Peach trees have been domesticated and cultivated in Northwest China since 2000 BC, spreading through Greece, India, Persia and the United States.
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Today, the peach tree, in different varieties, colors, sizes and aromas, is largely planted in all the pointings of the compass. With Asia leading as a regional peach producer, the global peach and nectarine (a peach variety) production was estimated to be 18.84 million metric tons as of 2021.
In the United States, California is the leading peach producer, and as of 2022, it produced 475 thousand tones out of 625.7 thousand tones in all states.
Most home growers crave peaches for their farm-fresh sweet taste. They also use it to make products such as peach jam, puree, liquor and vinegar. However, surplus production can also be sold through local farmers’ markets and U-pick operations.
But has peach growing been easy? Some farmers have experienced their only peach tree producing one peach in a year after waiting for 3-5 years until the tree matures, which makes planning and preparation a significant step before starting your peach orchard.
This article discusses how to plant a peach tree and the steps involved in growing and caring for the trees.
Let’s dive into the key details of growing peaches!
Where to grow a peach tree
Before learning how to grow a peach tree, you want to ensure you meet the requirements for growing it. Here are the conditions favoring the growth of a peach tree:
- Hardiness zones 5 to 9 naturally favor the growth of peach trees.
- Temperatures should range between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In cold winters, 600 – 900 hours of 45 degrees Fahrenheit can favor a good yield.
- Temperatures reaching 0 degrees Fahrenheit can only support small or no harvest at all.
- Consider well-drained sandy loam soils with a depth of 4 feet (1.2 m). You can use organic compost to improve poorly drained soils.
- 6-7.5 optimum pH level as peach trees are sensitive to salinity levels in both soil and water.
- Avoid frost-prone areas since low temperatures, especially during flowering (late spring frosts), can harm the fruits.
- The area should have at least 8 hours of direct sunlight.
- Maintain constant soil moisture by watering once or twice weekly in the summer. Peach trees require the most water in their first year of growing.
- Peach trees may still bear fruit with limited moisture but will yield small, low-quality peaches in this condition.
- You can add mulch around the peach tree to retain moisture longer.
Plant peach trees a distance apart relative to the tree spread:
- Dwarf peach trees: 8 to 10 feet apart
- Standard peach trees: 18 to 20 feet apart (grow up to 15-20 feet tall)
- Columnar peach trees: 2 to 3 feet apart
- Miniature peach trees: 4 to 6 feet apart
How to grow a peach tree outdoors [grafted and potted]
The best time to plant grafted peach trees is when the tree is dormant (later winter or early spring). You can plant potted peach trees anytime.
Here’s a 5-step guide to planting a peach tree outdoors, from site selection to harvesting, for grafted and potted trees.
1. Selecting a growing site
- Identify a wide-open area that receives full sunlight throughout the day, away from fences and tall trees, to avoid shade.
- Send a soil sample to the Department of Agriculture for nutrient content, acidity and pest analysis.
2. Preparing the selected site
- Modify an 18-inch depth of the soil according to the nematode analysis.
- Dig a hole twice the size of the root system in depth and width.
- You can use a shovel for digging if planting one tree. Numerous trees will require the help of a subsoil shank.
3. Planting the peach tree
- For grafted trees, identify the graft union so that it remains 2 inches above the soil.
- Remove the tree from the pot carefully for potted trees so you don’t cut through circling root systems in the pot.
- Transfer the peach tree into the hole earlier dug.
- Put back soil into the hole until the tree is firm
- Water the tree thoroughly around the base.
4. Fertilizing the peach tree
- Lightly apply fertilizer around the base of the tree. You can apply the fertilizer in and out around the peach tree hole. Be careful though not to touch the tree trunk as it may burn it.
- Water the tree frequently during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry between water applications. Consider irrigation for large-scale cultivation.
5. Painting the peach tree
- Apply white latex paint about 18 cm of the stem to protect the tree from sun-scald in summer and late winter. It also protects the tree from herbicides if applied at the base of the tree.
- Avoid oil-based paints, as they will dry the tree.
You can watch this 6-minute tutorial that we found useful on how to grow a peach tree to learn ways of identifying the graft union and alternatives when growing peach trees on a large scale.
How to grow a peach tree from seed indoors
Growing a peach tree from seed takes 3-5 years to mature and bear fruits. Here is a step-by-step guide to planting a peach tree from seed indoors.
1. Seed preparation
- After eating a peach, rinse the pit (covering the seed), and dry it for 3-4 days.
- Crack the pit open with the help of pliers or a nutcracker to obtain the seed.
- Soak the seed for about 6 hours in a bowl/plastic bag filled with an inch of water.
2. Planting the seed
- Add potting mix into the bowl/plastic bag until all the water is absorbed, leaving it dumb.
- Transfer the plastic bag/bowl to a refrigerator for cold treating
- Wait until sprouting occurs (5-6 weeks)
- Take the sprouted seed out of the fridge for transplanting
3. Preparing the growing media
Add potting mix and compost in a pot and water it until moist
4.Transplanting the sprouted seed
- Transfer the sprouted peach seed to the pot
- Place the pot in partial sun and let it grow into a seedling
- When the seedling is about 6 inches tall, you can transfer it outdoors.
How long does it take for a peach tree to grow from seed?
It takes 3-5 years to grow a peach tree from seed. Consider buying grafted peach trees or potted peach trees planted indoors or from a nursery for a quicker harvest.