Peaches are very delicate with easily bruised thin skin. While the trees are considerably sturdier than the fruit, there are a few tips and tricks you should know about pruning your peach trees to ensure healthy trees and a good crop:
- Purchase healthy peach trees from a reputable nursery or garden center. The most opportune time to do this is in the spring.
- Plant your peach trees in an open area with full sun. Peach trees need warm (hot) temperatures, lots of sunshine and good air flow to be healthy and productive.
- After you’ve planted your peach trees, careful attention must be given to their care. A systematic program of spraying and pruning is vital to their health and productivity.
- Pruning is very important for the following reasons:
- Pruning allows you to remove any broken or damaged branches from your trees which, if left untended, could harbor disease.
- Pruning small scraggily branches allows the nourishment that would have been wasted on them to go to the stronger branches that will ultimately bear more and better fruit.
- Pruning branches from the tree’s base (lower than the 24 inches) will prevent your trees from splitting. Peach trees aren’t the sturdiest to begin with so anything you can do to strengthen the trunk will help prolong the life and quality of your trees.
- Your pruning technique has a great deal to do with preventing many types of disease. While most fruit trees need to be pruned as close to the supporting branch as possible, peaches should not be pruned this way. When pruning a peach tree, leave what is called a ‘collar’ one-half to one inch long. In other words, leave one-half to one inch of the branch you are pruning on the tree. This will allow quicker and cleaner healing of the bark. Also, it is important to cut straight across — not at an angle. Make sure your shears or saw are sharp and won’t leave torn and jagged edges.
- The branches of peach trees should be no closer than 6-12 inches from each other, depending on the size of the tree. This allows the fruit to receive the amount of sun and air flow that it needs to grow optimally.
- Pruning your young trees in moderation (removing everything less than 24 inches from the ground, as mentioned earlier) will help to shape the tree and bring strength to the base of the tree. Be careful not to prune a young tree too heavily or you will delay its ability to produce peaches.
- Peach trees need to be pruned regularly. Your first prune of the season should be between the time the leaves are all set on and when the tree is in full bloom. This will be in late winter or early spring, depending on what the climate is like in your area. This is the time to remove the branches that didn’t make it through the winter. But remember, the leaves make the tree’s food, so cutting away more than necessary is likely to retard the growth of the tree as well as its ability to bear fruit.
- The timing of the second prune of the season depends on what is needed. If you want to slow their growth (too bushy), then midsummer will be the right time. If it’s minor reshaping or damaged and scraggly branches that need removing, wait until late summer. But whatever you do, DON’T prune your trees within a month of cold weather setting in. Pruning then will not give the trees enough time to heal before the cold weather comes — a susceptible time for peach trees to be stricken with disease.
- By pruning regularly you will avoid having to cut larger branches. This is advantageous for preventing canker — a disease common to peach trees. The smaller the area there is to scab over, the less chance there is for canker or other infestations to set in.
You might be thinking at this point that peach trees are more work than they’re worth. For some that might be true, but it all comes down to educating yourself on their needs and then establishing management practices to meet those needs. It’s really not as tedious as it sounds. Many feel this delicious and low calorie source of vitamin c and potassium is worth it… Of course the ‘low calorie’ part depends on how much ice cream you eat with them.
Janis Rowell says
I have old trees that need to be pruned. Some only have leaves 20 feet up. What do I do?
What kind of trees? How old, if you know? Fruit or otherwise? If they have leaves 20 feet up, maybe you’re talking oak? If the trees’ leaves on bottom branches don’t exist or are sparse, are they growing under other trees that cut their light?
Commercial orchards keep apple trees, for example, for about 15-20 years and then plant new ones to replace them because their fruitfulness decreases with age. Peach trees don’t last much longer than that and are prone to blowing over in wind storms. Pear trees seem to be indestructible.
However, an old tree of any kind may be refurbished if you feed it, water it well first and cut no more than about a third of growing branches a year. With dry fertilizer, sprinkle according to directions around the tree at the drip line where the feeder roots are, and water in well with at least an inch of water. Or you can spray a Miracle Gro solution on the entire tree with a hose end sprayer.
If your trees have branches growing in every direction, cut the ones that cross, grow straight up, or toward the center of the tree. Prune back ends of branches about a foot, back to a set of leaves, on a mature tree to shape and encourage better growth.
With dead branches, the sooner off, the better.
Once you have the tree stabilized, concentrate on keeping dead or broken branches pruned, fertilizing each year, watering when it’s dry and checking regularly for insects and diseases.
Hi, I have a peach tree about 3-5 years old or should I say medium size. I live in Yuma, Arizona hot in the summer up to 118 and in the winter as low as 32 degrees. I don’t know anything about pruning or about peaches. The first year we did nothing and we had a large volume of fruit; however, they were very small then pruned it in the winter; spring came second year and only a few small peaches came out almost none. We then decided to not prune it. Thrid year and again the tree produced lots and lots of peaches but they were small. I’m not sure which channel I was looking at that they indicated that we should prune and spray the tree. I have not had any insects; therefore, am hesitate to spray and if I need to spray what do I spray? This year we started to prune about a week ago, but told my husband to stop because we did not know anything about pruning. the tree leaves are starting to fall. We purchased the tree in a 2 gallon pot, planted it and unfortuantely we should have educated ourselves before the purchase. Either way I feel so so sorry for the tree and now need to know how I can help it along properly, so we both benefit from it’s beauty. Could you please help us (peachy tree and me) thank you?
I have very old peach trees that were planted 30-40 years ago by my Aunt. I now have inherited her place and the peach trees are about 30 feet tall. She never pruned them at all, and they have always produced a huge amount of fruit. Large branches have occasionally broken off from the weight of the fruit. The lower branches that normally hang about 8 ft off the ground will touch the ground with the quantity of peaches. I have been researching peach tree pruning, and am very concerned. All of the videos I have seen address the issue of pruning the trees while they are young. Nobody addresses the issue of pruning a much older tree like mine. I ultimately dont want to replace the trees right now as they are producing an abundance of fruit. I think they should be pruned though, and it would be nice to be able to easily harvest the fruit too. How much should I cut? Is there somthing I could apply to the cut ends to prevent disease? Should I be spraying the trees? With what? Help! There are about 15 trees.
Dean White says
In the article above, it says that the peach tree can be prunned in mid-summer. This is the time that they are full of fruit. Is it wise to prune the tree when it has fruit on it? This is my first experience with fruit trees, peach trees in particular. Elberta, Contender, Red Haven, one of each. Thanks for any further advise that you can give me on raising these trees correctly for GOOD fruit.
Dean White, Three Rivers, Mi.
I have a peach tree several years old still in a pot and probably staying there indefinitely. what do i need to do to get it to produce fruit in this situation?? are there any special tips for keeping it healthy(it looks pretty good at the moment).
lance sutton says
I have planted a couple of peach trees that I am guessing are about 2-3 years old that came from a reputable nursery here in Mississippi. They already had a few fruits on them and have since ripened and been taken off the tree. My question is I have noticed new growth of leaves at the top of the tree ( about 7 feet) on one of my trees. Is this normal for August? Also, There is still a bit of old growth branches that didn’t produce leaves so far but the branches are still plyable like they are still live but just didn’t leaf. Should I leave them or prune them off?
i just bought a sun globe peach tree and have planted it. it has only 1 main branch and is approx. 6-8 foot tall. it has some leaves coming out and a number of small branches but more towards the top of the tree. some of the articles i have read say that i should prune it back to 30 inches tall. if i do that i would just have a stick remaining. is this indeed what i need to do or have i misunderstood something? thanks for your help. iam new to this and need all the help i can get.
I have 2 young peach trees that are about 3 months old & are 2 ft tall. They are thin & spindly. I feel like I should trim them a little but have no idea where to cut. Any advice? They are also still in pots, should I go ahead & put them in the ground now or wait til spring. Where I live in Colorado it is always windy & I worry they wouldn’t survive the wind.
Dave Adams says
I live in Belize up in the jungle and have a couple peach trees I planted a couple of years ago. They are growing great, but they don’t seem to drop their leaves. There are new buds waiting to come out, but they have been on the tree for a few months now. I pretty sure they are not meant to grow in this environment. I was just wondering when and if I should prune them back since they don’t seem to drop their leaves and the temp never really gets cold.