Transplanting sour cherries to raised beds

bernard_in_ohioAugust 23, 2014

My 2 Meteors and 2 Bali Evans from SLN, planted April 2014, haven't done much because the soil doesn't drain sufficiently. I thought it would, but no. They put out leaves but no branches. The trunks are still like pencils.

I'm planning to transplant them to raised beds 6' square and about 1' deep, right next to a retaining wall. (The trees themselves will be 3' away from the retaining wall.)

At the bottom of each bed will be native clay soil piled in a flat plane tilted slightly toward the retaining wall. The planes will be covered with plastic, with gravel on top of the plastic, the top of the gravel on a plane level with the ground. All that is so water will drain between the stones comprising the retaining wall.

I'll very gently dig up the trees, put them aside with the roots in their balls of dirt, then give the balls a quick rinse to get rid of the clay before planting them in fresh soil, above the gravel, in their new beds.

I'm planning on doing this after the trees go dormant but before the snow starts.

I want to give them perfect soil. What should it consist of? How deep should it be?

What do you think of my plan? Do you think I'm likely to have more success with the cherries in containers instead of raised beds?

(My pride and vanity compel me to add that my 3 Carmine Jewels and 2 Crimson Passions, planted elsewhere, are doing very well.)

Thanks very much for considering my questions.


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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I would wait till spring,..nothing much gained in the fall for zone 5. It can harm if anything.

>>I want to give them perfect soil. The perfect soil what most people think can be sometimes the worst for a particular plant.
So...nothing too elaborate, sandy clay is what mine are on and doing good, you don't need too much black soil,..just good drained soil.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:41AM
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Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)

What rootstock are they on? I think that will make all the difference in what your plan for the trees should be. If it's a rootstock that doesn't tolerate clay/wet soils (like Maheleb) then you should consider moving the trees somewhere else entirely, and starting over with a good rootstock for clay soil.
If it's on a wet tolerant rootstock, your plan may work better. A raised bed is a great approach, though I'm not sure the plastic is necessary. If there is clay there anyway, then the water has to go somewhere, right?
I bet there are folks here with more rootstock and drainage experience who can advise you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cherry Rootstocks

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 3:30AM
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Konrad �"

Thanks for your response. You are obviously a master of these cherries. I've seen the pictures.

You must be right about spring instead of fall. Spring is when they're shipped, after all.

With the soil, I'll have to restrain myself. I'm like an anxious parent who bombards his kids with soccer, piano, gymnastics, French, ballet, etc. I want to keep hurling stuff at these plants in the hope that something will take. It's called killing with love.

I'll make a blend of native clayey soil and 25% sand. I hope that's okay.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Hello, babyg �"

Thanks for writing and for the link!

SLN says Bali Evans is from tissue culture, so it's on its own roots. With Meteor, they just don't say in their catalog or website, so I don't know. I can write and ask.

For sure, excellent drainage is critical. I've learned that if the soil doesn't drain thoroughly, the plants are doomed no matter what else is happening.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 11:28AM
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babyg -- oops just noticed SLN says Meteor is a natural dwarf, so I think that means there's no graft.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 11:30AM
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