Ever eat a delicious fruit and wonder about planting the seed to grow a new tree? Although all of the common fruits are usually propagated through grafting, peach and apricot trees can be grown from seed. Read below to find out how!
Although planting the seeds of apples, pears, plums, and cherries can also result in a new tree, the fruit of the seedling tree will usually not 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 rootstock, so a seedling apple tree may get to be 30 feet tall. For these reasons, vegetative propagation through grafting (attaching a bud or branch from one tree to another) 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 fro 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
Ever wish you could step outside and pick a deliciously ripe peach off the tree? It might be easier than you think for this dream to become a reality. When choosing your peach pits, pick fully ripe fruit that you enjoy from a local area later in the peach season, as those will germinate better. Clean the pit with a brush in clear water and let it dry for a few days on your counter; it will now be easier to open the hard outer shell to find the seed inside of it. 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. The pit might also naturally crack open for you.
There are two main methods you can try to plant peach seeds, but they both require keeping your seeds cool until you are ready to start the germination process. Do this by keeping them in a closed container in your refrigerator or other cool place for at least 8 weeks.
One simple method you can choose is to plant your peach seeds directly into soil in a pot during the autumn months, and then bury the pot in your yard. You might want to cover the areas with straw mulch and to possibly add a protective cage around the seeds, including down into the soil, to lessen the probability your seeds will be eaten by the neighborhood animals. Plant several seeds to increase your odds of germination. Replant the strongest of your tiny trees when they grow to over a foot tall, and try to choose a spot in the sun that drains well. Peach trees should generally produce fruit within three to five years.
Another method, used generally in warmer regions, would be to artificially germinate your seeds by using strategic stratification. You will want to start the “cold, moist stratification” process about four months before the last frost date in the spring. Soak the seeds overnight in room temperature water and then place them in a jar filled with slightly moist potting soil, which you will store in your refrigerator. The idea is to keep them cool and moist, but not moldy. You should start to see sprouting between one and three months, depending on the variety of peach. When you see these thick, white rootlets, they are ready to plant. However, the best time to plant is about a month before last frost. If sprouting occurs before this date, you may keep them in the refrigerator until the proper time.
This edition of POP TIPS prepared with assistance from POP Intern Rachel Baltuch.
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