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How to Grow Nectarines

A guide to growing Nectarine trees in gardens, allotments

and containers

Nectarines

Family/Latin Name

Rosaceae - Prunus persica nectarina

Type of Plant

Hardy Deciduous Fruit Tree

Suitable for

Gardens, Allotments, Large Containers

Recommended Tree Forms  Fan,   Dwarf Bush
Jump to:-    Tree Sizes  |  Yields  |  Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 

 

Growing Nectarines - Details

See also:-  Nectarine Cultivars (Varieties)  |   Nectarine RootstocksFruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  |  Buying Plants

 

Site and Soil

Prefer full sun. Best planted in sheltered positions preferably fan trained against a wall. Not suitable for cooler climates  (Southern UK only)
Tolerant of most soil types provided they are well drained
Suitable for large containers

Space required

See table below

Yield

See Table below

Time between planting  and harvesting

Maidens - Starts producing in 3rd Year
2 year olds - Produce in 1 year

Planting Time

Bare root/wrapped root ball: Best - November-January
No alternatives as they must be planted when dormant
Trees supplied in pots:  Best - October to February 
Alternative - Any other time (soil conditions permitting)

Number of trees needed for pollination Self fertile variety (cultivar) - 1
How to plant - Open ground



Union join Rootstock Scion
Prepare the ground before planting, forking in a general fertiliser such as Growmore. Do not add fresh manure at planting time as this can damage the roots.

Dig a large hole wide enough to take the roots when spread out and deep enough to take the whole root system and fork over the bottom of the hole. You should be able to see signs on the tree of the original soil depth on the tree stem. Care must be taken not to plant the tree so deep as to bury the union between the rootstock and scion  (the  knobbly  bit).

If growing a bush variety in a free standing position, drive in a sturdy wooden stake which should be as tall as the stem of the tree at least 30cm/12" into the ground in the hole. Stand the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots or bare-rooted specimens, tie to the stake then fill in the hole with soil, slightly rocking the tree between each spadeful so the earth falls between the roots, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the top. Water in well.

  How to plant - against a wall Fan  tree forms do best if planted again a wall.  Fix the supports and wires to the wall before you plant the tree.

Dig a large hole wide enough to take the roots when spread out and deep enough to take the whole root system about 30cm/1ft away from the wall and slightly sloping away from the wall. Fork over the soil in the bottom of the hole .You should be able to see signs on the tree of the original soil depth on the tree stem. Care must be taken not to plant the tree so deep as to bury the union between the rootstock and scion  (the  knobbly  bit).

Stand the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots or bare-rooted specimens, tilting it slightly towards the wall, then fill in the hole with soil, slightly rocking the tree between each spadeful so the earth falls between the roots, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the top. Water in well.
  How to plant - in containers Dwarf Bush  - container size minimum  60cm/2ft wide x 45cm/18" deep
Fans  - container size minimum  75cm/2½ft wide x 60cm/2ft deep

Good drainage is essential so make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the tree)  is 5cm/2" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost to the original planting depth. Firm well and water in.
  Aftercare Open Ground - Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below).  Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost once a year in  spring and a supplement of a balanced inorganic fertiliser in February will be necessary. Once the flowers start blossoming give a high potash liquid feed every 10 days until the fruit begin to ripen.
Wall Grown Trees - Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost once a year in  spring and a supplement of a balanced inorganic fertiliser in February will be necessary. Once the flowers start blossoming give a high potash liquid feed every 10 days until the fruit begin to ripen. Keep trees well watered as the ground near walls often dries out quickly
Containers -  Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below). Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost during the first  year in  spring and a supplement of a potash rich inorganic fertiliser in February. Once the flowers start blossoming give a high potash liquid feed every 10 days until the fruit begin to ripen. In subsequent years, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost. Do this carefully so as not to damage the roots. Keep the containers well watered.
General - Protecting  from birds with netting and from frost with garden fleece in the early spring is a good idea. Fruit should be thinned  to avoid the branches being over-laden which may cause them to break and to produce reasonable sized fruit. Aim at having fruit 22cm/9" apart. Hand pollination may be necessary to get a good crop, especially if there aren't many insects/bees around. This is best done on a bright sunny day. Take a small piece of cotton wool or use a soft small artists' brush made of camel hair, and gently go from flower to flower, very lightly  touching the centre of each flower once. It only takes 1 second to go from one flower to the next.....like a bee.   Place a grease band around the trunk in October to help guard against winter pests.
  Harvesting Fruit for eating are best left to completely ripen on the tree. Harvesting usually takes place between August and September depending on the cultivar. Be very gentle as fruit bruise easily. The fruit are ripe when they come away from the stalks without having to pull too hard.

Nectarine Tree Dimensions

Expected Yield Per Mature Nectarine Tree

Fan
Dwarf Bush
Height: +2m/6ft   
Height: 2m/6ft
Spread: + 4m/12ft
Spread: 2m/6ft
    Fan
Dwarf Bush
5-10kg/11-22lb
5-10kg/11-22lb
For a complete guide to and explanation of the various fruit tree forms click here

How to Prune Nectarine Trees - General

Cluster Leaves on stemLaterals usually have a set of cluster leaves at their base then spaced leaves all the way up their stems. Always ignore the leaf cluster when counting the leaves to prune back to e.g. the diagram below has been pruned back to 5 leaves on the right had lateral and 3 on the left hand lateral

 

Maiden

2 Year Old

3 Year Old

Older

Central main stem (leader) with buds

Central stem, bare towards the bottom with a few main branches and very few laterals Central stem, bare at the bottom with more developed branches plus more developed laterals Central stem, bare at the bottom with many more fully developed branches and many more laterals which clearly show the tree form (shape) e.g. fan

Detailed Instructions on Pruning Nectarine Trees (includes training Nectarine trees)

1st year (Maiden) Nectarine Tree

Bush - In February prune leader just above a bud 1m/3ft above soil level

Fan -
In February find 2 good buds - 1 facing right - 1 facing left about 30cm/1ft above the ground then cut the leader about 30cm/1ft above them (just above a bud). If there are lateral branches rather than buds, use these instead and cut them back by 2/3rds to an upward facing bud. Remove any other laterals below and these.

Tree Training 1

By late July
the two selected buds or laterals will have put on sufficient growth  to enable you to start training them upwards at 45 degree angles in a 'V' shape tied to canes fixed to the wires. These will form the 2 main "ribs".

2-Year Old Nectarine Tree

Bush - In February all growth should be cut back by 2/3rds

Fan -
In February Cut the two main ribs to 24cm/18" to an upward facing growth bud.   By July  there should be laterals growing from the ribs. Select 2  strong upward facing laterals on each rib about 15cm/6" apart and 1 strong downward facing shoot on each rib and tie into canes/wire. Prune the remaining laterals back to 1 leaf. Tie in all new growths filling the available space evenly.

Training Peaches 2
Pruning cuts shown in red - new laterals in  orange

3-Year Old Nectarine Tree

Bush  - In February choose  the strongest 9 or 10 upward growing laterals and cut back by half just above an outward facing  bud or shoot Cut back all other shoots to10cm/4" except the top 2 shoots on each of the chosen laterals which should be allowed to carry on growing.

Fan - In February prune last year's growth on the 8 ribs to 60cm/2ft long preferably at an upward facing triple bud.  Tie in all new growths.

In July continue to tie in new growths, rub out any small shoots which are pointing directly towards the wall and pinch back any shoots/buds growing directly away from the wall to 1 leaf.

Pinch back all other shoots to 1 one leaf except the top 2 shoots on each of the 8 ribs which should be allowed to carry on growing to fill the available width of the wall.

Pruning Older Nectarine Trees

Bush - Always prune to  outward facing buds/shoots. In April remove any dead wood or crossing branches which may be rubbing.

Fans - 4-year old fans - Repeat last year's pruning/training if the wall is large enough for the ribs to grow even longer which in turn will be  able to carry extra laterals.

Fans - Subsequent Years
Once the framework of the tree is created, pruning and training should be carried out each year as follows:-

In April or just after the flowers have faded,  look at the tied in laterals which just flowered and which are now carrying the immature fruit. Remove all the other little shoots (both upward and downward pointing) along its length apart from the 1st upward pointing shoot nearest to the base of it as well as the tip of the lateral's growing point back to a shoot (see diagram below).

Nectarine Pests & Diseases

Diseases
Nectarine Leaf Curl - Leaves curl and have red blisters. Spray with a copper fungicide in January or February. Remove and burn leaves

Silver Leaf -
Fungus causing the leaves to turn silver and finally brown and the infected branches to die back  which have a brown or purple stain within the flesh.  There is no chemical treatment. Cut away six inches past infected wood of the branches and burn. Preventative measures include not pruning during the winter/early spring, sealing larger pruning cuts on branches with a sealant. This can be a serious disease and if the main trunk of the tree is infected with fungus it may be necessary to remove and burn the whole tree.

Canker -  Indicated by shallow depressions at the base of branches which get bigger in spring, . An amber like gum may also be present. Treatment consists of cutting back to good wood and painting the cut with canker paint . Spraying with a copper based fungicide in August, September and October will help protect the tree if canker is a known problem in the area

Pests

Aphids can cause leaves to curl or honeydew or mould to form on the fruit and leaves. There are chemicals available to combat aphids which can be bought at garden centres. Organic methods include spraying with diluted washing up liquid ( 1 teasp per 2 litres of water), companion planting of flowers such as marigolds nearby.

Training Mature Peach Trees

The shoot nearest the base of the lateral which you have left on will grow on and will eventually be trained downwards to replace the lateral which is currently bearing fruit.

Prune laterals which produced fruit last summer as far back as the shoot nearest the base of the branch which will now be long enough to be trained downwards and tied in  (replacing the laterals you have just pruned) and will produce fruit the following year. Do not force the shoot to lie in position straight away in case you break it. It's best to tie the laterals in loosely at first, and gradually tighten the ties as the season progresses.

Thin laterals to 10cm/4" apart. Always prune to upward or downward facing triple buds.  Rub out any small shoots/buds which are pointing directly towards the wall and pinch back any shoots growing directly away from the wall to 1 leaf.

In April remove any dead wood or crossing branches which may be rubbing.

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