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Planting Peach Trees

Successfully establishing a young peach tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a peach tree is well established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit. Here’s how to make give your trees a strong foundation.

NOTE: This is part 4 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow peach trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Peach trees require fertile, balanced soil for good growth, so before you plant, test the soil where your trees will live — including the soil pH. Refer to the section on Soil Preparation for tips on testing your soil.

If the soil pH where you plan to plant your tree is between 6.0 and 7.0, you’re in good shape — this is an ideal range for peach trees. Take a look at the established trees and plants around the site. Do they look healthy? Are they growing well? This will help give you an idea of the success you can expect with new plantings in the same area. Remember to steer clear of heavy clay soil or any soil that is poorly drained.

Peach trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool, especially if they arrive bare-root and dormant. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Do not expose roots to temperatures that are freezing or below. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

Planting Bare-Root Peach Trees

  • Before planting: soak the bare-root peach tree’s roots in a bucket or large tub of water for 1 to 2 hours. This keep the roots from drying out while you dig the planting hole. Avoid soaking roots for more than 6 hours. Remember: do not expose roots to freezing temperatures (or below) prior to planting.

  • Dig the planting hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily spread and grow. Keep the more nutritious topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it will do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix aged/rotted manure, garden compost, coir or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. The peat moss you get should either be baled sphagnum or granular peat. Note: Peat has a low pH, so if you use this rather than neutral coir, it may affect the soil pH around the roots. Coir, like our Coco-Fiber Growing Medium, can be added instead of peat — or just work in 2 or more inches of organic material with the existing soil.
  • Place the peach tree in the center of the planting hole with its roots down and spread out. Holding onto the trunk to keep it vertical, backfill the hole, putting the topsoil back in first. Important: keep the graft union (the noticeable “bump” in the lower trunk) 2-3 inches above the ground for dwarf and columnar types. For standard-size peach trees, situate the bud union 1 to 2 inches below the soil line. Read more about Planting Budded and Grafted Peach Trees below.
  • Fill in the soil carefully around the roots, tamping it down firmly as you refill the planting hole. This will eliminate air pockets that may cause the tree to be loose in its planting hole.
  • Especially if you’re planting on a slope, create a rim of soil around the planting hole about 2 inches above ground level. This is called a “berm” and it works to catch water so that it can soak in, rather than run off and cause soil erosion. Spread the soil evenly around tree.
  • Read more about Digging a Planting Hole and Planting Bare-Root Fruit Trees.

Planting Potted Peach Trees

Peach trees that are grown and shipped in our Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pots are a result of our continuing quest for better and stronger trees. By following these simple instructions, you’ll be assured of getting your new potted peach tree off to the best possible start.

  • Before planting: When your peach tree arrives, carefully take it out of the package. Your potted tree has been watered prior to shipment and should arrive with damp soil around the roots; however, it does need another drink when it arrives at your home. Be sure the water reaches all of the roots, all the way to the bottom of the container. If you can’t plant your tree immediately, keep the roots hydrated and keep the tree in a sheltered location until you’re able to plant. Do not place your potted peach tree in a bucket of water. This could cause the roots to rot and weaken, or even drown your peach tree.
  • Your potted peach tree is ready for planting as soon as it arrives. To remove the tree from its temporary container, simply grasp the sides of the pot and carefully slide the tree out. If the tree’s roots do not easily slide out of the container, you may need to gently pry the inside edges of the container away from the root system, and loosen it until the roots slide freely from the pot.

Note: do not plant the plastic Stark® EZ Start® bottomless pot in the ground. It is not intended to break down over time as your peach tree grows, and it will cause root restriction, injury, or may even be fatal to the tree. The pot your tree arrives in is intended to be a temporary container only.

  • While some potting soil might shake loose, most of it should remain around the peach tree’s roots. Gently separate, untangle, and spread out the tree’s roots and place it, soil and all, into the prepared planting hole. Backfill the hole with topsoil, same as you would a bare-root peach tree (see above). Water thoroughly.
  • Your potted peach tree may have come with a bamboo stake, which helped straighten the tree as it grew in its pot. Remove the bamboo stake and replace it with a different tree stake, if you prefer. We recommend that you keep young trees staked when you plant to help keep them growing vertically.

Budded and Grafted Peach Trees

All Stark Bro’s peach trees are either grafted or budded to ensure true-to-name nursery stock. You can see where the fruiting variety on top is joined to the root variety on the bottom by a bump in the lower trunk, by a change in the bark color, or by a slightly offset angle in the tree.

Grafted peach trees need special planting attention. For most peach trees, especially dwarf varieties, it’s very important to keep the graft above the soil level; otherwise, roots could develop from above the graft, and your peach tree could grow to full size by bypassing its dwarfing parts. Budded and grafted peach trees are manually fitted to specially selected clonal rootstocks.
For dwarf and columnar peach trees, the bud union should be planted 2 to 3 inches above the soil line. For ideal anchorage, standard-size peach trees should be planted 1 to 2 inches deeper than the visible soil line made when the trees grew in our nursery rows.

Post-Planting

Thoroughly water your newly planted peach tree. A deep soaking with about a gallon of water is ideal. If you plan to fertilize at planting time, you can add a water-soluble product like Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer to your gallon of water and water your peach tree with the solution.

If planting in the fall, wait until spring instead to apply fertilizer. After watering, if soil appears to settle and sinks into the planting hole, just add more soil — enough to fill the hole to ground level again.

Mulch

Apply 2 to 3 inches of organic material like wood bark (rather than an inorganic material, like rocks) around the root zone of your peach tree. Mulching helps discourage weeds, prevent evaporation, water-pooling and freeze injury around the trunk going into winter. In the fall, double the mulch layer or add a layer of straw for extra winter protection.

Note: Rodents and other small gnawing critters may make a home out of mulch that is applied too thickly. In winter, they could chew the tree’s bark for sustenance — a type of injury that can be fatal, especially to new peach trees.

One final tip: Please be sure to remove the name tag from your peach tree. As the tree grows, this small piece of plastic can choke off its circulation, causing damage like girdling and even death. If you’d like to keep the tag on your tree, retie it loosely with soft twine and be sure to keep it from restricting the tree as it grows.

NEXT: Soil Preparation for Peach Trees
Previous: Choosing a Location for Peach Trees