by National Gardening Association Editors
Cherries need a sunny site with good air circulation and deep, well-drained soil. Although cherry wood is as winter-hardy as some apple varieties, the flower buds are tender once they start to swell. An elevated site will minimize frost-killed blossoms. Avoid low areas or places surrounded by buildings or shade trees, where cold air settles. Poorly drained soils can cause trees to die in a wet year even though they may have lived through several years of drier weather. Cherries are susceptible to verticillium wilt and other diseases, so don't plant them where verticillium has infested the soil or where tomato family crops, melons, or strawberries grew the previous two seasons. Also avoid planting where peach or cherry trees once grew.
Plant sweet cherries on standard rootstocks 35 to 40 feet apart; dwarfs, 5 to 10 feet apart. Space tart cherries on standard rootstocks 20 to 25 feet apart; dwarfs, 8 to 10 feet. Set trees on standard rootstocks with the graft union a few inches below the soil level. Set trees on Colt dwarfing rootstock with the graft union several inches above the soil line.
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