RHS Growing Guides

How to grow peaches

Our detailed growing guide will help you with each step in successfully growing Peaches.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Choosing
  3. Planting
  4. Plant Care
  5. Pruning and Training
  6. Harvesting
  7. Problems

Getting Started

Getting Started
Section 1 of 7

Planted in a sunny, sheltered spot, ideally trained against a warm wall, a peach tree will reward you with pretty spring blossom followed by a crop of sweet, juicy, succulent fruits in summer. Compact varieties can also be grown in containers. 

Grow peaches in a warm, sunny location outdoors or in a greenhouse
Although you may think peaches can only be grown in warmer climes, many varieties will crop successfully in the UK in a sunny, sheltered spot, such as against a south- or south-west-facing wall or in a container on a sunny patio. In fact, there is a long history of growing peaches in the UK – you’ll often find glass ‘peach houses’ in the walled kitchen gardens of stately homes, where peach trees were fan-trained against the back wall to provide ‘exotic’ fruit before the era of refrigerated transportation.

Today, peaches can be grown outdoors as well as in a greenhouse, and in even the smallest of gardens. Peaches and nectarines (Prunus persica) are stone fruits, closely related to plums, cherries and apricots. They make an attractive garden feature with their fragrant white or pink blossom in spring and luscious summer fruits – and what a treat to be able to pick and eat your own delicious, sweet peaches fresh from your garden! 

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There are many peach varieties to choose from, producing fruits of different sizes, flavours and levels of sweetness. Rounded or slightly flat, the fruits ripen to various shades of red, orange and yellow on the outside, with golden, red or white flesh inside. Fruits can be either ‘free-stone’ or ‘cling-stone’.

Depending on the variety, the crop will ripen at different times from July through to September (described as early, mid- or late season), and some varieties are more hardy and reliable in the UK climate. A few offer some resistance to peach leaf curl. All peach varieties are self-fertile, so you only need one tree for a good crop. Peach varieties are usually grafted onto a rootstock called ‘St Julian A’, which restricts the tree’s vigour and size.

If you want to grow the tree in a container, choose a dwarf variety such as ‘Bonanza’‘Crimson Bonfire’ or ‘Garden Lady’. Varieties specifically bred for container growing are often sold as ‘patio peaches’, reaching only about 1.8m (5ft) tall and needing little pruning. Also see our guide to growing trees in containers.

If you visit any of the RHS gardens, you’ll find many fruit trees grown in various ways, including peaches, so you can easily compare different varieties and pick up useful growing tips

Related RHS Guides
Choosing fruit trees

What and where to buy 

Peach trees may be sold bare-root (without soil), root-wrapped (in soil but without a pot) or in containers. Bare-root trees are only available while dormant, from late autumn to early spring, for immediate planting. Potted peach trees are available all year round.

Specialist fruit nurseries offer the widest choice of peach varieties, usually by mail order. Bare-root trees are generally only sold by specialist suppliers and larger online plant retailers, while trees in containers are more widely available. Bare-root trees are often cheaper than those in containers.

As peach trees crop best when grown as fans, it’s easiest to buy a partially trained two- or three-year-old fan. This will save you the time and trouble of training it from scratch. Trained trees are more expensive than younger untrained trees, and are usually only available from specialist fruit nurseries.

Recommended Varieties



Peach trees are usually bought as young trees, either in a container or not (bare-root or root-wrapped). While it is possible to grow them from the stones of shop-bought fruit, the resulting trees may not be suitable for the UK climate. If you want a tree that will fruit reliably in the UK, it’s worth investing in a good quality grafted tree, of your chosen variety, from a reputable UK supplier.

Peach trees are best planted against a south- or south-west-facing wall or fence, where they can be trained as a fan, soaking up the heat and getting as much sun as possible to ripen the fruit. They will only fruit successfully as free-standing trees in the warmest, most favourable locations. As peaches flower early in spring, it’s vital to choose a planting site that isn’t prone to heavy or late frosts, which can damage the blossom. See our guide to positioning fruit trees. Peaches like deep, fertile, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil. Avoid poorly drained conditions, which can cause the roots to rot. Peach trees will struggle in light or shallow soil. See our guide to assessing your soil type

Dwarf peach trees can be planted in large containers, positioned on a sunny, sheltered patio or courtyard, ideally beside a sunny wall. They can also be kept in an unheated greenhouse, for either all or part of the year when in a container.

Peach trees are easy to plant, and this is best done while they are dormant, between November and March. Bare-root trees are only available during this period. Potted trees are available all year round and can potentially be planted at any time, but will settle in best from late autumn to spring. Prepare your tree for planting by giving it a good watering if it’s in a container or by standing it in a bucket of water for half an hour if it’s a bare-root tree. See our guides below for full planting instructions.

Planting against a wall

To get the best crop, peach trees should be trained against a sunny wall, but the soil at the base of walls is often poor and dry, so it’s important to prepare the planting site particularly well. Dig lots of well-rotted manure or garden compost into the whole area, then plant the tree at least 30cm (1ft) away from the wall, angled slightly towards it. Fan-trained peach trees can eventually reach a width of about 3.6m (12ft), so make sure there is plenty of room either side.

You’ll also need to attach horizontal wires to the wall to support the fan of branches – see Pruning and Training, below.

Planting in containers

Peaches can be grown in large containers, at least 45cm (18in) across, filled with peat-free soil-based compost. They will need regular watering and feeding to keep them healthy and fruiting well. They also need annual pruning to keep them compact, unless you buy a naturally dwarf variety, such as ‘Bonanza’ – these slow-growing trees need little or no pruning and will reach only about 1.5m (5ft) tall after ten years.


Plant Care

Peach trees, especially those in containers, need regular and consistent watering and feeding, and most need pruning. Protect the blossom from frost to ensure a good crop.

Related RHS Guides
nectarines and peaches


Peach trees usually need to be watered throughout the growing season, and especially once the fruits appear, to prevent fruits being shed before they ripen: 

  • Newly planted peach trees should be watered regularly for at least the first year, until well settled in

  • Fan-trained peach trees generally require additional watering through spring and summer, as the wall or fence often reduces the amount of rainfall they receive

  • Trees growing in containers dry out much more quickly than those in the ground, and even in rainy weather may receive surprisingly little water due to the small surface area of compost. They will probably need watering almost daily throughout the growing season, especially in warm weather and if kept in a greenhouse or other sheltered spot

Be careful not to overwater during ripening though – excess or inconsistent watering, or wet weather, can cause fruits to split. It’s also important never to leave potted peach trees standing in water, especially in winter, as the roots are likely to rot. Raise the container onto ‘pot feet’ or bricks to keep the drainage holes clear and avoid waterlogged compost.

Related RHS Guides
WateringEfficient watering


In mid-spring, apply a mulch of well-rotted manure or garden compost around the base of peach trees growing in the ground. This will help to stop the soil drying out, while also deterring weeds and providing nutrients.


In late winter, apply a high potassium fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4 or blood, fish and bonemeal. Scatter two handfuls per square metre/yard around the base of the tree.

Give trees growing in containers a high potassium liquid feed every couple of weeks through spring and summer. Also, repot them every few years in spring, into a slightly larger container, once their roots fill the current container. Use peat-free soil-based potting compost. 

Protecting from frost

Peach trees are generally hardy, but their blossom opens very early in spring, so is susceptible to frost damage, which can reduce the crop. So protect the flowers overnight if frost is forecast, with an old bedsheet, re-used old fleece or plastic-free alternatives such as sheep’s wool fleece or hessian supported on canes. Remember to remove this to allow pollinators to access the flowers. Alternatively, potted peach trees can be kept into a greenhouse, porch or other sheltered location while in blossom to avoid frosts. 

Peach trees are also susceptible to leaf curl disease, but covering small trees over winter and spring can prevent this. See our video guide to protecting peaches for advice on how to do this. 

Improving the crop

Peach trees flower very early in spring, when there are usually very few pollinating insects around, so it’s best to pollinate them yourself. Do this over several sunny afternoons by taking a small paintbrush and dabbing it gently into the centre of every flower in turn. 

When the young fruits appear, they will need thinning to improve the size of the remaining fruits. Do this when the fruits are the size of hazelnuts by cutting selected fruitlets in half with secateurs – they will then drop off without damage to the shoots that carry them. Start with any awkwardly positioned, mis-shapen or noticeably smaller fruits. Aim for evenly spaced fruits about 15cm (6in) apart.

As the fruits develop, they will need protection from birds and squirrels. Ideally, grow peaches in a fruit cage; otherwise cover trees with re-used old fleece or netting, or move potted plants into a greenhouse. 


Pruning and Training

Most peaches should be pruned annually to keep them in good shape, healthy and productive, although some naturally compact varieties, such as ‘Bonanza’, need little or no pruning. Peach fruits are produced almost entirely on shoots made the previous year, so pruning aims to replace old fruited wood with new, young wood.

Timing is important – as with all stone fruits, peach trees should only be pruned in spring or summer, to minimise the risk of infection from silver leaf disease and bacterial canker:

  • Newly planted peach trees should be pruned after the buds open in early spring

  • Established peach trees should be pruned in summer, after fruiting. Fan-trained trees should also be pruned in spring

Peach trees are best grown as fans against a sunny wall or fence, so they produce a good crop that ripens well. Fans have a short trunk topped with a flat fan of radiating branches. They take up little ground space and are usually kept at a manageable size of about 1.8m (6ft) tall (the height of a fence panel) and up to 3.5m (12ft) across. Fans make an attractive garden feature and are also ideal if space is limited. These compact trees are easier to hand-pollinate and harvest than larger free-standing trees, and protecting them from frost, peach leaf curl and birds is also easier (see Problems, below). However, they do need careful pruning and training – see our guides below. 



Peach fruits are ready for harvesting once they are fully coloured and the flesh near the stalk feels soft. To pick, cup the fruit in the palm of your hand and gently lift – it should easily come away from the tree. Check ripening fruits regularly, as they won’t all be ready at the same time, and protect the crop from birds and squirrels.

Peaches are best eaten as soon as possible after picking, ideally straight from the tree when still warm from the sun. If picked before they’re fully ripe, they can be ripened indoors, but the flavour will not match up to fruits ripened on the tree. That’s why home-grown peaches are so superior to anything you can buy in the shops. 



Guide Start
Section 7 of 7

Peach trees need lots of warmth and sunshine to crop well in the UK. Fruiting problems may include: 

  • Lack of fruit may be due to frost during flowering and/or poor pollination, so protect blossom from frost and cold winds, and hand-pollinate with a small paintbrush as the blossom opens early in spring when few insects are on the wing. Also see our guide to improving fruit production

  • Failure to ripen may be caused by cool weather and lack of sun. Training trees against a sunny wall will help to ripen the fruits. In colder regions, consider growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel

  • Poor fruit development or fruit being shed may be due to insufficient or inconsistent watering

  • Split fruit may be caused by overwatering or wet weather during ripening

  • Loss of ripening fruit – protect fruit from birds and squirrels by covering trees with netting or re-used old fleece before the fruits start to colour up, growing trees in a fruit cage or keeping potted plants indoors once the fruits start to swell

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