- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Area: USDA Zones 5,6,7,8
Size: A standard peach tree will grow to 25 feet tall and wide. Dwarf varieties grow 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Bloom Season: Summer
Exposure: Full Sun
Pruning needs: Yearly
Water needs: Weekly
It's pretty hard to resist a peach tree. Homey and unassuming, this is the kind of tree you walk right by and dismiss, but once it fruits during the summer, she'll have your full attention. There are many kinds of peach trees. Select one that appeals to your palate, but more importantly make sure that you get the proper varietal for your climate. Peach trees require a certain number of chill hours (between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to fruit. Chill requirements vary between 200 and 1000 hours. Once you've selected a suitable tree, plant it in a sunny, sheltered location.
Peach trees fruit abundantly so give your tree a home that makes it easy for you to harvest. When planting, dig a hole 2.5 times the size of the root ball and use loose, well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Gently uncurl roots before planting to encourage them to grow away from the trunk. Peach trees thrive with high nitrogen sources of fertilizer which increase growth but using an all-purpose fertilizer will take the guesswork out of it. If you are not sure about your soil quality, a soil test may be needed to optimize the health of your tree. Fruit occurs on new growth (the reddish branches without bark) because of this, compost, nitrogen-rich amendment, and pruning, which both encourage new growth are key.
Pruning, considered an art-form by some, is absolutely essential to the health of your tree and fruit production. Generally, fruit trees are trimmed in a 'goblet' shape that allows the sun access to the tree, but for detailed instructions visit the UC Master Gardener website http://homeorchard.ucanr.edu/The_Big_Picture/Pruning_&_Training/