How to Care for a Canadian Red Cherry Tree

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Also known by other names such as chokecherry, Canada red and Prunus virginiana, Canadian red cherry is a small tree sometimes grown as a tall shrub that is renowned for its succulent chokecherries. The deciduous tree grows up to 25 feet tall and features a vase-like form. Grown successfully in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8, the attractive tree is a suitable choice for small gardens or areas where space is limited. The easy-to-grow tree livens up the landscape with its showy form and dense clusters of flowers in spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic mulch
  • 5-7-2 fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Neem oil or insecticidal soap
  • Pruning shears
  • Garbage bag
  • Pruning paste

Plant the tree in a spot that provides well-draining, loose and fertile soil. Enrich the planting site with organic matter prior to planting. Make sure the site is exposed to at least six hours of full sun every day. During planting, keep the tree’s root crown at the same level as it was in the nursery container. Space multiple cherry trees 4 to 6 feet apart.

Water the newly planted Canadian red cherry immediately to moisten the roots. Spread a 3-inch-thick layer of organic mulch around the tree, 6 inches away from the trunk and spread it up to 12 inches wide. Water the tree when the top 2 or 3 inches of the soil feel dry. Insert your finger in the soil to determine whether it is time to water.

Fertilize the Canadian red cherry in early spring, just before new growth appears. Spread a granular 5-7-2 formulation around the tree, up to a radius of 3 feet. Rake the fertilizer into the soil and water lightly to help the fertilizer penetrate down to the roots.

Inspect the cherry tree frequently for common pests such as aphids. A strong gush of water from a garden hose takes care of a small infestation. If the problem persists or the infestation is large, apply neem oil or insecticidal soap over the areas.

Cut any suckers that appear around the roots. Since the plant is a shrub, it also produces new shoots from its crown during the growing season. To maintain a tree shape, use clean pruning shears to cut shoots back to the points they originate from on the crown.

Prune the tree in the summer instead of during the winter to invigorate growth and protect it against silver leaf disease. Remove damaged, dry or diseased limbs, along with crossing or wayward branches to increase the airflow through the tree’s canopy.

Inspect the tree for symptoms such as knots or bumps on small branches that indicate the presence of the fungal disease called black knot. Cut the infected limb 2 to 5 inches below each knot. Immediately burn or discard the severed limbs in a sealed garbage bag to prevent spread. Apply pruning paste to cover any wounds.

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