This is an “Ultra Dwarf Compact Stella Sweet Cherry” from Pacific Groves. According to the tag, it is good for eating and preserving, and it grows to be between 5 and 8 feet tall.
The Pacific Groves website suggests that I use potting soil for the tree. But I’m not sure that potting soil has enough nutrients, and I’m VERY sure that Fresno is a hot place during the summer and this tree is going to need a way to keep water in the soil.
So I used 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Square Foot method. The result is something that I hope to be nutritionally sufficient, and good at keeping and holding moisture in the pot.
And, about that pot. Although it has the look of concrete or clay, it is actually a double-walled resin pot. The problem with clay pots is that they sweat moisture, and dry out very quickly. Concrete pots heat up in the sun and transfer that heat to the soil. My hope is that with a light-colored double-walled pot, heat transfer won’t be as much of a problem.
The pot was sealed on the bottom, so I drilled out four 1/4 inch holes to allow the water to run through.
The pot looks a little small. However the tree is already 3 feet tall. The pot should be sufficient for a 5-6 foot tall tree. If, after a few years, the tree is 8 feet tall, I’ll consider repotting it. But I don’t really think that will be necessary.
This is the first time I’ve tried planting a potted plant without first putting gravel in the bottom of the pot. In the past I’ve added gravel or pot-shards in the bottom to promote good drainage, but some people say that this is a myth, and that it is better to just use a tray under the pot where water can accumulate and keep things humid.
So that’s what I’ve done here. The soil is full of compost, so I’m not worried about it washing out of the draining holes in the bottom. The roll-around tray that the pot sits in allows water to collect, but it also has spacers to allow the pot to sit on the tray without sitting in this water and rotting the bottom of the soil. This should result in a high humidity area that isn’t actually soaked all the time.
Last, I put Tanglefoot around the edge of the mobile tray to keep the Argentine Ants out of my cherry tree! I’ll need to make sure that the tree doesn’t actually touch any structure (like a fence or pole) which might allow the ants access.
Before the summer heat really gets bad, I’ll add a sheet of plastic to the top of the soil to keep water from evaporating quickly in that direction. I’ll add some mulch to the top of that to keep the heat down. But right now in winter, it doesn’t really matter.
The cherry tree is sleeping now. The buds seem a little greener, so perhaps it is getting ready to bloom in the spring. I plan on removing any fruit this year, and allowing it to spend its energy on growth. We will see if we get any fruit next year or the year after.
Next up, creating an automatic drip to the tree!