmasud or a tonic, like Neudovital. Organic gardeners swear by regular spraying with horsetail extract.
Monilia fruit rot
As if the hard-working hobby gardener wasn’t punished enough, the Monilia peak drought often goes hand in hand with the Monilia fruit rot. However, the pathogen Monilinia fructicola does not act just as mercilessly, because it only affects injured cherries. As long as you are careful to remove damaged fruit immediately, chances are your cherry tree will be spared. At the same time, please make sure to dispose of fruit mummies that have fallen on the ground immediately.
Another fungal disease got its name from the damage it causes. Bright spots appear on the young leaves, which after a while turn reddish-brown. As a result, the cherry tree initiates a defense reaction that causes the stains to be rejected. As a result, the blade looks as if it received a shot from a shotgun. Black, sunken spots form on the cherries, causing rot. In the absence of approved fungicides, hobby gardeners resort to biological control measures.
- Administer ecologically harmless agents with alumina, wetted sulfur or copper
- Densely plant the tree disc with garlic and onions
- In the event of an infestation, consistent pruning back into the healthy wood helps
- Strengthen the tree before flowering with Neudovital or horsetail extract
If, after pruning, the wounds simply do not want to heal, but instead excrete a resinous substance, the cherry tree suffers from gum flow. Negligence in care causes this health disorder, such as waterlogging, drought, a location that is too cold or over-fertilization. In this case, intensive wound care is required, in which each cut is sealed with charcoal ash. Also, avoid cutting into the old wood until the causes of the rubber flow are resolved.
A cherry tree is a wonderful addition to any hobby garden. The high-growing bird cherry is ideal for large ornamental gardens and kitchen gardens, while the sour cherry cuts a fine figure in small gardens. Once the tree is planted and established, it requires little maintenance. Watering and fertilizing are kept to a minimum. It is important to note the annual pruning after the harvest. In addition, an experienced hobby gardener keeps an eye on the fruit tree in order to diagnose an infestation with fungal diseases in good time and to take action against it.