How to Grow a Cherry Tree From Seed: 3 Tricks for Planting Cherry Seed Pits

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 11, 2024

Chef looking at a blooming cherry tree while holding cherries in his hand and a cherry pie in the other wonders how to grow a cherry tree from seed using pits and if there is a full guide to planting cherry seeds and how to grow cherry trees.

Interested in learning how to grow a Cherry tree from seed? There are some tricks you can use to ensure that your cherry pits germinate and grow.

In fact, these three tips can make all the difference:

  1. Keep the seeds cold
  2. Have the right soil (pH test)
  3. Choose the right location (Soak away test)

Of course, you can purchase cherry tree saplings from a local nursery, which will let you get a jump start on your tree’s production, but if you are determined to use a particular variety of cherry Indoors or outdoors), you’ll need to know exactly how to create the right growing conditions for this delicious fruit.

This complete guide explains how to grow a cherry tree from seed (pits) that you have on hand, explores the most popular cherry tree types and varieties.

It also explains how to keep your trees thriving by reducing common pests and providing exactly the right situation for harvesting lots of cherries for preserves, desserts, and more.

How To Grow a Cherry Tree From Seed: 3 Tricks for Planting Cherry Seed Pits

There are over 400 different types of trees that produce cherries bedecked with fragrance flowers from bright pink to the whitest white that can easily bring a bare lawn to life.

Growing one of these ornamental beauties from seed requires a few steps that begin with cold stratification treatments.2

The length of time this process will take will depend on which species is available in your state.

It can last from 4 weeks up to 14 weeks so choose your seeds carefully as this is just the first step in how to grow a Cherry tree from seed.

Closeup of Cherry tree showing its fruits, leaves, and branches.

(Image: Hans9)

Before selecting a cherry seed, ask at your local farmers market if the cherries are sourced locally to confirm whether they will be viable for planting in your backyard.

Once that has been ascertained, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Let the seeds sit in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes, then thoroughly wash and scrape off any residual fruit still clinging to the seeds.
  2. Allow them to air-dry for 5 days in a sunlit area.
  3. Seal all the seeds in an airtight plastic or glass container and place them in the refrigerator for 10 weeks for the necessary cold stratification period.
  4. Fill a container halfway with potting soil and then remove the seeds from the refrigerator, wait until they have warmed up to room temperature, then gently push 2 or 3 of them into the soil. Fill the rest of the container with the potting soil.
  5. Gentle water so the soil is moist, not sodden, then position the pot where it can be exposed to sunlight.
  6. When the tallest cherry seedling reaches 2 inches, the other two can be weeded out, and this dominant one can be placed outside if the weather is hot enough, or kept indoors in a sunny position until spring.
  7. When transplanting outside, ensure the location will not become waterlogged and plant the seedlings 20 feet apart.

Graphic instructions explaining how to grow cherry tree from a seed (pit) with cherry trees in the background.

Top Tips (Planting Tips for Cherry Tree)

  • Before transplanting the seedling outside, conduct a soakaway test hole 6 inches wide and about 10 inches deep. Fill with water and time how long it takes to soak away. If it’s longer than 4 hours, plant your seedlings in another location.
  • If a pH test indicates that the quality of your soil is poor, try mixing it with compost and peat moss. The benefit for home gardeners is that this will increase nutrient viability to make your crops more productive.3
  • To avoid overwatering a seedling or, worse, not watering it enough, push your finger into the soil at the base of the plant.
    When extracted, if the soil is soft and stuck to your skin then no watering is needed. If no soil is present because it is too dry, then water asap.

Can You Plant Cherry Pits? Can Cherries Be Grown From Seeds?

The short and long answer is a big yes. Nature has a way of making it as easy as possible for plants and trees to reproduce, and one of the best and cheapest ways to grow a Cherry tree is from a seed.

There’s no need to pop down to the local gardening store to buy a pack of seeds, but at the same time, you cannot just grab a bunch of cherries from the local supermarket, polish them off and drop the seeds into a hole in the ground the next day.

Unfortunately, those cherry seeds are unlikely to be viable for proper germination due to the cold storage method used to keep the cherries fresh before they were put on display.

An open Cherry fruit showing the Cherry pit.

(Image: Irita Antonevica10)

The first trick of how to grow a Cherry tree from seed starts with a farmers market.

Organic cherries from there will not have been through any refrigeration processes so will be not only better for the planet, but any of the seeds can be used for growing- after you have devoured the cherries first, that is.

Growing Zones for Cherry Tree: Planting Cherry Seed Pits and Cherry Tree Seed Pods Identification

USDA hardiness zones 5-7 are where Cherry trees like to grow up. Well, the sweet ones anyway.

There are sour cherries that will make your eyes water that are hardy enough to grow in zones 4-6, but rather than being eaten fresh, they are mainly used in cooking, canning, or baking dishes.

Related Reading: Tree Seed Pods Identification Guide: 75 Species (Full Chart)

A few popular ones in the United States are:

1. Bing Cherries (Prunus avium ‘Bing’)

Characterized by their larger size and deep rich red coloring, they taste sweet and the trees grow well in hardiness zones 5-8.1

Closeup of heart-shaped Bing Cherries.

(Image: Hans11)

Low-angle shot of Montmorency Cherries hanging on Cherry tree.

(Image: vampy2412)

2. Montmorency Cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘Montmorency’)

Bright red in color, these cherries are of the sour variety used in canning and cooking.

Originally from France, they grow in USDA Zones 5-9.

3. Morello Cherry (Prunus cerasus ‘Morello’)

A deep red color disguises a very tart and sour-tasting cherry, but despite its taste, it is very popular with bakers.

Closeup of Morello Cherries with deep-red color.

(Image: luctheo13)

Found in hardiness zones 4 through 9, its origin can be traced back to Eastern Europe.

Closeup of Ranier Cherries with its red and yellow skin.

(Image: Arielle Allouche14)

4. Rainier Cherry (Prunus avium ‘Rainier’)

A swirl of bright red and yellow swirls around the surface of this sweet-tasting, extremely juicy stone fruit.

A hybrid of the Bing and Van cherries, it was developed in Oregon and does well in hardiness zones 4 through 9.

5. Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

An unusually shaped cherry with a ruby red coloring and a nice sweet taste. Hardiness zones 5-9, it is often juiced to make wine.

Closeup of Cornelian Cherry tree with its ruby red cherries.

(Image: Goran Horvat (GoranH)15)

Black Tartarian Cherries with its deep purple skin.

(Image: Kristiane Wentzel16)

6. Black Tartarian Cherry (Prunus avium ‘Black Tartarian’)

Grown in hardiness zones 5-8, this deep purple fruit has a sweet, full flavor that is a treat to pluck, pop, and enjoy on a hot summer’s day.

Being able to identify the type of cherry seeds you have is not only helpful in knowing how to grow a Cherry tree from seed but also what type of Cherry tree you will have growing in your garden.

Imagine if your expectations were for bright pink cherry blossom flowers, only to have a Ukon Cherry tree with muted yellow flowers instead or, even more surprisingly, a Weeping Shidarezakura Cherry tree.

If possible, select the cherries you want to grow from seed yourself, or if buying from a garden center inquire about the type of Cherry tree the seeds are from.

How To Plant Cherry Seeds and Monitor Cherry Tree Growth Stages

It is possible to avoid the 10 weeks of indoor cold stratification process by planting the seeds either in the fall and cover with sand for added protection, or planting them in the spring when the ground has thawed.

Graphics showing the Cherry tree growth stages including Cherry tree dormant seed, Cherry tree bud burst, Cherry tree green cluster, Cherry tree flower bloom, and Cherry tree fruit set.

The seeds only need to be a few inches deep and can be as little as 12 inches apart at this stage.

With this direct-to-soil method, less of the seeds will germinate and it will take about 6 months for the strongest of them to do so.

When the emerging seedlings have grown to 12 inches in height, they can be carefully moved to more permanent sites and bedded down at least 20 feet apart from each other.

Cherry tree growth chart showing full grown Cherry Tree in a line graph with Cherry tree age on the x-axis and Cherry tree height on the y-axis.

At this early stage of how to grow a Cherry tree from seed, it is important to realize that sweet and sour trees should not be planted together as it can reduce the quality of either one of them.

How To Grow a Cherry Blossom Tree From Seed and the Best Growing Conditions for Cherry Tree

Cherry blossom trees are highly sought after because they are vibrant, fragrant, and make stunning ornamental plants.

An extra step that has to be taken with the seeds of a Cherry Blossom tree is a process called scarification.4 This involves soaking the seeds in hydrogen peroxide or scoring the surface to weaken the hard outer shell before cold stratification can be done.

Afterward, the same steps can be followed as normal and then transplanted outside in a position where the plant will get between 6 to 8 hours of daily sunshine.

The temperature only needs to be no more than 45°F during the day. But when uncovering the tips and tricks of how to grow Cherry trees from pits, remember that these plants need quite a few cold nights to ensure that the yield is bountiful come harvest time.

Growing a Cherry Tree From a Seedling or Growing a Cherry Tree From a Cutting

If patience is not one of your virtues, months of waiting and preparation in how to grow a Cherry tree from seed can be saved by starting the life of your new Cherry tree from a seedling or from a cutting rather than from seed.

The difference between the two methods is that from a seedling the cherries will be similar but not exactly a true copy of the parent tree.

How to grow sweet cherry trees graphic showing stages of cherry tree growth and actions.

From a cutting, the cherry will be a carbon copy in taste and texture of the one you relished eating to extract the seed in the first place.

Common Pests of the Cherry Tree and Natural Pest Control for Cherry Tree

After preparing, planting, and germinating a cherry seed until it begins to bear fruits, the last thing you want to do is lose your crops to the birds. Literally.

Birds, squirrels, and even bears are attracted to cherry so to protect your investment it is imperative that you protect your Cherry trees from wildlife or the only things you’ll have come harvest time is a lot of empty branches and a few pre-nibbled cherries.

Knowing how to grow cherry seeds outdoors can be considered the easy part of growing Cherry trees. Draping a net over the trees will keep the birds at bay, but for insects being constantly vigilant for these types of pests will take time, patience, and a sharp eye.

Cherry Tree PestsDescriptionTreatment
Cherry SlugsSlimy shufflers that devour leaves so much that the tree suffers.Jets of water will remove them. Chalk powder will keep them at bay.
Black Cherry AphidTiny bugs with a big appetite for cherry leaves.Regularly spraying with horticultural oil will get rid of these pests pronto.5
Cherry ThripsA thin brown fruit fly that just sucks the juice straight out of the leaves and the cherries.Prune away infected parts and spray with insecticidal soap.
Japanese BeetlesThese metallic pests can defoliate a tree to death.Physically remove them or liberally spray the tree with neem oil.
Closeup shot of a plant with a Japanese Beetle on its flower buds.

(Image: Sergio Cerrato – Italia (Camera-man)17)

Cherry Tree PestsDescriptionTreatment
Pacific Flat-Headed BorerOnly 1cm in length, if they infest the bark and go unnoticed, it can prove fatalIf caught in time, specific insecticides can be applied to eliminate them
Spotted Wing DrosophilaIts big red eyes are almost as big as its 3mm body. Around it, no cherries are safeUse a spray designed for a severe Drosophila infestation
Western Cherry Fruit FlyThe larva of this pest hatches inside the cherries and devours them from the inside outRemove damaged fruits and spray with an insecticide

How To Grow a Cherry Tree From Seed: How To Stop Cherry Tree Disease

Similar to infestations from creepy crawlies, Cherry trees are often besieged by diseases that can prove fatal to either a young or a mature tree.

Some of these diseases you will discover when you’re learning about how to grow a Lemon tree, how to grow an Apple tree from seed, or even how to grow a Mango tree from seed.

Many of these diseases do not differentiate between tree species. They can be ruinous to the crops, the leaves, to the roots, and even cause devastating damage to the trunk itself which is the support structure for the entire tree.

Some of the ones to watch out for are:

  • Cytospora Canker

This disease infects the inner wood but is noticeable as bulbous red blobs on the surface. Extremely dangerous to Cherry trees and the only treatment is to cut off the infected limb or excise the area where the canker has been spotted.

  • Cherry Leaf Spot

Red spots on the leaves clearly indicate that this fungus has taken hold. Mainly found on Sour Cherry trees, treatment is removing the leads and spraying with a homemade fungicide made of dish soap, water, and baking soda.

  • X-Disease

Brought by insects, cherries become deformed and inedible. Any infected leaves or branches will have to be cut away to halt any further spreading of the contagion.

  • Crown Gall

The bacteria will rot the tree from inside its very core. Deadly, the only treatment option is to heavily spray with a fungicide specifically for cankers that will not remove them but may keep your tree alive.

  • Black Knot

This is a fungal infection that is easy to see as it smothers the branches, starving them of nutrients. If not caught in time it will be the death of your Cherry tree.

Effective treatment is aggressive pruning and burning.

  • Brown Rot

A quickly spreading disease like this will attack leaves, twigs, flowers, and fruits. They will all discolor, slowly rot, and affect the entire tree.

Treatment involves pruning, then burning the infected sections away from the tree, as well as spraying with an organic fungicide to prevent any reoccurrences.

A how to grow a Cherry tree from seed tutorial should always advise that early disease detection or prevention is always better than playing catch-up when an infection has taken a firm hold on your trees.6

For diseases like these and others, tree care has to involve vigilance, proper pruning, avoiding overwatering, clearing away decaying matter from the base of the tree, and regularly using an organic fungicide.

Companion Plants for Growing Cherry Tree

The visual impact in your garden of a Cherry tree in full bloom as an ornamental feature cannot be underestimated.

To maintain it in peak condition it is advisable to have companion plants around and underneath it, similar to how companion plants benefit avocado trees when they are planted underneath its expansive canopy.

Not only does the introduction of different species complement the surrounding ecosystem but they can attract bees and beneficial insects to help in pollination, and their presence will actually help to keep some invasive pests at bay.

This is an important piece of information to add to your list of how to grow a Cherry tree from seed because it will protect and improve the health of your Cherry tree as well as increase the quality of your tasty cherries.

Therefore, consider planting the following:

  • Thyme: A natural at repelling Cherry tree pests
  • Lilacs: Colorful, fragrant, and attract butterflies that aid in pollination
  • Lupins and White Clover: These colorful flowers absorb nitrogen from the air which is then seeped into the soil to improve the quality.
  • Chives: Easy to manage and both repels pests and pollinators
  • Sweet Alyssum: Sweet Alyssum has a sweet honey scent that attracts assassin bugs. These bugs feast on the dreaded Cherry Fruit fly, protecting your crop.
  • Comfrey: Adds texture, but more importantly, draws deep nutrients up to the surface for the cherry roots and other fauna to absorb
  • Dandelions: These flowers aid in the ripening process of cherries.
  • Rosemary: Pests are repelled by the smell alone of this herb.

Research and discover what other plants or even companion trees you should plant close by that will influence the growth of your Cherry trees in a positive way.7 A little time studying will go a long way toward the health of your Cherry tree.

What Are the Best Type of Cherry Trees To Grow?

Armed with the knowledge of how to grow a Cherry tree from seed will help if you decide to grow other fruit-bearing trees from seed, all of which can help in the reduction of CO2 emissions in the United States.

Several factors can determine which types of Cherry trees will be ideal for your backyard. These can range from your hardiness zone, how much time you have for care and maintenance, soil composition, and even what pests and tree diseases are prevalent in your area as some Cherry trees are more resistant to some pests than others.8

It’s a great idea to visit a local nursery and ask questions. Since the growing zone will be the same as where you live, they can tell you the best types of cherries to plant.

They can also offer addition insights into how to grow cherry trees from seed (pits) and provide soil enhancements that can prevent many of the common problems gardeners face when growing cherry trees.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Grow a Cherry Tree From Seed

How Long It Takes To Grow Cherry Trees?

Between 7-10 years for a Cherry tree to grow from seed. Other types of Cherry trees grown from saplings can reach maturity in 4 to 5 years, and be producing fruit in about 2 years.

How Fast Do Cherry Trees Grow?

Cherry trees are fast growers and can ascend between 1-2 feet every year, irrespective of whether they have been grown from seed or if you have learned how to grow a tree from a branch.


When To Plant Cherry Tree for the Best Yield?

Planting is best at the end of the fall season if there is no sign of frost, or in early spring when the soil is thawed. Remember that any successful how to grow a Cherry tree from seed project can boil down to the timing of transplanting seedlings outdoors.

How Far Apart To Plant Cherry Tree?

Cherry trees have to be planted 20 feet apart to allow for the growth of the branches and the roots.

How Much Sunlight Does Cherry Tree Need Each Day?

The direct sunlight requirement of Cherry trees is 6-8 hours a day.


What Are the Watering Needs for Cherry Tree Plants?

Once or twice a month in winter is enough. In summer the watering needs can be 3 times a week and is the primary means of how to care for a Cherry tree.


How Long Does It Take for a Tree To Grow?

How long does it take for a tree to grow will vary depending on the kind of tree and the zone.


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