The second most popular tree or stone fruit behind apples, peaches are referred to as the "queen" of fruits. Nectarines are nearly identical to peaches, though they have no fuzz on the skin, may be redder on the on the outside and can be more fragrant. Peach trees grow to be 25 feet high and wide, but are usually kept trimmed to about 12 feet. Peach and nectarine trees do require winter chilling and grow well in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, central and lower Midwest, California, temperate areas around the Great Lakes and drier spots in the Pacific Northwest. Peaches and nectarines come in more than 33 varieties.
Select a site for your tree that is well-drained and gets full sunlight. Peach and nectarine trees thrive in full sun. If possible, select a site that is on a rise to ensure good drainage and allow cooler air to drift away from flowers in colder climes.
Prepare the site for your tree at least a few months in advance of planting. Nutrient-rich soil will help your tree to grow, so improve the soil in the planting area with compost, manure or grass cuttings. Dig down about 1 foot and mix these nutrient-rich additives with the existing soil. Soil pH should be about 6.5.
Select a tree to plant. Typically, a 1-year-old plant with a good root system is a good choice. These trees are generally about 3 feet tall and are still easy for home gardeners to handle.
Dig a hole that is about twice the size of the root ball and deep enough to cover all of the roots. Place the tree into the hole and cover with soil.
Prune newly planted trees to about 2 to 3 feet from the ground, as this will promote lateral growth and a stronger trunk. The part of the trunk that is left is called a "whip." New branches should grow beneath the cut.
Fertilize the tree with 8 oz. of 10-10-10 fertilizer 10 and 40 days after planting. Apply fertilizer about a foot from the trunk and spread evenly. After the first year, fertilize with 10-10-10 in March and May.
Trim back diseased, broken or upright shoots in the first year. The idea is to promote the growth of "scaffold" limbs that arc up from the side of the tree. Prune back any upright shoots to avoid too much shading.
Cut back about two-thirds of previous year's growth during the dormant season. This may be done by pruning all branches by two-thirds or by completely removing two out of every three branches. Do this pruning annually.