The nectarine is genetically identical to the peach, but lacks the fuzz. Self-fertile, one nectarine tree can pollinate itself and produce ample fruit. Plant 1-year-old trees that stand approximately 3 to 4 feet in height, for ease of establishment. Older nectarine trees do not establish as easily as younger trees. Various nectarine varieties and cultivars offer differing chill time requirements to set fruit. Choose a nectarine variety that best fits the region it will be planted within. Nectarine trees grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 8.
Select a site that offers full sunlight. The nectarine tree does not set an abundance of fruit in shady locations.
Plant the tree in well-draining soil. The nectarine's root system cannot withstand flooded soil. Sandy loam soil is ideal for nectarine planting.
Add ample organic matter to the soil prior to planting. Mix peat moss, leaf debris and aged manure into the soil until it feels crumbly to the touch. Till the soil 12 inches deep while working the organic matter into it.
Dig a hole that is twice as large as the tree's root system in the spring. Place the tree into the hole so the tree's graft union is 1 inch above the soil's surface.
Place 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the nectarine tree to help the soil retain water during the summer heat. Mulch also helps make cultivation and weed removal easier.
Fertilize the nectarine tree one week after planting. Use 10-10-10 granulated fertilizer. Spread 12 oz. of the fertilizer at least 10 inches away from the tree's trunk. Water the fertilizer into the ground. Reapply 40 days later. Fertilize mature nectarine trees in March and May using 1 to 2 lbs. of fertilizer per tree.
Prune the young nectarine tree in the spring. Remove any dead, weak or damaged growth. Maintain the vase-like appearance of the tree by removing any low growth and opening the middle of the tree up to air circulation when the tree is 2 years old.