Growing a Cherry Tree from a Seed

After eating a bowl of delicious cherries, you may wonder if you can plant the pits and grow your own. The answer is yes and no. Fruit trees are propagated using vegetative methods and not from seed. The reason for this is fruit tree genetics. However, you can grow cherry trees from seed, as long as you don’t expect to harvest the same cherries you have eaten.


How to Germinate Cherry Seeds

In order for a cherry pit to germinate, it must undergo a cold dormancy period. This is what happens in nature as the seed of a ripe fruit falls to the ground where it waits through winter until sprouting in the spring.

To grow a cherry tree from seed, start with fully ripe fruit. Wash the seeds, cleaning off all fruit, and let them dry. Store the seeds in a paper bag in a cool, dark place until fall.

To sprout the seed, you will need:

  • Sphagnum peat moss or shredded paper towels
  • Water
  • A container and lid with holes in it
  • Space in the refrigerator

Moisten the peat moss or shredded paper towels, wringing out excess water.

Place some peat moss or paper in the bottom of the container, add the seeds, and add more peat moss or paper towels to cover the seeds completely.

Put a lid with holes in it on the container to allow for air circulation, and place the container in the refrigerator. Check it occasionally, and add a bit of water to keep the peat moss or paper moist.

Keep the seeds in the refrigerator at a temperature between 33º and 50ºF (.5º and 10ºC) for 90 to 140 days.

Growing a Cherry Tree from Seed

After the seeds have gone through this dormancy period, take them out and plant them 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) deep in garden soil or in potting mix a 1 gallon (3.8 liter) or larger sized container.

Before planting the seeds, you can help them get out of their hard seed coat by lightly cracking open the seed husk with a nutcracker or hammer, but be very gentle and avoid injuring the developing embryo inside.

To avoid having wildlife dig up your seeds, place a piece of wire mesh over the planted area, tucking the edges down into the soil. Remove the wire when the seeds sprout.

After planting the seeds, water them regularly, keeping the soil moist until the seeds sprout, which may take many weeks.

The cherry tree you grow from seed will be a combination of its parent trees and will not have the same characteristics as the cherry it came from. However, it still may be a pleasant tree, providing food for wildlife and shade for you.