By: Teo Spengler
O’Henry peach trees produce large, yellow freestone peaches, popular for their excellent flavor. They are vigorous, heavy-bearing fruit trees considered an excellent choice for the home orchard. Read on for information about these trees as well as tips on O’Henry peach tree care.
Given that O’Henry peaches are an extremely popular market cultivar, you may have sampled an O’Henry peach. If you haven’t yet, you are really in for a treat. Fruit from O’Henry trees is both delicious and beautiful. The firm, yellow flesh is streaked with red and has a superb flavor.
O’Henry peaches are medium-sized trees. They grow to 30 feet (9 m.) tall with a 15 foot (4.5 m.) spread. That means that these tree fit quite nicely into a modest home orchard.
Those wondering how to grow O’Henry peaches should first figure out the hardiness zone in their home location. Growing O’Henry peaches is only possible in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. These fruit trees require at least 700 chilling hours a year of temperatures that drop to 45 degrees F. (7 C.) or less. On the other hand, O’Henry cannot tolerate extreme winter cold or late frost.
When you start growing these peach trees, it is critical to select a sunny site. Peaches require lots of direct, unfiltered sun to produce their crops. Plant the tree in sandy soil where it gets at least six hours of sun.
Peach trees, in general, require a lot of maintenance and O’Henry peach tree care is right up there with the other varieties. You’ll need to do more than water your tree regularly, but in exchange, you can expect many years of heavy, delicious peach crops.
You’ll need to fertilize your tree when you plant it to help it establish a good root system. Extra phosphorus is important at this time. Established trees require less fertilizer. Plan to fertilize every few years early in the growing season.
Irrigation is also very important. Don’t neglect this during dry weather or you may lose your entire peach harvest.
Peach trees also require pruning and this is an important part of O’Henry peach tree care. The trees must be correctly pruned from the time of planting for proper growth and development. If you are not sure how to do peach tree pruning, call in an expert annually to help with the job.
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Read more about Peach Trees
Peaches (Prunus persica), like tomatoes, are at their best when allowed to ripen on the plant and eaten almost immediately. Peach trees don't tolerate cold winters and springs, but grow well in mild climates. They need more care than some trees and are short-lived, but their homegrown taste makes them worth the effort. Select varieties known to perform well in your area and plant them in full sun in light, loamy soil.
Spray peach trees with dormant oil spray in late winter to control San Jose scale. Spray trees with a fixed copper fungicide in late winter to control leaf curl. Make two applications, the first one in December and a second application two months later.
Prune the peach tree in late winter to remove about 50 percent of the tree's old wood. First remove branches that are old, rubbing against each other or growing vertically. Remove a few other branches, as well, to open the canopy to light and create a rounded form.
Spray trees with a fungicide in spring while the tree is blooming to prevent brown rot. Make 2 to 3 applications, spaced 10 days apart, especially during wet, rainy weather.
Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to young peach trees monthly, beginning in April, according to package directions, or spread 25 pounds of manure monthly around the base of the tree. Mature trees need 50 percent more fertilizer, according to the University of California. Water the trees after making fertilizer applications.
Twist off developing peaches when they are the size of marbles so each fruit is spaced 6 inches apart. This thinning increases fruit size and prevents limb breakage.
Drip irrigate daily during dry weather. If using overhead sprinklers, water deeply every three weeks. Water more frequently in dry weather.
Remove any weeds from the base of the peach tree, and mulch with 2 to 3 inches of wood chip mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth.
Harvest peaches when they are fully ripened. To determine ripeness, look at the color of the fruit. The base color, should change from green to yellow or cream when ripe. Taste the fruit, as well, for softness and flavor.
Make a final fertilizer application after the peaches are harvested, and water the tree well.
Spray peach trees in late fall with a fixed copper spray to prevent shot hole fungus. Apply the fungicide before heavy rains arrive.
Remove any remaining fruit and clean up leaf debris to reduce disease problems.
The Bonanza patio peach tree gets its name because it’s meant to be potted and placed on a patio. When you purchase this type of tree, you’ll be given a bare root tree, which is a tree that has been grown elsewhere, dug out while dormant, shaken free of excess soil, and stored in moist material.
Once you have your tree, here’s how you would plant it:
The Bonanza patio peach tree won’t bear its first batch of dwarf peaches until three or four years of age. After that, the tree should produce peaches every year. Flowers will bloom in the spring and peaches will be ready to pick by July or August.