Choosing peach trees

Hi all. My wife would like a peach tree. I’m an apple and berry guy, so I may need some help on this. We are up near Chicago, zone 5b.

A. How much of a difference does the rootstock make for peach trees (eg standard vs semidwarf vs dwarf)? For apples the difference can be very significant in terms of precocity and disease resistance, but I’m less sure about peaches. Will a standard take forever to fruit? Since peaches need so much pruning,would a standard and semidwarf end up about the same mature size?

B. Does anyone grow peaches out here or nearby? Preferred varieties? I’m thinking the major varieties like Redhaven or contender, but I’m open to others.

Here are a couple of my favorite links for peach information:

Both of these posts are from @Olpea, they have been very helpful to me.

Personally, I would go with a standard rootstock like lovell. Peaches are not too difficult to keep small via pruning.

From a fruiting standpoint, they get going relatively early. I have been able to fruit a few peaches the second year on many that I have planted, you just have to thin them down for good quality. By year 3 you should be getting fruit pretty reliably, assuming no cold damage.


Thanks. That’s helpful.

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So anyone growing peaches z5 or 4, how cold hardy have you found Redhaven, reliance, and contender? Some sites say Redhaven is fine for z5. Others call it marginally hardy at that zone. Not everyone agrees on contenders hardiness either. What are your experiences?

Huvid you may need to be more specific. When you say hardiness are you talking about the ability of the tree to survive (not die) in cold weather, the ability of the buds to survive cold weather or the ability of the pre-bloom and bloom stage to survive cold weather/frost? I live in Zone 7 so I can give you no practical experience on cold hardiness of the trees or buds in Zone 4 or 5 weather. For me Contender has been one of the best against late freezes and late cold temps.

You may want to look at Maine, Canadian nurseries. Reliance, Veteran, Madison, Polly, McKay, Bailey Hardy are considered to be the better cold hard varieties (live in more extreme temps). I grow Reliance and it has not been as bloom hardy as Contender. The Harror series of peaches are bred for Canadian conditions, I do not grow them.

I’m in zone 4 and have been growing peaches since 2012. I have not been able to get one single flower bud safely through the winter without extra measures. The only peaches I have successfully produced have been on potted trees kept in the garage(covered in plastic with lights I turn on during well below zero nights), or on outside trees that had their lower branches buried under leaf piles in the fall. Outside in the ground I have grown Reliance, Intrepid, and Contender. Currently I have a Reliance and Contender outside completely buried in leaves and snow, and in the garage, 2 Elberta and 1 Redhaven. Don’t let my experience dissuade you however, many people in Z5 often get peaches without any extra efforts.