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How to Grow Peach Trees: Tips for Growing the Juiciest Peaches

Peaches are the ultimate summer fruit – sweet, juicy, and fragrant. But growing them can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. The good news is that you can learn how to grow delicious peaches in your garden with some knowledge. Learn how to grow peach trees and grow the best peaches you’ve ever tasted. There’s nothing better than picking a ripe peach from the tree and eating it right in the garden.


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8 Tips for How to Grow Big & Tasty Peaches


1. Choose the right peach variety for your climate

The first step to growing great peaches is selecting the right variety for your area and climate. Check with local growers and neighbors to see what grows well.

The first step to growing great peaches is selecting the right variety for your area and climate. Check with local growers and neighbors to see what grows well.

A common misconception when selecting peach trees is assuming that all varieties can grow in any climate. Understanding chill hours plays a significant role in making the decision of which variety of peach tree to plant.

The first step to growing great peaches is selecting the right variety for your area and climate. Check with local growers and neighbors to see what grows well.

Chill hours are the number of cold hours (usually between 32°F – 45°F / 0°C – 7.2°C) a peach tree needs during its dormant winter period to produce fruit effectively. Each variety has specific chill hour requirements, which, if met, will help the tree blossom and yield fruit optimally.

Start by checking local agricultural extension offices or online resources for the average chill hours in your region. Then, pick a peach variety with chill hour requirements that match your area’s conditions.

Seek out local growers and nurseries that can make this process simple. Avoid purchasing fruit online unless you know it will grow well in your area.  

The first step to growing great peaches is selecting the right variety for your area and climate. Check with local growers and neighbors to see what grows well.

Other considerations when deciding which peach tree to plant:

  • Plant fruit you enjoy eating! Try to sample the fruit before you buy a tree. (Another reason why purchasing from a local grower is important). 
  • Ensure the tree you purchase is self-fruitful (does not need a different type of tree for pollination) unless you plan on planting both types of trees. 
  • Select small, healthy trees with established grafts and a strong root system.

Arizona Fruit Planting Guide_ A Visual Planting Guide for Low Desert Fruit

This fruit planting guide lists the varieties of peaches (and many other types of fruit) that grow well in the low desert of Arizona.


2. Plant your peach tree correctly and in the best location

Peach tree location guidelines:

  • Enough room to reach maturity (look at the mature size on the plant information tag).
  • At least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Do not plant in lawn areas.

If you have a peach tree already growing in a lawn area, adjust the watering from shallow, frequent watering to a longer and less frequent watering cycle. This is better for trees and it’s better for the grass too!

2. Plant your peach tree correctly and in the best location

Peach tree planting guidelines:

  • Plant container-grown plants in fall or spring. Bare root trees should be planted in early spring.
  • Dig a wide, shallow hole just deep enough for the roots.
  • Backfill the hole with native, unamended soil. Do not amend the planting area. Roots adapt to the soil conditions of your garden.
  • Do not plant too deeply or bury the graft.
  • Tamp the soil down and water it well to settle the soil.

3. How to Grow Peach Trees: Learn how to prune your peach tree

How to Grow Peach Trees Proper pruning helps maintain the tree's shape and size and prevents common diseases and pest infestations. Consider keeping your fruit trees small and manageable. The book “Grow a Little Fruit Tree” is an invaluable guide for pruning and size management in the home garden.

Proper pruning helps maintain the tree’s shape and size and prevents common diseases and pest infestations. Consider keeping your fruit trees small and manageable. The book “Grow a Little Fruit Tree” is an invaluable guide for pruning and size management in the home garden.

Key concepts for successful pruning: 

  1. Initial Hard Prune: Prune fruit tree to knee high. This keeps the overall size of the tree small. 
  2. Early Years: Young peach trees require formative pruning to establish a strong framework and root system. In the first few years, focus on creating an open center shape, removing overcrowded or crossing branches to promote airflow and light penetration.
  3. Winter Pruning: During the tree’s dormant season, prune to remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood and open up the tree’s interior. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and encourages healthy growth in the spring. Remember, peach trees bear fruit on last year’s wood. Keep the number of branches manageable for better quality fruit.
  4. Summer Pruning: Lightly pruning in the summer months helps maintain a manageable tree size and slows the tree’s growth. 
How to Grow Peach Trees Winter Pruning: During the tree's dormant season, prune to remove dead, damaged, or diseased wood and open up the tree’s interior. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and encourages healthy growth in the spring. Remember, peach trees bear fruit on last year's wood. Keep the number of branches manageable for better quality fruit.
Winter pruning

4. Learn how to water your peach tree correctly

How to Grow Peach Trees Watering your peach tree correctly encourages deep roots and promotes healthy growth.

Watering your peach tree correctly encourages deep roots and promotes healthy growth.

  • Young trees need more frequent watering (but less of it) than established trees.
  • For mature trees, the key is to water deeply but less often. A good rule of thumb is to water your tree about once a week while it’s actively growing and saturate the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches.
  • Let the soil dry out at a few inches down before you water again. Avoid getting water on the leaves or fruit, which can cause fungal problems.
  • Adjust the frequency based on rainfall and soil type. Sandy soil may need more frequent watering, while clay soil retains moisture longer. Over-watering can lead to root rot and other diseases while under-watering can stress the tree and hinder fruit production.
  • Signs of over-watering include yellowing leaves and wilted new growth.
  • Underwatered trees may have wilting or curling leaves, stunted growth, and reduced fruit size.
  • Use a hose or drip irrigation system to water at the tree’s drip line, allowing the water to penetrate deeply into the soil. Avoid wetting the foliage to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Add a layer of organic mulch around the tree (leaving some space around the trunk) to help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds.

5. How to Grow Peach Trees: Fertilize your peach tree as needed

How to Grow Peach Trees Apply a balanced fertilizer in late winter or early spring, just as the buds start to swell. You can also give your tree a boost by adding compost and worm castings around the base of the tree.

Apply organic fertilizer in late winter or early spring. Give your tree a boost by adding compost and/or worm castings to the soil around the tree anytime during the growing season.


6. Thin the fruit to improve quality

How to Grow Peach Trees Thinning your peach tree might feel counterintuitive, but trust me; it's worth it!  Properly thinning your peach tree allows the tree to focus its energy on growing fewer, larger peaches. On average, remove up to 75% of the fruit. 

Thinning your peach tree might feel counterintuitive, but trust me; it’s worth it! Properly thinning your peach tree allows the tree to focus its energy on growing fewer, larger peaches. On average, remove up to 75% of the fruit. 

  • Early Thinning: Thin your peach tree as soon as the fruits are about the size of a dime (20 mm). Leave at least 6 inches (15 cm) between each fruit to prevent overcrowding.
  • Second Round: Check back after a week or two and then thin it again if needed. This ensures the tree isn’t wasting energy on too many small fruits. Allowing it to focus on producing larger, tastier peaches.
  • Keeping your peach tree pruned to a comfortable height makes it easier to reach and thin the fruit.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Remember, having fewer but bigger and juicier peaches is better than an abundance of small, hard ones.

Learn more about how and why to thin fruit trees in this article.


7. Harvest peaches at the right time

How to Grow Peach Trees Another benefit of keeping peach trees small is that you don't need a ladder to harvest the fruit. Allow the fruit to ripen on the tree as long as possible. Peaches will soften once picked but won’t get any sweeter. Look for firm but slightly soft fruit, a vibrant color change, and a sweet aroma as indicators that it's ready to be picked. 

Another benefit of keeping peach trees small is that you don’t need a ladder to harvest the fruit. Allow the fruit to ripen on the tree as long as possible. Peaches will soften once picked but won’t get any sweeter. Look for firm but slightly soft fruit, a vibrant color change, and a sweet aroma as indicators that it’s ready to be picked. 

The birds often know when the fruit is ripe before we do. To protect your peaches from birds and other animals, consider picking them a little earlier than fully ripe and putting them in a paper sack to let them ripen. 

Even with our best efforts, the birds peck a few (or many) peaches from our trees. I feed the pecked peaches to my chickens and also add the pecked peaches to my in-bed vermicomposting bins. The chickens relish the fruity treat, and the worms work their magic, transforming the leftovers into nutrient-rich worm castings. 

Even with our best efforts, the birds peck a few (or many) peaches from our trees. I feed the pecked peaches to my chickens and also add the pecked peaches to my in-bed vermicomposting bins. The chickens relish the fruity treat, and the worms work their magic, transforming the leftovers into nutrient-rich worm castings. 

8. Store and use peaches in a variety of ways

Handle peaches carefully; they bruise very easily. Once ripe, peaches need to be eaten or processed quickly. Putting them in the fridge gives you a couple of extra days before they go bad. 

Handle peaches carefully; they bruise very easily. Once ripe, peaches need to be eaten or processed quickly. Putting them in the fridge gives you a couple of extra days before they go bad. 

  • Freezing: To remove the skins, blanch peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to ice water to cool. The skins will slip easily from the peach. Slice and store in airtight containers or freezer bags.
  • Canning: Prepare a simple syrup (sugar and water), peel and slice peaches, pack them into jars, and cover them with the syrup. Process in a water bath canner according to proper canning guidelines.
  • Freeze Drying: Arrange sliced peaches on freeze dryer trays and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying. For more information about freeze-drying, read this article.
Freeze Drying: Arrange sliced peaches on freeze dryer trays and follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying. For more information about freeze-drying, read this article.
Freeze-dried peaches

What about peach tree pests and diseases?

Common peach tree diseases and pests can be difficult, but the best way to prevent them is by keeping your tree healthy through proper care. Enough sunlight, proper planting, consistent watering, careful pruning, and overall attentive care for your tree will help it build resilience against diseases like leaf curl, brown rot, and pests like borers or aphids. A healthy, well-maintained peach tree is more likely to withstand these challenges.

Common peach tree diseases and pests can be difficult, but the best way to prevent them is by keeping your tree healthy through proper care. Enough sunlight, proper planting, consistent watering, careful pruning, and overall attentive care for your tree will help it build resilience against diseases like leaf curl, brown rot, and pests like borers or aphids. A healthy, well-maintained peach tree is more likely to withstand these challenges.

Learning how to grow peach trees requires a little effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By choosing the right peach variety for your area, learning how to prune your tree, watering deeply, fertilizing, thinning, and harvesting properly, you can grow delicious, juicy peaches that will make your mouth water. 

Learning how to grow peach trees requires effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By choosing the right peach variety for your area, learning how to prune your tree, watering deeply, fertilizing, thinning, and harvesting properly, you can grow delicious, juicy peaches that will make your mouth water. 

If this post about how to grow peach trees was helpful, please share it:

Jennifer

Monday 18th of March 2024

Can you offer a suggestion for a good peach tree here in Arizona?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 19th of March 2024

This post lists my favorite varieties for the low desert: https://growinginthegarden.com/arizona-fruit-planting-guide-a-visual-guide-for-low-desert-fruit/#peach

Jessy

Wednesday 28th of February 2024

Hi Angela, Love your website and gardening tips. Have learned a lot and still learning. Quick question, bought and planted a dwarf peach tree past fall and the peach tree is already flowering. Should I leave those to fruit or cut it for root strength and tree growth?

Jessy

Tuesday 12th of March 2024

@Angela Judd,

Thank you so much! I will do that.

Angela Judd

Monday 4th of March 2024

Remove fruit/blossoms for the first 1-2 years.

Tsi

Saturday 10th of June 2023

Every time I hear the word lawn, I blink. A what? Oh, a mowed pasture. No, if I see a blade of grass I totter out for the shovel and put it out of my misery. There is a weed eater in the garage but that's only to knock down dead wildflowers in the yard. But, peaches! The ultimate meal is a few ripe peaches.

Amanda

Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Thanks for this article! I planted two peach trees, a Florida Prince and a Tropic Snow purchased bare root from A&P, in January 2023. I did that first hard pruning cut back then, and this spring, the trees have put on new branches and leafed out beautifully. They seem to be doing well, but I'm scared summer will fry them since they're so young/small. Any tips for keeping them healthy through the intense heat? I've painted the trunks and put down a thick layer of wood chips. Wondering if I should water more often or perhaps erect temporary shade through June-July-August.

Tsi

Saturday 10th of June 2023

@Amanda, We live in a wind tunnel, San Pedro Canyon. Trees need protection from the wind and afternoon sun for a year or so. Usually their 2nd season they're tough enough to handle most things. We like a foot or more of mulch and lay it out past the dripline. niio

Amanda

Thursday 1st of June 2023

@Angela Judd, Thanks for the vote of confidence! I'm sure I'll refer back to this article again and again ... as I do with pretty much all of your website. You're a treasure to Valley gardeners. Thanks again!

Angela Judd

Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hi Amanda. Don't be too scared, you've got this! Stay on top of the watering, using the signs in the article of if they need more/less. A shade for the first summer isn't a bad idea, especially if you could block that late western sun.