Peach trees are not the easiest fruit trees to grow. They take a lot of work and have broken many a home-gardener's heart. All is forgiven, though, when you pull the first steaming-hot peach cobbler out of the oven, featuring peaches from your own tree. Peaches grow on deciduous trees, native to China, and have been grown in the United States since the 17th century. Peach trees are hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9.
Amend the earth around your peach tree to make sure that it is growing in very well-draining soil. Generally, if water stands on the surface of the soil for more than 1 hour after watering or rainfall, the soil needs amending.
Afford your peach tree full sun all day. Even the shadow of your house falling upon the tree can keep it from budding.
Water the peach tree frequently and deeply. This tree needs a minimum of 2 inches of water every week and more in the middle of the summer when it is hotter and the tree is bearing fruit.
Fertilize the mature peach tree (4 to 10 years old) by scattering 1 to 2 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer, 8 to 12 inches from the trunk, all the way around the tree. Do this in March and in May. For younger trees, use 3/4 lb. of fertilizer.
Attack any pest problems immediately. Peach trees are susceptible to Japanese beetles, red spider mites and the peach tree borer, which is the most destructive. If you notice a wet spot on the bark, it's a good indication that the borer is at work. The insect is difficult to control, so horticulturists at the University of Colorado suggest using a preventive spray, such as those that contain lindane, endosufan or chlorpyrifos. Follow the label directions very carefully, and wear protective clothing when using.
Prune your peach tree every year, either in late winter or in early spring. Begin by removing all dead or diseased wood and low-hanging branches. Then prune the tree so that the center is open. To do this, choose four branches, equally spaced around the tree. These are known as the "scaffolding." The lower two should be longer than the top two, so that the tree's shape is a bit like a Christmas tree. Remove all other branches from the tree, then go through and clean up the scaffolding branches of any upright shoots. Finally, remove any small shoots, less than 12 inches, growing on the scaffolding branches. The University of Massachusetts Fruit Adviser suggests leaving 50 to 75 pencil-thick shoots on your tree.