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

Black cherries have so many health benefits.  Not only do black cherries taste good, but they also help prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. Unfortunately, not many people want to spend the price that black cherries cost these days.  That's why growing your own black cherries is a great option for you to try.  Today I'll be going over how to plant a black cherry tree, how to care for a black cherry tree, and how to tell when the black cherries are ripe.  I've also included some tips on the best time of year to plant a black cherry tree, as well as what a black cherry tree is. Lastly, I'll be going over the many health benefits of black cherries, also called dark cherries.  So let's get started on how to plant your own black cherry tree so that you can have an endless supply of black cherries.

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 to other types of cherries, such as sweet cherries and sour cherries, the black cherry seems to be not as common.  There is a reason - black cherries have many different names, so often at 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. Chokecherry is 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 plant a seedling.  I'll be going over how to plant a black cherry tree, also known as a wild cherry tree, from seed.

Buy Cherries so You Can Get the Pits

The cheapest way to get black cherry seeds is to buy some black cherries and take out the pits.  That means that you can first enjoy eating the black cherries.  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 5 minutes, and then start scrubbing them so that any fruit on the pits will come off.  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 in the refrigerator for 10 weeks.  Once you have followed these steps, you are ready to get planting.

Begin Planting

Once ten weeks have passed, remove 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 it.  Water the container so that the soil becomes moist.  When the cherry seedlings are 2 inches tall, you will want to remove them from the pot, keeping only the sturdiest seeding in the pot.  If the other seedlings are sturdy as well, rather than uprooting them you could transplant them to a different pot.  Keep the seedling in a sunny area indoors until there is no chance of frost, and then transplant it outside.  If you are growing multiple trees, make sure they are planted at least 20 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, it is recommended to plant them in the Fall.  That is because it is usually in the Fall when a black cherry tree will have ripe cherries.  The cherries on a cherry tree will usually fall off in the Fall, and you can collect those cherries and plant the pits.  Also, it is in the Fall that 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 seed into the pot, after following the instructions I've given you earlier, it doesn't really matter what time of the year you plant it.  Just make sure that there is no chance of frost when you move the wild cherry tree outside.  Spring is a good time of the year to plant a black cherry tree outside, because it gives the plant all Spring, Summer, and some of Fall before frost comes.

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 come in.  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, but if it has been very dry or windy you may need to water them sooner.   Once black cherries begin coming in, your black cherry tree may need more water.  One way to tell if your tree needs watered is if the top three inches of soil around the tree are dry.  If the soil is dry, water the black cherry tree with a hose until it has soaked up a lot of water.

Fertilizer

Before buds appear on your black cherry tree in the Spring, add some fertilizer to the black cherry tree.  Remember though 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 over fertilize.

Prune

Just like with any other tree, pruning is an important care tip that you should do.  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 it.

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 the black cherry has to offer.  Remember that once you pick the black cherries, they will not ripen any more.  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 cherries are different.  Therefore, some cherries will have a unique way of showing you they are ripe.  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 a black cherry is should not be too hard feeling nor too soft.

Make sure you harvest the black cherries as soon as they are ripe.  If rain will be coming, harvest the cherries before it rains because the rain can open the cherries. 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.  But if you will be using the black cherries right away for cooking, you can pick them off the stem.

Health Benefits of Black Cherries

There are many black cherry health benefits, including that it helps prevent high blood pressure and cancer.  Black cherry juice is often referred to as dark cherry juice since the black cherry juice is darker colored.  In this section I'll be going over one of the most common black cherry questions:  What is black cherry juice good for?

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 people.  If you happen to get any of these symptoms after consuming a large amount of cherries, stop eating the cherries immediately.  If you feel like the symptoms are getting serious, you should go to the doctor right away. To avoid these conditions from happening, try to eat only a small amount of cherries at a time.  While black cherries have so many health benefits, it is important that you stay away from the illnesses they can bring.

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.  Just like any other fruit tree, 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've gone over some tips for knowing how to tell when your black cherries are ripe.  And lastly, in this article I went over the black cherry health benefits.  Make sure you do not eat too many black cherries, as they can cause you to have symptoms such as indigestion and diarrhea.  For some people, black cherries may contain too much sugar, especially if you eat too much 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 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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