Nothing says summer like a juicy, fresh peach, and growing your own is a satisfying hobby. Peach trees, though, require a bit of babying to produce large, juicy fruit. They don't tolerate soggy soil, shady conditions or late spring frosts. To ensure a productive harvest of large, juicy peaches, plant the right cultivar for your area. Contact a local extension office to select peach trees that are bud-hardy, especially if you live in an area with cold winters and late spring frosts. Otherwise, the cold weather will kill your peach crop before it even gets going.
Pruning and Thinning
Prune new peach trees back to 30 inches tall with pruning shears. Remove all side branches so you have only one upward-growing shoot.
Prune dead, diseased branches during the winter of the second and third years. Also prune low-hanging limbs and upright limbs growing on the inside of the lateral branches. Your goal in pruning is to open the inside of the canopy of the tree so it resembles a vase so more sunlight reaches ripening fruit.
Prune mature trees similarly, removing dead wood and vigorous upright limbs on the scaffold branches. Maintain the tree's open center.
Thin the peaches when they are the size of a quarter to increase peach size and quality. Remove peaches so the peaches are spaced 8 inches apart by twisting and snapping the peaches or snipping them with pruning shears.
Fertilize and Water Peach Trees
Apply 1/2 lb. of granular 10-10-10 fertilizer ten days after you plant the peach tree and again, forty days later. Apply the fertilizer by hand to the ground around the peach tree, avoiding the area 8 to 12 inches from the trunk.
Apply fertilizer in March and May during subsequent years. For trees under three years old, apply 3/4 lb. fertilizer each time. Apply 1 to 2 lbs. fertilizer to mature trees.
Remove all sod from the base of the tree and apply a wood chip mulch to prevent moisture loss and minimize weed growth.
Irrigate peach trees as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Peach trees need 35 to 40 gallons of water daily during July and August, as they ripen. Providing adequate water will improve the size and quality of your peaches.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears and loppers
- 10-10-10 granular fertilizer
- Wood chip mulch
- Plant your peach tree at the top of a sunny, sloped location so frost drains away from it.
- Conduct a soil test one year before planting the peach tree and follow the soil report's recommendations for fertilizer and amendments.
- Numerous pests and diseases infect peach trees. Consult a local county extension office if you notice symptoms such as dropping leaves or fruit or blemishes or brown spots on the peaches. Chemical sprays or dormant oil sprays control most diseases and pests, but you should positively identify the infection before choosing a treatment.
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing Peaches and Nectarines in the Home Garden
- The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension: Peaches and Nectarines
- Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Best Management Practices for Irrigating Peach Trees