Peaches are probably among the most fun, interesting, and fruitful trees you can grow in your garden. Apart from being healthy and flavorful snacks when you eat them on their own, they are also great ingredients in a lot of baked desserts – among which are pies and cobblers.
Get to know more about the basics of growing peaches so that you can have your peach tree in your garden through this article.
Quick Facts About the Peach Tree
- Botanical name: Prunus Persica
- Type of plant: Fruit tree
- Family: Rosaceae
- Size when mature: 4 to 6 feet (dwarf trees), 25 feet (standard peach trees)
- Soil type and pH level: Well-draining and sandy; slightly acidic – usually in the range of 6.0 to 6.5
- Sun exposure: Full
- Color of flowers: Pink
- Bloom time: Spring
- Toxicity: Has leaves, peach pits, and stems that are toxic to pets and humans
Famous Varieties of Peach Trees
Just like other trees that produce fruit, you can also find several varieties of peach tree. You have to pick a specific variety that is compatible with your current climate and zone. You need a hardy variety, especially if you plan to grow the peach tree in an area that experiences harsh winters.
Note, though, that your choice of a plant variety also requires you to pick the appropriate spot for its successful growth. Ensure that the area prevents this tree from getting extremely exposed to quick-changing temperatures.
To give you an idea, here are the most common varieties of peach trees:
The cold-hardy peach varieties suit zone 5. There are also instances when they can survive in zone 4. A few examples of peaches under this variety are:
- Canadian harmony – This particular peach is capable of producing yellow and large fruits that also feature freestone flesh. It ripens every mid- to late August and blooms fruits that are ideal for freezing.
- Reliance – This variety can produce medium-sized and golden fruits even if it is just a small tree. You can expect its tasty fruits to become ready in the middle of July.
- Madison – This particular variety features bright red skin and deep yellow flesh. It is a vigorous grower and producer, thanks to its hardy nature. It is ready for harvest and plucking once late August comes.
- Contender – This hardy peach tree has the ability to produce fruit that is medium to large in size. What’s great about it is that it is disease resistant. It also tends to ripen its delicious fruit in the middle of August.
Dwarf trees are also among the most common categories of peaches. You will know that you are dealing with the dwarf type if the word “compact” appears in front of the name of a fruit. Some dwarf peach varieties are:
- Redwing – This dwarf tree can produce fresh peach fruits that have yellow-red skin and attractive and delicious white flesh.
- El Dorado – The El Dorado is a compact variety, which tends to ripen every early summer. It has a medium fruit size.
- Halloween – This dwarf peach tree can be harvested every fall; thus, its name.
- Orange cling – The orange cling refers to a clingstone peach featuring golden flesh and blush-red skin. You can readily harvest peaches from this variety in the middle to late summer.
- Red haven – This hardy tree can be expected to survive cold and harsh winters. It is a compact tree, which is why it falls under the dwarf category.
If your garden struggles with diseases, ensure that you pick a disease-resistant and hardy peach variety. Some examples are:
- Clayton, which can resist bacterial spots and leaf curl
- Champion, which has a white and intensely sweet flesh. It can resist bacterial leaf spots.
- Contender, which can successfully grow in cold climates because of its excellent disease-resistant and hardy nature.
Do you know that you can also find several ornamental peach trees? They are the ones that do not only produce flavorful fruits but are also attractive when they blossom. You can cultivate this variety if you are looking for one that has an ornamental value.
You can grow them mainly for their beautiful blossoms. They also have edible fruits but they are not as tasty as the other peach trees. Among the types of peach trees that fall under ornamental are icicle, peppermint, and double red flowering peach.
Best Planting Location
To ensure that peach trees produce fruits successfully, plant them in a spot or area exposed to the full sun the entire day. It should receive morning sunlight specifically as it aids in drying off morning dew from the fruit while ensuring that it does not rot.
Avoid planting and cultivating peaches in low areas. The reason is that frost and cold air may settle there easily, which can significantly hamper the quality of the fruits. Pick an area that has moderately fertile and well-drained soil, too.
When it comes to selecting the perfect planting site for your peaches, take note that it does not seem to do well when planted in areas with compacted soil as well as one that gets wet constantly. The soil pH level should also be a bit acidic, around 6.0 to 6.5.
Best Time to Plant Peaches
The perfect time to plant a peach tree is at the time when it is still dormant. This is usually during the early spring or late winter, which also depends on the exact climate in your location.
If you are in an area that is prone to ground freezing when the winter season comes, it would be best to delay the planting of your peach tree until you notice the soil getting thawed. The grounds should not also be waterlogged from heavy spring rains or snowmelt anymore.
Another tip when it comes to planting peach trees is to do it at the specific time you receive them to lessen stress. If you got a potted tree, then be aware that it can still survive if you do not plant it immediately, but it is only for a short while. In the case of bare-root trees, it is advisable to plant them right away.
Planting your Own Peach Tree
The first thing to do would be to choose a cultivar, which perfectly suits the climate in your location. Look for a sheltered yet sunny spot for it. It would be better to cultivate it in an area that is a bit elevated than in a depression that causes frost to settle.
If you have a bare-root peach tree, dig a planting hole that is large enough that it provides a lot of room for its roots to spread. Water it deeply then mulch in the area surrounding the root zone. This should help in sealing in the moisture.
The next thing to do right after planting is to stake the peach tree. Angle the stake slightly away from the fruit tree then drive it around 6 to 8 inches deeper into the fertile soil. Do not do this into the tree’s root ball. Use an elastic tie specifically designed for the tree as a means of securing the trunk.
Growing Peaches from Seeds
There is also a high chance for the peach pit or seed to grow outdoors even if there is only minimal intervention. What you should do is plant peach seeds during the fall outdoors. The seeds should be planted with a depth of around three inches.
The cold late winter can be expected to aid in making the embryo mature. Expect the planted peach seeds to complete the germination process during the early spring. Once it grows into a healthy young tree, you can finally have it transplanted to its permanent spot.
If you are looking for a quick and easy means of propagating non-grafted trees, then take note that you can do it using softwood cuttings. What you have to do is to take a cutting that is around nine inches during the early spring, the time when it has green and soft growth.
Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone. Prepare a sterile potting medium where you will plant the cutting. Retain moisture in this medium. Expect the roots to form within just a month or so if you keep them in a slightly moist potting soil.
Caring for your Peach Tree
Once you have successfully planted the peach, it is time to give it as much care and attention as possible to guarantee its successful and fruitful growth. Here are the areas to focus on when it comes to peach tree care.
Remember that your peach tree requires full sunlight. Supply your new trees with full sun and ensure that you avoid growing them in a shade; otherwise, they will be at risk of losing their vigor and becoming prone to disease and pest problems.
In terms of water, what you have to focus on is retaining the even moisture of the peach trees. Do this during the first couple of years of their life – the time when they are still establishing themselves.
Peaches require proper drainage. They also love to grow in soil that is quite sandy. To make the soil healthy for them, surround your peach tree with organic molds, such as compost or leaf mold. This should help in suppressing weeds and ensuring that the soil stays a bit acidic and healthy.
Humidity and Temperature
One more thing that you have to take note of about peaches is that they are fond of moderate temperatures. In general, you can also expect them to thrive well in USDA zones 5a to 8a. There are also heat-tolerant and cold-tolerant varieties that can survive the expanded growing zones of 4 to 9.
In terms of temperature, note that peaches require a minimum of 600 chilling hours, specifically at around 45 degrees F or even lower to support fruiting. Avoid extended temperatures that fall below zero as those are damaging to the trees.
Also, remember that while peach trees can withstand humid environments, excessive moisture and wetness have to be avoided. The reason is that it may lead to fungal diseases.
The best fertilizer that you can use for your peach tree is a balanced one. It should be a balanced 10-10-10 solution that you have to apply to the tree every spring. Begin with around one pound for every newly planted peach tree. Increase it every year by one more pound (max of 10) for standard and mature trees.
If you grow a young tree, instead of seeds, you can expect it to bear fruit around 2 to 4 years from the time you planted it. They will most likely show visible pink spring blooms along with small green peaches during the early to mid-summer.
Aside from the usual and natural fruit drop, which you can expect to occur during this developmental stage, thinning the crop is also necessary; otherwise, you will feel frustrated upon noticing that the trees bear fruit growing only at walnut sizes at harvest time.
Take every large fruit from every branch of the peach tree. Leave a minimum of six inches in between each edible fruit.
Common Pests and Diseases
If pests start invading your peach tree branches, you can control them by removing the infected branches immediately. The most common pest problems and diseases that may affect your peach trees are the following:
Peach Tree Borer
This pest can significantly hamper the growth and development of your tree. It is a clearwing moth, which can be likened to a wasp and tends to deposit eggs on the bark of your peach trees during the fall.
You can detect its presence when you notice a sap that resembles a jelly at the entry hole. Use a wire to impale the grubs.
Peach Leaf Curl
This particular fungus tends to attack not only the leaves but also the fruits and blossoms of peaches. It can make the leaves infected. In that case, they will turn yellow and then eventually, drop from the fruit tree.
You have to control this immediately as it may significantly lessen your yield. In that case, you can use a high-quality fungicide to keep it under control.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
The common cause of this disease is bacteria that tend to infect both leaves and fruits, resulting in fruit lesions and some shot holes visible on the leaves. You can actually prevent this particular disease from developing.
One thing that you can do is choose disease-resistant varieties. Ensure that you are growing healthy and fresh peaches that can resist bacterial leaf spot disease, too.
This could be the worst form of disease that may affect the growth and development of your growing peaches. The reason is that aside from spreading easily, it may also cause the rotting of fruits and flowers.
The fact that it spreads easily makes it necessary to get rid of every infected part of the tree immediately when it happens. You may also use an all-purpose fungicide for fruit trees to keep this under control.
The main cause of this is a fungus that tends to attack tiny fruits that have dark spots resembling freckles. Prevent this from happening by pruning your peach trees well. You should also apply a high-quality fungicide every couple of weeks once the bloom season comes.
You should also prevent your growing peach trees from getting infected by a fungal disease called root rot. This particular disease causes cankers to develop at the root, which can eventually kill your plant.
The problem with root rot is that it is kind of hard to eliminate once it happens. The best thing that you can do, therefore, is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This is possible by ensuring that you pick a well-drained planting location for it.
Avoid overwatering, too. Sterilize your planting tools after each use. In case your tree gets infected with root rot, take the soil out of the tree’s base to ensure that it will not progress. After that, use a copper fungicide to spray its tree trunk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are peaches easy to grow?
Just like nectarine trees, peaches are also among those trees that you can easily grow. They are hardy, which means that they can survive in various environments. Expect them to grow really well in areas with hot summers.
How long do peaches take to grow?
If you grow peach trees from seed, there is a high chance for them to start fruit production after around three to four years. You can also grow your own peach by buying young trees initially. This will somewhat speed up the time when you can harvest it.
Do I need two peach trees to grow peaches?
The peach tree is a self-fertile plant, which means it is not necessary to plant over one to stimulate fruit production. In case you intend to begin a small orchard, ensure that there is appropriate spacing between each tree so they won’t shade each other once they become mature.
The proper spacing for standard peaches is around 18 feet apart. Meanwhile, dwarf peaches should be spaced 5 feet apart.
Is it hard to grow your own peach tree?
Not at all. You just have to make sure that you give them the right environment and follow the procedures for growing them. You also have to make sure that you grow the correct variety for your region, so you will not experience problems growing your own peaches that definitely taste better than the ones you buy in stores.
Can you grow peaches in pots?
Yes. In fact, dwarf peaches are said to be perfect container specimens. If you intend to grow one in a pot, pick a size that is three feet across or more. Once you have planted it in your container, do not let the tree dry out then keep it protected from the harsh winter or hard freezes in a sheltered location, such as a shed or garage.