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Expert Tips on Pruning a Peach Tree in Australia

There’s nothing quite like biting into a fresh peach that you’ve just picked from your own tree. But, to get your tree to produce a bumper crop of delicious, juicy peaches, you have to know how to prune it correctly.

In my last garden, I had a dwarf peach tree growing in a large pot for a couple of years before planting it into the garden.

I was always delighted when the tree started fruiting and looked forward eagerly to harvesting the lovely fruits when they ripened.

But like most fruit trees, to ensure the health and productivity of the tree, proper pruning was essential.

Do you also have a peach tree in your backyard? Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to prune it correctly.

When to prune a peach tree in Australia

As with most fruit trees, annual pruning of peach trees is best done in winter when the tree is dormant and without leaves.

pruning peach trees 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

However, this will spur the tree into massive new growth in spring. While this is great for trees of a manageable size, it’s not always ideal if you have an overgrown tree.

For this reason, mature trees can be pruned in spring because you’ll be able to identify any branches that are not going to fruit and remove these if you want a bumper crop.

peach trees 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Any branches that don’t have blossoming buds on them are not going to bear fruit. This is a great way to achieve a more compact growth habit for the tree.

It’s also possible to give your mature peach tree a light trim in summer to cut back any non-fruiting branches. So, don’t be afraid to do this if you want to keep the tree more compact.

Just remember not to prune your peach tree in autumn because this will leave open wounds that might be susceptible to fungal infections.

How to prune a peach tree 

A well-pruned peach tree should have a V shape. It should have an open centre with the outer branches growing at a 45-degree angle from the main trunk of the tree.

peach trees | Fruit & Vegetables

Follow this step-by-step guide to achieving a perfectly pruned peach tree.

Step 1: Remove dead, damaged and diseased branches

The first thing you want to do is remove any branches that are dead, damaged or show signs of disease. Cut these right back to their origin.

Step 2: Remove any suckers

Suckers are new branches that have grown from the base of the tree. These need to be removed as close to the trunk as possible.

This is because most peach tree varieties commonly grown in gardens will be grafted. 

The suckers will be coming from the base root stock and are unlikely to bear fruit. They will just use up the energy of the tree unnecessarily.

Step 3: Prune to shape

For this step, you want to take a step back and look at the overall shape of the tree.

You want to keep the branches that are growing upward and are evenly spaced around the trunk of the tree.

pruning peach trees | Fruit & Vegetables

Take off any branches that are growing downward or completely horizontal.

You also want to open up the centre of the tree and remove weak or narrow branches that will not easily handle the weight of the fruit.

Crossing branches should also be removed or at least cut back.

Step 4: Shorten the new red growth

If you look at each of the remaining branches closely, you will be able to notice the difference in the colour of the wood. The new season’s growth will generally be red in colour.

pruning peach trees 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

You want to trim back this red growth, leaving only around 45 cm of new growth on each branch.

At the same time, remove any tip growth that is old and grey because this will not produce any more fruit.

If you follow these steps, you should have a well-pruned and healthy peach tree that produces plenty of delicious fruit.

FAQ

What happens if I don’t prune my peach tree?

If you don’t prune your peach tree, it will become overgrown and too large to manage. You’ll also find that fruit production will slow down year after year.

What shape should a peach tree be pruned?

A healthy and well-pruned peach tree should have a V shape with upwardly growing branches evenly spaced around the trunk and an open centre to let air and sun through.

Should you put mulch around a peach tree?

Mulch is essential around your peach tree. It will help to retain soil moisture and stop weeds from growing. As it breaks down, it will also feed the soil with additional nutrients.

How do I get my peach tree to produce more fruit?

Pruning your peach tree annually using the steps outlined above will ensure your tree produces plenty of fruit. You also need to give your tree enough water and an annual feed of organic controlled-release fertiliser in early spring.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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