How to Grow Peach Trees in Iowa


Peaches represent challenges even to Southern growers. Since Iowa lies in USDA hardiness zones 8 and 9 at the upper limits of the peach tree's range, Iowa peach growers face additional trouble. Fragile peach trees weakened by winter cold damage could succumb to other problems later in the year. Even with the best of care, peach tree flower buds die off when temperatures plummet to 0 degrees F and below. Choosing hardy varieties and the best planting sites still could produce an occasional good fruiting year.

Step 1

Choose cold-hardy peach cultivars. Plant only standard peach trees, not dwarf varieties. As yet, no dwarfing root-stocks show as much resistance to cold damage as do standard varieties of peaches. Reliance and Harrow cultivars as well as Beauty and Madison peaches withstand severe winters better than other varieties. All four self-pollinate.

Step 2

Select a planting site with well-drained fertile soil. Locate the peach trees on sloping ground with southern exposure. Don't plant peaches on hilltops where wind exposure could increase cold damage, and don't plant in low areas where frost pockets form in spring.

Step 3

Take soil samples before planting and test the soil for fertility and proper pH. Consult a county extension agent for advice on amending the soil properly for peach growth. Till the ground thoroughly to discourage weeds and grasses.

Step 4

Mulch the soil over the root zone 3 inches deep with straw, shredded leaves or grass clippings. Keep the mulch 6 inches away from the peach tree's trunk. Deep mulch protects roots from cold and drought while suppressing weed growth. Mulch laid against the trunk could shelter rodents and insects that damage bark or girdle trees.

Step 5

Prune peach trees early in spring after the last severe cold and before trees break dormancy. Prune out dead and damaged wood first and then prune to shape the tree.

Step 6

Inspect peach trees for split bark due to freeze damage. Trim away dead bark at the sides of the split with a pocketknife to clean the wound and encourage healing.

Step 7

Cover trees with clear plastic sheets if late spring frosts threaten the buds or blooms. Hanging an incandescent light under the plastic tarp generates enough heat to protect delicate growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Even in warmer climates peach crops vary dramatically from year to year. The severity of the typical Iowa winter puts the entire tree at risk. Don't fertilize or irrigate late in the summer so that the peach trees harden off thoroughly before cold weather arrives.

Things You'll Need

  • Transplanting shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Limb loppers
  • Pocketknife
  • Mulch
  • Clear plastic Mylar tarps
  • Portable incandescent lights


  • University of Wisconsin Extension: Growing Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums in Wisconsin
  • Utah State University Extension: Peach Varieties
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Peaches and Nectarines in the Home Landscape

Who Can Help

  • Iowa Source: Grow Rare Fruits in Your Backyard
Keywords: cold-hardy peach cultivars, iowa peach trees, peach growers

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."