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Honest Advice About Growing Healthy Cherry Trees

St. Paul, Minn. (February 13, 1997)—Ever since George Washington's day, cherry trees have been valued for their beauty and fruit. But growing one is not without its pitfalls. “I cannot tell a lie, cherry trees do die,” says Jay Pscheidt, a plant doctor at Oregon State University.

If you've been wanting to plant a cherry tree in your yard but didn't know where to start, here's some honest advice from the American Phytopathological Society (APS), the organization that's dedicated to healthy plants for a healthy planet.

  • Buy a healthy disease-resistant tree. Ask if your garden center guarantees its stock.
  • Choose a plant site with a loamy, well-drained soil.
  • Follow planting instructions carefully. Determine how much water and what type of fertilizer are needed for your tree and site. Your County Extension office or garden center can assist.
  • Prune your tree properly as it grows; ask your County Extension office for information on how and when to do this. Generally, late winter pruning is best. To minimize disease, prune branches to encourage good air circulation and light penetration.
  • Prevent disease by raking and removing fallen leaves and old fruit from your yard. Application of a fungicide will help reduce cherry leafspot disease, a common concern in many parts of the country.
  • Avoid mechanical damage of the roots or trunk caused by lawnmowers and other tools.
  • Plant a cherry tree in a new site; avoid planting the tree where a cherry, peach or prune tree was recently removed.

By following these guidelines, homeowners can avoid the factors that predispose or stress plants making them more susceptible to diseases or insects.

The American Phytopathological Society is a professional scientific organization dedicated to the study of plant diseases and their control. For more information on APS, visit APSnet.