mazzard cherry flowers

Sunburst Cherry Planting, Care, & Propagation Guide.

Welcome to the world of cherry tree cultivation! If you’re looking to add a burst of vibrant color and delicious fruit to your garden, then growing Sunburst Cherry trees might just be the perfect choice for you. Sunburst Cherry, also known as Prunus avium ‘Sunburst’, is a popular variety known for its exceptional flavor, stunning blossoms, and manageable size. With its ability to thrive in various climates and its resistance to many common cherry tree diseases, Sunburst Cherry is an excellent option for both experienced gardeners and beginners alike.

In this article, we will delve into the specifics of growing Sunburst Cherry trees, from selecting the right location and preparing the soil to nurturing the tree throughout its growth stages and harvesting the delectable cherries. So, grab your gardening tools and let’s embark on a fruitful journey of cultivating Sunburst Cherry trees!

What is a Sunburst Cherry?

Sunburst Cherry is a popular variety of cherry tree known for its exceptional taste and attractive appearance. It is a self-fertile tree, meaning it does not require another cherry tree for pollination. The fruit is medium-sized with a bright red skin and a sweet, juicy flesh.

Sunburst cherries have a good balance of sweetness and acidity, making them ideal for eating fresh or using in various culinary applications. The tree itself is vigorous and has a spreading growth habit, reaching a height of around 12-15 feet. It is also known for its resistance to diseases and pests, making it a relatively low-maintenance option for cherry tree enthusiasts.

What does a Sunburst Cherry taste like?

Sunburst cherries are known for their exceptional flavor profile. They have a sweet and tangy taste that is often described as a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. The flavor is rich, with hints of tropical fruits and a subtle tartness that adds complexity to the overall taste.

These cherries are known for their juiciness, and biting into one will release a burst of flavorful juice. The sweetness is not overwhelming, allowing the natural flavors of the cherry to shine through. Sunburst cherries have a delightful aroma that is both fruity and floral, enhancing the overall sensory experience.

The texture of Sunburst cherries is firm yet succulent, making them enjoyable to eat. They have a thin skin that is easy to bite through, revealing the juicy flesh inside. The cherries are typically medium to large in size, providing a satisfying mouthful with each bite.

Overall, Sunburst cherries offer a delightful combination of sweetness, tanginess, and juiciness. They are a popular choice for fresh eating, baking, and various culinary applications. Whether enjoyed on their own or incorporated into recipes, Sunburst cherries are sure to please the taste buds of cherry enthusiasts.

How to start Sunburst Cherry from seed

Starting Sunburst Cherry trees can be done through both grafting and growing from seeds. However, grafting is the preferred method as it ensures the new tree will have the desired characteristics of the Sunburst variety. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to start a Sunburst Cherry tree:

  1. Obtain graft stock: Purchase a healthy Sunburst Cherry tree from a reputable nursery or garden center. Make sure the tree is disease-free and has a strong root system.
  2. Prepare the rootstock: Choose a compatible rootstock for grafting, such as Mazzard or Colt. The rootstock should be a few years old and have a diameter of about 1/2 inch. Trim the rootstock to a height of 18-24 inches.
  3. Prepare the scion: Select a healthy, disease-free shoot from the Sunburst Cherry tree. The scion should be about 1/4 inch in diameter and 6-8 inches long. Make a clean, slanting cut at the base of the scion.
  4. Make the graft: Use a grafting knife to make a matching slanting cut on the rootstock, ensuring that the cambium layers of both the scion and rootstock align. Join the scion and rootstock together, making sure they fit snugly. Use grafting tape or rubber bands to secure the graft.
  5. Protect the graft: Apply grafting wax or a grafting compound to seal the graft union and prevent moisture loss. This will also protect the graft from diseases and pests.
  6. Provide proper care: Place the grafted tree in a warm, sheltered location with partial shade. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Protect the graft from extreme temperatures, frost, and strong winds.
  7. Monitor and maintain: Regularly check the graft union for any signs of infection or failure. Remove any suckers or shoots that emerge from below the graft union. Prune the tree to shape it and promote healthy growth.
  8. Transplanting: After one year, the grafted tree should be strong enough to be transplanted into its permanent location. Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and carefully place the tree in it. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots. Water thoroughly.

If you prefer to grow Sunburst Cherry trees from seeds, keep in mind that the resulting trees may not have the exact characteristics of the parent tree. Here are the steps for growing Sunburst Cherry trees from seeds:

  1. Obtain seeds: Collect fresh cherry seeds from ripe Sunburst cherries or purchase them from a reputable seed supplier. Make sure the cherries are fully ripe and the seeds are clean and healthy.
  2. Cold stratification: Cherry seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. Place the seeds in a moist paper towel or peat moss and seal them in a plastic bag. Refrigerate the bag for 8-12 weeks, maintaining a temperature of around 35-40°F (2-4°C).
  3. Sow the seeds: After the cold stratification period, sow the seeds in pots or seed trays filled with well-draining potting soil. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water gently.
  4. Provide proper care: Place the pots or trays in a warm location with indirect sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Germination may take several weeks, so be patient.
  5. Transplanting: Once the seedlings have grown to a height of 6-8 inches and have developed a few sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the ground. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Space the seedlings at least 15-20 feet apart.
  6. Monitor and maintain: Regularly water the seedlings, especially during dry periods. Protect them from pests and diseases by applying appropriate organic pest control methods. Prune the trees to shape them and promote healthy growth.

Growing Sunburst Cherry trees can be a rewarding experience, whether through grafting or growing from seeds. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the delicious fruits and beautiful blossoms of this variety in your own garden.

When to plant Sunburst Cherry outdoors

The ideal time to plant Sunburst Cherry trees is during the late winter or early spring, before the tree starts to break dormancy. This is typically between February and April, depending on your specific climate and region. Planting during this time allows the tree to establish its root system before the onset of hot summer temperatures.

Growing & care guide Sunburst Cherry

Caring for Sunburst Cherry trees requires attention to several key factors, including proper planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control. By following these best practices, you can ensure the health and productivity of your Sunburst Cherry tree.

  • Choose a well-draining location that receives full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day.
  • Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and has a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
  • Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the tree’s root system.
  • Place the tree in the hole, making sure the bud union (the swollen area where the tree was grafted onto the rootstock) is above the soil level.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots.
  • Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.
  • Sunburst Cherry trees require regular watering, especially during dry periods.
  • Water deeply, providing enough moisture to penetrate the root zone.
  • Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other diseases.
  • Mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  • Monitor the soil moisture levels and adjust watering accordingly.
  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring, just before new growth begins.
  • Use a fertilizer specifically formulated for fruit trees, following the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.
  • Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization, as it can promote excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
  • Consider conducting a soil test to determine if any specific nutrient deficiencies need to be addressed.
  • Prune Sunburst Cherry trees during the dormant season, preferably in late winter or early spring.
  • Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
  • Thin out crowded branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration.
  • Maintain an open center or vase-shaped structure to allow light to reach all parts of the tree.
  • Prune to promote fruiting wood and remove any suckers or water sprouts.
  • Monitor your Sunburst Cherry tree regularly for signs of pests, such as aphids, cherry fruit flies, or cherry slugs.
  • Use organic pest control methods whenever possible, such as introducing beneficial insects or using insecticidal soaps.
  • If necessary, apply appropriate pesticides following the instructions and recommendations provided by local agricultural extension services.
  • Sunburst Cherries are typically ready for harvest in late spring or early summer, depending on your climate.
  • Harvest the cherries when they are fully ripe, firm, and have developed their characteristic red color.
  • Gently twist or cut the cherries from the stem, being careful not to damage the fruit or the tree.

By following these best practices for caring for Sunburst Cherry trees, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious cherries while ensuring the long-term health and vitality of your tree.

Harvesting guide for Sunburst Cherry

Sunburst Cherry is a popular variety known for its sweet and juicy fruit. Harvesting Sunburst Cherries at the right time is crucial to ensure optimal flavor and texture. Here’s a guide on when and how to harvest Sunburst Cherries:

  1. Timing: The timing of cherry harvest can vary depending on your specific location and climate. However, Sunburst Cherries are typically ready for harvest in mid to late summer, usually around July or August. Keep an eye on the color and size of the fruit as indicators of ripeness.
  2. Color: Sunburst Cherries are bright red when fully ripe. Wait until the cherries have developed a deep, uniform red color before harvesting. Avoid picking cherries that are still partially green or have a yellowish hue, as they may not be fully ripe and won’t have the desired sweetness.
  3. Size: The size of the cherries is also an important factor to consider. Sunburst Cherries are medium-sized, typically around 1 inch in diameter. Harvest the cherries when they have reached their full size and are plump and firm to the touch.
  4. Taste test: To ensure the cherries are at their peak flavor, taste test a few before harvesting the entire crop. The cherries should be sweet, juicy, and have a rich flavor. If they are still slightly tart or lack sweetness, give them a few more days to ripen on the tree.
  5. Harvesting technique: Gently twist or roll the cherries off the stem to detach them from the tree. Be careful not to pull too hard, as this can damage the branch or the fruit. Alternatively, you can use a pair of pruning shears or scissors to cut the cherries from the stem, leaving a short stub.
  6. Handling and storage: Handle the cherries with care to avoid bruising or damaging the fruit. Place them in shallow containers or baskets to prevent excessive weight and crushing. Store the harvested cherries in a cool, dark place or refrigerate them to maintain their freshness. They can typically be stored for up to a week, but it’s best to consume them as soon as possible for the best flavor.

Remember, cherry trees can produce a large crop, so it’s important to monitor the ripening process regularly to avoid missing the ideal harvesting window. Enjoy the delicious bounty of your Sunburst Cherry tree!

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.