How to Keep Peach Trees Small


Peach trees require full sun, alkaline soil and protection from harsh weather. Additionally, for a healthy tree and an easy harvest, be diligent with the pruning of your tree. Begin pruning and training the shape of your peach tree as soon as you plant it and continue for the life of your tree. Careful pruning will help your peach tree to have an "open-center" shape and a shorter height. The benefit of this small vase-shaped growing style is a well-ripened harvest that is within your grasp.

Step 1

Use pruning shears to prune your newly planted peach tree to 26 to 30 inches tall, removing all of the side branches to create a whip of a tree. This will help your peach tree grow into an "open-center" shape.

Step 2

Prune your young peach tree which is not yet bearing fruit by removing all but two to four wide-angled scaffold limbs (the main limbs of the trees canopy) pruned to about 30 inches. When removing unneeded scaffold limbs, leave 1/3 inch of limb at the trunk. Also prune any vigorous upright shoots from the inside of these main scaffold branches.

Step 3

Prune any branches that grow straight up or straight down as well as damaged and overlapping branches on your 2- to 4-year-old peach tree.

Step 4

Continue to prune inside growing limbs and vigorous upright shoots on your young fruit-bearing peach tree, but leave the small shoots for fruit development. Active pruning will cause your tree to produce new branch growth. This is needed for fruit production. Fruit grows on the 1-year-old shoots.

Step 5

Use a ladder to reach and prune back the scaffold branches to the desired height as the tree matures. Prune back to an outward growing lateral branch (the branches that grow out of the scaffold branches). Continue to prune vigorous shoots that crowd the inside of the tree. Maintain your mature peach tree by removing damaged limbs and by removing excess limbs that are creating too much shade within your peach tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Ladder


  • University of California: Training and Pruning Fruit Trees
  • University of Georgia: Peaches and Nectarines
  • Michigan State University: Growing Peaches in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Virginia Cooperative: Pruning Deciduous Trees
Keywords: pruning peach trees, peach tree maintenance, keep peach tree small, Open Center pruning

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.