Help with young peach tree

Hello! I’ve got a 4yr old tree which has finally fruited, got 5 peaches growing now. But last year it had bad leaf curl which we resolved with a fungicide so not an issue now. By the 2nd year it had trunk damage and oozed sap about 18 inches up the trunk in at least 12 different places. Now it looks like this and the leaves have been somewhat yellowing with green veins. I’m hoping it’s more from Magnesium deficiency than trunk damage.

It’s well drained and getting a heavy soak 3x weekly. I was considering carefully xferring it into the ground without exposing roots, thinking they may be too bound up in the pot, but the mix is too loose and when I tried I knew it would expose the roots so am keeping it until dormancy after Fall. I mixed in some heavily clay soil into the top 2 inches of the mix in hopes it will hold a bit when I do transplant.

Any suggestions? Are these holes from borers? Should I be needling them with a pin to kill any larvae or are these more likely old scars? Should I try some Epsom salt water in case it’s Magnesium deficient?

I’m also not 100% sure it’s a dwarf. I germinated from some small delicious peaches from a store and grew it from that. Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you!!

Can you post pics of the whole tree?

This is a seedling tree. I don’t think it will be dwarfed.

When a peach tree is stress, it could ooze clear liquid. Canker is also a very common problem with peach trees. There arepeach tree boreres which feed at the base of a tree and peach twig borers that feed on branches. I don’t see signs of them in the pic.

Where are you located? Your location will let us know how arid or humid your climate is. In general, peach trees do not like their feet wet. I don’t know if watering it 3 times a week is needed for a four years old peach tree.

More info is needed, please.

Sorry it only let me post 1 image as a new member. It’s still pretty small and most branches are growing on one side. Oddly not the side where it gets more sun exposure.

Thank you for taking a look. It’s in Torrance, California.
Should it be just 2x a week watering then at this age?

It is a small peach tree for a four year old. I think it could be that the roots were constricted? Is that pot bottomless? Since your area is dry and your tree is in a pot, water it more would be OK. You can check how dry your soil is with you finger or a moisture reader.

Your tree looks like it needs nitrogen and other micronutrients.

If you love this tree, you can keep it. Otherwise, you may want to look for a new named variety peach tree. Then, learn how to prune a peach tree in an open center system. There are good peach pruning videos from North Carolina State Extension Services (my go-to peach pruning videos).

A peach tree can give you fruit in year 2 and no later than 3 (yours is from a seedling so it took longer). You can easily grow a peach tree in CA.

The pot is constricting the roots. I dug the hole intending to transplant and when I realized I couldn’t safely remove it from the pot I just dropped the pot into the hole. I will need to wait until dormancy to move it into the ground. I had been composting food scraps for nitrogen and mixed it into the dirt in the hole. I will use some Epsom salts and make some compost tea to pour into the pot to get it through the summer and fall. Oddly the soil doesn’t seem to hold a lot of moisture. Even after soaking it well it is a bit dry just 3 inches beneath. Should I cut back to 2x weekly waterings or keep it at 3?

There is an attachment to the tree so I will be keeping it as long as it will live, but do you have any particular varieties you might recommend to get an additional one started? Thank you, I will take a look at the NCS extension services to see about proper pruning. Im hoping the biggest factor holding it back is the root restriction that I can resolve later this year.

There are several forum members from CA who are more qualified than me to give you recommendations on peach varieties for you.

Here are some members who live in CA @Stan, @californicus, @anon18642480, @bleedingdirt, @calron,@lids, @steveM, @Richard . There are more.

You’ve already heard from one of our best experts, but I’d like to add a little bit. I have no idea what your experience level is, so if you feel like I’m telling you obvious things, just forgive me and understand we get folks with all different levels of experience.

Almost all peach trees that give good fruit are grafted meaning a cutting from a known variety is joined to a root with known characteristics. Growing a tree from seed can be an uphill battle from the start. Certainly it can be done and peach trees grown from seed are more likely to produce good fruit than seedling apples, but it is still a gamble and could explain your troubles with this tree. It could be a runt or have other issues, or it could be a full size tree that can’t get what it needs from your pot full of soiil.

Growing a fruit tree in a pot is also much harder than an in-ground tree. Certainly it can be done but it’s challenging and takes more experience and expertise. SO you have 2 possible challenges already (seedling tree, potted tree). I’m not understanding why you feel you can’t go ahead and plant the tree into the ground right now? You seemed to be saying you were afraid the potting soild would fall away and the roots would be in direct contact with the ground dirt? That shouldn’t be a problem. Keep in mind that most of the trees that people here grow come without any soil whatsoever (called bare root) and people just stick them in a hole and put ground dirt all around the roots. On a potted tree, it is expected that the roots will have grown to the outer edge of the pot and so when the pot is removed the roots will have to go against the dirt in the hole you are planting it in. None of that is a problem.

That tree does seem to have some kind of problem based solely on its small size at 4 years. As @mamuang said, as a seedling tree it is unlikely to be a dwarf- especially considering the peach you got the seed from was a store bought peach- meaning almost certainly that neither “parent” would have been a dwarf.

I wish we could see the oozing you talk about, but I can’t see it in either photo.

In short, if you have a space on your property for an in-ground tree and you really want to keep this tree, then I think you should plant it in the hole right away and keep it well watered for the first few weeks. THen see how uch growth it puts on this year and next. IF it is in the ground you’ll know for sure if the seedling was just a dud tree or if it was something about the pot that was causing problems. If it doesn’t take off and grow a whole lot next year (don’t expect a lot this year either way) then you will know a lot more.

Good look. Keep us posted.

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If the rootball falls apart planting the tree you are actually trying to plant a leafed out tree bare root. I think that’s the concern here and rightly so. The tree would probably do (much) better in ground but the transplant shock could kill that tree right now. I think its best to wait and transplant in fall in this case.

That is fair and true and you make a good point. if the dirt somehow all falls away from the roots. However, I’ve planted more than 50 leafed out, potted trees that I have bought from big box stores in the late spring and even summer and never had any problems when I keep them watered. But they tend to have tight (ie rootbound!) rootballs that the dirt stays attached to. But they also have roots all over the outer edge like the OP seemed concerned about. I just hate to see him waste another year of that tree just sitting in that pot without getting a chance to grow and improve as it would if it were planted.

But yea, if the soil is so loose-after 4 years in that pot- that it is all going to fall away so he would be planting it bare root, then he should wait. We can agree on that for sure.

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Peaches really do not care for pots and the pot is most likely over filled with roots. You should easily be able to pull it out after 4 years. If dirt is falling off then there is good chance of something wrong. Planting now is not a problem as it has not really become hot yet. A bigger pot would help, but putting it in the ground would show a dramatic increase in growth next year.

Well this has given me some food for thought, first I want to say thank you to everyone for weighing in to help guide me on how to proceed. I am new to fruit trees, i really only know about soil health, so welcome all beginner insights offered. Very interesting about grafting, I didn’t know it was such a common practice.

Indeed my concern is that the soil is too loose to maintain the rootball through planting. I knew exterior roots would have exposure so I soaked it very well the day before I attempted. Judging from how loosely the top few inches of soil was coming off when I angled it I think the soil there is too depleted and loose to protect the interior roots from a shock that will kill it, but it could be more moist and bound toward the interior and be just fine.

It sounds like the consensus is IF the rootball would maintain it’s best to transplant immediately. Otherwise best to wait until dormancy and hope I begins to thrive next spring. I will try once more and if enough interior dirt holds I will get it into the ground. I will update here to keep you apprised. Thank you all again for lending your time and expertise. I am very grateful.


Matt - I have transplanted peach trees in the middle of the scorching summer and have had them lived. This is in areas where I could not water the plant. The worst thing that I have seen happen is the leaves fall off and then grow back due to the stress. If you can water the tree it is not likely to die. I cannot guarantee that obviously. If your tree is that small after four years it is likely stunted and from my experience you will have a difficult time getting it to grow substantially now. I have a Gloria peach that stunted and I am having some success getting it to grow after adding lots of topsoil/mulch around the tree every year and over fertilizing the tree (without burning it). I think you mentioned you had peaches on the tree - if you want the tree to bear fruit you should wait to transplant the tree until the tree is done bearing.

Thank you all very much for your input, I’ve decided to allow it to continue in the pot until it is done bearing its current fruit and will immediately transplant into the ground which I have been preparing compost for in hopes that it will help it to survive and thrive. I will definitely update once it comes to that point again. Thank you all