What are some best practices when planting a cherry tree?


When is the best time to plant a cherry tree?  Can a single tree be planted or does there need to be two trees planted relatively close to one another?


Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant

Early spring is the time to plant cherry trees, once the ground is thawed but after the highest risk of frost has passed (though you may need to take special measures to protect saplings if a frost is predicted–your nursery should be able to give you information on the cold and frost hardiness of whichever trees you purchase). They can take some time to root and they leaf out early. Sour/tart cherries have both male and female flowers (also known as monoecious) on the same individual and are self-pollinating, so you could plant just a single tree. On the other hand, while sweet cherry trees are also monoecious, many/most are self-incompatible and won’t produce fruit on their own, meaning you typically need at least two individuals from different varieties and/or cultivars to get proper pollination. It can get complicated quickly, as some varieties won’t pollinate one another and others are universal pollinators, so make sure you have two compatible ones before purchasing and planting.

For further reading, we recommend our UMaine information page on tree fruits and MOFGA’s guide on cherry trees. Both are excellent resources to help you plan your planting.