To grow cherry fruit, select seeds from fruits that are fully ripe and free of insect damage and disease. The fruit should be as close to being clonally perfect as possible. In other words, different varieties of cherry trees must not cross-pollinate the fruit. Some varieties of cherry may be difficult to germinate from seed. The best method for growing cherry trees from seed is to collect many fruits and start the seed in plastic seed starting flats.
- Glass jar with lid
- Plastic food bag
- Potting soil
- Plastic seed flat
- Water sprinkling can
- Plastic food wrap
- 6-inch pots with drainage holes
Collect mature fruits from tree limbs. Do not harvest fruits that have fallen to the ground -- these fruits may harbor insects, disease and bacteria.
Open the cherry fruits with the knife to expose the seeds. Place the seeds in a glass jar. Fill the jar half full with water. Cover with the lid. Leave the jar in a warm location out of direct sunlight for 24 hours.
Discard all seeds that are floating. Rinse the seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Lay the seeds on a few paper towels to dry. Generally, drying the cherry seeds overnight gives them sufficient time to dry.
Place the dried seeds in a plastic bag. Seal the plastic bag and set into the refrigerator for 90 to 150 days, or three to four months. In most cases, if the fruits are harvested in June or July, the seeds will not be ready for planting until November. This method of cold-treating the seeds is called stratification. Stratification increases the germination rate of the seeds.
Fill a plastic seed starting tray with 2 inches of potting soil. Add 2 qt. water to the potting soil. Allow all excess moisture to drain from the seed starter tray.
Plant the cherry seeds 2 inches apart from each other and 1/2 inch deep under the soil.
Cover the tray with a single sheet of plastic food wrap to retain a moist environment. Inspect the soil for moisture content every week. Remove the plastic. Insert your finger into the soil 1 inch deep. If dry, add water evenly over the seedbed with the watering can. Viable seeds should begin to germinate in two to three weeks when placed in a warm, 70-degree-Fahrenheit location. Keep the seed flat out of direct sunlight. Remove the plastic wrap once the seedlings begin to touch the underside of the cover. Leave the new seedlings in the flat until they reach a height of 4 to 6 inches.
Transplant each individual seedling to a 6-inch pot. Fill the pot to within 1 inch of the top rim with potting soil. Keep the seedling at the same soil line level in the pot as it came from the seed tray. Add 1 qt. water to the soil mix. Allow all excess water to drain. Place the seedling in full sunlight, and keep the soil medium moist. Keep the young seedling from freezing during the winter season.
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