The Q&A Archives: Planting a peach tree in Phoenix, AZ

Question: I just bought a peach tree from Home Depot, I live in Phoenix Az an it is really dry and hot, how do I keep it alive, does it need a lot of sun, should I keep it shaded?

Answer: Peaches are relatively easy to grow in the lower desert if a variety well adapted to the hot arid climate is chosen. The best two varieties for the Phoenix area are Earli Grande and Florida Prince. They can take full sun, but it is recommended to give them afternoon shade the first summer.

Peach trees do well on a grass watering schedule year round. Although, they can handle getting even less water in the winter than a grass schedule provides because they are dormant.

Basin or flood irrigation is recommended because it helps keep the salt in our salty water from accumulating around the roots. Furthermore, deep watering will encourage the plant to develop deeper roots, making the plant tougher when the weather gets hot and dry.

Do not fertilize the tree the first year. This will encourage its roots to go looking for food. After the first year, lightly fertilize the tree, below its drip line, in June after the fruit has been harvested.

Peach trees are fast growing and should be pruned during the winter. Peaches emerge on new growth, so if the tree is not pruned the peaches will emerge further away from the trunk every year, eventually putting heavy strain on branches, potentially breaking them. Furthermore, a peach tree can get very big so pruning will keep it a manageable size. On mature trees, it is recommended to remove 2/3 of new growth every winter from the previous summer. This can be done by a combination of heading back branches and removing branches. Always remove any branches coming from below the graft point or from the roots because these branches are coming from the rootstock and will not produce good fruit.

Best wishes with your peach tree!

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