Planting cherry trees: instructions & tips


I am currently studying agricultural and food economics. As a keen hobby gardener, plants take up most of my free time. A few years ago, I got especially interested in herbs, which is why I completed my studies to become a certified herbalist in 2018.

Favourite fruit: apples, cherries
Favourite vegetables: potatoes, fennel

Few things beat the simple pleasure of nibbling on fresh and juicy cherries in the summer. Here’s how to grow a cherry tree at home!

Planting a cherry tree
With proper care, you’ll have plenty of beautiful, red cherries to harvest [Photo: Eugene Shapovalov/]

Originally from present-day Turkey, the cherry (Prunus) is now found all over the world. A favourite summer treat for many, cherries can be in short supply. Planting a cherry tree in your garden is a great way to stock up!

However, growing fruit trees is no mean feat. It requires care and attention for a number of years. Here are a few things to take into consideration before you start planting.

How to plant a cherry tree: potted or bare-root?

At your local garden centre, cherry varieties may be sold potted or as a bare-root tree. Potted cherry trees are usually cultivated in greenhouses and are rooted in their pot. They should be available to plant year round. Bare-root trees, meanwhile, are freshly harvested and brought to the nursery wrapped in a simple bailing-cloth. They are usually only available in early spring or autumn. When deciding which to buy, remember that bare-root trees are relatively hardy because of their outdoor cultivation. However, what container cherries might lack in strength, they make up for in speed. Because they do not need to spend extra energy regrowing root-mass, potted cherry trees develop particularly well in their first year outside.

When to plant cherry trees?

Cherry trees are best planted in autumn (October/November), this gives them enough time to root during the winter months and sprout in the spring. You could also plant a cherry tree in early spring (March/April) on a frost-free day.

Planting cherry trees: planting instructions

Once you have picked out a cherry tree, be sure to plant it as quickly as possible. Here is how: 

Materials you’ll need to plant a cherry tree

Have these tools and materials to hand:

  • Spade, shovel, pickaxe
  • Supporting rod, binding material
  • Hammer, gardening shears
  • Potting soil, compost soil
  • Trunk protection, coconut fibre protecting mat

Select a suitable location

It is important to spend a little time selecting a suitable location to plant your tree. Cherry trees prefer a warm, sunny and protected area. The soil should not be too heavy nor wet: cherries do not tolerate waterlogging. Well-aerated soil with a high humus content is ideal.

White blossoms of a cherry tree
A warm, sunny place is ideal for a cherry tree [Photo: nieriss/]

Tip: Not all cherry trees are self-pollinating. Ideally, ask your garden centre. You may need to have another cherry tree nearby to support fruit growth.

Dig a hole

In order to plant your cherry tree, you’ll need a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. Create an outline with your shovel, and start digging! It is a good idea to keep the dug up soil nearby, as you will need it again later. We recommend digging the hole a third deeper than the size of the tree’s root ball. Be sure to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole with a hoe.

Attach a supporting post

Next, you will need to add a supporting post for the tree. Drive the rod or post into to the hole you have just dug. The support should be about the same height as the trunk of the cherry tree. It is best to place the supporting post on the west edge of the hole so that the wind pushes the tree away from the post and not against it.

Prepare the hole

It is essential you prepare the hole. This extra care and attention will ensure excellent growing conditions for the cherry tree from day one. Add a good layer of fresh potting soil to the hole and mix it well with some compost. It is also a good idea to add some fertiliser. Our Plantura Tomato Food is a great choice. It decomposes slowly, and gradually releases its valuable nutrients to your young tree. 

Tomato Food, 1.5kg
Tomato Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for tomatoes, chillies, courgettes, cucumber & more
  • For healthy plants & an abundant tomato harvest
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Prepare the cherry tree before planting

To support the long-term health of the roots, it is best to scarify the root ball slightly with scissors before planting the tree. After untangling the roots with scissors, loosen the root ball a little with your hands, this will help the roots to branch out later.

Tip: If the root ball seems dry, place the cherry tree in a bucket of water before it goes into the soil.

Plant the cherry tree

Now, onto planting! Place the tree in the middle of the hole and fill in the hole with the dug-up soil. Lightly step on the soil to close any cavities. If you have problems with rodents, attach a trunk protector to shield your young tree from pests. And to protect it from strong winds, tie the bottom of the shield to the supporting rod. And remember: do not tie the tree too tightly to its support.

Coconut mat placed around a cherry tree
Coconut mats prevent weeds from growing

Finally, be sure to water the cherry tree thoroughly. This will ensure that the soil settles and that water will be able to reach the tree’s roots. At times, weed-growth around the base of the tree can rob the young tree of vital nutrients. To remedy this, place a coconut fibre mat around the trunk of the tree. The mat will cover the soil and prevent weed-growth.

A summary of how to plant cherry trees:

  • Ideally, plant in autumn (October/November)
  • A sunny, warm location is best
  • Dig a hole at least twice as wide and a third deeper than the root ball
  • Insert a supporting rod to the west
  • Add fresh potting soil mixed with compost
  • Carefully scarify and loosen up the root ball
  • Place the tree in the middle of the hole and fill it with soil
  • Lightly compact the soil and water the tree well
  • Tie the tree to the supporting pole, put the trunk protection on and apply the coconut fibre protection mat

After planting care

After planting your cherry tree, supply it with enough nutrients by fertilising it annually. For this, it is best to use compost or organic slow-release fertilisers. As the young cherry tree only has a limited root volume in the first few years, water it well – especially in the hot summer months. Learn more about fertilising cherry trees in our article.

Prune your cherry tree during its first year. In later years, you need only cut away diseased or old branches. Find out more about cherry tree pruning in our article.

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