MEXICAN CHERRY TREES
Also known as the Capulín cherry. This is a large, fast-growing tree that is especially pretty when it’s in bloom. Its dangling shoots become covered in masses of flowers, which bloom in the early spring on slender branches. The flowers have white petals and a distinct tuft of stamens. The cherry starts out yellow and turns red as it ripens. It is soft and juicy with a tart tang.
They are popular for making liqueurs and jams, or dried and enjoyed as an on-the-go snack. They can reduce blood pressure and inflammation in the body, and they’re a good source of vitamin C and fibre. They also improve the way your brain works and help to fight against dementia.
Plant your Mexican cherry tree in full sun in a spot that is protected from strong wind. Stake a young tree carefully to protect it from toppling in strong winds. They are self-pollinating, so they can be planted in isolation. It is tolerant to frost but may lose its leaves in a very cold winter.
The Capulín cherry tree usually reaches a height of about 10 metres, but can grow to up to 15 metres tall with a spread of about 4.5 metres.
The tree is not very fussy about its soil requirements and grows well in any reasonably fertile ground. Use a bag of acid compost or a bag of our berry mix to ensure the correct acidity level for the soil.
Capulín cherries are quite drought-tolerant, but they grow better and produce better fruit with regular watering. Give a good thorough watering every 2 to 3 days, if there has been no rain. Stop watering the tree completely when the cherries change from green to pink, as this will prevent the fruit from splitting.
They respond well to light applications of nitrogen fertiliser when the blossoms first appear in spring.
In reasonably good soil, the trees may need no more than an annual mulch of good organic compost.
The Mexican cherry tree requires very little pruning to remain productive. However, some pruning is useful to keep them at a desired height and to facilitate fruit harvest. They will take radical pruning and can be grown as a fruiting hedge.
Pests and diseases
Capulíns are relatively free of many of the pests and diseases that afflict regular cherries and other stone fruit trees. Bacterial gummosis is an occasional problem, and some varieties are prone to die-back for unknown reasons. Pests include mites, pear slugs and scale. Birds are attracted to the fruit, but are less of a problem than they are with regular cherries.
Depending on the climate, Mexican cherries usually ripen from October or November right through to midsummer. The trees will produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting and, under the right conditions, will set more than one crop per season. For unknown reasons, trees with grey bark seem to produce larger fruit than those with darker bark