Garden plant of the moment: Peach tree

Garden plant of the moment: Peach tree

Is there anything more delicious than a ripe, juicy peach? Gardeners have been growing peaches in the UK for centuries, and it’s said that Queen Victoria didn’t consider a meal complete without a fresh peach. You don’t need a palace to grow peaches though – any warm sunny garden will do.

 

How to grow peaches in the UK

Pick a sheltered spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunshine, with a well-drained, fertile soil. It’s possible to grow freestanding peach trees in mild areas, but for the best results, grow your peach tree trained against a sunny, south-facing wall. Fix 3 or 4 horizontal support wires to the wall, spaced about 40cm apart vertically. If you’re a novice at training trees, it’s simplest to buy a 2- or 3-year-old tree that has already been fan-trained, then plant it and tie the branches back to your support wires. Spread a granular fertiliser around the roots of the tree every year in late winter.

You can also grow a peach tree in a large container filled with multipurpose compost. Water every day during the growing season, and feed every fortnight with a high potash liquid feed (tomato feed is ideal).

Peach trees flower early in spring, often before many insects are around to pollinate them, so you may need to do this yourself by pressing the brushes of a small paintbrush into the centre of each flower.

Pick your peaches when the flesh near the stalk feels soft to the touch. To harvest, cup the peach in your hand and lift gently. The fruit should come away easily from the stem when ripe. Eat straight away!

 

How to prune fan-trained peach trees

Peaches should be pruned in late summer, after harvesting. Cut branches that have fruited back to a strong new shoot, and tie this shoot back to the support wires. Remove any branches growing towards the wall. If any branches are growing directly away from the wall, cut these back so that only two leaves are left on the branch.

 

How to prevent peach leaf curl

Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease that affects peach trees in early spring, causing the leaves to curl and shrivel. This weakens the tree and means it’s less likely to produce fruit. Since the fungal spores are carried in raindrops, the best way to protect peach trees is to cover them with horticultural fleece in late winter and early spring. Container-grown trees can be moved to a cool indoor spot until late spring.

 

Best peach trees to grow

  • Peaches for containers: Peach ‘Bonanza’, a naturally dwarf variety
  • Peaches for UK gardens: Peach ‘Rochester’, a delicious variety with yellow flesh. Well suited to the UK climate.
  • Unusual peaches: Peach ‘Saturn’, a doughnut-shaped peach with white flesh and a delicate flavour.

Come and visit our garden centre for more advice on growing a peach tree!

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