Growing a tree from a cherry pit can be a great gardening project -- if you have a lot of patience. It can take years for a cherry tree to flower and set fruit. And when it does, it's unlikely that the fruit it bears will turn out the same as that juicy, flavorful cherry that you enjoyed years earlier. Cherry trees require cross-pollination, so new trees do not grow true from seed; grafting and budding are the best ways to propagate a favorite tree and a nursery is a good source to find a tree that is already well on its way to fruiting. If the seed is handled correctly, though, it is possible to grow a tree from a cherry pit. Try to start with cherries from a farmers market or a neighbor rather than from a supermarket.
Clean the pits by rubbing them under running water to remove all of the fruit and juices. Do this with several pits since not all of them will end up sprouting.
Place the pits on paper towels and leave them out to dry for a few days. Once they are dry, keep them in a cool place, loosely covered, until mid-January.
Arrange the pits on a moist paper towel to start the cold stratification process in January. Fold or roll up the towel so it can fit inside a zip-close plastic bag. Refrigerate the pits 90 to 120 days.
Plant the pits after the threat of frost has passed. Use quality potting soil and a deep pot around 6 inches in diameter. Pots should be well-draining. Plant the pits about twice as deep as their height. Cover the pits and press lightly on the soil. Water the soil and place the pots in a sunny area.
Watch for sprouts. Once the seedlings reach a height of 8 to 12 inches, they are ready to be transplanted outside.
Plant your cherry trees in the spring or fall, about 20 feet apart. Dig a wide hole and add a quality fertilizer to the backfill. Mulch and keep well watered.
- Mark your calendar to check your seeds after stratification is complete.
- Label your plastic bag during stratification with the start and end dates.
- You may wish to put up stakes around your newly planted tree to keep lawnmowers away.
- It will take at least five to eight years before fruit grows, if it is to grow from this method.
- Plant trees 20 feet apart.
- Cherries grown in this manner will probably not be like the cherry the seed came from.
- Do not use this method to obtain a backyard full of quality, fruit producing cherry trees. Visit a local nursery instead to obtain tree varieties that grow well in your area, and purchase ready grown trees.
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