Can I plant cherry trees (Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City) in the fall?

Asked September 9, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

I bought 9 sweet and 2 tart cherry trees this summer and was told by my nursery to wait until fall to plant them. But a neighbor who is a cherry farmer says it is too late to plant and I will lose the trees if it is a hard winter.

If that is true, can I store them in my basement over winter and plant them next April? If I do that, what should I do besides watering them?,

Can I plant cherry trees (Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City) in the fall?

Grand Traverse County Michigan

2 Responses

Generally we do not recommend fall planting of fruit trees since young and newly planted trees are more susceptible to winter injury if we get a winter like we did this year. This advice is generally for bare root trees. If the trees are growing in pots I would plant them as soon as you can and take my chances. Storing them in the basement is not an option unless you keep your basement at 40 degrees. Cherries need a winter chilling period to let them know the winter has come and gone to begin good growth in the spring. Without it they would grow poorly. In the warm basement they will also use up the food reserves they have stored and be weak.
If the trees have been growing outside since you bought them plant them as quickly as possible so they can grow new roots and get off to a good start thei spring. They are more likely to survive and thrive outdoors than in your basement or garage.

Thank you!