I love cherries and that is why I grow them in my apartment in the city.
Most people don’t realize you can grow cherries indoors and that they are one of the best fruit trees for low light situations.
That is why I decided to write this complete guide on how to grow a dwarf cherry tree indoors so more people can learn to how to grow a cherry tree indoors and enjoy the satisfaction of eating your homegrown cherries, yum!
To grow a cherry tree indoors choose a self-pollinating dwarf variety and plant it in a large pot. Give it a deep watering a few times per week and use fertilizer during the growing season. Dwarf cherry trees are ideal for growing indoors because they only require 6 hours of sunlight.
Check out this video with awesome examples of bonsai cherry trees:
What sort of cherry tree is best for growing indoors?
If you choose to grow a full-size cherry tree they can grow to between 6 and 8 meters so I wouldn’t recommend this for indoor growing unless you live in a castle.
The best type of cherry tree for growing indoors would be a dwarf or bonsai variety.
Sweet cherries are good for eating fresh but acid cherries are good for cooking so remember this when you are choosing.
I would recommend something like the North Star variety as they grow to a maximum of between 2 and 3 meters but like all indoor fruit trees can be kept a lot smaller with pruning.
The North Star Variety is also self-pollinating/ self-fruiting which means you only need one tree.
Some other self-pollinating varieties include Stella, Morello, Sunburst, Duke and Lapins.
Check what variety is best for your local climate and remember some varieties require two to produce fruit.
Should you grow a dwarf cherry tree from a pit or buy a young tree?
If you decide to grow a cherry tree from a seed it is best to get one from cherries bought at a farmers market or off a local tree, as store-bought cherries aren’t very reliable due to the way they are stored.
When you grow a cherry tree from a pit it can take 4 or 5 years or longer before it will start to produce any fruit.
It might be easier to buy a young tree from a store if its the fruit you are interested in.
How to germinate cherry seeds
To grow a cherry tree from a pit clean the seeds so there is no fruit remaining on them and dry them out.
Put the seeds in a sealable container and fill it with soil so the seeds are covered.
Put this container in the fridge for two to four months and time it so its early spring when you remove them.
When you take the seeds out the fridge give them a water for the first time and move them to a brighter warmer area.
Keep the soil moist during this period and move the seedlings to a sunnier area as shoots start to emerge.
When the seedlings have at least 2 sets of leaves it’s time to transfer it to a pot or container (do this process with multiple pits as they are not all guaranteed to start growing).
This video shows how to grow cherries from seed:
What sort of pot is best for a dwarf cherry tree?
When you are choosing a pot or container for your cherry tree remember the bigger the pot the bigger your tree can grow.
A 15-gallon pot or container would be ideal for a 5-foot tree.
You might want to put your pot on a trolly before filling it if you plan on moving it about.
You can start with a smaller pot and repot your dwarf cherry tree as it grows.
What sort of soil is best for a dwarf cherry tree?
Put a layer of stones at the bottom of your pot to encourage good drainage.
Put some soil in the pot so that when you place the tree in it the base of the tree is only between 1 and 4 inches below the surface.
Use a basic potting soil or if you want to make your own mix use 1 part sand, 1 part peat and 1 part perlite.
You should mulch the topsoil with bark or shingles to help the soil retain moisture.
How much light does a dwarf cherry Tree require?
Cherry trees only require 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive.
The more sunlight the better.
That is why I always use an LED grow light on a timer to give my cherry tree some extra sunlight.
If your cherry tree doesn’t get enough light then it won’t produce as much fruit, that’s why I say the more light the more cherries!
How often should I water my potted cherry tree?
Potted trees will dry out a lot quicker than if it was planted in a garden.
You should give your tree a good soaking that gets deep into the soil a few times a week. Monitor it and use your judgment if it needs more or less.
Use mulched bark or shingles on top of the soil to help retain the moisture in the soil.
It’s important to use a regular amount of water so don’t let it sometimes dry out and sometimes be soaking you want to keep it constant.
What temperature is best for cherry trees?
Cherry trees will grow in practically any climate so don’t worry about it too much.
Dependant on the variety you choose to grow the ideal temperature may be different but even if you don’t have the ideal temperature don’t worry your tree will still grow.
The only requirement is that during the winter months your tree will need a temperature between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit if you want it to produce fruit the next growing season.
What is the best fertilizer for a cherry tree in a pot?
When the fruit has set your tree will benefit from using a fertilizer. I use organic seaweed fertilizer but any all-purpose organic feed will do.
Avoid feed that it heavy on nitrogen as they will encourage heavy foliage growth but not much fruit and that defeats the purpose.
Your tree may also benefit if you use fertilizer in early spring about a month before bloom to ensure a good growing season.
How to prune an indoor cherry tree in a pot
Prune your cherry tree by pruning away any diseased or deadwood.
Thinning out your tree this allows more sunlight through to the rest of the tree and this encourages healthy growth.
Avoid pruning during the winter as it is harder for your tree to recover during the winter and may become affected by a disease.
Prune away any branches that are in a direction you don’t want your tree to grow, upwards or sideways to prevent your tree from getting too big.
You can prune any undesired sprouts away at any time during the growing season.
How to pollinate a cherry tree
Even if you have chosen a self-pollinating cherry tree I would recommend giving it a helping hand.
There are different methods for helping your tree to pollinate.
The first method I would recommend would be to use a small soft brush like a paintbrush.
Brush the inside of the flowers to help move the pollen from the small stems inside the flower onto the central stem.
The second method is easier but nowhere near as precise, give the tree a good shake!
Should I thin out any heavy clusters of cherries?
You don’t have to thin out the cherries on your tree but you may decide to if in previous seasons a lot of fruit has dropped off your tree early.
Thinning out the fruits will make the remaining fruits larger and of better quality. Ideally, you don’t want more than 10 cherries on each cluster.
When to pick cherries from a potted tree
Depending on the variety of cherries you grow there will be different signs when your cherries are fully ripe.
Check what color your variety of cherries will turn when ripe, different colors they may turn when ripe include dark red, bright red, black or yellow.
Cut your cherries off with scissors so as not to damage the stem as it will also produce cherries the next year.
How to store freshly picked cherries from the tree
When you are storing cherries you need to keep them out of direct sunlight as this will make them shrink and shrivel up.
If you plan on eating your cherries immediately and leave them on the counter they will be good for 2 – 3 days.
To extend the life of your cherries put them in a sealed plastic bag or container and keep them in the fridge, this will keep them good for between 3 days and 2 weeks.
It’s important to keep them in a sealed container as they will absorb then taste like any smells in your fridge and I’m guessing you don’t want cherries that taste of blue cheese or fish!
What to do if your cherry tree stops producing fruit
If your cherry tree isn’t producing fruits it may still be too young as sour cherry trees only start producing fruit at 3 – 5 years and sweet cherry trees at 4 – 7 years.
You may not be watering and fertilizing your tree the correct amounts.
This means you may be using too much water or not enough fertilizer so try adjusting your feeding routine.
Your cherry tree may not be getting pollinated which would result in no fruits, that’s why id always recommend a self-pollinating variety for indoor growing.
See the above section on how to pollinate a cherry tree.
To grow a cherry tree outdoors
When planting a cherry tree in your garden it will need an area with deep well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine.
If you plant a sour cherry tree then one will do and it will self-pollinate. If you choose a sweet cherry tree you will need to plant multiple trees so they will pollinate each other.
When your tree is young it will need support so use a cane or stick to help support it.
Apply mulch like bark or shingles on the ground where the roots will be to keep the moisture in the ground.
Water and fertilize your tree when young and when it’s older it won’t require much care unless you want to encourage bumper crops.
Common cherry tree problems and how to solve them
Here I address two of the major areas bacterial problems and fungal disease:
Bacterial problems – Cherry leaf spot and Twig Canker are two bacterial diseases that may affect cherry trees. Leaf spot which is also called shot hole disease causes holes to appear in the leaves and also discoloration of the leaves. Twig Cankers appear as watery lesions on the bark. The best way to deal with these problems is to deal with them when you first spot them by cutting off infected branches immediately.
Fungal Diseases – Various forms of mildew, rot, and blight are common on cherry trees. These problems can be hard to deal with when they are established so the best cure is prevention. Help prevent these diseases by not allowing any leaves to decompose in your pot and quickly prune any diseased branches you come across.
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