2015-07-23 / From The Garden

Planting a Montmorency Cherry

Planting and cultivating a Montmorency sour cherry is easy to do, and the tree grows well in our area.

. Buy your tree(s) in the spring. Most nurseries carry them, but look for semi-dwarf rootstock. A standard tree can grow over 20 feet tall, which makes pruning and picking difficult. If you are considering an online purchase visit Raintree Nursery at raintreenursery.com. They will mail you bareroot trees.

. Keep the tree short; it is a little easier to pick the fruit from a small ladder. My tree, of semidwarf rootstock, is about eight feet tall now but could grow another couple of feet.

. Situate so as to leave room for the tree's width; mine is nearly eight feet across.

. Ensure a southern exposure, which is what most fruit trees need.

. Even though the Montmorency self-pollinates, planting two is always better than one, and creates stronger pollination. If you purchase more than one tree, they will produce fruit sooner. Bees love cherry trees.

. The tree will take about seven years to become fully mature. But each year you will get fruiting, with more than a handfull of cherries. When it reaches full production, there will be thousands.

. Prune in February, keeping the center of the tree open for sunlight.

. Cherry trees need to be sprayed three times a year with fungicide. They do not attract bugs like peaches, plums and apples.

. Fruit trees really don't need fertilizing; I have never fertilized my tree in 10 years.

. Once your tree starts fruiting, net the trees at the slight change of color in the cherries (from green to yellow). Once the cherries are red, you have waited too long to net.

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