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How to Plant Cherry Seeds

This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Commercial cherries are grown from grafts so the growers know exactly what they’re getting. This is because planting cherries from seeds may produce bitter fruit. Planting cherry pits is a project for home growers who want to take on a challenge and who are looking for an ornamental plant. To plant cherry seeds, plant the dried pit of a cherry in well-draining, neutral soil outdoors during the early fall, choosing a spot with plenty of sun and pressing the pit 1 inch (2.5 cm) beneath the soil. You may also wish to start the cherry seed indoors, and plant them outdoors in the spring. Keep in mind that cherry trees often grow to 25 ft (7.6 m) or taller, and you can’t always guarantee a bountiful harvest of fruit, so make sure you want that centerpiece in your yard!

  • If you want better odds, plant a young tree instead. A local nursery can recommend a grafted plant suited to your climate and soil.
  • Almost all fresh cherries for sale are sweet cherries. These are the best for eating, but most are only hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5–7.
  • Sour cherries tend to be easier to grow, and can survive in zones 3-8 depending on variety. The fresh kind can be hard to track down, so ask around at your farmer’s market.
  • If it’s still early or mid-summer, let the seeds dry on a paper towel for a couple days, then store in an airtight container in a cool spot. [5] X Trustworthy Source Penn State Extension Educational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communities Go to source Retrieve them in late summer and continue to the next step.
  • Sweet cherries do best with a couple weeks of warm weather before the cold. Planting in late summer or the very start of fall can accomplish this. However, a “warm snap” after the cold weather has started can send some cherries back into dormancy. [6] X Research source Refer to an almanac or other long-term weather prediction to avoid this.
  • Buy fresh, sterile milled sphagnum moss. This material fights off mold, which is the biggest risk at this stage. Handle moss with clean gloves to avoid introducing spores.
  • Put the moss in a plastic bag or container and add room temperature water (68ºF / 20ºC). [8] X Research source Let it absorb the water for 8–10 hours, then squeeze out the extra moisture.
  • Pop a few air holes in the lid. If using a plastic bag, leave it slightly open at the top.
  • Add the cherry seeds and leave them there for two weeks at the same temperature. Check after the first day or two to pour out standing water, then weekly to throw out moldy seeds (if any).
  • You can use sphagnum moss again, but peat moss or a 50/50 mix of peat moss and sand may work best. [9] X Research source Vermiculite will work as well. [10] X Research source
  • Add enough water to moisten the material without getting it soggy, then add seeds.
  • Place in the refrigerator or other area between 33º and 41ºF (0.5 to 5ºC) (ideally at the top of this range). [11] X Trustworthy Source Penn State Extension Educational organization dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses, and communities Go to source
  • Check more often toward the end of this period. If the hard seed coats have begun to crack, plant right away or reduce the temperature to 32ºF (0ºC) until you’re ready. [12] X Research source
  • If you want to get started early, you can plant the cherries in a large indoor pot.
  • The young tree needs room for a taproot. If planting in a container, it should be at least 8 inch (20 cm) deep.
  • Cherries are very hard to grow in clay soil. If you want to make a serious attempt, build a raised bed 1 foot (0.3 meters) high.
  • You can plant the cherries closer together, but you’ll need to thin them once the shoots reach 2 inches (5 cm) high. [16] X Research source
  • Keep in mind that cherries can grow 25–50 ft (7.6–15.2 m) tall, depending on variety. With pruning, you can keep this to 15 ft (4.6 m) or less. [20] X Research source
  • Fertilizer is best avoided with young trees, since it’s easy to burn them. The compost should give plenty of nutrients.
  • Surround young trees with a cylinder of wire fencing to protect against deer. Do this as soon as the trees start to come up.
  • Once a month, look for holes in the trunk leaking ooze or sawdust-like frass. Poke a needle into these holes to kill insects.
  • In spring, wrap trunks with mosquito netting to stop boring insects from laying eggs.
  • In late fall, sink a hardware cloth barrier 2 inches (5cm) down into the soil on all sides to protect against rodents. This barrier should be high enough to protect against a rodent standing on expected snowfall.
  • Whitewash the north side instead if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Commercial growers will also drape netting over their trees to keep birds and other pests away from the fruit.

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About This Article

To plant cherry seeds, first remove the pits from a few cherries. Soak the pits in warm water for 5 minutes, and scrub them clean with a toothbrush to remove any residue. Let the pits air dry on a paper towel for 3 days. Then, store them in the fridge for at least 10 weeks, since cherry seeds need time in the cold to germinate. After the last frost in your area, take the pits out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Fill a few small containers with potting soil and plant each pit in its own container, 2 inches (5 cm) beneath the surface of the soil. Water each pot thoroughly, and keep the soil damp by watering the pits every day. Once the seedlings sprout in 2-3 weeks, set them in a sunny area outside and continue watering them regularly so the soil stays moist. Once they’re about 10 inches (25 cm) tall, dig holes that are the same size as the seedling pots in a well-draining area outside. Make the holes at least 20 feet (6 m) away from each another. Then, transfer each seedling into the holes and fill them in with soil. Water them every other day for the first week, then 2-3 times the second week. Afte rthat, water each seedling at least once a week for the rest of the growing season. Your cherry seedlings will grow into trees and start producing fruit in roughly 8 years. Keep reading for advice from our Gardener reviewer on how to transplant and care for the growing trees!

Nice cherry seeds

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