2016

 
 

Peach trees, Prunus persica, have an amazing number of attributes. First, their size makes them perfect for urban plots and for planting beneath power lines and they're ideal as a specimen or courtyard tree. Secondly in spring bare branches break out in thousands of lovely red, white or pink blossoms. This bloom is so exuberant that it alone is reason enough to grow a peach tree. Of course, this should come as no surprise since they are botanically in the same genus as cherries and plums and peaches are every bit as impressive in spring. These blooms lead to the trees other great asset, perhaps its greatest, which is the fruit. The beautiful red and golden fruit are 3 to 6 inches wide and highly decorative. But the beauty is nothing compared to the extraordinary flavor. A freshly picked, tree-ripened peach is indescribably delicious. And these fruits are borne heavily with the branches sagging from the bounty. For those fruits not consumed on the spot, they make wonderful ice cream, jellies and preserves. And if any are still remaining, then the wildlife will gladly help themselves. And finally, if all of that wasn't enough there is one last attribute of a peach tree, and that is the foliage which will develop lovely yellow autumn color.

Now for the down side. A peach tree is one of the highest maintenance trees grown. Anyone unwilling to prune, fertilize, spray, and spray on a very rigid time schedule, should not consider growing a peach tree. They need to be sprayed for brown rot, leaf curl, scale, mite, aphids, mealybugs and borers. The trees also need regular fertilization and watering. Even then one may get only 8 to 15 years of decent productivity. Still, the taste of homemade peach ice cream in summer is so sublime that it continues to motivate gardeners around the world to undertake all of the rigorous demands necessary.

Peaches need to grow in full sun on fertile, well-drained soil. These natives of China have given rise to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of varieties that have been developed for various climates and characteristics. There is even the fuzzless version called nectarine.

Fruit quality is best in areas with long summers necessary to ripen the fruit. The southern United States and Australia offer optimum conditions but there are special varieties that do well in cooler regions such as the upper US and the UK.

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Peach tree

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