Pruning a Peach Tree: When and How to Prune a Peach Tree (and Nectarine Trees too!)

Pruning a Peach Tree: When and How to Prune a Peach Tree (and Nectarine Trees too!)

peaches in trees header

Do you grow your own Peaches or Nectarines at home? If not you should give them a try. They are an easy and (pardon the pun) fruitful tree to grow. Peach trees are native to China and belong to the Prunus species family of stonefruit. The Peach trees that are being grown in orchards today have a long history!

Types of Peach Trees

Freestone vs Clingstone

Today orchard-grown Peaches are divided into two groups, clingstones and freestones. If the Peach flesh sticks to the pit, it is a clingstone. Conversely, if the flesh falls away from the pit easily, it is freestone. Some varieties are in between and are known as semi-cling or semi-freestone.

Clingstone are sometimes smaller but very juicy and sweet! They’re also traditionally the perfect choice for canning and other preserves.

Freestone are larger and besides often eaten fresh off the tree, the easy-to-remove pit makes them ideal for use in cooking, baking, canning and freezing alike. 

freestone vs clingstone

White Flesh vs Yellow

Peach fruit has varying levels of acidity, and generally, the white-fleshed Peach is the least acidic. Yellow-fleshed Peaches tend to be more tangy and acidic. Fertilization or soil types do not affect the skin colors of either the Peach or the Nectarine. 

white vs yellow

Peaches vs Nectarines

Peach fruit and Nectarine fruit are often thought of as totally unique fruits. In fact, the Nectarine is closely related to the Peach. The main difference is the lack of fuzz on the Nectarine skin. The Nectarine can be used in the same way as a Peach. The Nectarine tends to be a little smaller-sized fruit than a Peach, and it displays more red color on the skin.

peaches vs nectarines

Pollination Needs

Both Peach and Nectarine trees are generally self-fertile and won’t need a pollinator tree. However, for larger crops per tree, plant with an appropriate pollinator tree to increase yield. Nature Hills lists suitable pollinator trees for each on that plant's information page. peach tree in sun

Peach & Nectarine Tree Location

Raising Peach trees in the backyard is not much different than raising them in an orchard setting. Selecting a location for planting is important. There are at least two reasons, soil and sunlight requirements

The Peach tree bloom is susceptible to early frosts, so planting a Peach tree in the lowest part of the yard would be counterproductive. It is best to select a high spot in the yard so the cold air can drain away from the trees when they are in bloom. The Peach blossoms are very susceptible to frost, so a season's fruit production may be lost because of a few lower degrees of temperature. bright peaches in trees

Peach and Nectarine Tree Planting

Before planting the Peach tree, prepare the soil prior to planting by adding organic matter if needed, and check the nutrient status should you be unsure if it’s lacking any nutrients. The soil pH for Peach and Nectarine trees should be around 6.5, so it is important to get the soil tested. Then lime and fertility levels should be modified based on the soil test results. 

Soak the roots of bare root plants, and completely saturate the soil of container-grown plants before planting. Be sure you do not plant too deep. No deeper than they were growing in the nursery or in the pot is so very important. Completely saturate the soil after backfilling with the same soil you excavated from the hole to eliminate any air pockets around the root system. nectarine trees

Add a layer of arborist mulch chips over the soil surface for insulation and moisture retention, while holding off evaporation in the summer sun.

Peach or Nectarine trees will not tolerate water-logged soils. If water sits in an area for more than one hour after a rain, find another location for the Nectarine or Peach tree, or try planting into a berm or mounded location that raises the roots higher above the water table.

Pruning your Peach or Nectarine Tree

Pruning Peach or Nectarine trees should begin at an early age. Most fruit trees produce better quality fruit and live longer and healthier if properly maintained and pruned. Fruit tree pruning does not need to be complicated or confusing.  pruning peach tree

Many times the nursery will do the initial pruning on the dormant fruit tree. If the fruit tree arrives already pruned from the nursery, plant it without further pruning.

Bareroot Tree Pruning

If your dormant bareroot tree arrives with a long stem and are beginning to branch about 2-3 years of age. The mature root systems of our trees usually start producing fruit between 3-5 years of age. You can nip back the leader and cut the side branches back by at least two-thirds to promote vigorous new growth. Top pruning induces lateral branch growth in fruit trees, and this produces a more easily accessible tree branch and shapely form. 

Pruning also diverts the expenditure of nourishment to form woody growth to that of buds and fruit.

Fruit trees have a moderate growth rate. After the spring flush of growth cut the new growth back by half. In late summer prune the new growth on the branches back again by half. The 2nd year of pruning of the fruit tree is the same as the first. Cut back new growth by half in the spring and again in late summer. In the 3rd year, choose a height and do not let the tree get any taller.

Pruning for Height Control blooming trees in orchard

Tree height is a decision for the pruner. When there are vigorous branches above the chosen height, cut back or remove them. In late spring or early summer, pinch back all new growth. Size development and low fruiting wood is determined in the 3rd year.

Each branch should have at least 6 inches of free space around them. Remove all crossing branches that are too close together. Keeping fruit tree branches open to allow more light and freedom for bee movement is important. Sunlight and bees carrying pollen should increase productivity and create larger fruit.

All varieties of fruit trees can be maintained at a predetermined height if pruned consistently. Peaches on table

Thinning Fruit

Sometimes a fruit tree produces more fruit than it should or produces lots of fruit that is very small. So thinning your crop is a heartbreaking task that should be done to reduce how many fruits are on each branch so more energy can go into fewer Peaches, therefore making them larger instead. 

Homegrown Summer Fruit! close up peaches in tree

Big juicy and refreshing summer fruit can be yours with ease! Let NatureHills.com help you enjoy the best Peach or Nectarine harvest possible for you! If you even have the slightest inkling to grow one of these fantastic trees, check out all the varieties of fruit trees available! Large and small, columnar and dwarf varieties are on sale now, so give one a try! You won't be disappointed!

Homegrown fruit straight from your own tree is one of life's simple pleasures! Get growing your own orchard of juicy gems today by ordering your Peach and Nectarine trees from NatureHills.com today!

Happy Planting!

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