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Plant of the Week: Peach Trees

Prunus persica

Plant of the Week: Peach Trees

Who doesn’t LOVE home grown fruits and vegetables!? Healthy, fresh foods we can feed our families is one of the benefits of living where we do. We have longer growing seasons here so we are blessed with a more bountiful harvest and an extended time frame in which to grow many edibles. Now is the time to plant trees and shrubs while they are dormant. This includes Peach trees. Here is what you should know about caring for your peach tree.

Characteristics:

  • Dimensions: 15-25 feet tall and wide depending on cultivar
  • Foliage: Deciduous tree, green foliage will emerge each spring
  • Blooms: occur as early as March depending on weather conditions
  • Growth Habit: Upright habit
  • Fruit should ripen between May and July depending on cultivar
  • No part of this plant is toxic to pets or people

Care: There are some things to consider when deciding to add a peach tree to your garden. Peaches enjoy full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight). The like a sandy soil that is well drained with a pH around 6.5 (slightly acidic). Water the tree thoroughly after initial planting and water regularly during the spring and summer months when rain is sparse.

Peaches need what are known as “chill hours”. A chill hour is an hour of time that the temperature is below 45 degrees. Different peach cultivars need different numbers of chill hours. La Feliciana – 550 chill hours, La Festival – 450 chill hours, Florida King – 150 chill hours. These cultivars are known as “low chill” peach trees and are designed for our climate zone (8b).

Fertilizing your peach trees should be done twice a year. Fertilize first in early spring and again in later spring or early summer. I would recommend using a fruit and nut tree fertilizer, following the instructions on the label. When applying fertilizer to trees, you should apply the proper amount a foot or so away from the trunk of the tree, not directly around the trunk as this could damage the root system or simply not reach the roots as needed to feed the tree.

Pruning peach trees should be done in February while the tree is still in dormancy. Remove all dead wood and prune any crossing branches back to the main branch. If you have questions, just come see us and we can help you out.

Uses: If you enjoy edible gardening, peaches can be a wonderful addition to the space, provided you have enough sunlight. Peach trees make great shade trees as they mature. Though they are deciduous, they will have foliage during the warmer months when you really need the shade. Peach trees are good additions to any home orchard and can be placed with figs, citrus, pears and other fruiting trees in the yard, provided you have enough space to allow for growth and sun. They can be started and allowed to grow in containers for a number of years until they outgrow the pot, then transplanted to the ground. Containers also allow you to protect the tree from sudden, unexpected freezes as well.

I love home orchards and have installed and maintained several for personal clients over the years. It’s an activity that the entire family can enjoy and work together on. It’s a great tool to build bonds with the ones we love, creating memories season after season. If you haven’t tried a fruit tree in your home garden, try a peach tree and literally enjoy the “fruits” of your labor.

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