Prized for their beautiful spring blossoms, whether they are just ornamental or bred for their fruit, cherry trees possess definite soil preferences. Mostly they require well-draining soil, so their origins never sit in water. The distinctions between species of the Prunus genus tend to blur; commercial cherry trees also bear beautiful blossoms, sweet cherries might have a bite and a few sour cherries are sweet enough to eat fresh. However, differences still exist at the growing conditions required with each.
Soil to Cherries
All cherry trees thrive at a light, rather sandy soil. Avoid planting in heavy, compacted soils. In these cases, cherries are rather susceptible to root and crown rot. The perfect soil for cherries are reasonably fertile but also deep, especially where the ground is dry. At flowering and fruiting times, even when cherries possess the best need for water, then they can survive at dryish soil, if their origins may really go deep enough to detect moisture. A pH of 6.5 is suitable for cherries, but everywhere in the assortment of 5.5 to 8.0 is acceptable.
Preventing Root and Crown Rot
The vast majority of soil-borne diseases are caused by a fungus, and cherry trees are especially susceptible to phytophthora root and crown rot. Often, fungi that have overwintered in the soil become triggered during a rainy spell. Above ground, yellowing leaves and decreased growth are signs of this disease. Root damage can simply be set by digging them around. Should you detect a reddish discoloration along with an unpleasant smell, phytophthora is current. Natural fungicides, such as copper substances, neem oil and Bacillis subtilis, or the synthetics chlorothalonil or myclobutanil, can be sprayed on an infected tree. Not all trees will be saved, so preventative measures work better. Trees planted on ridges or berms typically fare better. Choose “Mazzard” or “Colt” rootstocks for sweet or sour cherries over “Mahaleb,” for less susceptibility to root and crown rot.
Changing Soil pH
If a soil test indicates your soil falls beyond the pH acceptable for sustaining a cherry tree, it is possible to correct it. To increase the pH when the soil is too acidic, add lime (pulverized limestone). Bonemeal and wood ash may also tone down acidity. Adding 5 to 10 pounds of lime per 100 square foot of soil should increase the pH by one scale interval. Particularly in dry areas, soil can be quite alkaline. Mixing in a great deal of organic matter, such as peat moss, sawdust, bark or leaves, is a suitable choice. Organic fertilizers for “acid-loving” plants benefit a soil that is overly alkaline, but applying a lot of these goods year after year may cause the soil to go too much to the acidic side.
Sour cherries are more demanding than sweet cherries, adapting better to warm weather, but another type of cherry, the capulin cherry (Prunus salicifolia HBK), is even less temperamental. Although not grown commercially in the United States, since it’s in its native Guatemala and South America, the capulin has gotten more popular in backyards in which other cherries will not grow. Less stringent in its soil requirements than other cherries too, the capulin can thrive in poorer soils, also clays. Growers hope this cherry, which also has a higher resistance to fungal diseases in the soil, will provide a remedy to some of the largest problems encountered in developing cherries.