Sun ripened juiciness, sweet, fragrant, and succulent; eating a peach in the orchard fresh from the tree is summer’s gift to gardeners. Soft shades of yellow and red beckon you to draw near and savor every lip-smacking bite.
Adding peach trees to your home orchard is a rewarding garden endeavor. Experimenting by planting peach seeds can be a fun and educational gardening adventure for the whole family. There is a chance, however, that your resulting peach tree’s fruit will not be the same variety as its parents. Your peach tree journey will be one of mystery and intrigue since it will take several years to grow a peach tree and for you to see what, if any, fruit your pit will produce.
How To Grow A Peach Tree
Deciding to grow a peach tree in your home orchard is a fun experiment in plant heredity along with gaining the satisfaction of growing a tree from seed. A feat the will take some perseverance and a little luck.
You will want to select several different varieties of peaches to conduct you experiment, this way you can mitigate the problem of germination failure. There is no way to tell if the tree you grow will produce the same variety of fruit as the seed inside the peaches you use to parent your self germinated peach trees. There is the distinct possibility you could grow a better peach or no peaches at all. The answer can only be discovered by planting your own peach seeds and waiting for them to produce fruit.
Professional fruit growers used plant grafting to ensure their peaches are true to the peach variety they desire. By planting your own tree from seed, you can enjoy the thrill of victorious peachy discovery, with any luck your peach pits will provide you with fresh, juicy peaches for many years.
Preparing Your Peach Seeds
Below are a few tips on preparing the seed inside your peaches to get your germination off to a great start.
Carefully clean and dry you peach seed to give it the best possible chance of avoiding any mold or mildew. Scrub away any bits of fruit remaining on the pit. A vegetable scrubber or toothbrush are good options for cleaning all the tiny bits away. Dip the clean seed in a bleach solution that is 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. Then allow the seed to thoroughly air dry at room temperature. It can take a few days to dry completely. You can coat the seed pit with a fungicide to help deter mold growth for extra protection.
Alternatively, you can gently remove the peach pit kernel from it’s outer protective layer for faster germination. With a nutcracker or a hammer, carefully crack away the rough outer coating taking care not to damage the inner kernel. This will get your plant to the germination phase quicker providing you don’t damage the inner seed.
Germinating Peach Seeds, Peach Pit, Or Peach Stones
Whether you call it a peach pit, seed, or stone, these walnut-like seeds are easy to germinate.
You can plant the peach seed directly into the ground in the fall and hope it will survive and grow. Plant your peach pit 3-4 inches deep in a nice organic soil mix. Cover with an inch or two of mulch to protect the seed from the cold winter weather. Water the seed, keeping the ground moist but not soaked. Cross your fingers and wait for spring to see if you have a tree sprout.
A more controlled approach is to store the seed in a cool spot until early winter. To begin the germination process, soak your pit in water for 1-2 hours. Then place it in a plastic bag with slightly moist peat moss or vermiculate. Your peach seed needs a measured cold treatment to begin the germination process. Placing your pit in the refrigerated works well where the temperature should be between 35 and 42 degrees F. The required cold treatment takes about 4 months. Additionally, you need to keep your peach seed away from other produce since they may emit ethylene gas which can negatively effect the seeds’ germination process. Apples and bananas can be particularly problematic.
Somewhere between two and three weeks and two to three months your peach seed will germinate. Each seed and variety will have a different time schedule. You will see the root develop and the first tiny leaves signaling it’s time to plant your sprout.
Since germination is not a guarantee, it is good practice to plant several peach pits, each in their own little germination pod with the hope of growing a successful sprout. If all goes well, you could have an orchards worth of sprouts to plant in the garden. If you successfully germinate more than you need, they make excellent gifts.
Potting Your Peach Sprout
Once the peach seed has sprouted, you want to get it into a good, soil-free potting mix. Gently remove the seed and root from its plastic bag. Plant your sprout in a good size container, at least 12″ deep for optimum root growth. Plant the sprout 1″ deep in peat moss, sphagnum moss, or sterilized potting soil. Water frequently to keep the baby sprout moist.
Hardening Off Your Peach Seedling
When your peach tree seedling has several sets of true leaves, it is time to harden off your seedling trees by acclimating it to the outside weather. After the danger of the last frost has past, bring your plants outside in a sheltered area every day. Begin with 1-2 hours the first day and add an hour each consecutive day gradually building up the fruit trees ability to withstand the sun and outdoor temperatures.
Planting Your Peach Tree
Planting your peach tree is a satisfying chore; you have grown this little beauty from a small seed. It is time to showcase your hard work.
Plant your peach tree in full sun. They love a well drained soil and will thrive with minimal, but focused, gardening care.
Dig a deep hole to ensure you don’t bend or damage the tap root when transplanting your tree. Keep the tree’s roots moist but not too wet during the first year. Be sure to select a location that provides some protection from the wind.
Peach Tree Care
Peach trees require the same type of care as any other fruit tree. They need regular watering when rainfall is low. Proper pruning for shaping and branching will improve the quality and quantity of the harvest. Fruit thinning will improve the quality of your tree’s yield.
Check you peach trees regularly for signs of pests and disease. A common pest to watch for is Peachtree borers, while they can be eliminated with the proper treatment, you don’t want them to get out of control.
Peach trees have a plant hardiness zones between 4 through 9. This may affect your home grown peach trees due to the unknown nature of your plant lineage. If you purchase a tree, make sure to check your hardiness zone and chill hours when you select your tree variety.
Eating Your Peaches
The best way to enjoy your home grown peaches is fresh from the tree with their juicy goodness dripping down your chin. You may need to keep a roll of paper towels close at hand.
Peaches make amazing jams, sauces, pies, crumbles, tarts, and many other delicious sweet and savory goodies. They are one of natures own sweet treats and growing your own peaches will make you the most sought after gardener with your friends and neighbors.
Where To Buy Peach Trees
It takes three or four years for a peach tree to grow and product fruit from seed. Our tip to you, consider purchasing a peach tree variety or two and get your orchard started sooner. While you wait for your mystery peaches to begin fruiting, you can enjoy the sweet bountiful produce from one of these tasty varieties.
Nature Hills Nursery offers popular varieties of peach trees including:
- Elberta Peach Tree – Zones 5-9
- Redhaven Peach Tree – Zones 5-9
- Hale Haven Peach Tree – Zones 5-8
- Reliance Peach Tree – Zones 4-8
- Rio Oso Gem Peach Tree – Zones 6-9
Visit us at Minnetonka Orchards for all the up-to-date information on your fruit tree questions including caring for your trees and exploring recipes to enjoy.