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Climate Zones and Soil Types for Growing Cherry Trees

Cherry trees grow in climate zones 4 through 9 in areas similar to their places of origin in Asia and Eastern Europe and are cultivated in many parts of the world. People have grown cherry trees in the United States since 1629, and Washington, Oregon, and California currently produce 90 percent of all commercial sweet cherries with Michigan topping the list in sour cherry production.

Climate Zones for Growing Cherry Trees

Cherry trees grow well in many areas of the United States, as long as they receive sufficient chill hours for the variety, plenty of sun, and the right amount and timing of irrigation.

Sweet cherry trees (Prunus avium) and sour cherry trees (Prunus cerasus) both need sufficient time in temperatures below 45°F (7.2°C) but above 32°F (0°C) in order to set fruit, called chill hours. The number of required chill hours varies from one variety to another and ranges between 300 and 900. It is important to check the chill hours in your area before selecting a cherry tree variety.

Soil Type for Growing Cherry Trees

Cherry trees need a slightly acidic soil with a pH level of 6 to 6.8, and the soil must drain well and be fertile. Use a soil test kit to check the pH of the soil where you plan to plant your tree and amend it to the right pH if needed.

To check the drainage of your soil, dig a hole approximately 1-foot square (.3 meters square) and fill it with water. When the water drains out, fill the hole again, and then lay a stick across the top of the hole at soil level and measure how far the water goes down each hour.

If the water drains out at a rate of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) per hour, the site has adequate drainage. If it drains at a rate faster or slower, amend the soil in the planting area to achieve better drainage.

Cherry Tree Pollination Requirements

Some types of cherry tree are self-fertile, meaning they do not need the help of another tree of a different variety to aid in pollination and fruit set. Sour cherries are self-fertile, so you can plant a single tree and get a good crop of fruit.

Many types of sweet cherry only have good crops of fruit if there is a tree of a different variety nearby to cross-pollinate, and not any variety will do. Either plant a self-fertile type, if you are only growing a single tree, or, be sure to check which varieties are compatible and plant them together.

Some self-fertile cherry tree varieties are:

  • Celeste
  • Lapins
  • Morello
  • Stella
  • Black Gold

Cherry trees are susceptible to a wide variety of diseases. Check with the USDA agricultural department in your area to find out if there are cherry tree diseases common in your location, then select a tree on a rootstock resistant to these pathogens.

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