The Stella cherry tree is a vigorous, moderately hardy self-pollinating stone fruit variety that blooms heavily in April. In July, it produces dark reddish-black heart-shaped medium-sized fruit with a firm, sweet flesh. It also serves as a pollinator for other cherry varieties. This compact tree grows from 12 to 16 feet tall, an ideal size for small yards. Plant the Stella cherry tree in an area protected from wind, but not near buildings or shade trees. Stella cherry trees prefer locations in well-drained soil that receive full sun all day. Full fruit production begins five to eight years after planting.
Till the desired location in the spring after the last frost. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic garden soil. Dig the soil in until thoroughly incorporated.
Dig a hole as deep as and 2 inches wider than the tree's root ball. Remove the tree from its container. Loosen the roots from the root ball gently without damaging them. Clip off any broken or damaged roots.
Set the tree in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the ground surface. Backfill with soil, pressing down lightly to stabilise the tree. Water thoroughly.
Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch under the cherry tree. Keep the mulch 4 inches away from the tree trunk to avoid trunk burn.
Apply a slow-release organic fertiliser after planting in the early spring. Mix the fertiliser according to the packaging directions. Apply the fertiliser again when fruit begins to show. Do not fertilise after fruit production has ended or during winter when the tree has no leaves.
Prune your cherry tree in the early fall after fruit production. Remove dead or damaged limbs. Thin limbs near the centre of the tree to allow good air circulation. Apply pruning paste to seal the cut limbs.
Water the tree when soil appears dry within 1 inch of the ground surface. Water more frequently during warmer months and when fruit is producing and setting.
Stella cherry trees prefer soil with a pH level of 6.2 to 6.8. Add limestone to the soil to raise the pH or rock sulphur to lower the pH. Drive a stake into the ground near the tree and loosely tie the tree to the stake with a strip of cloth or pantyhose, if extra support is needed. Pruning paste is sold at most home and garden centres.
Birds enjoy eating Stella cherries. In order to discourage them, use a fine netting or cage to protect the tree. Woven netting is dangerous to birds.