Growing peach from seed

Those of you who know me, know I have grown a lot of trees, mostly ornamentals, from seed.

Never did a peach or other stone fruit on purpose. I want to grow some for rootstock, and for sh$ts and giggles.

So…my questions:

  1. I read late varieties usually sprout much better than early ones. True?
  2. Can the out be stored dry and intact for a few months before stratifying or direct sowing?
  3. Is it better to gently “crack” the pit first and remove the actual inner seed?
  4. Is there a taproot to speak of?
1 Like

I have an early type that has never sprouted a single seed

Yes you can store the pit in warm dry location and then start the stratification at the best time for the date you want the seed to sprout.

Yes, remove the seed from the pit. My experience is that if you damage the seed it may rot when planted.

Grafting an early cultivar on late rootstock or vis-a-vis can have undesirable results.

Depends on cultivar.

1 Like

What happens Richard if you graft early on late rootstock?

Peach pits can be stored dry and preferably cold.

From my limited experience, it’s much easier to let the seeds crack themselves out of the pit in cold stratification.

Peaches in general are comparatively shallow rooted.

1 Like

Out here in parts of California (e.g. south of Sacramento) that are relatively temperate in comparison to points east, the reports are not favorable. Flowering is late and emaciated, dormancy is early. I suspect this is one of several reasons Citation works well here and not in the so-called northern midwest.

The repository keeps theirs at 37° and germinates at 73° :slight_smile:

Same here.

1 Like

I never heard about such a difference, but this time of year only late varieties are available anyway, right?

This is what I do (in Northern California, Zone 9B): clean pits well, dry them on a paper towel for a few days, when they’re fully dry put them in a ziplock and store in the fridge until late October to early November. Then sow pits in the ground. They will sprout next spring.

In my experience, no cracking is needed.

Sometimes — more frequently for apricots, less frequently for peaches. In any case, young seedlings tolerate replanting well when dormant.


Later peaches, or even later picked fruits off a midseason tree, will have plumper seeds.
The plump seeds have more vigour. The almost flat seeds from early varieties usually don’t sprout.
I’m in the great white north, grin, so start them in the house to get a little more size on them that first year.
I don’t know where you live, so my set up might not be of any use to you.
I do crack them, but mostly to save space in the fridge. Most peach seedling here die that first winter outdoors, so I start a lot of them,
and nature culls the less hardy. Seedlings, here, are more hardy than grafts.
That might not be an issue for you, depending on where you live.
With a fairly short growing season here, fruiting takes a little longer…I have 3 year old seedlings with no fruits yet.
If you can get seeds for Father David’s peach, those ones are very hardy.


Peaches are the easiest fruit by far to grow from seed. I have about 30 volunteers growing in my orchard now. I have had maybe one volunteer plum ever, and no apples or pears. Some of these volunteers I will turn into rootstocks. I have plenty of extras, you are welcome to some this winter if you want to come and dig 'em up.

1 Like

I may take you up on that, Scott. Plus, I would love to see your orchard.

I use a pretty low management approach to growing my peach seedling rootstocks. I gather pits by stepping on drops. I put them in a bucket. Take them over to the row where I want the rootstocks. Use a shovel to make a crack. Drop the pits in the crack and push it closed w/ my foot. They germinate following spring. Sometimes I take random peach sprouts from under peach trees and move them to my seedling area for future budding.

I have read pits from later varieties have better germination, in some research paper. I have noticed in a very cursory way that I see few peach seedlings under early varieties vs. late ones.

Also read Redhaven pits allowed to grow out (ungrafted) will frequently produce a smaller tree (This was how Compact Redhaven [which I no longer think is extant] was created.)

I doubt the assertion, “Grafting an early cultivar on late rootstock or vis-a-vis can have undesirable results” at least as it relates to peach seedling rootstocks.

Halford cling is often used as a peach rootstock in the Midwest and south. It’s a very late peach, but is a dependable rootstock for any peach. I’ve not yet noticed any difference in various peach seedlings I use for rootstocks, regardless of what varieties are grown on them. But if there is some research which suggests otherwise, I’d like to read it.

I suspect the issues w/ peach on Citation result from Citation being a plum rootstock. Plum rootstocks tend to have more issues when used for peaches.

I’ve pulled up lots of peach trees and never seen a taproot yet. Sometimes I see new peach trees with a sort of tap root, but it really doesn’t keep growing down like a true tap root (i.e. oak). Peach trees, when they develop, grow a goose foot root system. In dry areas w/ a low water table, I suppose it’s possible for peaches to develop a tap root, but all the photos I’ve seen from pulled up peaches (in other parts of the country) show a goose foot root.

I have a friend who purchased Lovell seed the last part of last winter to grow Lovell seedlings. He put them in the fridge for what we thought should be enough chill hours, but he didn’t get a single one to germinate this summer. We think he was a little short on chill hours, but we couldn’t find any research indicating how many chill hours Lovell seed requires. The seed was also dry when he purchased it, so I don’t know if that impacts germination or not. (I always plant my pits immediately in the ground before they dry out.)


How far will the roots of a peach tree grow from the base of a tree? Seems like for fertilizing the norm is to fertilize at the edge of the canopy. Is that the normal distance of root growth? I know on other trees like Maples the roots will grow way past the canopy of the tree.

I don’t really have room for many trees, so I’m not growing for rootstock. I made an intentional cross for fun, and to try and get a ripening time that is between the cultivars I used. I used Indian Free which is not self fertile and Arctic Glo nectarine. I put one in ground and two in containers. Last fall I cracked open the pits and stratified the seeds in the fridge until they sprouted. I kept them under lights a bit. I have had bad luck planting outside, none have ever come up. I don’t get volunteers as no peach will ever be left on the ground, I throw them out immediately. they attract insects like SWD etc.
It seems the ones in containers are doing better.

In ground first leaf

In root pouch first leaf

I didn’t acclimate them well when I put them out and burned off a lot of leaves. This I think caused the tree to branch all over, kinda like a pruning. Maybe not? I don’t know? Never grew them before.

This is fine, I have scaffolds! I’ll shape the trees while dormant. What is great about root pouches is they can be left out all winter, all my currants, gooseberries, honeyberries, black raspberries, blueberries,and serviceberries did fine last winter left out,

My plan is to eventually graft the container seedlings unto the in ground plant. Giving a full scaffold to each seedling. I may do it next spring, get’er done!



When I pull them out, the roots break off, so I really can’t tell how far out they go, but I’m sure they don’t go out really far like maple and hedge. My guess is they go about to the drip line. When I’ve planted new trees in next to existing peach trees, I’ve not seen the roots from the old tree in the new hole (about 20’ away).

That really does a lot to minimize SWD. This season my son and I were really conscientious of picking up drops for a while and saw significantly less SWD pressure. Then we ran out of time, let the drops lay, and SWD became a much bigger fight.

1 Like


I’m not sure about stratification. When my friend purchased seed to start his peach orchard, we were really guessing as to how to germinate the seed because I’ve never done it with purchased seed. I’ve always done it with my own in the low tech approach mentioned above.

Anyway we ended up guessing wrong because none of his seed came up last summer. So in terms of stratifying peach seeds, I’m probably not the person to ask. I think he planted 300 seeds, or something like that.

I can’t remember where he got the seeds. I just got off the phone with him and he couldn’t remember the name either. He said the guy had a partial bag left over and bought 300 seeds for $100. He said he thinks the guy told him the seeds were from CA. He said the guy was in the Northeast because they talked about maple syrup production. He also said the germination rate was supposed to be tested and that it was in the 90% plus range. He said not a single one came up last summer.

I like peach on peach roots. It just works really well here, as well as in the Southeast with Guardian. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve not noticed any difference with my random peach seedlings vs. named peach seedlings like Lovell, Bailey, etc.

I posted this on another thread, but will post it here too because of the relevance of this topic. You may have seen it on another thread, but here are some notes from some of the big nurseries and how they propagate peaches. Some of these nurseries sell a lot of trees, so they obviously know what they are doing. Vaughn and Cumberland were mentioned.

What’s really interesting about the way they bud is that they collect the green budwood in late may through June. I know they start the season earlier, but it’s surprising to me that new buds would already be formed so early in the season.


When I started my peach rootstock I put the seeds in damp paper towel on September 15 in the fridge and they were sprouting on December 15. There is a really good thread here called seed savers that has tons of info on growing out stone fruit pits

I took the seeds out of nemaguard pits. Chilled for at least 5 months and out of 20 got 3 to grew. Have about 50 plus different peach and nec pits in ground now, plus many cherry and plums will see how those do come spring.

1 Like

I grew mine out of an unknown rootstock that had halls hardy almond grafted on it. I lost some to rot in the winter when they were in pots but have fifteen or so to graft this year. More peach trees than I need for sure, lol

I found that Lovell peach pits like to be soaked for a couple of hours before being refrigerated. I stored some dry last year and some I soaked before putting them in the fridge. Put them in the fridge in September, and germinated some inside in late January. The ones that had been stored dry did not germinate at all. 100% germination on the damp stored ones. Soaked the remaining dry ones put them back in the fridge and 45 days later pulled them and they germinated then. I planted a few in the ground in September and they also germinated well last spring.

1 Like

when I grew rootstock I put them in damp paper towel in September and they sprouted in December. Then I potted them up. It was a fun winter project but I struggled keeping them in good condition, damp rot, drying out wilted, runted all were issues. So last year I got some pits from a local orchard of a late season peach that I really liked. I wanted to grow out a seedling and see what type of fruit I would get. I stored the seed from September until the middle of winter in a paper bag in a dark cabinet. In January I cracked them out of the shell and put them in damp paper towel in the fridge. They sprouted just in time to plant outside in early spring with no need to pot. I have a nice little seedling in the orchard now , should put on some nice growth this summer.

1 Like