Home-grown peaches are indescribable in their taste, feel and smell. Getting them, however, can be a bit of a hassle. Peach trees are particular about the soil they grow in, the amount of sun the receive and how they are fertilized. Too much fertilizer results in spindly growth that may not survive the winter. Too little fertilizer may result in fewer peaches. Any balanced fertilizer (equal amounts of N-P-K) applied at the drip line (the imaginary line around trees where the tips of the branches reach) works for peaches. Just be sure to use the same type of fertilizer throughout your tree's life.
Fertilize your peach tree for the first time 4 to 6 weeks after planting. Use a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 commercial fertilizer, applying 1/2 cup 6 to 8 inches from the trunk. If you prefer compost, use 1 to 2 inches of compost spread from 3 inches from the trunk out to 6 inches from the trunk. Be sure to apply fertilizer or compost in an even layer around the trunk.
Fertilize the peach tree again 90 to 120 days after the first application. Apply at the same rate and the same way you did in Step 1. Do not apply the second dose of fertilizer if the 90- to 120-day gap puts you in late summer or early fall. Wait until the following spring to fertilize.
Fertilize your peach tree during its second and third years with 3/4-pound of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 commercial fertilizer in early spring before flowering or bud break. Apply fertilizer in a circle around the tree at the drip line. Or, you can use 1 to 2 inches of compost applied at the drip line.
Fertilize 2- and 3-year-old peach trees again in early summer (about mid-May) after the application rates in Step 3. Apply at the drip line circling the tree.
Fertilize mature peach trees (4- to 10-year-old trees that are producing fruit) in early spring, before growth or flowering begins, with 2 pounds of commercial 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 fertilizer or apply 2 to 3 inches of compost. Spread the fertilizer at the drip line, completely circling the tree.
Fertilize mature peach trees again in early summer (mid-May) using the same application rates and methods in Step 5.