How to Plant Cherry Seeds for Successful Trees

Published January 27, 2021
red cherry berry on a tree branch

Learning how to plant cherry seeds is easy when you follow simple instructions. Be prepared to wait for around five years before you have any cherries, after which the trees will produce delicious cherries for 30 to 40 years.

How to Plant Cherry Seeds - Pre-Planting Prep

You can grow a cherry tree from a seed. You will first need to prepare the seeds.

Soak the Cherry Seeds

Soak the cherry seeds to remove the leftover fruit pulp covering them. The easiest way to do this is to place them in a bowl of warm water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes.


This next step is easy, too.

  1. Place the seeds in a mesh sieve and rinse with running water. Be careful not to splash the seeds out of the sieve.
  2. Now that the seeds are separated from the pulp sheaves, remove the seeds and throw away the leftover pulp.
Hands holding cherries seeds

Spread Cherry Seeds Onto Paper Towels

The seeds must be dried before you can plant them.

  1. Spread the seeds out onto paper towels so they can dry.
  2. Set in a warm place, but not in direct sunlight where they won't be disturbed and allow them to dry for 4-5 days.

Stratify the Seeds

In order for the seeds to germinate, they must go through the natural process of stratification. You will mimic the way mother nature readies cherry seeds for germination through the cold process of winter.

  1. Once the seeds are dry, place them in a storage plastic bag with a damp piece of paper towel.
  2. You can leave the top zip of the bag slightly open so the seeds don't rot from too much moisture.
  3. Place the bag in the refrigerator where it won't be disturbed for 10 weeks.
  4. Check on the seed periodically to make sure the paper towel hasn't dried out. Some gardeners prefer to put the seeds in an airtight container.

How to Grow a Cherry Tree From Stratified Seeds

At the end of 10 weeks, remove the cherry seeds from the refrigerator. Allow them to acclimate to room temperature by resting them for a few hours.

  1. Once the seeds have warmed up, plant them in prepared containers of potting soil.
  2. Plant two seeds per container.
  3. Find a nice sunny area for your cherry seed pots and water regularly so the soil is always moist, but never wet or soggy.

Thin the Plants

If both seeds in each container come up, wait until they are about three inches tall and remove the shorter plant in each container. This process is called thinning. You want the best plant to have all the nutrients in the container for the best chance of survival. Make sure you properly discard of the plant since the only part of a cherry tree that isn't poisonous is the cherry! The leaves, twigs and bark contain a type of cyanide that's fatal to humans and animals if ingested.

How Long Does It Take to Grow a Cherry Tree From a Seed?

How long it takes to grow a cherry tree from a seed can vary. A good rule of thumb is between 7 to 10 years. Much depends on how quickly the cherry seeds germinate. Some seeds may take several months to a year. If you use the stratification process, you increase the chances of the seeds germinating quicker.

How to Plant Cherry Trees

When your cherry trees are around 12" tall, you can transplant them in warm weather, preferably in the spring.

Prepare the Hole

  1. Dig a hole that is wider and deeper than the pot.
  2. Add a layer of potting soil in the bottom of the hole.
  3. If you're planting more than one tree, space them 20' apart.
Woman harvesting cherries in garden

Release Tree From Grow Pot

Next, you will ease the cherry tree from the grow pot by holding the sides of the pot and tilting it to allow the tree to slip free. If the tree doesn't release easily, you can gently loosen the roots from the pot with a knife or press along the outer sides of the pot.

Place Cherry Tree in Hole

You can gently spread the tree roots out from the tree and center it inside the hole. Fill the hole with soil and backfill until you have covered the root ball. Tamp down the loose soil.

Secure the Tree

Drive a wooden stake or pole into the ground beside the tree. Using tree ties, secure the tree to the stake/pole to ensure it is protected from the wind and other elements.

Protect Young Trees

Your cherry trees are tender and vulnerable to deer that are immune to the poisonous effect of the cherry tree bark and leaves. That means the deer will most likely munch on the young trees you just planted. Take precautions to protect your cherry trees with a wire enclosure that can be replaced as the trees grow and mature.

Water and Mulch Your Cherry Tree

Water your cherry tree with a deep soak (a gallon of water) to give it a good start. Add 2"-3" of mulch to keep moisture locked in and prevent weeds. Your cherry tree will need regular watering for the first year. It's best to avoid fertilizing young trees since they are so tender. It will take between 2 to 5 years before your cherry tree bears fruit.

Plant Trees From Cherry Seeds

It's easy to learn how to plant cherry seeds. Once you've planted the trees, you'll have plenty of cherries for decades.

How to Plant Cherry Seeds for Successful Trees