HOW TO GROW A CHERRY TREE FROM SEED

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There was a time when the English county of Kent was filled to the brim with cherry orchards, but with cheaper imported cherries taking their place on the supermarket shelves the reality of growing cherries commercially in the United Kingdom is becoming little more than a distant memory. The problem is this. Despite the loss of our growing heritage it is almost impossible to produce a better flavoured crop and who in their right mind could resist the velvety succulence of a warm, freshly-picked cherry.

There are only a limited number of cherry tree cultivars available in garden centres, notably 'Stella' and 'Morello', although you  may be lucky to find my personal favourite cherry 'Sunburst'. However the trouble is that fruit trees can be expensive but there is an alternative - growing your own cherry tree from seed!

Growing a cherry tree from seed

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You would have noticed when eating a cherry that the stone inside the fruit is extremely tough, this exists to keep the seed dormant. In order break this dormancy and allow the seed to germinate through it you will need to allow the seed coat to break down. This is called stratification.

To begin with, save the seed from a pack of cherries that particularly suits your taste. The easiest thing to do is to clean of off the stones and plant them directly in the ground 1/2 inch deep and 6 inches apart. Late summer to autumn is the best time of the do this. Viability can be quite low so plant approximately 6 seeds to ensure that at least one will germinate successfully. The scarification process will occur naturally and you can expect the seedlings to emerge the following spring. Once the seedlings are 4-6 inches high they can be lifted and either potted into 4-6 inch pots using a good quality compost such as John Innes 'No3', or planted into its final position in a free-draining soil in full sun. However there is a quicker way and that is to break the dormancy artificially.

Take a plastic container with a sealable lid and make some small holes in the lid and the base. Fill the container with a 50:50 mix of moss-peat and horticultural sand. Add the washed sherry stones to the container and water in. Allow the excess water to drain away and place at the bottom of the fridge for 6-8 weeks.

Check the seeds weekly and once the first signs of germination appear remove the seeds from the fridge and pot on each seed into its own 4-5 inch pot containing a good quality compost such as John Innes -Seed and Cutting'. Grown on for another month or so and then harden off with a view to planting outside into their final positions.

Be aware that when growing cherry trees from seed you may not receive your first crop for 7 or 8 years. Also that it may not produce the same quality of fruit as the parent plant and that the tree itself can grow to 6 metres upwards.

For related articles click onto the following links:
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How to grow a Cherry Tree from Seed
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