mazzard cherry flowers

Summit Cherry Planting, Care, & Propagation Guide.

Welcome to the world of cherry tree cultivation! If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and delectable sweetness to your garden, then growing Summit Cherry trees might just be the perfect choice for you. With their stunning blossoms in spring and abundant fruiting in summer, Summit Cherries are a popular variety among gardeners and fruit enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we will delve into the specifics of growing Summit Cherry trees, from selecting the right location and preparing the soil, to planting, caring for, and harvesting these delightful trees. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques needed to successfully cultivate your very own Summit Cherry tree and enjoy its bountiful rewards for years to come.

What is a Summit Cherry?

Summit Cherry is a popular variety of cherry tree known for its delicious fruit and ornamental value. It is a self-fertile tree, meaning it can produce fruit without the need for a pollinator. The tree has a moderate growth rate and reaches a height of about 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) when fully mature. Summit Cherry produces large, dark red cherries with a sweet and juicy flavor. The fruit is typically ready for harvest in mid to late summer, making it a great addition to any home garden or orchard.

The cherries are excellent for fresh eating, baking, and canning, making them versatile for various culinary uses. In addition to its fruit-bearing capabilities, Summit Cherry also offers aesthetic appeal. It features beautiful white blossoms in spring, creating a stunning display of flowers.

The tree has an upright and spreading growth habit, with glossy green leaves that turn vibrant shades of yellow and orange in the fall. Summit Cherry trees prefer full sun exposure and well-drained soil. They are generally hardy and can tolerate a wide range of climates, including colder regions.

Regular pruning is recommended to maintain the tree’s shape and promote optimal fruit production. Overall, Summit Cherry is a highly regarded cherry tree variety that combines both ornamental beauty and delicious fruit, making it a popular choice among gardeners and fruit enthusiasts alike.

What does a Summit Cherry taste like?

Summit cherries are known for their exceptional flavor profile. They have a sweet and tangy taste that is balanced and delightful. The flavor is often described as rich and complex, with hints of both sweetness and tartness. The sweetness of the cherries is not overpowering, allowing the natural tartness to shine through, creating a perfect harmony of flavors.

The cherries have a slightly firm texture that gives a satisfying bite. They are juicy and succulent, bursting with flavor with every mouthful. The balance between sweetness and tartness makes them incredibly versatile for various culinary uses.

When eaten fresh, Summit cherries offer a refreshing and invigorating experience. They are perfect for snacking on their own or adding to fruit salads, where their vibrant flavor can complement other fruits. The cherries also lend themselves well to baking, as their flavor intensifies and becomes even more pronounced when cooked. They are excellent for making pies, tarts, jams, and preserves.

Overall, Summit cherries are a true delight for the taste buds. Their unique flavor profile makes them a favorite among cherry enthusiasts, and their versatility in both fresh and cooked preparations makes them a prized addition to any culinary creation.

How to start Summit Cherry from seed

Starting Summit Cherry trees from graft stock is indeed the preferred method as it ensures the desired characteristics of the tree. However, if graft stock is not available, you can still start Summit Cherry trees from seeds. Here is a guide on how to start Summit Cherry trees:

  1. Seed Selection: Obtain fresh Summit Cherry seeds from a reputable source. Make sure the seeds are viable by conducting a germination test. Place a few seeds between damp paper towels and keep them in a warm location. If the seeds sprout within a couple of weeks, they are viable and ready for planting.
  2. Stratification: Cherry seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy and promote germination. To stratify the seeds, place them in a plastic bag with a moistened paper towel or peat moss. Seal the bag and refrigerate it for about 90-120 days. This mimics the natural winter conditions that the seeds would experience outdoors.
  3. Soil Preparation: While the seeds are stratifying, prepare the planting site. Choose a location with well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Remove any weeds or grass from the area and loosen the soil to a depth of about 12 inches. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost, to improve soil fertility and drainage.
  4. Planting: After the stratification period is complete, remove the seeds from the refrigerator. Fill small pots or seed trays with a well-draining potting mix. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep in the soil, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Water the soil gently to ensure it is evenly moist.
  5. Germination and Growth: Place the pots or trays in a warm location with indirect sunlight. Maintain a consistent temperature of around 70°F (21°C). Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Germination may take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, so be patient.
  6. Transplanting: Once the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves and are sturdy enough, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the ground. If transplanting outdoors, ensure all risk of frost has passed. Space the trees at least 15-20 feet apart to allow for their mature size.
  7. Care and Maintenance: Provide regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry spells. Mulch around the base of the trees to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. Fertilize annually in early spring with a balanced fruit tree fertilizer according to package instructions. Prune the trees in late winter or early spring to shape them and remove any dead or diseased branches.

It’s important to note that growing cherry trees from seeds may result in some variability in fruit quality and characteristics compared to the parent tree. For consistent and reliable results, grafting Summit Cherry onto rootstock is recommended.

When to plant Summit Cherry outdoors

The ideal time to plant Summit Cherry trees is in the early spring, after the last frost has passed and the soil has started to warm up. This typically falls between March and April, depending on your specific location. Planting during this time allows the cherry tree to establish its roots before the hot summer months, which promotes healthy growth and fruit production.

Growing & care guide Summit Cherry

Caring for Summit Cherry trees requires attention to several key aspects, including proper planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control. Here are some best practices to ensure the healthy growth and productivity of your Summit Cherry tree:

  • Choose a location with full sun exposure (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily) and well-draining soil.
  • Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the tree.
  • Place the tree in the hole, ensuring that the bud union (the swollen area where the tree was grafted onto the rootstock) is above the soil line.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
  • Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.
  • Provide consistent and deep watering during the first year after planting to establish a strong root system.
  • Water deeply once or twice a week, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged.
  • During dry spells or hot weather, increase watering frequency to prevent drought stress.
  • Avoid overhead watering, as it can promote fungal diseases. Instead, use drip irrigation or a soaker hose to water at the base of the tree.
  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins.
  • Use a fertilizer specifically formulated for fruit trees or one with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and methods.
  • Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization, as it can lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
  • Prune Summit Cherry trees during the dormant season (late winter to early spring) to promote optimal growth and fruit production.
  • Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
  • Thin out crowded branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration.
  • Maintain an open center or modified central leader shape to allow for better light distribution and easier harvesting.
  • Remove any suckers or water sprouts that emerge from the base or trunk of the tree.
  • Monitor your Summit Cherry tree regularly for signs of pests or diseases, such as aphids, cherry fruit fly, or brown rot.
  • Use organic or chemical insecticides as necessary, following the instructions carefully.
  • Apply dormant oil spray during the dormant season to control overwintering pests and their eggs.
  • Practice good sanitation by removing fallen leaves, fruit, and debris from around the tree to reduce the risk of disease.

Remember, proper care and maintenance are essential for the health and productivity of Summit Cherry trees. By following these best practices, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious cherries for years to come.

Harvesting guide for Summit Cherry

Summit Cherry is a popular variety of cherry tree known for its large, firm, and sweet fruit. Harvesting Summit Cherries at the right time is crucial to ensure optimal flavor and texture. Here’s a guide on when and how to harvest Summit Cherries:

  1. Timing: The timing of the harvest depends on your location and the specific climate conditions. Generally, Summit Cherries are ready for harvest in mid to late summer, typically around July or August. The fruit should have a deep red color and be fully ripe before picking.
  2. Visual cues: Look for cherries that have a glossy, dark red skin. They should feel firm to the touch but not too hard. The fruit should also easily detach from the stem when gently pulled.
  3. Taste test: To ensure the cherries are fully ripe and have reached their peak flavor, it’s a good idea to taste a few before harvesting the entire crop. Sweetness and juiciness are key indicators of ripeness. If the cherries are still tart or lack sweetness, it’s best to wait a few more days before harvesting.
  4. Harvesting technique: When picking Summit Cherries, it’s important to handle them gently to avoid bruising or damaging the fruit. Hold the cherry gently between your thumb and forefinger, then twist and pull it away from the stem. Avoid pulling on the stem itself, as this can cause damage to the tree.
  5. Harvesting frequency: Summit Cherries tend to ripen over a relatively short period, usually within a week or two. Therefore, it’s recommended to check the tree regularly and harvest the ripe cherries every few days. This ensures you gather the fruit at its peak ripeness and prevents overripe cherries from falling to the ground and attracting pests.
  6. Post-harvest care: After harvesting, handle the cherries with care to avoid bruising. Place them in a shallow container or basket to prevent crushing. If you plan to store the cherries, keep them refrigerated in a breathable container or a perforated plastic bag. They can last for up to a week when properly stored.

Remember, Summit Cherries are best enjoyed fresh, so try to harvest and consume them as soon as possible for the most delicious flavor.

Cody Medina
Small Scale Farmer
Hi there! I'm Cody, a staff writer here at The Garden Magazine and a small-scale farmer living in Oregon. I've been gardening most of my life and now live on a quarter-acre farmstead with chickens, ducks, and a big garden.