Nectarines for Zone 5

It seems zone 5 is marginal for cold hardy nectarines. Anyone with experience that can suggest which nectarines will have a good chance or which ones have little chance despite a common zone 5 rating?. To be specific, I’m concerned about the cold tolerance rather than other environmental factors that can vary within zone 5, such as humidity.

I added a Mericrest last year…but its growing in a pot right now. Its loaded with fruit this year. I’ve also got a seedling nectarine (some California grown seed) that bloomed (maybe a dozen blooms) that is in the ground and survived -15F or so. I plan on grafting over the Mericrest to some trees in the ground this summer…maybe even try it on K1.

The Mericrest nectarine may be your only reliable option. Occassionally available from Arboreum, Peaceful Valley, Bay Laurel, Sanhedrin, and Burnt Ridge nurseries. My notes on Mericrest collected from various sources: Yellow-fleshed nectarine. Dave Wilson Nursery taste-test winner. Late blooms escape the frost. Cold hardy to Zone 5. Bred in New Hampshire by Dr. Elwyn Meader. Some resistance to brown rot. One of the only nects well-adapted to the East. My estimated picking dates for Zone 6b: Aug 8- 22.

And you might consider trying Snowqueen white nectarine: Might grow best on Lovell rootstock, not Citation, because it is reportedly nonvigorous. Occassionally available at TreesOfAntiquity, Sanhedrin, Peaceful Valley, Bay Laurel, and Ison’s nurseries. Semi-freestone. Reported as the undisputed tastiest juicy sweet melting most aromatic nectarine grown in South Carolina, according to Dr. Des Layne. Despite hardiness concerns, one grower in Zone-5 Nebraska & another in z5 Chicago report successful fruiting during years when late spring frosts do not occur. Thin early & aggressively. Occasional splits. Remove doubles. Put it somewhere high & dry-- elevate. Bred by Armstrong Nursery of Ontario, California. Estimated ripening dates: July 17- Aug 6. I wonder if this variety is susceptible to bac spot.

The John Rivers white-fleshed nectarine might also be worth a try. Budwood available from USDA/GRIN. One report says it does well in Zone 7 Baltimore (shows rot resistance & doesn’t get much bac spot-- with excellent taste). Aromatic sweet distinctive flavor. Soft flesh. 1920s variety from England. Became one of the most popular nects in Calif by the 1950s. Skin has slight greenish background. Juicy flavorful. Might not be very productive. Estimated ripening dates: Aug 7- 25. I cannot guarantee its ability to handle a Zone 5 winter.

I eventually plan to trial all of these nectarines in the Maryland mountains, Zone 6b. Photos of each variery can be found online. Good luck.

And I forgot to mention Snowbrite nectarine, which might also be worth a try. Occassionally available from Adams County Nursery of Pennsylvania (Zone 6), where it is listed as a peach. Another Dr. Des Layne recommend (he describes it as a hairless nectarine). Reports describe it as a sweet, creamy, juicy, subacid, white-fleshed, semi-freestone fruit. Bred by Zaiger in Calif (royalty still applies). Estimated ripening dates for Zone-6b: July 23- Aug 8. Reportedly produces great fruit, but growers should guard against bac spot. Consider yanking or top-working if it becomes a bac spot magnet. It might prove to be a good compliment to the GaLa yellow peach for filling the “Pre-Redhaven Hole” and for broadening one’s peach/nectarine picking window by providing fruit that ripens earlier in the season.

I got to -13 this winter (40 miles north of NYC, but in a cold spot), and all of my nects appear to be fine- though I won’t feel certain until I see the fruit begin to size up. As far as winter hardiness, is there really a difference between an average nectarine and average peach?

In Z5 I would expect 2 out of 3 winters to leave viable flower buds, at least, and trees probably wouldn’t be killed on any but test winters that got below -22 or maybe lower than that. Here in Z6 there hasn’t been a cold enough winter to kill vegetative buds of peaches or nectarines (I’m guessing on nects) for at least half a century.

I’m relatively new to nectarines besides Hardired and Mericrest so I’m interested in where you got the info about the particular tenderness of nectarines over peaches.

Last winter we got to -10 and the several CA nectarines I grow performed very well. I was taking them out of the freezer until a month or two ago. They are the best fruit for freezing that I grow- they actually keep much of their firmness, unlike peaches, and the acid makes them great in the kitchen.

Just some general comments about nects to try to add to the discussion:

According to Granpa’s Orchard, Hardired is supposed to one of the more winter hardy nectarines. I generally don’t trust nursery comments much, but the Matt Moser (Grandpa) is pretty well known in the fruit industry here in the Midwest, plus I’ve heard the same comments about Hardired from some others.

If I’m not mistaken, I thought at one time Scott had Hardired but didn’t like it, but maybe I’m thinking of Mericrest.

My Hardired flowered for the first time last spring (from a winter which was pretty brutal for this area). It had a decent bloom even when a lot of other peaches had flower buds killed.

I wonder about Honey Blaze in this climate. It suffered a fair amount of winter kill this winter because for some reason it didn’t want to harden off. I ended up cutting a third of the tree out because it died. The rest of the tree did flower and set a good amount of fruit, so I’m not sure what is going on with this tree. It was the only one in the whole orchard which didn’t harden off like that.

My only other experience with nectarine hardiness is that I had 3 young Easternglo nects which all died from winter kill the winter before last (the really cold winter). It was partly my fault because I pruned them heavily in winter. I also pruned all my young peach trees heavily that winter and lost a few of those, but I lost every single one of the Easternglo nects, which led me to believe they are perhaps a little more winter tender than the average peach tree. I just now have some more Easternglo nects growing as replacements. I’ve wanted to try Easternglo because Alan has mentioned it’s a pretty good nect (along with Summer Beaut).

It has been awhile since I researched nectarines. I don’t recall any exact wording, just indication that most nectarines are not suited for cold climates. I got the impression it was fruit bud hardiness, but maybe it has something to do with ripening in cool summer climates. However, I did not get the impression that this is because nectarines are significantly different than peaches, just that there aren’t many varieties developed for the north so far. There are something like 4x more peach varieties, so naturally there are more options.

Hardired and Mericrest do seem to be the most recommended varieties for northern climates. However, it sounds like you think I should be able to grow any variety of nectarine with the same level of success.

The order page ( states:

The National Plant Germplasm System provides germplasm to support research and education objectives.

Due to the intensive effort and resources required to ensure availability of germplasm for this purpose, we are unable to distribute it for home gardening or other purposes that can utilize readily available commercial cultivars.

Does that mean I have to claim research status? Or are they more lenient with rare varieties? I was looking for Nectared 6 last year and all I get are European websites. It’s a US developed variety and Cornell has listed it favorably in few of their publications.

Anyone tried Harko? I’ve got fruit on mine outdoors. Planted last spring. Freeze killed the Mericrest.

Me too. I think I saw Summer Beaut in an old Cornell publication listed as Stark Summer Beaut

I’ve heard of it, but didn’t no it was highly rated until just today. It’s on DWN list. I will have look into more.

John Rivers is particularly hard to find. USDA is the only reliable source I’ve found available to me. TreesOfAntiquity might have carried it previously, if I am not mistaken, but I do not see them carrying ot now. USDA does not want individuals abusing the GRIN service when there are commercial nurseries offering the same cultivar at a reasonable mail-order price.

I have the Spice Zee Nectaplum, and we got to -16F here. It had some dieback, but a reasonable amount of flowers. Also Arctic Glo which has no damage whatsoever. Probably about 50% of flowers survived on all my trees. Except Indan Free which seems to have a full set of flowers.

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I have snowqueen grown here in Chicago land for 4years, last year had no flowers/fruits, but this year, tree is filled with flowers.

I have John Rivers Matt, just ask me for wood next winter. I have found I usually can get things from ARS if there is no commercial source available.

Mericrest is definitely a great nectarine, it doesn’t size up reliably for me but it is super flavorful.

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What about the Chinese Mormon Apricot? Below is the description from Burnt Ridge. I bought a bare root for my mom this year base on Burnt Ridge’s description. I hope I don’t make another mistake!

CHINESE (MORMON) APRICOT (Armeniaca vulgars)
Very productive of small to medium fruits that are firm, sweet and juicy. Inside the shell, the kernel has a sweet, edible almond-like pit. Blooms later that most apricots, ripens mid summer. Quick to bear with good frost resistance. Self fruitful, though cross pollination may increase yield. Very hardy to zone 4-8.


I’d like to bump this topic to ask if these nects - Mericrest and Hardired in particular - have good disease resistance

I had no disease problem with Hardired.

BTW, no fruit this year in Z5b ( Purling NY )


My one Hardired seems to be fairly bac. spot resistant. It was loaded with fruit last year and is loaded this year.

Last year was the first year it fruited and like many nectarines didn’t taste very good because we had too much rain. I think nectarines are generally more acidic anyway, and when they don’t sugar up because of cloudy/rainy weather, they don’t taste that great (that’s my theory anyway). One exception last year was Silver gem which tasted really good.

Maybe @alan will comment on the taste of Hardired compared to other nectarines in a normal year.

Mericrest in on the small side, but they are delicious. None this year (had to chop the tree back) :frowning: Oh well…now it will be well shaped.

Actually I don’t think I have Hardired. My first nectarine was probably Mericrest and it is still, after 20 years, producing intensely flavored highly crack susceptible nectarines- just not this year. Mom Nature shot us us with two barrels of misery.

Silver Gem would certainly seem to be worth the experiment because it performs well in KS and here in SE NY. Its early ripening means it probably never needs more than one fungicide app.

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