Cherry Tree Watering Explained + Over/Underwatering Signs

It is important to provide trees with the correct amount of water so that they can flourish.

To novice gardeners, attaining optimum conditions for tree health can be a perplexing topic, and many of the signs that sick trees exhibit can look similar, making identification of problems difficult.

Fortunately, there are some straightforward checklist items that can save you a lot of headaches.

How much water does a cherry tree require? Cherry trees will require around 40 gallons every 10 days, although this is highly dependent on weather, size of tree, and type of soil. While most cherry trees will receive enough water from rainfall, during times of little rainfall or drought, supplementing water needs is a must.

While there are many variables to the correct water needs of cherry trees, we have outlined the most important aspects of this question below.

Cherry Tree Watering – The Basics

Cherry trees are suited to a range of different environments, and their toleration of water is quite wide, allowing you to give an approximate amount of water rather than a specific amount.

It is important to take note of a tree’s health, observe leaves for drooping from underwatering, and look out for browning or dropping leaves from overwatering.

Also take note of the soil, whether water pools or freely drains and whether the earth is dry enough for the next application of water. 

Ideal Watering Regimen for Cherry Trees

Newly planted cherry trees require a large amount of water. This is to settle the earth around roots and allow the roots to begin fastening and spreading.

Soak the earth of the planting site before planting, after planting, and for around two weeks after. You will want to give the sapling about 5 minutes of water for this period, or around 10 gallons. 

Established trees will require less frequent watering and instead will benefit from longer, more intense soaking each time. Aim for around 20 minutes of soaking from a hose, or around 40 gallons of water.

Remember that cherry trees have adapted to the environment, and many established trees will do just fine without any extra watering.

How Much Water Do Potted Cherry Trees Need?

Potted cherry trees live in an artificial environment, and thus, they do not benefit from the same water retention as earth or from the same nutrients provided by soil organisms. For this reason, cherry trees in containers should be regularly watered and fertilized. 

Larger pots (around 20 gallons) are ideal for trees as they provide enough room for roots to grow and moisture to be retained. You can expect to water every three days or so, but always probe the soil to check for moisture levels. 

It is important to be vigilant with potted trees and plants as drying out is a big risk and can happen very quickly. Soil with too little water can greatly impact a cherry tree’s health, growth, and production.

Signs of Overwatering in Cherry Trees

Overwatering can be tricky to diagnose, and symptoms may not be obvious, especially when excess watering is just at the threshold. 

When symptoms do develop, they usually manifest in the browning and yellowing of leaves, which may also drop to the ground. 

When cherry trees go to fruit, an excess of water directly on the cherries from rain may also result in fruit swelling, which eventually leads to fruit splitting and rotting and the loss of a crop.

For those living in high-rainfall areas, try varieties that are less prone to cracking such as Lapins, Sweetheart, Vans, Rainier, and Sam cherries.

Signs of Underwatering in Cherry Trees

Water stress by too little water can be identified fairly quickly by drooping and withered leaves that initially keep their green color.

Fortunately, mature trees with well-developed root systems rarely suffer from stress caused by too little water and are resilient to drought.

In extreme cases, however, trees may dry out, and should be thoroughly watered immediately until soil regains consistent moisture.

Should You Fertilize Cherry Trees Right After Watering?

It depends. Slow-release granular fertilizer, like this one, should be applied to the base of a tree followed by generous watering. When using liquid fertilizer or adding compost tea, it is a good idea to water beforehand, so that the soil is loose and ready to receive the nutrients.

How Often Should You Water a Dwarf Cherry Tree?

Established dwarf cherry trees are much smaller than their regular-sized cousins and therefore do not require as much water.

Around 20 gallons will do per watering, but there’s a catch. Because of the small size of dwarf trees and smaller root systems, watering is required more often, about every 4 days or whenever soil feels dry around 3 inches down.

How To Save an Overwatered Cherry Tree

Most of the time, an overwatered cherry tree can be brought back to health by simply cutting back or stopping watering. However, this is only the case where manual watering was the cause, and there is little that gardeners can do about excessive rainfall.

Cherry trees may develop disease due to overwatering, and fungal infections, such as crown rot, are often fatal to cherry trees.

A quick guide to saving an overwatered cherry tree:

  1. Stop all watering
  2. Build earth drains to funnel water away from trees if rain is causing the issue
  3. Stop fertilizing the affected tree
  4. Without disturbing roots, work in a mixture of organic compost and straw or grass clippings into the top 6 inches of soil around the tree
  5. Invest in a hygrometer (find it here) to test moisture level of soil
  6. Resume watering once moisture levels drop and the tree begins to sprout healthy, new foliage

Do Water Needs Change Depending on Cherry Tree Variety?

Yes! Water needs do vary depending on the variety of cherry tree as there are many cultivars today that have been specifically bred for different climates.

Kwanzan Cherry Tree

These ornamental cherry trees are commonly used in public landscapes and planted by roadsides and pathways for their celebrated double blossoms.

While they do prefer moist soils and higher rainfall, they can also tolerate some drought. This variety will appreciate water every two weeks if no rainfall occurs or every 10 days in hot, dry climates.

Weeping Cherry Tree 

Another ornamental, the weeping cherry prefers well-draining soil, and water should only be given once the topsoil has sufficiently dried. These trees have a high failure rate, so taking extra care through maintenance is key to a happy tree.

Black Cherry Tree

This variety is a native of Kentucky and therefore is naturally suited to moist, fertile soils. However, just like the Kwanzan, the black cherry can also tolerate droughts. Black cherries only need to be watered in times when there is an absence of rainfall.

Related Questions:

Can You Water a Cherry Tree With Drip Irrigation?

Absolutely. Most trees, cherries included, benefit from a constant, slow-release irrigation system like drip lines. These systems are also highly effective in dry areas where water restrictions hinder heavy, flooding-type watering.

When Should You Prune a Cherry Tree?

Most experts say that the best time to prune cherry trees is late autumn and winter when trees have entered their dormancy stage and when there is a minimized risk of fungus attacking wounds.

There is some evidence, however, to suggest that careful pruning can be carried out year round, provided this is kept to a minimum and completed with sterilized equipment.


Tree care can often seem like a daunting prospect, especially for beginner gardeners, but rest assured that getting it right is relatively simple. Often, just observing your garden and your local environment can give you an idea of when watering is necessary.