The peach is a stone fruit tree that's native to Asia. There are hundreds of varieties and hybrids of this tree. Its self-pollinating characteristics allow the peach to easily thrive as a single tree or within an orchard or group. With proper maintenance and generous soils, the peach tree can provide successful fruit production for 12 to 15 years.
Always plan ahead. Identify the peach tree's planting area at least one to two seasons ahead. Choose a well-drained location that provides at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Peach trees must be planted away from obstructions, so choose a location that is away from buildings and power lines.
The location should be fertile and well balanced. Purchase a soil test kit and take a soil sample from the chosen planting location. Collect a sample of soil that is at least 8 to 10 feet below surface level. A soil sample taken from these levels will provide the levels that the roots will encounter, as opposed to the surface levels, which can be drastically different. If necessary, adjust the soil's pH levels gradually throughout the pre-planting seasons to achieve a pH that range between 6.0 and 6.5. Add lime to soils with pH levels below 6.0. Avoid areas with pH levels above 7.0.
Soak the peach tree in water for approximately 12 hours before planting. Plant the peach tree in the prepared area, making sure that the uppermost roots are no more than 2 inches from the surface. The roots should fit comfortably in the hole without bunching or crowding. Irrigate the tree immediately after planting to promote a good establishment.
Water and Nutrients
Always keep the peach tree properly watered. This will reduce the potential for stress and disease. Irrigate the peach tree deeply and infrequently to avoid overwatering. Provide the peach tree with approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water during each application. The watering schedule should be flexible, approximately once every five to seven days, and adjusted for periods of rain and drought. It is common for peach growers to gradually increase the irrigation levels just before harvest. This will increase the size and quality of the peach production.
Always feed the peach tree with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 combination. Avoid fertilizers with excessive nitrogen levels. Newly planted trees need ¼ to ½ lb. of fertilizer about one week after planting. Begin the second year and subsequent years with approximately 1.5 to 2.0 lbs. of feed. The peach tree requires fertilization in the early spring and early summer. Floridians require smaller, more frequent applications from late winter through late summer to adjust for sandy soil variations
Prune the tree immediately after planting, pruning back so that it stands no higher than 30 inches. Trim away branches to promote a whip form which establish an open vase structure. Hard prune the peach tree annually during its dormancy period.
Always keep the area under the tree's canopy free of debris and competing vegetation. Protect the moisture levels with a layer of mulch. Layer about 6 to 8 feet of the trunk's diameter, but keep the mulch approximately 10 to 12 inches from the trunk's base.