A dwarf peach tree is a gorgeous variety for any space. Better still, these trees are easy to grow in containers if you don’t have a big backyard to offer. Rather than making you wait at least three years before you can harvest fruit, a dwarf option allows you to harvest in a year or two.
Peaches are perfect afternoon snacks you can grow at home, and the plants fruit faster than regular trees are able to. Read on to see how you can grow a low-maintenance, delightful dwarf peach tree in no time.
Dwarf Peach Tree Varieties
These miniature fruit trees grow regular-sized fruit, only on a smaller tree. They grow to a few feet tall, and the are either genetically created or produced by growers using various techniques. It’s best to select a type of dwarf peach tree that grows well in your location, otherwise you may lose blooms to late spring freezes.
If you’re in the south, for example, look for a “low chill” type. The variety you choose may determine when you harvest the fruit as well.
The dwarf peach tree varieties that harvest in the early summer months include:
- Golden Gem: A large peach with a red pit, well-known for its great flavor.
- El Dorado: A medium-sized, rich tasting peach.
- Pix Zee – Large fruit, full of flavor, great for container planting.
- Southern Sweet: Another medium peach, with yellow and red skin.
Varieties that you harvest in the middle of summer include:
- Bonanza II: A large peach that’s aromatic, and offers orange and yellow flesh.
- Southern Flame: Similar to Bonanza, this option is large and features similar coloring.
- Honey Babe: A tiny, sweet-tasting variety that grows well in pots, but needs a cross pollinator plant to produce.
- Southern Rose: A medium-sized yellow and red peach.
For a late-season harvesting variety that grows well in a container:
- Garden Gold: The largest option, this one offers red-pitted fruit and is the only late-season dwarf peach tree variety available.
How to Plant a Dwarf Peach Tree
All peaches grow well in U.S. hardiness zones 5 to 9. Use the following information to plant your own dwarf peach tree.
These trees grow well with a southwest- or south-facing fence or wall nearby for shelter. If you live in a cooler climate, consider growing the fruit trees under glass or in a greenhouse. Everywhere else can expect full sun conditions to produce the best fruit and limit diseases. Pick a full-sun location with at least 6 hours of light, where the water drains away quickly so the plant doesn’t become water-logged.
Rather than planting in heavy soil, stick to a moisture-retentive blend that will drain well for the best results. Peach trees enjoy sandy soil with good drainage, and the acidity should range between a pH level of 6 and 6.5.
Space Between Seedlings
If planting dwarf fruit trees in rows, space them around 13 feet apart with at least a 13-foot row gap. You’ll want to leave at least this amount of room between plants so they can grow larger over time.
Ways to Plant
Most dwarf peach trees are purchased from your local garden center. However, you can grow them from pits that have been conditioned or stratified. You can grow the plant either outdoors or in a container, planting in the later winter or early spring.
The roots must adjust to the soil before the start of the growing season, and placing the roots in water for 24 hours prior to planting can help them take root faster.
To condition the pit and grow your own plant, wrap a seed or pit in a wet paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the fridge for 3 months. The seed should begin to germinate, and if it hasn’t, place it in at room temperature for a week before returning it to the fridge for another 3 months.
When planted outdoors, a dwarf peach tree can grow much more than those planted in containers. Some varieties, such as the Bonanza II, are self-pollinating. When planted outside, space the trees at least 5-8 inches apart.
If you’re planting outside, simply dig a hole large enough for your tree’s roots. Make sure the hole is wide rather than deep, add organic matter, and cover the roots with soil after planting. Pack the soil lightly against the tree for drainage, and water the plant well.
Planting in Containers
Due to the size of these plants, dwarf fruit trees are easy to grow in containers. In fact, container gardening allows people with a small garden, deck, or patio, to grow the plant. Your dwarf peach tree will thrive in a pot that’s no smaller than 18 inches in diameter. Furthermore, you can grow it in the same container for a few years before you need to transplant it or upgrade to a larger container.
If you don’t want to condition pits into seed, an easier way to grow a dwarf peach tree is to plant a pre-grown tree directly into a soil-filled container in Autumn. You can also plant from seeds this way, but you’ll need to protect them using straw.
How to Care for Dwarf Peach Trees
Caring for a dwarf peach tree is relatively easy. Tasks like watering and pruning the plants regularly, are the most important factors in keeping it healthy. Additionally, container plants require more fertilizing and watering than those planted in the garden. Young trees may also need staking if you live in a highly windy area.
Water your tree deeply every three to five days or so throughout the spring. Container plants may require more watering, while the winter months may lead to a decrease in water needs.
The area under the peaches should be mulched with sawdust or wood chips. After planting, mulch around the trunk of the tree and place a wire cage or protective piping. This will keep your young tree safe from pests and animals, as they’re at high risk for damage during this time.
Top-dress the plants in the spring using a well-rotted organic matter and a balanced organic fertilizer. Choose one such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer, used every few weeks during the growing season. Container-grown plants require more frequent feedings as well.
Prune the plant by picking the peaches by hand, especially during the late winter. A healthy tree should produce for 15 years or more and may require hand-pollination if you grow them in a sheltered location, but pruning is very important nonetheless.
Peaches can be pruned more heavily than other fruit trees. Yearly pruning efforts should take off weak or damaged branches and thick foliage during the winter or fall. Additionally, it’ll involve continuous thinning of the fruit throughout the year. When the tree is dormant, remove around a third of the new growth from the previous season using shears each year. In addition, make sure to take off small fruit to allow the other fruits to grow larger.
During the first year, it’s vital that you remove all the immature fruit that grows until the roots are well-established. Afterward, thin young fruits one in every 3 or 4 inches of space on the branch, or you may grow tiny peaches.
Common Problems to Growing a Dwarf Peach Tree
The best part about growing a dwarf fruit tree rather than the regular variety is that if pests or disease issues pop up, you can notice the first signs easier and earlier. Be sure to remove fallen fruit well before it can turn or attract pests.
Young trees are especially susceptible to damage from insects that like to bore into the main trunk. Plum curculios will feed on the unripe fruit, buds, and flowers as well. These bugs are easily removed by picking them off and plunging them into a bucket of hot water. Peach borers also drill holes into the bark, and you can eliminate them by poking a needle into the holes.
Peaches also develop fungal disease issues in humid climates, such as brown rot. You can protect your dwarf fruit trees using a preventative organic fungicide.
Finally, you’ll want to watch out for common pests like:
Best Companion Plants for a Dwarf Peach Tree
Companion plants boost the garden by providing nutrients to each other, preventing weeds and insects from harming the plants, allowing you to grow more in less space. Dwarf peach trees grow well with a wide array of companion plants, including:
However, keep potatoes and tomatoes away from your peach trees to reduce the risk of spreading blight. You should also avoid planting raspberry bushes nearby.
How to Harvest and Store Peaches
When you notice the peach’s color is fully developed and the flesh gives slightly when you squeeze the fruit, it’s ready for harvesting. You should be able to pull the fruit from the tree with ease, though this won’t happen until around two years after planting. Harvesting season lasts from late June until August, depending on the variety.
Expect a dwarf tree to yield between 1 and 3 bushels per tree.
To store the peaches, leave them on your kitchen counter or store them in the fridge. The coolness of the refrigerator can help the fruit last a couple of days longer (as with tomatoes) but they’ll taste better left out. Wash the fruit using cold water.
You can also freeze or can the peaches after harvest to keep the fruit from going bad, but you’ll need canning equipment to do so. Freeze peaches in zippered plastic bags or containers, with around two pounds of peaches per quart of bag space. It should take about 12 quart-sized bags to hold a bushel, or nearly full crop, of peaches. Canning requires a specific recipe, especially if you want to make spiced peaches, jam, or syrup.
A Final Word
In my experience, All Recipes has the best fresh spiced peach jam that’s easy to make at home. It’s great for canning, and the jam tastes amazing on French toast or biscuits in the morning! Store it in your cellar, fridge, or in any other cool, dark location.