Elberta Peach Tree
Growing Zone: 5 to 8
Mature Height: 18 to 20 feet
Mature width: 15 to 18 feet
Classification: Broad Leaved deciduous tree, Spring flowering
Sunlight: Full Sun
Habit: spreading, umbrella shaped canopy.
Foliage: Dark Green
Fruit Color: Blushed Red
Pruning Season: Late Winter
Soil Condition: Any well drained soil
Water Require: Water well until established.
Uses: One of the best peaches for eating fresh or canning.
Does Not Ship To: CA, WA, OR, AZ
The Elberta Peach Tree is a compact tree, growing to 18 to 20 feet with equal spread, so it won’t take up too much of your planting space. It is disease and insect resistant and quite adaptable to various soil types, so you won’t have to fuss much with it.
It is even self-fruitful, but it will give you more fruit if you have a pollinizer nearby, like the Red Haven Peach.
Prized for the large, sweet, juicy fruit and great for canning, preserves, pies or eating out of hand, you’ll want to plant them where your neighbors can see them.
More than one variety must be planted in order to facilitate best pollination and subsequent fruit production.
Planting Elberta Peach Tree:
We suggest when planting your newly purchased Elberta Peach Tree that you dig a hole twice as wide as the root system but not deeper. Depending on the quality of your existing soil you may need to add a locally sourced compost or topsoil to the back-fill soil. We do not recommend using straight topsoil or compost as a back-fill soil because more times than not these products will retain entirely to much moisture and will cause the root system to rot. Adding compost or topsoil will help the young feeder roots of Elberta Peach Tree to spread through the loose, nutrient rich soil, much easier than if you used solely the existing soil which more times than not will be hard and compacted. The most common cause of plant death after transplanting is planting the new plant to deep. That is why we do not recommend planting in a hole any deeper than the soil line of the plant in the pot. A good rule is that you should still be able to see the soil the plant was grown in after back-filling the hole.
Watering Elberta Peach Tree:
After back filling and lightly compacting the 50/50 mix of existing soil and compost give the Elberta Peach Tree a good deep watering. This is not to be rushed. Most of the water you put on the plant at first will run away from the plant until the soil is soaked. A general rule of thumb is to count to 5 for every one gallon of pot size. For example a one gallon pot would be watered until you count to 5 a three gallon pot would be 15 and so on. Check the plant daily for the first week or so and then every other day there after. Water using the counting method for the first few weeks. Gator Bags are a good investment that will help minimize the watering chore.
Fertilizing Elberta Peach Tree:
Trees such as Elberta Peach Tree grow best if they are fertilized lightly in the spring once frost has passed with a well-balanced, extended-release, fertilizer such as espoma Tree-tone. Fertilize Elberta Peach Tree again 6 to 8 weeks later to encourage denser foliage or faster growth of young trees. We recommend Bio-Tone fertilizer when planting.
Either chemical fertilizers or organic matter can be used successfully with Elberta Peach Tree. Since an organic method of applying manure and/or compost around the roots, produces excellent results and also improves the condition of the soil, this would be an excellent first line of attack. Organic additions to the soil can also be combined with a shot of chemical fertilizer for maximum effect.
If chemical fertilizers are used on your Elberta Peach Tree, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer once a year is probably the simplest solution. There are many slow-release fertilizers on the market. If you can find a fertilizer formulated for shrubs and trees, this fertilizer would work well on Elberta Peach Tree. However, slow-release is certainly not the only way to fertilizer trees such as the Elberta Peach Tree. A less expensive fast release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will work just as well if applied twice during the early spring and early summer. If you are looking for a fertilizing routine tailored to your specific conditions, a soil sample should be taken and the fertilizer and trace elements matched to the needs of your soil.
Don’t fertilize Elberta Peach Tree after August. Fall is the time for plants to begin preparing for dormancy. Fertilizing at this time may stimulate new growth that will be too tender to withstand the winter. In the South, a late May application and another in July would be about right. More northern areas may wish to fertilize only once in June or July.
The amount of chemical fertilizer used per plant will vary with the size of the plant and it’s root system. Over-fertilization can be much more detrimental than under-fertilization. “Fertilizer burn” can occur when too much fertilizer is applied, resulting in a drying out of the roots and damage or even death of the Elberta Peach Tree. It is much, much better to err on the side of too little fertilizer than too much. When roots are burned, the first sign is often scorched looking leaves. If over-fertilization is severe, the plant may just wilt and die.
If you are a beginner at growing fruit Elberta Peach Tree is very easy to grow however it may be helpful to know that a very small plant which is planted in the ground will take about 1/8 – 1/4 cup of fertilizer. A very large tree in the ground will take 2 – 3 lbs spread around the drip line of the branches (not next to the trunk). This is a very loose estimate, so please read the directions on the fertilizer before applying it.
Never fertilize a plant with a chemical fertilizer if the plant looks sick or wilted. If a plant is struggling due to a disease or root problems, the fertilizer will only add stress to it’s life. Try to cure the problem before adding fertilizer.
When looking at most fertilizers, they are described by three numbers on the bag. An example would be 10-10-10 or 12-4-8. The first of these three numbers refers to Nitrogen, which is the primary element necessary for good, balanced growth within the Elberta Peach Tree. Plants that are deficient in Nitrogen are usually not growing vigorously, and sometimes exhibit pale colored foliage as in the case of trees. Not all Nitrogen deficiencies result in stunted growth. Sometimes, the growth is taller and longer with less than desirable branching when Nitrogen is deficient. The second number in the fertilizer equation is representative of Phosphorus. A deficiency of Phosphorus may affect the energy transfer in the plant, and result in stunted growth as well. Also, plants with insufficient amounts of Phosphorus may have poorer root systems. Potassium is the element represented by the third number on the fertilizer bag. Potassium is the major element required for fruit trees to produce fruit. Plants that are deficient in Potassium, are usually growing more slowly than normal, have fewer flowers and seed, and are more susceptible to disease than plants with adequate levels of Potassium. Although the three elements just mentioned are the major elements necessary for good plant performance, there some minor elements that are just as important in consideration of plant nutrition.
Minor elements that are not included in the three numbers listing on the front of fertilizer bags are very important considerations when choosing your plants fertilizer. Elements such as Magnesium, Sulfur, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Boron, and Molybdenum play very important roles in providing plants with adequate nutrition. Many times, less expensive fertilizers are sold that contain only the major elements needed, but not the minor elements. Always be sure to look on the fertilizer label on the back of the bag to see exactly what is included in the fertilizer.
When you have selected your fertilizer and are ready to apply it, be sure to rake your mulch back to the drip line of each plant. Apply the fertilizer according to the label directions immediately on top of the soil, and be sure to water the plant thoroughly after the application. You can then rake the mulch back around the base of the Elberta Peach Tree. Although it is tempting to spend less time by not raking the mulch back during fertilization, the results will be less than desirable, if the fertilizer is applied on top of the mulch.
Proper fertilization of your Elberta Peach Tree will lead to healthier and more disease resistant plants, as well as provide you with many more enjoyable fruits. Always, read the label on your fertilizer bag, and follow the instructions.
Mulching Elberta Peach Tree:
We highly recommend that you mulch your Elberta Peach Tree with either a ground hardwood mulch or a ground cypress mulch depending on your local availability. Any type of mulch will do but cypress or hardwood mulch will be of a higher quality and provide better nutrition overall as they breakdown. Mulching helps to keep weeds away which will compete with your new investment for water and nutrients. A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch is sufficient but remember to take care not to cover any part of the stem of the plant with mulch. Its better to leave a one inch gap of space between the mulch and the stem or trunk of the plant.
Pruning Elberta Peach Tree:
Start by pruning away any wood that is dead, damaged or diseased—a.k.a. the three D’s.
Are sprouts coming from the base of the trunk? If so, remove them — technically they’re called ‘suckers’ and they originate from the rootstock rather than the fruiting variety grafted on top.
How about suspiciously straight sprouts growing from some of the main branches? These erect, perfectly vertical branches, or “watersprouts,” — should be removed as well.
With all these clean-up cuts, it’s important to prune the branches back flush to the larger limb they’re growing from — don’t leave little stubs.
Step 2: Thinning Out
The goal of thinning is to allow light and air into the canopy, which boosts fruit production and reduces problems with pests and disease.
First, remove any branches that grow downward, toward the center of the tree or that cross paths with another branch.
Once these are out of the way, stand back and take a look. The goal is to have evenly spaced branches splaying out in a pleasing, fractal-like pattern from the center.
Do you see places where multiple branches compete with each other? You might find two or more growing from a single crotch at a narrow angle, for example, or from different points but in a parallel fashion, one hovering over the other.
If so, thin out all but one branch, retaining the branch with the healthiest appearance and best crotch angle (roughly the 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock angle from the center of the tree). Wider angles can break when laden with fruit and narrower angles lead to bushy growth and fruit that is too high to pick.
Next, continue to thin the tree until there is a good 6 to 12 inches of air space around every branch. The smaller the branches are, the closer they can be to each other.
As with your clean-up cuts, all thinning cuts should be made flush to the branch.
STEP 3: HEAD BACK
The third step is the easiest — you’re basically giving the tree a haircut.
The idea is to prune back the outermost growth of the tree so the branches become shorter and thicker as they grow, rather than long and gangly. This keeps them from snapping under the weight of the fruit, but pomologists (fruit scientists) will tell you that it also causes the tree’s hormones to activate growth lower in the canopy, making for smaller, more fruitful trees.
Heading back the tree means cutting off 20 to 30 percent of last year’s growth. You can distinguish last year’s growth from two-year-old growth by the wrinkly ring of bark encircling each stem. Depending on the vigor of the tree, this may be anywhere from two inches to 4 feet back from the tip of each branch.
Unlike the previous steps, these cuts will be made part way into each branch. Exactly where you make the cut is important, too. Prune each branch back to a point one-quarter inch above a bud that faces the direction you want that branch to grow in the coming year. If there is another branch close by on the left, for example, prune back to a bud on the right side of the branch.
- Sharp shears make for clean, easy cuts — if you don’t know how to sharpen your own, many neighborhood hardware stores often offer the service for a small fee
- As a measure of disease prevention, dip the blades of your pruning shears in solution of isopropyl alcohol for 30 seconds to disinfect them before moving on to prune another tree
- Clean up the pruned wood from around the tree and dispose — especially if it contains any diseased material