Peach trees (Prunus persica) are members of the family Rosaceae. Native to Asia, peach trees have been cultivated for thousands of years for their delectable fruits. As when growing any type of fruit tree, gardeners should select a peach tree variety that is hardy within the particular region of the United States where they live. Peach tree cultivars are hardy throughout USDA Zones 5 through 9.
Site Selection and Preparation
Select a planting site that is located in full sun and not situated in the shade of trees or buildings. Peach trees will not perform well if planted in shady locations. Soil drainage is of supreme importance, as the tree can develop root rot and die if planted into water-retentive areas. Soils that are sandy loam and drain well are preferred for growing peach trees.
Amend the planting site by working organic materials such as compost or manure into an area approximately 6 feet in diameter. Work the organic substances into the soil to a depth of approximately 12 inches. This will also loosen the surrounding soil so the peach tree’s roots spread easily throughout it. While the peach tree is growing in its planting site, keep the site free of competing weeds or grass growth.
Planting the Tree
After the planting site is prepared, dig a hole for the tree’s root ball that is approximately two times wider than and as deep as the tree is presently growing in its container. Peach trees have a bud union on the bottom portion of their trunks from grafting onto hardier rootstock. When planting the tree into the ground, be sure to allow the bud union to remain at least 1 inch above the soil line. Planting the tree too deep causes the tree to perform and grow poorly and can even lead to death.
Keeping the center pruned open in peach trees is important for proper growth and fruit production. An open center in the tree allows for the maximum amount of sunlight to reach the area. After planting the peach tree, prune back to a height of approximately 30 inches and remove all of the tree’s side branches. During the tree’s first year and during its dormant period, remove any limbs that are broken, hanging too low or look diseased.
In future years, continue pruning away broken, diseased or low-hanging branches. For best fruit production, keep the center section of the peach tree trimmed open and vase-like by removing any branches growing from its inside section. Control the tree’s shape and size by trimming back the outer branches to a desired height.
Newly planted peach trees require an application of 1/2 lb of a 10-10-10 fertilizer applied evenly under the tree’s canopy. Apply the fertilizer approximately one to two weeks after planting, keeping the product from touching the tree’s trunk. Apply a second application in approximately 40 days. Fertilize mature trees with 1 to 2 lbs of fertilizer in March and again in May. Water the fertilizer into the soil after the application.