Peach trees (Prunus persica) bring year-round beauty with their leaves and flowers as well as fruit. Most peach trees are grown by grafting or budding to help improve their resistance to disease, although they will also grow reliably from cuttings. Cutting-grown peach trees may lack the resilience of grafted trees, but they can still produce fruit and flowers with the same traits as the parent tree.
The Right Climate
Peach trees need a certain number of chilling hours each year to bear fruit. They grow well within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5b through 8b, although they do particularly well in USDA zones 6 through 7, where temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for a suitable amount of time.
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When taking peach cuttings, make sure they're from a tree that performs well in your area.
Peach Tree Cutting Types
Peaches root most reliably from hardwood cuttings taken in winter, although some cultivars will also root from softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer.
One example is the 'Redhaven' peach (Prunus persica 'Redhaven', USDA zones 5 through 8), which is a free-stone variety noted for its fragrant yellow flesh and reddish skin. It grows best from from leafy, semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late summer.
Taking Peach Cuttings
A 4- to 6-inch cutting with a straight stem and plenty of leaf nodes along its length is the best choice for rooting peach trees. Hardwood cuttings should be entirely leafless with brown, hardened bark and plump nodes. Softwood cuttings typically have a bendable, green stem, while semi-hardwood cuttings are green and leafy at the tip with slightly hardened bark at the base.
Make the cut at a 45-degree angle and strip off the lowest two sets of leaves, if it's a softwood or semi-hard cutting. Rooting hormone provides the boost peach cuttings need to root, but the hormone strength varies depending on the season.
- Hardwood cuttings need a five-second dip in 0.4 percent, or 4,000 parts per million, rooting hormone liquid, or a dusting of 0.8 percent, or 8,000 parts per million, rooting powder.
- Softwood or semi-hard cuttings benefit from a dusting of 0.25 percent, or 2,500 parts per million, rooting hormone powder.
Measure out 1 or 2 tablespoons of rooting hormone powder, sometimes called talc, and apply it to the severed end and leaf nodes using a soft paintbrush, then discard the used portion. For liquid hormone, pour it into a disposable container and discard the extra after saturating the severed end of the cutting. Wear rubber gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear when working with rooting hormone, and avoid inhaling it.
Rooting Peach Cuttings
Hardwood and semi-hard or softwood peach cuttings share similar needs when rooting.
Fill the container with sterile, moist medium such as a mix of equal parts peat and course sand or perlite. Use a 1-gallon container with several drainage holes at the bottom.
Stick the severed, hormone-treated end of the cuttings into the medium until the bottom one-third is buried. Make sure the cutting is upright and press the medium against the stem firmly.
Set hardwood cuttings outdoors against a south-facing wall where temperatures stay above 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or set them in a cold frame in areas with cold winters.
Set softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in a sheltered, lightly shaded area. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag that is large enough to cover the cuttings without resting against it, and make a 1-inch slice to let moisture escape. Protect the cutting from direct sun.
Keep the medium moist but not soggy or waterlogged as the peach cuttings root. Mist softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings with water from a spray bottle every day, and shake out any moisture buildup inside the plastic bag before putting it back in place.
Check for roots in four weeks by pulling very gently on the base of the cutting to feel for resistance. Hardwood cuttings root slightly slower and can take up to six weeks.
Aftercare and Transplanting
Peach cuttings need time to develop a dense, healthy root system before transplanting them into the garden. Move the cuttings into individual 1-gallon nursery pots with drainage holes, and pot them in standard potting soil. Grow them in a bright, sheltered area for at least one full season, then transplant them into a sunny bed with fast-draining soil in spring.
Space larger peach trees 15 to 20 feet apart and more compact or dwarf cultivars 10 to 12 feet apart.