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Peach and Nectarine Trees
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Pollinator needed?

Not usually

Flowering

Late April / early May

Mature Height

12-20 feet

Produce
Fruit In

3-5 years

Support needed?

No

Harvest Period

July - Aug

Sun Exposure

full

Soil Type

all types


Peaches and nectarines are respectively downy and smooth skinned versions of the same fruit Prunus persica. Most forms are self-fertile, they prefer warmer conditions, nectarines even more so than peaches. In warm temperate regions the bush form is suitable, in cooler climates, the protection of a sunny wall and/or protection under glass is required, training as a fan is usually the preference here. Other than the preference for warmer conditions of nectarines, cultivation of the two types is identical and where peaches are referred to here, the same applies to nectarines.

Peaches flower in the early spring and so are susceptible to frosts. There are also few pollinators around at this time in cooler climates, so hand pollination, especially if they are being grown under glass is advisable. Fruit thinning may often be necessary as conversely if conditions are good, then peaches will set fruit very heavily. Leaving them unthinned means they are more susceptible to rots and infection, while they produce far more fruits, they are smaller and less satisfactory.

Where space and climate allow, a bush is the preferred shape for peaches allowing about 12ft for the spread of the tree. The aim is to get 8-10 strong branches spreading form a short trunk. Pruning should be kept to a minimum until the bush is ready to produce fruit, confined to removal of dead, crossing or excessive branches. Like other drupes (fruits with a single stone rather than many pips) peaches are susceptible to silver leaf (a fungal disease) and so pruning should be carried out in the early summer and not during winter dormancy.

Peaches fruit on the previous years wood and so once a tree is established, pruning is carried out to remove older growth in favour of newer that will produce fruit the next year.

Peach leaf curl - A disease that peaches and nectarines can suffer from.  The foliage puckers, then is covered with a fine white powdery growth, it turns first red, then brown before dropping off the plant. All plants in all areas are potentially susceptible to this fungal disease which is most prevalent in damp areas and particularly in wet growing seasons. Trees growing in protection under glass usually escape this disease. There are no really effective chemical controls and if your peaches have suffered this for a number of years, the easiest answer to to remove your peach tree and grow apricots instead which are hardly touched by the problem at all.


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