Cherry Tree Fertilizer: When And How To Fertilize Cherry Trees

By: Teo Spengler

Gardeners love cherry trees (Prunus spp.) for their showy spring blossoms and sweet red fruit. When it comes to fertilizing cherry trees, less is better. Read on for information about when to fertilize cherry trees and when cherry tree fertilizer is a bad idea.

Cherry Tree Fertilizer

Gardeners should remember that fertilizing cherry trees does not guarantee more fruit. In fact, the main result of applying cherry tree fertilizer heavy in nitrogen is more foliage growth.

Fertilize the tree if the foliage growth is slow. But only consider cherry tree fertilizer if the average annual branch growth is less than 8 inches (20.5 cm.). You can calculate this by measuring from last year’s bud scale scars that formed at the shoot tip.

If you keep pouring on nitrogen fertilizer, your tree may grow longer branches, but at the expense of fruit. You have to keep a balance between giving your cherry tree a helping hand and overdosing it on fertilizer.

When to Fertilize a Cherry Tree

If your tree is planted in a sunny site in fertile, well-drained soil, it may not need fertilizer. You’ll want to run a soil test before you start fertilizing cherry trees with anything but nitrogen. If the test reveals that the soil lacks important nutrients, you can add them then.

Also, keep in mind that the best time to fertilize is early spring. Don’t start fertilizing cherry trees in late spring or summer. This timing of cherry tree fertilizing stimulates foliage growth in late summer, inhibits fruiting, and makes the tree vulnerable to winter injury.

How to Fertilize Cherry Trees

If your cherry tree growth is less than 8 inches (20.5 cm.) a year, it may need a cherry tree fertilizer. If so, buy a balanced granulated fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10.

The amount of fertilizer to apply depends on the number of years since the tree was planted in your garden. Apply 1/10 pound (45.5 g.) of nitrogen for every year of tree age, up to a maximum of one pound (453.5 g.). Always read the package directions and follow them.

Generally, you apply fertilizer by scattering the grains around the cherry tree trunk, out to and beyond the tree’s dripline. Don’t broadcast any near to or touching the trunk.

Ensure that the tree doesn’t get too much fertilizer by taking into account any other plants you fertilize near the cherry. Cherry tree roots absorb any fertilizer used near it, including lawn fertilizer.

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Answers to Questions on Planting and Growing Cherry Trees

Most people love eating fresh cherries or fresh baked cherry pie, and nothing is more satisfying than growing your own crop of this delicious fruit. Planting and tending a cherry tree is not hard, but you should know about selecting a variety compatible with your climate zone, choosing a planting location with good sun and soil, and tending the tree by watering and fertilizing at the right times.

What climate zones do cherry trees grow in?

Sour cherries grow in colder climates than sweet cherries, and they thrive in USDA climate zones 4 to 9. Sweet cherries prefer the milder climates of zones 5 to 8. Choose a variety best suited for your climate zone.

When is the best time of year to plant a cherry tree?

Plant cherry trees in the winter when the tree is dormant.

Can you grow a cherry tree from a cherry pit?

Yes, but it will not be the same as the cherry it came from. Growing cherries from seed produces a hybrid with qualities different than either of the parents.

What kind of soil does a cherry tree need?

Plant your cherry tree in fertile soil with good drainage and a pH level of 6 to 6.5.

How do you dig a hole for planting a cherry tree?

Dig the hole at least twice the size of the root ball of the tree. Mix in a small amount of organic matter with the native soil to improve drainage and add nutrients. Good sources of organic matter include:

  • Compost
  • Decomposed manure
  • Leaf mold

When do you fertilize a cherry tree?

Cherry trees do not need an abundance of fertilizer. Testing your soil for nutrients at planting time and each year thereafter helps you figure out how much fertilizer to apply. In general, fertilize with a low-nitrogen fertilizer only once per year in spring before blossoms appear.

How much sun do cherry trees need?

A lot. Choose a site with full-sun, providing at least 8 hours of direct light each day.

How much water does a cherry tree need?

It depends on where you live. If you have summer rain, you will need to irrigate less than if you live in a dry summer climate. However, cherry trees do need regular irrigation in summer, but it is just as important not to over-irrigate because too much water can lead to fungal diseases of the root system.

How long until a cherry tree starts to produce fruit?

Standard size sweet cherries start bearing a fruit crop in four to seven years after planting. Dwarf trees bear fruit in about two to three years. Sour cherries begin fruiting three to five years after planting.

Young Trees

In general, young trees that are not yet producing fruit may be fertilized with a balanced 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 slow-release fertilizer. One treatment is sufficient for the season.

Scratch 2 ounces of fertilizer for each inch of the trunk's diameter into the soil, beginning 1 foot from the tree's trunk and scattering the fertilizer out to the drip line. Water thoroughly after applying the fertilizer. Rake 4 inches of mulch over the soil, pulling it back 6 inches from the tree's trunk. Mulch reduces weed growth and slows water evaporation from the soil.

  • The cherry tree sways in the cool spring breeze, the petals breaking free of their buds and opening into a cloud of white and pink blossoms.
  • Scratch 2 ounces of fertilizer for each inch of the trunk's diameter into the soil, beginning 1 foot from the tree's trunk and scattering the fertilizer out to the drip line.

How to Fertilize Trees

Last Updated: March 29, 2019 References

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 8,474 times.

Planting trees can give most patches of earth some color and character. Although trees generally do not require a ton of maintenance aside from regular watering and intermittent pruning, they do benefit from the occasional application of fertilizer. To avoid damaging your tree, consider testing your soil first to determine what kind of fertilizer you need. Add an appropriate amount of fertilizer in the spring or fall to help your trees recover from damage and continue growing.

Kwanzan Cherry Tree Care


Although the Kwanzan cherry tree is native to islands of Japan, China, and Korea, it has adapted very well to the climate in the US. This tree can tolerate temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes the tree ideal for growing in all kinds of climates.


This cherry tree requires irregular watering once or twice a week. Water the tree deeply after checking the topsoil. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water it.


Kwanzan cherry trees need a lot of sunlight to thrive. These trees should not be planted in partial shade and typically need a full day of sunlight.

The best soil condition for growing Kwanzan cherry trees should be well-draining and moist. That said, these trees aren’t too picky and generally do well in sandy or clay soils. They can tolerate both alkaline and acid levels.

Mulching and Fertilizing

The good news is, you won’t need to fertilize your Kwanzan cherry tree for the first two years. After the second year, boost its growth by feeding the tree with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer for two years. Be sure to protect the tree from pesky weeds by mulching around its base. Mulching will protect and nurture the soil while preventing the tree’s roots from drying out.Apply the fertilizer in the spring and summer by dividing the fertilizer into 2-4 applications. As a rule of thumb, apply the fertilizer once a month from March to June.


While Japanese cherry trees can be propagated from seeds, cuttings will be the quickest and easiest method. Follow these simple steps to propagate your Kwanzan cherry tree:

Step 1. Take a cutting from the cherry tree in summer. Choose a branch that has 2-4 leaf nodes and leaves.

Step 2. Trim up to 4 inches from the cutting at a horizontal angle and remove all the bottom leaves. Leave the upper leaves intact.

Step 3. Place the cutting in a rooting hormone.

Step 4. After two days, place the cutting into a soil mix consisting of half peat moss and half perlite. Make sure the cutting is firmly planted into the soil.

Step 5. Place a plastic bag over the pot and put it in a sunny location. Lightly spray the cutting with water twice a day to keep the soil moist.

Step 6. After 3 months, check the cutting to see if it’s rooted. The roots must fill the pot before the cutting is repotted.

Step 7. Repot the cutting in a gallon-sized once it has rooted properly. Fill the container with potting soil and move the plant outside. The potted plant needs full sun (at least 6 hours a day).

Step 8. After one week, plant the cutting in the ground.

Kwanzan Cherry Tree Planting Tips

  • Kwanzan cherry trees are bold focal points of gardens. They are best planted in rows along driveways and even in containers as a bonsai. You may even plant your flowering cherry tree in the front yard in full view of everyone. In fact, almost anywhere around your home can be a good location for planting this tree. Ideally, you’ll want it somewhere you can see from your window.
  • Kwanzan cherry trees go very well with yellow-gold shrubs and blue flowers. The pink blossoms of these trees complement the blue and yellow flowers beautifully.
  • When planting your Kwanzan, choose a spot with well-draining soil and direct sun. If you want to plant several cherry trees, space them around 12 feet apart.
  • These types of cherry trees have a difficult time growing in grassy grounds, so it’s best to plant them in a raised mound bed that has good drainage. The mound should ideally be 15 inches or so above the surrounding soil. If you live in a hot climate, spread 3-5 inches of mulch layer around the tree. Test the soil for moisture after planting by dipping your finger into it.


Kwanzan cherry trees don’t require much pruning unless their twigs or branches are attacked by pests or diseased. In these cases, you must cut the infected twigs immediately. It is also advisable to prune the limbs that have grown too heavy starting from the base of the tree. This will ensure the tree doesn’t get overloaded with out of shape twigs.

As a rule of thumb, you should only prune the flowering tree in the fall after it has completed flowering. Important: sterilize your pruning tools with alcohol in order to ensure healthy trimming and prevent fungus infestation.

Follow these quick steps to safely prune your cherry tree:

Step 1. As stated previously, start pruning your tree in the fall or after the spring season once the tree has completed its floral blooms. This will help eliminate any damaged branches that are susceptible to disease.

Step 2. Using a sharp trimming shear, trim off the discolored branches. Make sure you wipe down the tool after you finish in order to kill any lingering fungus on the shear.

Step 3. Any connecting branches also need to be cut off. These branches will grow bigger and rub on each other, thus reducing air circulation. A cherry tree can’t stay protected against fungal diseases if it doesn’t have proper air circulation. Moisture from overcrowded branches will cause rot disease. Once the tree’s trunk and branches get discolored, they will decay and infect the entire tree. By pruning the connecting branches early in the season, you will help your tree grow in the healthiest possible way.

When should I fertilize my Yoshino cherry tree?

Click to read full answer. Accordingly, what is the best fertilizer for cherry blossom trees?

Most flowering cherry trees can benefit from a balanced blend fertilizer with compositional values of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. These values represent the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) mix in the fertilizer. Nitrogen is responsible for promoting foliar growth.

Beside above, how long does it take for a Yoshino cherry tree to grow? In only 3 to 4 years, the tree can reach up to 15 feet tall and have a trunk diameter of around 3-inches. After 4 years, the growth rate slows down, but the tree can still grow up to 3 or 4 feet each year for the rest of its life, which is relatively short -- 15 to 20 years at most.

Thereof, when should I fertilize my flowering cherry tree?

Typically for cherry trees, once a year is enough — apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, about two or three weeks before the tree blooms. You can still fertilize after bud break, but by no means any later than July.

How far apart should you plant Yoshino cherry trees?

Yoshino Cherry

  • Category: Trees.
  • Water Requirements: Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater.
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun.
  • Foliage: Evergreen.
  • Foliage Color: Unknown - Tell us.
  • Height: 12-15 ft. ( 3.6-4.7 m) 15-20 ft. ( 4.7-6 m)
  • Spacing: 10-12 ft. ( 3-3.6 m) 12-15 ft. ( 3.6-4.7 m)
  • Hardiness: USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

Fertilizing Cherry Trees

Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the nutrients in your soil, especially nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages green vegetative growth, which is exactly what you want to promote before your cherry tree reaches its fruit-bearing years.

Always test your soil prior to applying any fertilizers. Different soils can have varying amounts of native elements needed to support cherry tree growth and development. If you discover your soil lacks any necessary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphates, potash, etc.), be sure to choose a fertilizer that supplements the soil’s nutrient deficiency.

Get to know your soil and discover the importance of soil testing prior to making any changes.

NOTE: This is part 6 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow cherry trees , we recommend starting from the beginning.

About Fertilizers

  • Fertilizers – both synthetic and organic (naturally derived) – are soil amendments labeled with a “guaranteed analysis” of nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), and Potash (K).
  • Alternately, there are organic soil amendments, like compost and aged/rotted manure. They are used like fertilizers, but they are not technically fertilizers. You can make your own organic soil amendments, like compost, out of food or garden scraps, or even get compost, manure, and other organic soil amendments from a trusted local source. While these help add nutrients to the soil to support your cherry trees, they will not have a “guaranteed analysis” value.
  • In general, cherry trees thrive when macronutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) are present. Nitrogen helps encourage vegetative growth (leaves and branches). Phosphorus encourages root and blossom development. Potassium/Potash is responsible for the efficacy of the cherry tree’s natural disease-resistance and systems supporting its overall health, kind of like an immune system. A water-soluble fertilizer that is specifically formulated for use on young cherry trees provides the nutrients these trees take in during their initial years in the ground as they become established.

Cherry trees are light feeders and prefer a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 10-15-15. Take care not to over-fertilize, or you may produce a tree that is unbalanced, which can affect fruit production and leave the tree susceptible to pests and disease.


Nitrogen, phosphorus/phosphates, and potassium/potash are the “big” macronutrients cherry trees need to grow normally. They are present in healthy soil, but may be added when soil is deficient. Nitrogen is the nutrient most used by growing cherry trees it moves throughout the soil, is leached off by normal growth and must be replaced by synthetic or organic compounds. The main source of nitrogen is decaying organic matter. Signs of macronutrient deficiency in cherry trees include reddish or pale colored leaves, narrow or shrunken leaves and dead spots on leaves.


Cherry trees also need micronutrients in the soil, which help make the macronutrients available to the tree. For example, molybdenum helps fix nitrogen to the soil. Copper and zinc prevent color mottling and misshapen leaves. Calcium is another essential micronutrient that cherry trees thrive on that improves leaf and fruit quality. The easiest way to add micronutrients is by adding aged compost or a good, balanced fruit tree fertilizer that states micronutrients are part of the formula.

When to Fertilize Cherry Trees

  • In nutrient-rich soil, you can withhold using fertilizers until your cherry trees begin bearing fruit (average: 4-7 years for sweet cherries 3-5 years for pie/sour/tart cherries). If your new cherry trees don’t put on several inches of new green growth during the growing season, consider fertilizing starting the following spring.
  • Typically for cherry trees, once a year is enough — apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, about two or three weeks before the tree blooms. You can still fertilize after bud break, but by no means any later than July. For any specific fertilizer application instructions, always refer to the information printed on your product’s label. Be mindful that local advisories on fertilizing may be in effect during certain times of year. For the sake of your local environment, please adhere to these restrictions.
  • Many fruit trees require more nitrogen after they start bearing fruit, but not cherry trees. Each year, test the soil to see what it needs, and if the nitrogen levels appear low, then apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in small amounts a couple of weeks before bud break in early spring. Mulch your trees and keep weeds at bay, since weeds will compete with your cherry trees for nutrients.

To prevent the chance of injury as the growing season winds down, do not fertilize past July 1st.

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