All home gardeners can enjoy the pleasure of picking their own peach or nectarine from a tree! Whether you’re team fuzz or no fuzz, there’s no doubt that both are extremely enjoyable to grow. This short article points in you the right direction with all things growing peaches and nectarines in your backyard, balcony, or courtyard.
All PlantNet® peach and nectarine varieties are have great eating qualities and are a range of sizes, from super dwarves to full sized trees – perfect for any backyard!
5 Minute Read
Where to plant peach and nectarine trees
Plant your tree in full sun in a spot where you can access water easily. Peaches and nectarines are generally not fussy with their soil conditions, but they perform better if the soil conditions have been improved prior to planting with organic matter. Aged manures and compost work well in most cases for this.
Variety selection is important, as there is a wide range of chill requirements between peach and nectarine varieties. Always research whether the variety you are interested in performs well in your area or similar climates. Consult your local garden centre for help with this.
Follow the complete planting and potting instructions on our Ultimate Guide to Growing Fruit Trees.
How to fertilise peach and nectarine trees
Peaches and nectarines are hungry trees in comparison to other deciduous fruit trees. In the home garden, a balanced controlled release/slow release fertiliser with added nitrogen will work well. Organic fertilisers can be used but at a much higher rate than inorganic fertilisers and opt for higher nitrogen options.
To give you a general guide, PlantNet® has created a great guide for fertilising deciduous fruit trees in pots from trial work completed by PlantNet® over a 3 year period. Included in this trial was Dwarf Fresno Peach, and our findings have helped many home gardeners create their own fertiliser schedules for peaches and nectarines.
Watering and pruning
In winter a small amount of water once a week is all that’s needed to prevent the soil profile from drying up too much. Peaches and nectarines don’t like to be dry for too long, so maintenance of soil moisture levels are important as temperatures increase. In spring water approximately twice a week, and in summer water every couple of days.
Use your hand to measure the moisture level of your potting mix/soil. When digging into the top 5cms you should look for any sign of moisture – if you see moisture, don’t water; if the potting mix is completely dry, water well.
Using wetting agents, mulch, and drip lines are all good ways to decrease the amount of time you need to spend outside with a hose in summer.
Peaches and nectarines are easily shaped to an open vase or central leader shape, which can be started at planting. In subsequent years, peaches and nectarines will fruit from last season’s growth, meaning that pruning involves removal of laterals that have fruited. Peaches and nectarines can be pruned heavier than other deciduous fruit trees, and their quick response in spring and summer to produce new laterals is desirable for future fruit production.
Equally important is airflow and sunlight. An open shape allows airflow to reduce fungal diseases whilst allowing sunlight to develop rich colours and flavours into the fruit as they ripen.
Common peach and nectarine pests and diseases
The most frequently mentioned concern for home gardeners is leaf curl. Leaf curl can be easily prevented with a copper-based spray applied at leaf fall, late winter, and again at bud swell. Generally, if you missed these spray timing it’s too late – but warm weather will ensure that the second flush of leaves will be free from leaf curl.
Other common diseases include brown rot and peach rust, the former which is controlled with an organic Bordeaux spray (use this also to control leaf curl) and the latter which generally isn’t a problem for healthy trees but can be treated by sprays such as mancozeb plus.
Netting is always the best option to keep pests away from your fruit trees. Ensure you use a frame that keeps the net clear of foliage and fruit.
Peach and nectarine harvest guide
Depending on the variety you have, you will be harvesting fruit sometime between November to March. Yes, it’s a very broad range! Wait for your fruit to be fully coloured on the tree, and slightly soft when squeezed, before harvesting for the best tasting fruit. You can harvest when hard and ripen on the kitchen bench.
Below is a harvest guide for the PlantNet® peach and nectarine range. Please note that these differ between climates and is intended as a guide only. Super Dwarf Sunset Peach® and Super Dwarf Sunset Nectarine® fruit in Nov-Dec in warm climates and from January to February in cooler climates. Clearly, using peaches and nectarines you can spread your harvest out for many months. All varieties are grafted onto suitable rootstock depending on where they are intended to be sold.
Glowinski, L. (1991) The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia. Melbourne, VIC: Lothian.
Persley, D. (1994) Diseases of fruit crops Vol 1. Brisbane, QLD: Department of Primary Industries.