Growing Peaches in Ohio

Updated on May 30, 2018
TeriSilver profile image

Teri Silver is a journalist, commercial copywriter, editor, broadcast anchor, and Public Relations Specialist.

These Elberta peaches are growing in  Delaware County (Ohio)
These Elberta peaches are growing in Delaware County (Ohio)

Juicy, tart, sweet, and tangy peaches grow on trees in Ohio orchards and fruit groves—but you can also cultivate them in your own backyard.

Peach trees (Prunus persica) thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9; Ohio is in zones 5 and 6. Weather conditions, soil acidity, climate, and pollinators will determine the best tree varieties to plant. Depending on cultivar and yield, well-maintained peach trees produce fruits in the summer.

Freestone peaches
Freestone peaches

About Peaches

Peaches are categorized in two ways: clingstone and freestone.

Whether they have white or yellow flesh, freestone peaches (and nectarines) separate easily from the pit.

Clingstone is the opposite; the peach flesh is snug against the stone. With hundreds of varieties from which to choose, you can plant trees with fruits best suitable for eating fresh, freezing (freestone), or canning (clingstone).

Peach Tree Requirements for Ohio Landscapes

With the exception of a few varieties, most peach tree cultivars in Ohio do not require cross pollination; they are self-fruiting.

Trees need well-draining, sandy loam soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0—test the dirt in your landscape for acidity. (In Ohio, 6.5 is an ideal target).

Testing kits are available at garden stores and nurseries, however, your local cooperative service can recommend the proper amounts of lime and fertilizer for amending the soil.

Planting a young peach tree
Planting a young peach tree

Preparation

Plant the tree in full sunlight. Dig a hole about 12 inches into the ground. You can purchase one-year-old trees at most garden stores—choose one that is about 3 or 4 feet high with a solid root system and trunk diameter of a half-inch or more.

Adding natural fertilizers such as manure, compost, and grass clippings allows tree roots to soak in organic nutrients. For chemical mixtures, fertilize the soil with a half-pound of 10-10-10 solution spread evenly about a foot away from the tree trunk.

Fertilizing Schedule

  • Add chemical or organic fertilizer about 7 to 10 days after planting. Repeat with the same amount 40 days later. Spread the fertilizer 8 to 12 inches away from the base of the tree.
  • In the second and third years, give the tree ¾ pound of a 10-10-10 in March and May.
  • In following years, 1 to 2 pounds (10-10-10) in March.

Not "perfect" but still tangy and juicy
Not "perfect" but still tangy and juicy

Bugs and Disease

Insects that affect peach (and nectarine) trees in Ohio include:

  • Oriental fruit moths
  • Stink bugs
  • Tarnished plant bugs
  • Japanese and green June beetles
  • Plum curculio
  • Peach tree borers
  • European red mite

Diseases that affect peach trees are: brown rot, scab, bacterial spot, powdery mildew, and peach leaf curl.

Japanese beetles munch on growing peaches
Japanese beetles munch on growing peaches

Size, Thinning, and Yields

Depending on the cultivar, well-trimmed peach trees grow to about 15 feet tall. Unpruned trees may hit 25 feet (or more). Dwarf trees can reach 6 feet high.

Thinning out drupes and blooms will let the remaining fruits grow to their normal size and shape—space them about 6 to 8 inches apart. The number of fruits per season depends on the cultivar; some trees yield around 200 peaches.

Too many drupes not only weigh heavy on the tree and may damage limbs, but they lead to poorly shaped, diseased, and off-colored peaches.

Too many fruits will weigh down branches and cause other peaches to grow small, become diseased, and misshapen.
Too many fruits will weigh down branches and cause other peaches to grow small, become diseased, and misshapen.

Pruning

Pruning excessive foliage from peach trees allows them to drink in the sunlight, develop a strong trunk and branch system, and produce healthy fruits.

When planting young peach trees in Ohio gardens and landscapes, prune them to about 30 inches high and cut off growing shoots from side branches—this helps the trees develop their upward shape. Always remove diseased or damaged limbs.

In the first year, take out inside shoots. In the second and third years, remove broken limbs and upright shoots.

The “Big Chill”

Deciduous peach trees become dormant after dropping leaves in the fall. Winter “chilling temperatures” are necessary for trees to grow the following season—buds may not open unless chilling hours are between 200 to 1000 (in temperatures of 32 to 50 degrees F).

In Ohio, for example, an Elberta tree needs a chilling period of 850 hours at 45 degrees F.

In the spring, if trees do not bloom or are not producing shoots and leaves, chances are that the winter chilling requirement was not met.

Suggested Peach Trees for Ohio Landscapes

Fruit & Type
Ripening Times
Size & Color
Belle of Georgia; freestone
Late Season
Large/White
Canadian Harmony; freestone
Mid Season
Large/Yellow
Cresthaven; freestone
Mid Season
Large/Yellow
Elberta; freestone
Mid Season
Large/Yellow
Fantasia; freestone
Late Season
Large/Yellow
Garnet Beauty; semi-freestone
Very Early
Large-Medium/Yellow
Glohaven; freestone
Mid Season
Large/Yellow
Harbinger; freestone
Very Early
Medium/Yellow
Harcrest; freestone
Mid Season
Medium/Yellow
Hardired; freestone
Mid Season
Medium/Yellow
Harken; freestone
Early Season
Medium/Yellow
Independence; clingstone
Early Season
Large/Yellow
Madison; freestone
Late Season
Medium/Yellow
Mericrest; freestone
Mid Season
Medium/Yellow
Redhaven; freestone
Very Early
Medium/Yellow
Redskin; freestone
Late Season
Large/Yellow
Red Gold; freestone
Late Season
Large/Yellow
Reliance; freestone
Early Season
Medium/Yellow
Summer Beauty; freestone
Early Season
Large/Yellow
Sunhaven; freestone
Very Early
Large/Yellow
White Hale; freestone
Late Season
Large/White
This guide may not be applicable to all Ohio environments; consult your local garden store for specific recommendations.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Teri Silver

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