Rainier cherry tree question

winsorw(8)June 7, 2009


I'm trying to grow a rainier cherry tree. This is its second year and it grows quite fast and big but doesn't produce much. I have a pollinator next to it, the pollinator is much smaller but has numerous fruits. Is there a trick to grow Rainier? (I'm in Auburn.)


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This isn't really a direct answer to your question (since I don't have personal experience growing 'Rainier' cherries) but I have heard it is not well-adapted to the west side of the Cascades. I believe this is mostly due to its splitting in the rain.

I'm sure at this point you would be happy to have at least a few fruit on the tree to see whether they split or not...

BTW, if it is growing well in its second year that's a good sign. You may just need to wait a year or two. Also, don't prune much (and of course try to reasearch the best way to prune) and you should see the tree switch over from more vegetative growth to more fruiting.

Do you know what the pollinator is?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 1:35PM
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Thank you for your reply. The pollinator is Sweetheart. I have no particular reason for choosing it.

Good point on pruning, but too late, I already did the damage:-) I did it last fall because it was and is growing quite rapidly. Regarding splitting, last year on a trip somewhere I sat next to the guy who said he was a scientist working in Yakima, doing the research on a formulation that prevent splitting. He said it was succesful. But I don't know if the product is available for home use.

I don't know if I would be able to see the splitting because last years the birds got them before me.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 7:07PM
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I did a quick check on the Raintree Nursery website and Sweetheart should pollinate Rainier just fine. Perhaps then it is just a matter of letting the tree develop older, fruiting wood. Do a little research on pruning before next winter's go-round and you should be on your way. I went to the Raintree classes which were helpful but like most complicated things it takes a lot of review and further study - at least it does for me.

One thing I took home as a basic point is to concentrate the pruning in the top of the tree if possible. That keeps the fruiting wood developing in the lower portion where its more accessible and also keep size down somewhat. Also, pay a lot of attention to the difference between heading cuts and thinning cuts. Thinning cuts will help promote fruiting whereas heading cuts promote vegetative growth. One is not better than the other, just that you need to have a rough idea which kind of cut you're making and why. Overall I tend to over-prune, like many people.

The speakers (primarily Gary Moulton with WSU) also emphasized spreading branches in early summer (now) and changing their angle as this also helps promote fruiting.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:43PM
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Planted a Lapins cherry tree, little thing, 1 year ago. 1st year, grew like crazy, no fruit. This summer, growing absolutely wild, fruit, starting to blush pink. This is a self-pollinating dark red luscious sweet cherry.

This spring, planted a Stella as another self-pollinating cherry tree, nearby. Text says this will make both of them produce more cherries and be happier.

Little Stella isn't growing at all. Has no fruit.

Had no idea a fruit tree could grow as fast as this Lapins is. Have 29 bird stations around house, read that birds' favorite tree is cherry. Will net parts of these trees for us and enjoy the sight of the birds for the rest.

Blueberry bushes are producing well this year. And the little fig tree is growing fast and has a LOT of figs this year, only 2 1/2 years in the ground.

Got the cherry trees at Portland nursery, where they had received them as bare roots and put them in pots. When we planted them all the dirt fell off the little roots the minute we lifted tree out of pot. But they're doing fine.

Read that cherry trees don't want too much water. Planted them on a bit of a rounded mound. Mine get sprinkler watered. Also hand hose water them a bit, watching very carefully to see any signs that it's overwatering. So far, so good. As they establish they'll need less watering.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:27AM
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Thanks Pepperdude for the info, I'll work on the pruning and hopefully it will produce more next year enough to make a cherry pie:-)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The "wild" cherry trees you see turning portions of local wooded hillsides white in spring - where they are often taller than the native alder trees around them - are the same species, planted everywhere and gone wild. And, of course, the big old sweet cherry trees you see on old home and orchard sites are the same species as that little whip you brought home from the nursery. So, yes, the tree has a genetic blueprint to shoot up (and out, where not crowded) quickly to form a large specimen. Dwarfing rootstocks have been used to try and overcome this but in the past results have been limited, the "dwarf" cherry tree from the garden center eventually taking off and becoming a source of consternation.

The main cherry problems are fruit cracking, bacterial canker, and damage to the crop by birds. The introduction of dwarfing rootstocks such as Gisela 5 makes it possible for home growers and orchardists to grow small, manageable trees that can be netted for bird protection. Adding a rain cover to the bird net is a possibility. Select varieties that have less genetic tendency to crack  usually those with somewhat softer flesh. Also, later ripening varieties (late July) may take advantage of the better weather and late market opportunities

Here is a link that might be useful: Cherry Variety Trials

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:33PM
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tallclover(Zone 8 Maritime Pacific NW)

My Rainier took four years to produce. I'd say hold back on pruning and let the tree establish itself a bit. I have Van, Stella, Rainier, Early Burlat and Utah Giant trees on Vashon Island in Puget Sound area. It's not a toasty warm place, but these trees are doing very well with little pruning (for now). And let the tree do the work for you. Under the weight of the cherries the branches now have a more horizontal habit.

At four and five years they've all started to produce nicely. It just takes time. I'll post a link so you can see what they look like

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of homegrown Van, Stella and Rainier Cherries

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Hi Tallclover,
Thank you for the message and a link to convince me:-) Ok I'll let it live a couple more years. Great info! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 5:59PM
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Alot of good info in this thread. I have 2 dwarf "Early Richmond" Cherry trees. In the 2nd year I still had no fruit, so I pruned them early in the 3rd year from 5ft tall down to less than 2ft tall! I thought If this dont wake them up oh well...

And it did! Last year after the pruning the vegetative growth was awesome! Even had a few cherries! This year they are over 10ft tall and moderate to heavy fruit production.The 4th year is looking good!

Here is a link that might be useful: The first and the Third Trees Shown here are the Early Richmond I Pruned

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 8:58PM
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I've been looking to buy a Rainier cherry tree and some dark cherry trees to buy in Western Washington for years. Does anyone know of a good nursery in the area to buy at?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:13AM
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I am planning to plant a rainer cherry tree. I live in Plymouth, MN ZIP 55446. As per below Minnesota University website, cherry trees don't grow in Minnesota weather. Any suggestions/guidelines/experiences with Very cold wether and cherry trees? I am looking for Sweet edible cherries (not specifically Rainer cherries).
Also I was planning to plant 1 tree, do I need 2 for pollination? I found a website selling rainer cherry tree 5-6 feet) for $65 + $7 oversize shipping. Any suggestions on price (Ofcourse if it is OK to grow in Minnesota).


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:23AM
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