Plump, juicy Bing cherries (Prunus avium) flood the supermarket in early to midsummer, offering consumers across the United States cherries for eating fresh or adding to desserts. While other sweet cherries are available throughout the year, the Bing cherry, named after the Chinese foreman who helped develop it in the mid 1800s, holds the honor as the most produced sweet cherry in the United States. Bing cherries thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8 and are typically planted from nursery-grown trees. However, you can start your own tree from the pit of a Bing cherry.
1 Remove the pits from ripe cherries, and wash them in water to remove any pulp residue from the pit. Placing a bowl or container near the cherries and encouraging family members to deposit the pits in the bowl allows your family to enjoy this delicious fruit, while you gather the pits you need for planting.
2 Place the pits in a glass jar or bowl of tepid water, and soak them for 24 hours. This removes any remaining pulp residue and hydrates the seeds.
3 Fill a zippered food storage bag with moist peat moss, and add the seeds. This keeps the seeds from drying out during cold stratification.
4 Place the seeds in the refrigerator at a temperature between 33 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit for six to eight weeks. This simulates the natural cold stratification needed to break dormancy and stimulate the seed to germinate.
5 Plant seeds to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch in flats or individual containers filled with a mixture of moist perlite and peat moss.
6 Cover the container with clear plastic wrap to keep the soil moist and raise the humidity near the seedlings. Poke several holes in the plastic to allow the air to circulate.
7 Place the seed trays in an area that receives indirect sunlight, and keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in approximately four weeks.
8 Move the seedlings to an area that receives bright light, and gradually move them to direct sunlight over the course of a week or more. Begin by exposing them to direct sunlight in the morning and shading them during the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. Extend the exposure time each day until they can withstand full day sun without showing signs of wilting or sun scald on the leaves.
9 Transplant your seedlings to the garden in the spring when the weather has warmed.
Items you will need
- Glass jar
- Zippered food-storage bag
- Peat moss
- Plant trays
- Plant pots
- Plant more cherry pits than the desired number of trees as some seeds may not germinate.
- Bing cherry trees produce fruit in five to six years. A mature Bing cherry tree produces 50 to 100 pounds of cherries a year.
- Bing cherry pits will produce a sweet cherry, but they may not be identical to the original cherry.
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