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Black Cherries: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Them

Black cherries taste delicious, but did you know they have many health benefits? Black cherries can help prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. Unfortunately, not many people want to spend the price that black cherries cost currently in grocery stores. That is why growing your own black cherry fruit tree is a great option for you to try. Today I will be sharing with you how to plant a black cherry tree, how to care for the tree, and how to tell when the black cherries are ripe. I have also included some tips on the best time of year to plant a black cherry fruit tree, as well as what exactly a black cherry tree is. Lastly, I will discuss the many health benefits of black cherries, which are also called dark or wild cherries. So let's get started!

What Is a Black Cherry?

Before we get started on learning how to plant a black cherry, care for it, and harvest it, let's first go over the first and most important question: What is black cherry? While you may be familiar with other types of cherries, such as sweet red cherries and sour, tart cherries, black cherries are not as common. The reason is that black cherries have many different names. Often times the name "black cherry" gets replaced with one of its other names. Its common names include wild cherry, Prunus serotina, rum cherry, dark cherry, and mountain black cherry. The black cherry is closely related to the chokecherry and is often mistaken as one. You can tell the difference between a chokecherry tree and black cherry tree by looking at the size of the tree. A chokecherry is technically classified as a shrub, while a black cherry tree can grow to be a very large tree.

How to Plant a Black Cherry Tree

Planting a black cherry tree is similar to planting any other type of cherry tree. With proper care, your black cherry tree will soon become a large tree loaded with juicy black cherries. Before you begin planting your cherry tree, first consider if you want to plant the black cherry from a seed or if you want to plant a seedling. The following will help you know how to plant a black cherry tree from seed.

Buy Cherries so You Can Get the Pits

The cheapest way to get black cherry seeds is to buy black cherries at the store, enjoy eating them, and save the pits. This will give you an idea of what your own black cherries will taste like in the future. It is recommended to buy black cherries that have been grown locally. Once you have enjoyed eating the black cherries, or have eaten as many cherries as you will need to plant, take the pits and set them in a bowl of warm water. Allow them to sit for five minutes and then clean each pit so that any fruit on the pits will be removed. Spread the pits out on a paper towel in a warm area and let them dry for three to five days. Then, transfer the dry pits to a lidded plastic container and keep them in the refrigerator for ten weeks. Once you have followed these steps, you are ready to get planting.

Begin Planting 

Once the pits have been refrigerated for ten weeks, take the pits from the refrigerator. It is now time to get planting. Find a small container and fill it with soil. Plant two to three black cherry pits in the soil. Water the soil so that the soil becomes moist and keep it moist. When the cherry seedlings have grown two inches tall, remove them from the container keeping only the sturdiest seedling in the pot. If the other seedlings are sturdy as well, rather than uprooting them you may want to transplant them to a different container. Keep the seedling(s) in a sunny area indoors until there is no chance of frost and then transplant it outside in your desired area. If you are growing multiple trees, make sure they are planted at least twenty feet apart.

Best Time of Year to Plant a Black Cherry Tree

The best time of year to plant a black cherry tree will depend on how you are planting it. If you will be planting the seeds directly into the ground, rather than growing the seedling in a container as discussed above, it is recommended to plant the pits in the fall. This is because cherries ripen in the fall when cherries can be collected to plant the pits. Additionally, fall is when the soil is soft and gentle on the young seeds. If you will be planting the pits directly into the ground right after they fall off the tree, you can skip the entire process of refrigerating the pits.

If you will be planting a black cherry pit into the container, after following the instructions given above, it does not matter what time of the year you plant it as long as there is no chance of frost after you plant the seedling outside. Spring is a good time of the year to plant a black cherry tree outside because it gives the plant time to grow during the spring, summer, and part of the fall before the first frost.

Black Cherry Tree Care 

As with all fruit trees, it is important to give your black cherry tree proper care, especially when the black cherries start growing. Here are some black cherry tree care tips:

Water

All fruit trees need water. Usually, black cherry trees can go a couple of weeks without watering them, but if it has been very dry or windy you may need to water them more often. Once black cherries begin to grow, your black cherry tree may need more water. One way to tell if your tree needs to be watered is if the top three inches of soil around the tree is dry. If the soil is dry, water the black cherry tree with a hose until it has soaked up the water.

Fertilizer

Before buds appear on your black cherry tree in the spring, add some fertilizer to the dirt. Remember that you should never over fertilize your tree. Over-fertilizing your tree can cause your black cherry tree to become weak. It is better to under fertilize than to over fertilize.

Prune

Just like with any other fruit tree, pruning is an important part of taking care of your tree. It is recommended to prune trees during the winter so that you can easily see if there are any broken tips or branches blocking the tree's middle. During the spring, make sure the blossoms can get plenty of light. If any branches are blocking the tree from light, trim them.

How to Tell When the Cherries Are Ripe

It is important to know when your cherries are ripe so that you get all the nutrition that your black cherry tree has to offer. Remember that once you pick the black cherries, they will not ripen further. Therefore, it is important to wait for the black cherries to become ripe before you pick them. Harvesting black cherries is similar to harvesting other different types of cherries, including red cherries and sour cherries. However, all cherry types are unique. Therefore, each type of cherry type will have a unique way when they are ripened. Sour cherries will fall off the stem and red cherries will become a bright red. Black cherries will become very dark and when you squeeze them, they should be firm, but not hard.

Make sure you harvest the black cherries as soon as they are ripe. Harvest the cherries before it rains because the rain can open the cherries and damage them. If you will not be eating the cherries right away, harvest them with a few inches of stem attached. The stem will keep the black cherries fresh. If you will be using the black cherries right away for cooking, you can pick them right off the stem.

Health Benefits of Black Cherries

There are many health benefits from black cherries. They can help prevent high blood pressure and cancer and act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Black cherry juice is often referred to as dark cherry juice since the black cherry juice is darker colored. In this section, I will be going over one of the most common black cherry questions: What are the health benefits of black cherries?

Black Cherry Juice Benefits:

  • Prevents high blood pressure
  • Prevents obesity
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Can help prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Helps you sleep
  • Gives you healthy skin and hair
  • Gives you energy
  • Fights migraines

Are There Any Side Effects to Eating Black Cherries?

Unfortunately, there are some side effects if you eat too many black cherries. Too many black cherries may cause indigestion and diarrhea. For some people, black cherries may contain too much sugar. Also, cherries contain sorbitol, which could cause irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or fructose malabsorption in some people. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming a large number of cherries, stop eating the cherries immediately. If you feel like the symptoms are getting serious, you should immediately contact a doctor. To avoid these conditions, eat only a small amount of cherries at a time. While black cherries have many health benefits, it is important to be careful and eat in moderation.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this article has inspired you to grow your own black cherry tree. As you can see, black cherries are very easy to grow. Next time you eat some black cherries, save the seeds and use them to plant your own black cherry tree. If you already have a black cherry tree, you can use some of the pits from the cherries that fall off the tree to plant other trees or share them with others. Similar to other fruit trees, black cherry trees will require fertilizer, water, and pruning. Make sure you pick the black cherries as soon as they are ripe so that you can enjoy the cherries when they have the most nutrition. I have shared tips for knowing when your black cherries are ripe. And lastly, in this article, I discussed the many health benefits of eating black cherries. Make sure you do not eat too many black cherries, because they can cause indigestion and diarrhea. For some people, black cherries may contain too much sugar, especially if you eat too many at once. But all in all, black cherries are a delicious and healthy fruit to eat. So go get planting. Your work will soon be rewarded with a large supply of yummy, healthy black cherries.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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