Peach: Bare Root Fruit Plant
How to Plant
Planting Bare Root Plants:
- Choose a site in full sun in an area with well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Make sure there is some protection from the prevailing winds. Northern exposures are less prone to late spring frosts, and are more likely to have more snow cover. This protects the plants from soil heaving in winter. Do not plant in the root zone of black walnut trees. Avoid heavy clay soil as well as sandy soil. Amend as needed with organic matter.
- Space trees 12-18 feet apart.
- Plant dormant bare root plants in spring as soon as the soil may be worked.
- Soak the roots in water 1-2 hours before planting.
- Cut the tree back to approximately 30 inches tall at planting. Cut side branches back to 3-4 buds.
- The planting hole should be large enough to hold all the roots without bending or bunching up. Dig holes at least 18 inches deep and wide. Break up hard pan soil layers if present. Do not add raw fertilizers or manure to the soil mixture. Over feeding can kill young trees.
- Set the budded or grafted tree in the planting hole so that roots lie naturally, with the bud union just above the soil level after planting. Fill in the soil in layers and tamp down around the roots to make sure there is good soil to root contact and to remove air pockets.
- Water immediately to saturate all soil and roots in the hole. After the soil around the plant has settled, make sure the bud union is at the proper height above the soil level. Adjust as needed. Leaves should emerge 6-8 weeks after planting once the weather has warmed.
How to Grow
- When rainfall is not adequate, water newly transplanted trees deeply at least once a week during the first growing season. Apply 3-4 gallons of water per tree. Hoe a small ridge of soil around each tree to keep water from running off.
- A nitrogen fertilizer should be applied to newly transplanted fruit trees 3-4 weeks after planting. Be sure to keep granular fertilizers from direct contact with the tree trunk.
- Do not cultivate the soil surface within the area of the planting hole.
- Mulch 2-3 inches deep, extending 3-4 feet around the base of the tree, using shredded leaves or other organic matter.
- Use tree guards, cages, fencing or deer bags to prevent damage from mice, rabbits, deer and other wildlife.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Prune in late winter or early spring when trees are dormant. Do not prune when freezing temperatures could damage wood. Prune dead and diseased branches and for shape.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- Peaches ripen in summer. Harvest when fully ripe. They should have no green color, and there should be a slight give when you feel them rather than be very firm. They should come off the tree with a slight twist.
- Peaches should be tree ripened but can be picked before maturity and allowed to ripen in a paper bag indoors.
- To store peaches, harvest when firm and store in the refrigerator or other cool place for up to 2 weeks.
- If canning, harvest when the fruit breaks away from the stem when picked.
Common Disease Problems
Crown Gall: This is caused by a bacteria and causes galls (masses of plant tissue) to form on roots, root crowns, stems and branches. The galls can interfere with the ability of water to move through the tissue, affecting plant vigor and causing stunted plants. Burpee Recommends: There is no cure for this disease; remove and destroy infected plants.
Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Powdery mildew of fruit will appear the same until later in the spring when the fungus dries, falls off, and a russet appears. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots. Burpee Recommends: Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Scab: Dark spots form on leaves and fruit. Water soaked lesions gradually turn brown in the center with a lighter colored margin. Cracking on the fruit can occur. Burpee Recommends: Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Leafroller: Caterpillars or pupae are found on the inside a folded leaf tied with silk. These feed on leaves and fruit surfaces. They overwinter as pupae or eggs, depending on the species, and emerge in the spring. Burpee Recommends: Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for insecticide recommendations.
Lygus Bugs (Tarnished Plant Bug): Lygus bugs are ¼ inch long and are green or brown with yellow markings. Nymphs are flightless and smaller than the adults. They suck on stem tips and flower buds and inject a toxic that deforms roots, stems and ruins flowers. Burpee Recommends: Because lygus bugs over winter in garden debris, remove all debris after the first frost. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for insecticide recommendations.
Scale: Small bugs look like brown, black, gray to white bumps on the stems of plants. Scale may not have any apparent legs and may not move. Scales have a sucking mouth part. Scale may produce honeydew so leaves and stems may be sticky. Scale can weaken the plant causing it to grow very slowly and may wilt at the middle of the day. Burpee Recommends: Completely spray the stems with Insecticidal soap. For a severe infestation contact your local County Extension Service for recommendation for your area.
Stink Bugs: These are brown shield-shaped bugs that pierce the surface of seeds, foliage or fruit through their mouthparts and feed on the inner contents. When handled they produce an unpleasant odor that give them their common name. They can be a problem in homes as well as gardens. Burpee Recommends: In the garden you can hand pick and crush them. They will emit an odor, but that serves to warn other stink bugs in the area. There are traps available designed for stink bugs specifically. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations. We have heard that if you hang a damp towel outside your house at night in the morning you will find stink bugs on it. You can vacuum these up or knock them into a bucket of soapy water.
Tent Caterpillars: These caterpillars occasionally attack beet foliage. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick and remove them.
Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.
Do I need two different peach varieties for cross pollination? Most peaches are self-pollinating, but may produce a better crop with two varieties. Check your specific variety.
When will my tree bear fruit? Trees should bear fruit in 3-4 years, with full fruiting in 5-7 years.
Can I grow peach trees in my zone 9/10 garden? No, unfortunately peaches require cold winter temperatures and are not recommended in warmer zones than zone 8.