How far back can you cut a peach tree?


OK thanks. I’ll wait till winter on this one, as there’s no rush. Also I hate bugs.


Cut them back about a month ago. What do you think?:


Here’s an update on the tree:

The white color is from deluded late text paint. As you can see, the lower two branches have no sprouts of any kind. Should I cut these off completely? The only flowers came out of the very top, and some of them are setting fruit now. This tree is looking pretty pathetic at this point.

As a side, the nectarine trees I mentioned above are also not looking that great. The best part of the trees where the central leader which I cut off all of them. Not so many flowers or leaves this year. Maybe it’ll pick up in the summer.


Man, I forgot to mix half water in. What’s going to happen?


I don’t think something bad is going to happen. You just used twice the amount of paint you could use with water mixing. :wink:


Well, perhaps it’s a better defense against those stupid borers!


It’s not getting any younger! The two lowest limbs have no growth coming out of them except at the joint as you can see. Should I cut those off now?
Fruit is forming on the top bunches only. I’m worried this tree has been mostly destroyed.


I’m late to this thread, but I wouldn’t quite give the tree up yet. Take some of those lower new shoots and pull them down to a good angle and tie them there with some stakes. Those can become your scaffolds and you can guide those how you want them.

I’d probably cut one of the dead lower scaffolds off now and cut the other one next year.


Ok thanks olpea. Those lower shoots have no flowers, will they grow into proper branches with fruit in future seasons?
This tree grew monstrously fast and produced a lot of peaches just within two or three years, a bit sad to see it like this now. Even worse, I’m not sure the neighbor appreciates that I cut it back mainly for their benefit.


Yes all scaffolds start out as little shoots with no flowers. Just train them the direction you want them to go (they need to be pulled down some).


Thanks Olpea, I’ll do just that . By the way, I won’t be getting any fruit this year. All of the young peaches were pierced by insects, and none of the nectarines made it either. From the recommendations I saw at the store, peaches here require a horrendous amount of pesticides applied continually through the whole growing season. It’s giving me second thoughts about wanting to grow peaches and nectarines here.


Well I tried tonight, but even gentle pressure on the new branch caused it to fall completely off the tree. Maybe I should wait until they harden up more at the end of season?
Perhaps more importantly, my nectarine trees are recovering well from major winter pruning. They are starting to get that pom-pom look though. How much of these should I thin out? More than 50% of the foliage?

I also have a new cherry plum hybrid tree I planted in the fall that seems to be doing quite well. I have not pruned it at all yet. Should I?


If the shoots are green, they do break easy. I have pulled green shoots down, but you just have to go slow, and pull a little at a time, tie off, let it set, then pull a little more, etc. There is nothing wrong in waiting till they are stronger. You shouldn’t have to wait till the end of the season though.

Sometimes I have bent a branch downward pretty hard, while holding where the branch is attached, so that the force of the bend is not where the branch is attached. By bending the branch hard like that, it damages the bark on the top side where it is bent, and sort of stays more bent down that way. You have to be careful doing that, or you can also break branches.

You could go ahead and prune a little on the nects. Just don’t over prune those. I think the pom pom look is coming because you are pruning sections of wood completely bare, which gives you lots of blind wood. You don’t have to do all heading cuts, you can do some stub cuts and leave a few buds at the base of a shoot you stub back.

That way you won’t have so much blind wood. If you don’t like the way the stub is growing, you can always come back at a later date and cut the stub out.

I might prune some of the upright stuff on your cherry plum tree to get it to spread more. Plums are actually a little easy to prune that peaches/nects because they continue to form new buds on blind wood. The foliage on plums also tolerates shade a lot more than peaches. If peach shoots which are too shaded tend to die, whereas plums (like many other fruit trees) will tolerate a lot of interior shading without aborting the shoots.


That’s great information I’ll be thanks. So the Plumtree does not need to be cleared out in the center, made into a vase shape, etc. to aerate and to avoid disease. Just trim along the edges to the desired shape?


I train plums to a vase shape too. It’s just that they are easier to prune because if you can’t get to it in a timely fashion, the foliage down low won’t die. Plus plums will produce new shoots from blind wood.

Here are three videos on pruning peach trees at various stages of growth. I think they are pretty good videos. I follow pretty much the same approach for all my stone fruit (vase shape)


Those are the best videos I’ve seen on pruning peach trees so far, very comprehensive, no nonsense.


Mike Parker’s videos on peach tree pruning are the most helpful on the Internet in my opinion.

Lots of folks showed up for his class on peach and apple tree pruning when it was held on our farm a few years ago.

He also rips out most of the lush growth growing toward the center of the peach tree about this time of the year. It took him about a minute to remove about 1/2 bushel of new shoots from a tree when he was here. It really opened the tree up to sunlight and eliminated a lot of dormant pruning cuts the following year.



Hi, I am new to this wonderful forum, happened upon it when searching for a solution for my sick peach tree…I have a 5-7 year old splayed peach tree growing on the fence in our back yard. We moved to this house last June (2017), and the tree as vigorous and overgrowing with 3-4 of new growth shooting straight up above the top of the fence. I trimmed them off and they regrew before the end of the season. This spring I thought I would do it right and consulted “Pruning and Training” by Christopher Brickell and David Joyce, pruning the tree all over in April. Unfortunately, it was quite wet shortly after and a fungal? disease seems to have set in with blossoms and leaves shriveling and dying. I sprayed it with fungicide several times and it seemed to be a bit better, then I went on holidays for 2 weeks and it looks worse than ever and several branches have appeared to die completely. What leaves are left are wilted, the fruit is shriveled and hard as a rock, the leaves and branches seem to be orange/red. My question: Can I cut the branches off to within a foot of the main trunk? Will the tree regrow and allow me to start the splaying all over again? Thanks in advance!


Hi Marie,
It might be interesting and helpful to see a few pictures of the tree,if available.Brady


Welcome. In addition to pictures, could you please let us know what fungicide spray did you use and how often did you spray? Some fungicide spray can burns leaves.

More specific info is helpful including where you live, please.