Peach – Seedling with Broken Top
Q: I’ve heard about the difficulties growing peaches but decided to try it anyway. After a long wait over the winter months I got a peach seed to germinate. It started very strong and was doing great until my three-year-old daughter decided it should be shorter. When it was just four inches high she pulled the very top two leaves off and I suppose it got a little of the trunk. Since then it has recovered but branched out where it was damaged. Should I just start over, or will it eventually get more height?
A: Your highly intelligent daughter is just trying to tell you how important it is to prune a peach tree early….she simply did it earlier than most would recommend.
Choose one of the branches to be a replacement trunk. Insert a thin length of bamboo or dowel into the soil beside your plant and tie the branch to it, using masking tape, to gently guide it into a vertical position. Shorten the other branch by half.
The vertical branch will grow taller this summer, making a new central trunk. The side branch can be clipped off this winter. In spring, when the trunk is higher than 3′, clip it at the 3′ level. New side branches will sprout in the following summer, giving the peach a short-stemmed wine glass shape, which you will maintain by pruning every spring. This is the form your daughter was trying to show you. Maybe she thought it was correct to clip at 3″ rather than 3′.
What a precocious child!