How To Plant Cherries [ Full Guide ]

Cherry trees are a delightful addition to any garden, providing beautiful blossoms in the spring and delicious fruit in the summer. To successfully grow healthy and productive cherry trees, it’s essential to understand the specific requirements for planting and caring for these trees. From choosing the right type of cherry tree to properly preparing the soil and correctly planting either bare-root or potted trees, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring the tree’s growth and fruit production. This comprehensive guide will take you through the step-by-step process of planting cherries, including selecting the right type of cherry tree, preparing the soil, and planting bare-root or potted cherry trees, ultimately contributing to the successful cultivation of these delightful fruit-bearing trees.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Cherries

Before delving into the detailed guide, here is a quick summary of the essential steps required to plant cherries:

  1. Choose the Right Type of Cherry Tree: Select a cherry tree variety best suited for your climate and space, such as sweet or sour cherries, dwarf or standard-size trees.
  2. Prepare the Soil for Cherry Tree Planting: Test the soil, ensuring it is well-drained, loamy, and fertile. Amend the soil as needed to meet the optimal pH and nutrient levels for cherry tree growth.
  3. Plant Bare-Root Cherry Trees: Decide on the ideal time for planting bare-root cherry trees. Dig a suitable planting hole and carefully position the roots before backfilling the hole and watering the tree.
  4. Plant Potted Cherry Trees: Carefully remove the potted tree from its container and position it in the planting hole at the correct depth. Backfill the hole and water the tree thoroughly.
  5. Provide Proper Care: After planting, ensure adequate watering, mulching, and proper pruning to foster healthy growth and fruit production.

This quick overview provides a guide for the essential steps involved in planting cherry trees. The following detailed sections will cover these steps in depth, offering comprehensive insights into successfully planting and caring for cherry trees in your garden.

Choosing The Right Type Of Cherry Tree

Choosing the right type of cherry tree is the first and most crucial step in successfully planting cherries. There are several factors to consider when selecting a cherry tree variety, including the climate in your area, available space, and your preference for sweet or sour cherries.

Consider The Climate

The climate plays a significant role in determining which type of cherry tree is best suited for your garden. Different cherry tree varieties thrive in specific climate conditions. For instance, sweet cherries generally do well in warmer regions, such as zones 5-9, while sour cherries are more tolerant of colder temperatures and can thrive in zones 4-7. It’s essential to research the specific climate requirements of the cherry tree variety you are considering to ensure it is compatible with your area’s climate.

Space Considerations

Another critical factor to consider is the available space for planting the cherry tree. If you have limited space, dwarf or semi-dwarf cherry tree varieties are more suitable, as they take up less space and can be easier to manage. Alternatively, if space is not a concern, standard-size cherry trees can be considered, especially if you are looking to cultivate a larger cherry harvest.

Sweet Vs. Sour Cherries

The choice between sweet and sour cherry varieties depends on your preference for the type of fruit. Sweet cherries are ideal for fresh eating and are typically enjoyed raw, while sour cherries are often used for cooking, baking, and preserving due to their tart flavor. Some popular sweet cherry varieties include Bing, Rainier, and Stella, while sour cherry varieties include Montmorency and Morello.

Disease Resistance And Pollination

When selecting a cherry tree variety, it’s essential to consider disease resistance and pollination requirements. Some cherry tree varieties may be more resistant to certain diseases, offering better protection against common cherry tree ailments. Additionally, certain cherry tree varieties may require a compatible pollinator for optimal fruit production, so it’s crucial to consider the pollination needs of the chosen cherry tree variety to ensure successful fruiting.

Obtaining The Cherry Tree

Once you have determined the appropriate cherry tree variety based on climate, space, fruit type, disease resistance, and pollination requirements, you can obtain the tree from a reputable nursery or garden center. It’s important to ensure that the cherry tree is healthy, disease-free, and of good quality, as this will contribute to its successful establishment and growth after planting.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the most suitable cherry tree variety for your garden, setting the foundation for successful cherry tree cultivation.

Preparing The Soil For Cherry Tree Planting

After selecting the appropriate cherry tree variety, the next step is to prepare the soil for planting. Optimal soil conditions are crucial for the successful growth and fruit production of cherry trees. Properly preparing the soil ensures that the tree receives essential nutrients, adequate drainage, and the right pH levels for healthy development.

Soil Testing

Before planting a cherry tree, it’s essential to test the soil to assess its pH and nutrient levels. Soil testing kits are readily available at garden centers and can provide valuable insights into the composition of your soil. The ideal pH level for cherry trees is between 6.0 and 7.0, and the soil should be well-drained, loamy, and fertile. Testing the soil allows you to determine if any amendments are necessary to achieve these optimal soil conditions.

Soil Amendment

Based on the results of the soil test, you may need to amend the soil to create the ideal growing conditions for cherry trees. If the soil is too acidic, you can raise the pH by incorporating lime into the soil. Conversely, if the soil is too alkaline, you can lower the pH by adding elemental sulfur. Additionally, organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure can be mixed into the soil to improve its fertility and structure, promoting healthy root development.

Soil Drainage

Proper soil drainage is essential for cherry trees, as waterlogged soil can lead to root rot and other detrimental conditions. If your soil has poor drainage, consider incorporating organic matter to improve its structure and facilitate better water movement. Raised beds can also be used to improve drainage in areas where the soil tends to hold water.

Choosing The Planting Site

Select a planting site that receives full sun, as cherry trees thrive in sunny locations with at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Ensure that the chosen site has enough space to accommodate the mature size of the cherry tree, considering both the height and spread of the tree at full growth. Adequate air circulation around the tree is also important for preventing diseases and promoting healthy growth.

By adequately preparing the soil and the planting site, you create an optimal environment for the cherry tree to thrive, ensuring that it receives the necessary nutrients and growing conditions for successful establishment and growth.

How To Plant Bare-root Cherry Trees

Planting bare-root cherry trees requires careful attention to the specific steps involved in handling and positioning the tree’s roots. Properly planting a bare-root cherry tree sets the stage for its successful growth and development. Here’s a detailed guide on how to plant bare-root cherry trees:

Timing

The best time to plant bare-root cherry trees is during the dormant season, typically in late winter to early spring before the tree breaks dormancy. Planting during this period allows the tree to establish its roots before the onset of the growing season, promoting robust growth during the spring and summer.

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Digging The Planting Hole

When preparing to plant a bare-root cherry tree, it’s crucial to dig a suitable planting hole. The hole should be wide enough to accommodate the spread roots without cramming or bending them. It’s generally recommended to dig a hole that is at least twice the width of the root system and of sufficient depth to allow the roots to be comfortably positioned without crowding.

Positioning The Roots

Carefully remove the bare-root cherry tree from its packaging and inspect the roots for any damage or signs of dryness. If the roots appear dry, you can soak them in water for a few hours before planting to rehydrate them. Gently position the roots in the planting hole, ensuring that they are spread out evenly and not twisted or coiled. This step is crucial for allowing the roots to establish a strong foundation for the tree’s growth.

Backfilling And Watering

Once the roots are properly positioned in the planting hole, backfill the hole with the amended soil, gently tamping it down to remove any air pockets. Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and provide initial hydration. It’s important to ensure that the tree is adequately watered immediately after planting to support its initial growth.

Mulching And Staking

Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree helps conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. However, it’s essential to leave a gap between the mulch and the trunk to prevent excess moisture from accumulating around the tree, which can lead to trunk rot. Depending on the size and stability of the tree, staking may be necessary to provide support and prevent it from leaning or being damaged by strong winds.

Pruning

After planting a bare-root cherry tree, it’s beneficial to prune the tree to remove any damaged or broken branches and promote balanced growth. Pruning can help shape the tree and encourage the development of a healthy structure. However, it’s important to avoid excessive pruning, especially immediately after planting, as this can stress the tree and hinder its initial growth.

By following these detailed steps for planting bare-root cherry trees, you can establish a strong foundation for the tree’s growth and development, setting the stage for successful fruit production in the future.

How To Plant Potted Cherry Trees

Planting potted cherry trees requires special care to ensure that the tree is properly removed from its container and planted at the correct depth. Here’s a detailed guide on how to plant potted cherry trees:

Choosing The Planting Time

Potted cherry trees can be planted in the spring or fall, although planting in the spring allows the tree to establish its roots before the heat of summer. It’s important to avoid planting potted cherry trees during extreme weather conditions, such as during periods of intense heat or frost.

Removing The Tree From The Container

Carefully remove the potted cherry tree from its container, taking care not to damage the roots during the process. Gently tap the sides and bottom of the container to loosen the tree and carefully slide it out, taking precautions to prevent root disturbance.

Inspecting The Roots

Upon removing the potted cherry tree from its container, inspect the roots for any signs of congestion or circling. If the roots appear to be tightly wound around the root ball, gently tease them apart to encourage outward growth. This step is crucial for preventing root girdling, which can restrict the tree’s water and nutrient uptake.

Positioning In The Planting Hole

Dig a planting hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the potted cherry tree. Position the tree in the hole at the same depth at which it was previously planted in the container. It’s important to ensure that the tree is not planted too deeply, as this can lead to moisture-related issues and hinder root development.

Backfilling And Watering

Once the potted cherry tree is positioned in the planting hole, backfill the hole with the amended soil, gently tamping it down to remove any air pockets. Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and provide initial hydration. Proper watering immediately after planting is crucial for supporting the tree’s initial growth and establishment in its new location.

Mulching And Staking

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree, leaving a gap between the mulch and the trunk to prevent excess moisture accumulation. Depending on the size and stability of the tree, staking may be necessary to provide support and prevent it from leaning or being damaged by strong winds. However, it’s important to avoid over-reliance on stakes, as this can hinder the development of a strong trunk.

Pruning

After planting a potted cherry tree, light pruning can be performed to remove any damaged or crossing branches and encourage balanced growth. However, it’s important to avoid excessive pruning immediately after planting, as this can stress the tree and impede its initial growth. Regular pruning can be incorporated into the tree care routine in subsequent years to maintain its shape and promote fruit production.

By following these detailed steps for planting potted cherry trees, you can ensure that the tree establishes itself successfully in its new location, fostering healthy growth and setting the stage for future fruit production.

Successfully planting cherry trees requires careful consideration of the tree variety, thorough soil preparation, and attentiveness to the specific planting methods for bare-root and potted trees. By choosing the right type of cherry tree, preparing the soil to meet its specific needs, and following the detailed steps for planting, you can create an optimal environment for the tree to thrive and produce an abundant harvest of delicious cherries. With proper care and maintenance, your cherry tree can become a beautiful and fruitful addition to your garden, providing enjoyment for years to come.

Proper Spacing For Cherry Trees

Before diving into the specifics of planting cherries, it’s important to understand the basic requirements of these fruit trees. Cherries thrive in temperate climates and need full sun exposure, preferably in well-draining soil with a pH level around 6.0 to 6.8. They also require a certain amount of chill hours, which is the number of hours between 32°F and 45°F that the tree needs to break dormancy and produce fruit. It is essential to choose cherry tree varieties that are compatible with your climate and chill hour requirements.

Now, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of planting cherries.

Proper spacing is crucial when planting cherry trees to ensure optimal growth and fruit production. The spacing requirements may vary depending on the specific variety and the rootstock being used. Typically, cherries are grown on dwarfing rootstocks to control their size and improve yield. However, the general rule of thumb is to space standard cherry trees approximately 25 to 30 feet apart and dwarf trees around 10 to 15 feet apart.

It is important to consider the tree’s ultimate size when planning the spacing. Adequate spacing allows for proper air circulation, sunlight penetration, and reduces competition for nutrients between trees. This leads to healthier trees and better fruit production.

Watering And Fertilizing Cherry Trees

Watering is a critical aspect of cherry tree care, especially during the establishment period after planting. Newly planted cherry trees should be watered regularly until they establish deep roots. This typically involves watering at least twice a week during the growing season and during hot, dry weather.

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To water cherry trees effectively, apply water slowly and deeply to encourage deep root growth. This helps the tree withstand drought conditions and improves overall tree health. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to ensure water reaches the root zone without wetting the foliage excessively.

Fertilizing cherry trees is essential for promoting healthy growth and fruit production. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, in early spring before new growth begins. This provides the necessary nutrients for the tree to thrive. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application rates.

Pruning Techniques For Cherry Trees

Pruning cherry trees is necessary to maintain their shape, promote fruit production, and improve overall tree health. It is best to prune cherry trees during the dormant season, usually in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.

Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Thin out the tree by removing overlapping branches and inward-growing shoots. Aim for an open center or vase-shaped structure to allow sunlight to penetrate the interior parts of the tree.

When pruning cherry trees, it is important to be cautious of the timing and extent of pruning. Avoid heavy pruning during the growing season, as it can stimulate excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.

Protecting Cherry Trees From Common Pests And Diseases

Cherry trees are susceptible to various pests and diseases that can hinder their growth and fruit production. However, with proper care and preventive measures, you can protect your cherry trees from these potential threats.

One of the most common pests affecting cherry trees is the cherry fruit fly. To control fruit fly infestations, use pheromone traps or fruit fly baits before the fruit starts to ripen. Regular monitoring is crucial to apply control measures at the right time.

Cherry trees are also vulnerable to diseases such as brown rot, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Proper sanitation practices, such as removing and disposing of fallen leaves and fruit, can help prevent the spread of diseases. Fungicidal treatments may be necessary in severe cases, so it is essential to consult with a local extension service or garden center for appropriate recommendations.

Mulching And Weed Control For Cherry Trees

Mulching around cherry trees provides several benefits, including moisture conservation, weed suppression, and temperature moderation. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the tree, extending several inches beyond the drip line.

Mulching not only helps retain soil moisture but also prevents competitive weeds from growing around the tree, which reduces nutrient competition. Keep the mulch layer around 2 to 4 inches thick, taking care not to pile it directly against the trunk to prevent moisture buildup and potential diseases.

Regular weeding is crucial to keep the area around cherry trees clean, as weeds can harbor pests and diseases. Hand-pulling weeds or using a shallow cultivator can be effective methods for weed control. Take care while weeding to avoid damaging the tree’s shallow roots.

Growing cherry trees can be a rewarding experience with proper planting techniques and ongoing care. Remember to choose the appropriate cherry tree variety for your climate, provide adequate spacing, and ensure proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning techniques. Protecting cherry trees from pests and diseases and implementing effective mulching and weed control strategies will also contribute to their overall health and fruit production.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty and bounty of cherry trees in your garden or orchard for years to come.

Harvesting Cherries From Your Tree

Cherries are delicious and nutritious fruits that can be enjoyed fresh or used in a variety of culinary creations. If you have ever tasted a juicy and sweet cherry straight from the tree, you know there is nothing quite like it. Planting cherry trees can be a rewarding and fruitful endeavor, but it requires careful planning and proper techniques.

Before we dive into the details of how to plant cherry trees, it’s important to understand when and how to harvest cherries once your tree is mature enough to bear fruit.

  1. Timing: Cherries are typically ready for harvest in the late spring to early summer, depending on the variety and your climate. The exact timing can vary, so it’s essential to monitor your tree closely. A ripe cherry will have a deep, vibrant color and will come off the stem easily when gently pulled.

  2. Harvesting process: To harvest cherries, you can either handpick them or use a cherry picker. If you have a small number of trees, handpicking is a practical option. Simply hold the cherry between your thumb and index finger, gently twist, and pull it off the stem. Avoid squeezing the cherries too hard, as this can cause bruising. If you have a large orchard, using a cherry picker will make the process much quicker and more efficient.

  3. Storage and preservation: Cherries are best enjoyed fresh, but if you have a surplus, there are a few ways to preserve them. One popular method is freezing, which allows you to enjoy cherries throughout the year. To freeze cherries, wash and pit them, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. Another option is canning, which involves cooking cherries with sugar and water and sealing them in jars. This preserves the cherries for an extended period, allowing you to enjoy them in various recipes.

Troubleshooting Common Problems With Cherry Tree Growth

Growing cherry trees can present some challenges due to various factors like pests, diseases, and weather conditions. Here are some common problems you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them effectively:

  1. Pests: One common pest that affects cherry trees is the cherry fruit fly. These small flies lay their eggs on the cherries, causing maggots to hatch and feed on the fruit. To prevent infestations, use insect traps or sprays specifically designed for cherry fruit flies. Another pest to watch out for is the cherry slug, a type of sawfly larvae that chews on the leaves. Handpicking and disposing of these pests can help control their population.

  2. Diseases: Cherry trees are susceptible to several diseases, such as cherry leaf spot and brown rot. Cherry leaf spot causes dark spots on the leaves, leading to defoliation and eventual weakening of the tree. To prevent this disease, keep your trees well-spaced to promote air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and apply fungicides labeled for cherry leaf spot control. Brown rot is a fungal disease that affects the fruit, causing it to rot and shrivel. To prevent brown rot, remove any infected fruit from the tree and the ground, prune branches to improve air circulation, and use fungicides if necessary.

  3. Weather conditions: Cold temperatures during the winter can damage cherry tree buds and branches. If you live in an area with harsh winters, choose cherry tree varieties that are cold-hardy. Additionally, protecting the tree with a layer of mulch around the base can help insulate the roots during winter. When planting cherries, make sure to consider the specific climate requirements of the variety you choose.

Tips For Successful Cherry Tree Cultivation In Your Region

Growing cherry trees can be challenging, especially if you live in a region with specific climate conditions. However, by following these tips, you can increase your chances of successful cherry tree cultivation:

  1. Selecting the right variety: Different cherry tree varieties have different temperature and climate requirements. Some thrive in colder climates, while others prefer warmer regions. Before buying cherry tree saplings, research the best varieties for your specific climate and soil conditions.

  2. Understanding pollination: Most cherry trees require cross-pollination to produce fruit, which means they need another compatible cherry tree nearby to fertilize their flowers. Be sure to plant two or more varieties that bloom at the same time to ensure successful pollination. You can also consider using self-pollinating cherry tree varieties if space is limited.

  3. Providing proper soil conditions: Cherry trees prefer well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Conduct a soil test to determine its composition and pH level. If the soil is acidic, add lime to raise the pH. Incorporating organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the planting hole can also improve soil structure and fertility.

  4. Choosing the right planting location: Cherry trees thrive in full sun, so choose a location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Ensure there is sufficient space for the tree to grow and spread its branches. Avoid planting near structures or large trees that could shade the cherry tree.

  5. Proper planting technique: Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots of the cherry tree. Gently spread out the roots in the planting hole, making sure they are not cramped or tangled. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots. Water the tree thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.

  6. Regular watering and mulching: Cherry trees require consistent moisture, especially during the growing season. Deep, regular watering is preferable to frequent shallow watering. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to help conserve soil moisture and control weeds. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk to prevent rotting.

  7. Pruning and training: Pruning helps maintain the health and shape of the cherry tree. During the first few years, focus on training the tree to develop a strong structure. Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning also helps promote air circulation, which reduces the risk of diseases.

  8. Fertilizing: Cherry trees benefit from regular fertilization to ensure optimal growth and fruit production. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 formula, in early spring before the tree starts to bud. Follow the package instructions for the proper application rate.

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Starting A Cherry Tree Orchard As A Business Venture

If you are considering growing cherry trees on a larger scale and turning it into a business venture, there are additional factors to consider. Starting a cherry tree orchard requires careful planning, investment, and ongoing management. Here are some key steps to get you started:

  1. Market research: Before diving into cherry tree cultivation, research the market demand and competition in your area. Understand the preferences of consumers and identify potential buyers such as grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants. This research will help you determine the viability and profitability of starting a cherry tree orchard in your region.

  2. Site selection: Selecting the right site for your cherry tree orchard is crucial. Consider factors such as soil quality, drainage, access to water, proximity to markets, and climate suitability. Consult with agricultural extension services or experts in your area to get advice on the best locations for cherry tree cultivation.

  3. Obtain proper permits and licenses: Check with local authorities and agricultural agencies to ensure you have the necessary permits, licenses, and certifications to operate a cherry tree orchard. Compliance with regulations and standards will be essential for selling your cherries commercially.

  4. Sourcing high-quality saplings: Purchase cherry tree saplings from reputable nurseries or suppliers. Consider the specific requirements of your chosen cherry tree varieties and select saplings that are disease-free and of high quality.

  5. Planting and establishment: Follow the planting techniques discussed earlier in this article to ensure proper establishment of your cherry trees. Take into account the scale of your orchard and plan accordingly. Plant trees in rows with enough space between them to allow for growth and easy maintenance.

  6. Ongoing orchard management: Managing a cherry tree orchard involves regular tasks such as irrigation, fertilization, pest and disease control, pruning, and harvesting. Develop a comprehensive management plan to ensure the health, productivity, and sustainability of your orchard. Consider hiring experienced orchard workers or consultants if needed.

  7. Marketing and sales: Develop a marketing strategy to promote your cherries and attract customers. Utilize online platforms, social media, and local marketing channels to create awareness and drive sales. Consider participating in farmers’ markets or establishing direct relationships with local businesses and consumers.

  8. Financial planning: Starting an orchard can be a significant investment, so it’s crucial to develop a realistic financial plan. Consider the costs of land, saplings, equipment, labor, ongoing maintenance, and marketing. Seek advice from financial professionals or agricultural consultants to ensure your business is financially sustainable.

  9. Expansion and diversification: As your orchard grows and becomes profitable, consider expanding your operations or diversifying your product offerings. This could include growing different cherry varieties, introducing value-added products like cherry preserves or juices, or expanding into agritourism by offering cherry-picking experiences or farm tours.

Conclusion

Growing cherry trees can be a delightful and rewarding experience, whether as a home gardener or a commercial orchard owner. By following the proper planting techniques, understanding the needs of cherry trees, and troubleshooting common problems, you can ensure successful cultivation and a bountiful harvest. Remember to choose appropriate varieties for your climate, provide optimal conditions, and maintain proper care throughout the seasons. Whether you’re enjoying cherries fresh from your own tree or selling them commercially, the effort to plant and grow cherry trees will be well worth it for the delicious fruits they produce.

FAQS

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Cherry Trees?

The best time to plant cherry trees is in late fall or early spring when the soil is moist and the weather is cool. This gives the tree enough time to establish its roots before the hot summer temperatures.

Do Cherry Trees Need A Lot Of Sunlight?

Yes, cherry trees thrive in full sunlight. It is important to choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth and fruit production.

How Deep Should I Dig The Hole For Planting A Cherry Tree?

The hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to accommodate the entire root system. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil.

Is It Necessary To Add Any Amendments To The Soil Before Planting Cherry Trees?

It is recommended to perform a soil test to determine the pH level of your soil. Cherries prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0-6.5. If the pH is too high, you may need to add sulfur or other acidic amendments to lower it.

How Often Should I Water My Newly Planted Cherry Tree?

It is important to keep the soil around the cherry tree evenly moist, but not waterlogged, during the first year. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions, to encourage deep root growth. After the first year, established cherry trees can typically survive on natural rainfall, but may need extra watering during dry spells.