Peach Tree Growing
Peach Trees originate from China and now thrive on a commercial basis in Mediterranean areas. They require a sunny site and protection from frost when in blossom. For these reasons, they are not suitable for areas prone to hard frost.
Type Hardy deciduous tree
Site and Soil
Plant to Harvest Time
GardenAction does not recommend growing free-standing peach trees anywhere in cooler areas such as the UK. It is prone to failure and will take several years. However, when peaches are grown as a fan-trained tree against a south-facing wall, in many cooler areas they will produce a large crop of delicious fruit.
If your area is on the cool side or you cannot find a patch of ground which gets full sun the best alternative is to grow your peach tree in a container or pot.
Home-grown peaches will be far better than those available from the shops. Commercially grown peaches are harvested before they are ripe, and for this reason never develop the full taste of tree-ripened fruit.
Where To Grow Peaches
Also bear in mind that wire supports will need to be nailed to the wall to train the branches.
The soil should be well-dug to a depth of 75cm (2ft 6in) a couple of months before planting with plenty of compost being added.The aim is to ensure that the soil is capable of holding water, but at the same time drain well. The soil should be medium (neither too acidic nor too alkaline).
Plant Your Peach Tree ~ When and How To Plant Peach Trees
Prepare the soil well in advance of planting to allow the soil to settle well – August
is the ideal time. The planting area will be next to a wall, so dig a hole 1.8m (6ft) by 1m (3ft) to a depth of 75cm (2ft 6in). Dig the soil well, adding garden compost and/or other organic matter. Scatter two or three handfuls of bonemeal or other long-lasting fertiliser onto the soil and dig it in well.Prior to planting the tree, attach wires to the wall as indicated in the diagram. Initially, the wires should cover an area of approximately 1.5m (4ft 6in) high by 2.5m (8ft) wide. This should be sufficient for a couple of years growth. Additional wiring can be attached in later years as the tree reaches maturity – see the diagram below.When the peach tree is purchased (late September to early October is the best time) plant by spreading out the roots in the planting hole and filling in with soil to the same depth as the soil mark on the stem. The base of the stem should be 10cm (4in) out from the wall to allow for future growth. Firm the soil down. Lightly tie in any existing stems to the wire supports to allow for settlement of the soil.
Training Your Peach Tree
In March of the first year, when the new buds start to break, cut the tree back to roughly 60cm (2 ft) above ground. It is essential that at least two left and two right facing buds remain – one from each will form the principal structure of the tree. See the diagram to the right.
In the first summer, select the strongest left and right branches and remove all other shoots from the main stem. Cut back the central trunk back to 10cm (4in) above the highest branch. As the summer progresses, tie the two branches to the wires ensuring they are pointing upwards at a 45 degree angle. See the diagram to the left – note that at this stage of the year, the tree will be covered in foliage
In March of the second year, cut the two side branches back to within 45cm (18in) of the main stem.
Prune Your Peach Tree
In the second summer July, remove all growths from both of the main branches, leaving only three on each branch – two pointing upwards and one pointing downwards. See the diagram on the right.
Pruning in Later Years
The branches should first be pruned around April time after the flowers have faded and the fruit is beginning to form.
Examine the branches which are bearing fruit and remove all new shoots on them with the exception of the following:
1. Do not remove the the shoot nearest the base of the branch (see ‘DO NOT PRUNE’ in the diagram above) – this should be allowed to develop and will bear fruit next year.
2. Keep three or four of the healthiest shoots which have young developing fruit.
The second phase of pruning is in early October, when the foliage starts to die down and the structure of the tree is more visible. Cut out all branches which have produced fruit this summer as far back as the shoot nearest the base of the branch (the ‘DO NOT PRUNE’ shoot shown in the above diagram). Tie in all stems to the wire supports.
Disease and your Peach Tree
Individual peaches need to be exposed to the sun if they are to ripen successfully. With this in mind, lightly prune any foliage which is clearly preventing light from reaching shaded peaches.
Knowing when the fruit is ripe can be judged from it’s colour. If in doubt, gently press the fruit at the stalk end. If it ‘gives’ a little, the fruit is ripe – if it is hard, leave it for a week or so.
Ripe peaches do not keep for any length of time and they should be eaten within a day or so of harvesting.
Diseases and Pests
The most important preventable pest for peach trees is peach leaf curl. The fungus ‘Taphrina deformans’, which is responsible for the disease, over-winters in cracks in the bark. When the young leaves expand, the fungus attacks them and results in severely deformed leaves. The flowers and fruit drop. Note that when the leaves have expanded to their full size, they can no longer be infected.
The cure for peach leaf curl is to spray the entire tree towards late January with Bordeaux Mixture – this is readily available in most garden centres. Follow the instructions carefully for best effect. Repeat the spraying in mid February. In this way, the fungus will be killed before the leaves expand.
What To Do If Peach leaf Curl Strikes?
Peach leaf curl is bad for for peach trees because it causes the leaves to become infected and fall off. This puts the tree under great stress and can sometimes kill the tree. Often though the tree partially recovers and leaves begin to grow again in a month or so, not as good as before but they can grow. These new leaves will NOT become infected this season, whatever state the peach tree is in, so do not remove them because they are providing energy to a stressed tree.
The first thing to do is to remove all fruit from the tree. They will never develop fully after an attack of peach leaf curl so don’t let the tree put any energy into them. Don’t over-water but do provide water if the conditions become dry. Apply a nitrogen rich fertiliser around the base of the tree and water in well.
Then cross your fingers, wait for next year and hope!
Which Peach Tree To Buy
The best type of peach tree is a one year old tree. If bought any older, ensure that it has been pruned correctly for a fan-trained tree.
There is a limited range of peach tree varieties which are suitable for outdoor growing as a fan-trained tree. The best is ‘Peregrine’ – it produces peaches with an excellent colour and taste, crops each year and is suited for fan-training.
Do not be tempted to buy a nectarine tree! Although a type of peach tree, they are less hardy than peaches and more likely to suffer from diseases.
My own peach tree,it appears to be healthy at the time being
It’s not a long road from as healthy tree to a rotten fruit crops. Do follow the guidelines please.