How to Care for an Elberta Peach Tree

Overview

The Elberta variety of peach tree is the most popular peach among home gardeners, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. It produces a juicy, freestone peach tree that grows to 25 feet tall and spreads up to 20 feet. It grows quickly in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 (Des Moines to Houston), and is not particular about the soil type. Give it plenty of water, however, because it is not drought tolerant.

Step 1

Plant a young Elberta peach tree in average garden soil with good drainage. Leave 20 to 25 feet between your tree and any other trees or buildings.

Step 2

Water your tree well by flooding the area where it grows once a week from spring through late summer. Winter rains should give your tree the moisture it needs during its dormant season, but supplement natural rainfall during dry periods.

Step 3

Remove about 50 percent of the blossoms if you want larger peaches.

Step 4

Fertilize your tree twice during its growing season with a balanced fertilizer, such as one with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10. Feed it in late winter, about one month before it blooms, and again when fruit is about half-formed. Give newly planted trees up to ½ pound of fertilizer, divided into two applications; give mature trees about 5 pounds of fertilizer, divided into two applications.

Step 5

Prune new trees so they have an open center by cutting the main leader down to within 3 feet of the soil. Prune your tree in early spring before it blooms by removing all shoots that are less than 12 inches long. Prune it in summer about 6 weeks after it blooms---remove upright shoots in the tree's interior, which will increase the amount of sunlight that enters the center of the tree.

Step 6

Control fungal diseases such as peach leaf curl and peach scab by spraying your tree with an approved fungicide in fall or early spring before flower buds open, according to North Carolina State University. Keeping fallen leaves and fruit cleaned up in the area around your tree, as well as proper pruning, will prevent fungal diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Well-drained soil
  • Pruning shears or tree saw
  • Balanced fertilizer

References

  • Arbor Day Foundation: Peach, Elberta
  • Backyard Gardener: Early Elberta Peach
  • Rutgers University: How To Grow Big Peaches
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Peaches in North Carolina
Keywords: peaches growing, Elberta fruit, gardening trees

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.