Ever eat a delicious fruit and wonder about planting the seed to grow a new tree? Although common fruits are usually propagated through grafting, delicious peach and apricot trees can be grown from seed. Read below to find out how!
While planting the seeds of apples, pears, plums, and cherries can also result in a new tree, the fruit of the seedling tree will almost never resemble the parent tree. In many cases, even seeds from the best tasting apple will result in a tree with inedible or poor quality fruit. Seedling trees also lack the dwarfing qualities of a tree grafted to a dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock, so a seedling apple tree may get to be 30 feet tall. For these reasons, vegetative propagation through grafting is the primary way new fruit trees are produced.
Peaches and apricots tend to come fairly true to seed, meaning a seedling tree will generally be very similar to the parent tree and bear similar fruit. Although commercial orchards plant grafted peach and apricot trees, a seedling tree is a fine option for a yard or community garden orchard. Growing trees from seed is free and can also make a fun project for young orchardists!
Growing Peach Trees from Seed
- Save pits from fully ripe tasty fruits grown in your area.
- Clean pits removing all bits of fruit with a brush and water. Let dry for several days on your counter, with airflow if you can.
- Crack open the pit to retrieve the seed. You can use a vise, a nut cracker, or as a last choice, a hammer. Please be careful not to let anyone eat this seed, as it contains a small amount of cyanide, which is toxic. This step is optional, but will increase germination.
- Keep your seeds cool until you are ready to start the germination process – in an airtight container in the fridge is best.
- In autumn, place several seeds or pits 3-4″ deep into a pot, or even straight into ground. Water well.
- If in pot, bury pot into ground so that the top of the pot and soil line are even. Top with several inches of mulch for extra insulation. Be careful to select a location that does not sit saturated with water.
- Your seeds need protection from predation, especially squirrels! Add a protective cage or hardware cloth around your potting container, including several inches down into the soil..
- Throughout the winter, water only when completely dried out, but be sure to water deeply as temperatures warm. In spring, seedlings should emerge.
- Replant the strongest of your seedlings when they grow to over a foot tall. Choose a well draining spot with full sun. Peach trees should generally produce fruit within three to five years.
Peach seeds need to go through the cold winter period in order to germinate or cold stratification. If you live in a warm region you can simulate the cold conditions needed to germinate seeds in your refrigerator. Start the process about four months before your last frost date in the spring.
- Soak seeds overnight in room temperature water.
- Place seeds in a bag or jar filled with slightly moist potting soil. Store in refrigerator. The idea is to keep them cool and moist, but not moldy.
- You should start to see thick white rootlets sprouting between one and three months, depending on the variety of peach. The best time to plant is about a month before last frost. Keep sprouted seeds in the refrigerator until then, even if sprouted earlier.
- Plant into pot or directly into ground. Should receive 1″ of rain or irrigation per week.
If you have started a peach from seed please tag us @phillyorchards on social media – we’d love to follow along!
This edition of POP TIPS prepared with assistance from POP Intern Rachel Baltuch, updated by Education Director Corrie Spellman-Lopez.
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