As you may have seen from my other posts, all my peach, plum, and apricot buds were killed by a -2 degree F freeze this spring. So its looking like I won’t have a single fresh peach this year, which is devastating. However, I did have 2 fairly large (approx. 6 foot tall and bushy) peach trees in 4 gallon pots that were in my garage. Both of those are in full bloom now (they are sitting outside now). I know 2 potted peach trees can only produce a few peaches at best, but its my only hope and silly as it may sound, those few would make a big difference to me at this point of desperation!
But here is my dilemma… If I got ahead and plant those in the ground, I’m afraid the transplant shock will cause the blooms to fall off. Or, if I wait for the fruit to form, I fear planting the trees will cause the fruit to drop. I’ve had this happen once, but I’m not sure if it is common. On the other hand, I hate to waste a whole growing season that these trees could be adding lots of wood for next years crop, and they won’t grow nearly as much if I leave them in pots (I don’t think).
So please offer me some advice. Will planting these trees probably result in bloom or fruit drop? Will leaving them in the pots until the fruit is ripe result in the loss of a lot of potential growth? Is there anyway to plant the trees without them having enough transplant shock to drop blooms/fruit. Perhaps if I just cut the bottom off the pot and sat it in a hole otherwise undisturbed? It could still slowly root itself and might not react as badly since it would be such a minor change to its environment. An even bigger question…will these trees actually even carry fruit to maturity in just a 4 gallon nursery pot?
Anyway, you see my dilemma now. I’d love any advice and info you can offer.
A 6-foot tall bushy tree in a 4-gallon pot??? I plant my peppers in pots on my deck, and I use 7-gallon pots (2 plants per pot). Similar for cherry tomatoes – one plant in a 7-gallon pot. Since most plants have as much growth underground as above ground, your trees must be crazy rootbound. I can’t imagine that they will fruit for you in pots, or if they do it will be stunted fruit and just a few. If it were me, I would try planting these in the ground, taking lots of time to be as gentle as possible so that transplant shock will be minimized.
Thanks Don. I should have been more clear…I would never intentionally plant trees in such a small pot. These are simply trees that I purchased last fall when they were marked down. (I must confess they were from Home Depot but I paid $5 and am willing to accept the risk that they could have various issues including mislabeling)
I’ve actually seen decent sized peaches on trees at nurseries and big box stores in pots this size, so its not as impossible as you might think. But I’ve never seen a full sized or ripe one so I don’t know it such a small pot could carry them to maturity. Thanks
A 6-ft peach tree for $5? I’d call that hitting the jackpot. Get those babies in the ground and enjoy them for many years to come!
Now that I think about it, I actually paid $7.50 for these 2 and the $5 ones were in 2.5 gallon pots and considerably smaller trees. But yea, its an incredible deal. They also had apples, pears, and apricots. I got some of all of these. Home Depot always marks their fruit trees and berries down 50% off around September. Then one of the stores in my area always cut them ANOTHER 50% around November, and if that hasn’t already got them there, they do a final markdown to $5 for small sizes and $7.50 for Large sizes right around Christmas time. Strangely, the other 2 stores I check only do the one 50% off. My favorite buy this year was 2 GIANT, HUGE apple trees- honey crisp and gala. The regular price for that size is $149.00 and I got them for right at $25 after all the mark downs. I’m not sure exactly the size of the pot, but I’d guess its 15 gallon or so. The trees were about 8.5 feet tall and the trunk was about 2 -3 inches. I am talking about HUGE trees (well, to me). The apples had lots of fruit spurs and I honestly think they will bear a good amount of fruit the same year I plant them (I planted in January of this year, so we will see. I could never afford such large trees any other way, but its really fun for me to get such large trees- ie “instant orchard” some companies call them.
Now, all this being said, there is a whole thread full of people on here that I respect who say they would never buy big box trees for a variety of reasons and I absolutely get that and am not recommending anyone else buy from Home Depot. But for me personally, I have lots of room, so if I get a mislabeled tree I won’t mind and I already have known versions of the same variety, so I accept that they are a gamble. But at $5-7.50 for regular trees and $25 for giant ones, its a gamble I’m ok to make. But that is just me and I know there are several risks in doing so.
Just another opinion here. If you wait a little longer until your frost/freeze danger is over to plant you may increase your odds of getting a few fruit this year. Being careful with the plants before and during planting should help with aborting fruit. In my area we normally get an occasional heavy frost/freeze for another 2 weeks or so. Good luck, Bill
Great price on the plants
You know, Bill, that was an incredibly good bit of advice! One would think that after having already lost so many buds to a freeze that the last thing I would do is plant my last trees and last hope until the possibility of another freeze has passed, but to be honest I hadn’t much thought about that, so I’m especially grateful to you for that simple reminder! It’s been in upper 60’s to low 70’s here for several days and everything looks and feels like spring. But the fact of the matter is that we very often do get freezes here all the way through April. I wouldn’t consider putting out watermelon plants before May 1, yet I was planning to put my trees out in the next week or so. Again, thanks for your interest and advice!!!
You can fruit a peach in a 4 gal pot but it requires constant attention. Miss water one day and the fruit might drop. But given that these are to be in ground long term better to do it this spring. Waiting to plant is a good idea for the fruit but planting now would probably be better for the tree. The tree and fruit can be protected pot or ground. A blanket and 100 watt bulb will protect fruit from moderate freeze.
You can’t reliably expect to retain fruit planted now or later. It’s a possibility but no assurance no matter how careful you are. Just as in a pot it will require constant care. If your soil drainage is borderline you might drown it with over watering.
Coming from me, this is far from expert advice. I can tell you from experience though, that I have gotten some tasty fruit from a Lowe’s/Home Depot nectarine still in its pot. Same as you. once that fruit started developing I was hesitant to stick the tree in the ground for fear of losing those tasty morsels. Despite my occasional (or was it frequent?) neglect, that tree ripened some very tasty nectarines. I really do mean “despite” me because that summer was a once in a hundred years rainy one here. It wouldn’t have stood a chance the previous year with our hottest all time temps hitting 113 on consecutive days.
In the end, it wasn’t good at all for the tree to stay potted all summer. Someone moved the tree to a different location after I had eaten the fruit. I didn’t notice it missing from the line up until too late. So, I had 2 nectarines, but lost the possibility of any from that tree in the future.
Re: weather uncertainties for the next month - I looked at the accuweather forecast for my area for the next week and for this coming Friday it has listed as cool with highs in the mid 60’s and low of 42 with showers, T-storms, and snow . What? We haven’t had any snow all winter. I certainly wouldn’t be happy to see it now. I wouldn’t expect snow with a low of 42.