It's hard to resist juicy peaches, and they're even more irresistible when they're picked fresh from the tree. Peaches make a great addition to jams and preserves, smoothies or blended cocktails, baked goods, and can even be grilled or added to meat-based dishes.
Planting these trees can add character to any landscape, and they're a hardy variety of tree that can be grown successfully in many climates. Choosing the perfect tree and planting it on your property takes just a little bit of research, so use this planting guide for what you need to know about how to choose and plant peach trees.
Choosing a Peach Tree
When selecting from a nursery, choose trees that are about one year old. Those over the age of two years will have a difficult time thriving in a new location, so younger is better. Choose one that is about 4 feet tall and healthy looking. Avoid those with any signs of disease: an abundance of yellow or brown leaves, leaves with holes or black spots, or stunted growth. If the tree is being sold “bare root,” that is, without any soil around the roots, take a look at the quality and extent of the roots and keep an eye out for damaged root systems. If the tree is already planted in a container, choose one with a good overall shape.
There are also a few other considerations to remember:
- Variety - There are many different varieties of peach trees available. Make your choice based first on your local climate and growing season. Your local horticultural society can help you with this information, or you can ask a professional at the nursery. Other considerations include the taste and texture of fruit produced and what you'll be using your peaches for. Some types are best for canning and cooking, while others taste best fresh from the branch. You may want to research more facts prior to making your decision.
- Chilling Requirement - Peach trees differ from some other fruit trees in that the roots and buds require a certain amount of time to chill or rest in the ground. When planted, the peach stone will open and bud in the summer, and then go dormant when the weather turns cold. The buds then continue growth when they have had enough chilling time. The amount of chilling time needed will depend on the variety tree, and you'll need to match this time to the growing season where you live.
- Size - Consider the size of your garden or property as well as the height of the tree you want. There are decorative and dwarf varieties of peach trees available, as well as those that will grow to be very tall.
- Space - Peach trees are self-pollinating, so you'll only need to plant a single tree to successfully grow fruit. If you want to plant several, they should be planted in rows about 18 feet apart with irrigation or 25 feet apart without it.
Planting Your Peach Tree
This is a simple process, but there are a few steps that need to be taken to ensure that your tree has the best chance of thriving in its new location. Here are some planting tips:
- Choosing the Site - The site you choose is very important. Peach trees need sandy, well-drained soil. Water should drain away quickly after a rainfall, and the roots will not survive in a thick, clay-type soil. Full sun is required as well, so ensure that there is no shade blanketing the tree from nearby trees or buildings.
- Time of Year - Peach trees are best planted when dormant, in the winter or very early spring months. This will allow the roots time to adjust and establish themselves before the warmer months arrive.
- Soil Preparation - Before you purchase your peach tree, take a soil sample to the nursery to have it analyzed. The garden experts there will be able to tell you if you need to add anything to the soil, such as lime or phosphorous, before planting.
- Digging the Hole - Create a hole in the earth that is large enough to encompass the entire root system. Do not add fertilizer to the earth, as it can burn the tree's tender roots.
- Preparing the Tree - After purchasing your peach tree, if it was sold bare root, soak the roots in water for about 24 hours before planting. Trim off any damaged or decaying roots, being careful not to go overboard in your trimming. If it is still in its container, water it regularly before planting.
- Planting - With a bare-root tree, lace the root system in the hole, and cover with soil. Pack the soil in gently as you work. Make sure that the bud union of the tree (the point where the root system meets the trunk) ends up about 1 to 2 inches above ground level. If the tree is in a container, gently pull it out and place it into the hole. If some soil falls off the roots, just add it to the hole and fill in the hole as you would for a bare-root tree.
- After Planting - Water the area where the tree was planted, and make sure there are no weeds in the near vicinity. If desired, add a layer of mulch where the hole was dug out to deter weed growth and retain moisture.
There is much enjoyment and pride gained through growing a tree to the point that it actually bears fruit, usually in two to four years. As your tree matures, you can plan all of the uses for the delicious peaches. You'll be growing peaches before you know it!