Weeping peach trees (Prunus persica) are decorative trees with inedible fruit. They have drooping branches with clusters of pink or red flowers. If you care for them well, they will wow you with beauty.
Read on to find out how to grow and care for a weeping peach tree.
How to take care of a weeping peach tree
A decorative peach tree care regimen consists of:
- frost protection
Weed at least 36 inches around the tree and make it a steady habit; weeding is difficult once branches droop. Prune to get a nice tree shape, let more sun inside, and strengthen branches. Don’t let the drooping branches touch the ground or other plants. Give the tree more attention during the first three years of its growth.
Protect the tree from continuous frost by using tarps and blankets. You have a large choice of mulching materials, depending on what the tree needs. Fertilize the tree twice a year, once in late autumn and once in early spring. Water so the soil around the root system is damp but avoid making puddles.
When and how to prune a weeping peach tree
Prune your ornamental peach tree in early spring or late winter. Shorten all branches that droop all the way to the ground. Don’t prune them evenly or your tree will look like an umbrella. Alternate the branch length to make the shape more interesting.
Pick a branch that grows upward and outward. Cut off all the competing branches growing on the one you chose. Your goal is to remove any branches that would cast shade on your chosen branch. Prune around 40% of growth each year to ensure the entire tree is getting enough sun.
Use clean pruning shears for this job. Put some isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) or a 10% bleach solution on your pruning shears to clean them. Do this before and after pruning.
How long can a weeping peach tree live?
A weeping fruit tree lives 10–15 years. The first three years are when the tree establishes its root system. By the 8th year, the tree is at its peak and by the 12th year, it’s mature. This time shortens if the tree is weak, diseased, or under stress.
What is the weeping fruit tree size and shape?
A weeping fruit tree will grow up to 20 feet in height. You can expect the tree shape to be symmetrical. Leave at least 20 feet of space between the weeping peach fruit tree trunk and obstacles. This includes patios and sidewalks.
These trees have a mound-shaped canopy, with drooping branches. The branches in full bloom look like curtains.
How to plant a weeping peach tree?
Wait until the soil thaws and dries out from snow and rain before planting. Plant the tree as soon as you can; it can tolerate a pot only for a short time. The best time is when the weeping peach tree is dormant: early spring or late winter.
Dig a hole that’s a bit larger than the tree’s root system. Throw in some plant food scraps in the hole and cover them with dirt until you get a small mound. Set the tree on top of the mound, spread the roots in their natural position, and avoid bending them. The roots will feed on the plant matter as they grow.
The right type of soil for a weeping peach tree
Sandy, well-draining, loamy soil is perfect for a weeping peach tree. Acidity should be between 6 and 7 pH, so a bit acidic. Young trees can easily die if planted in the soil outside that range. You can test the acidity by taking 6–8 soil samples and using a home pH kit.
A weeping flowering peach tree’s root system is shallow, so plan on 18–24 inches of sandy top soil. Below it, you should have well-drained subsoil, ideally made of clay. You might need to work in a lot of organic matter into the soil to prepare it for your peach tree.
How should you use a decorative peach tree?
You can put an ornamental peach tree on your lawn but do clear out the grass. If you have a shrub bed, the weeping peach tree will fit right in. It’s lovely standing over small shrubs, especially those ones in autumn and summer. Use it in the center of a Zen-style garden, where the tree will add a timeless, mystical look.
How to protect a decorative peach tree from frost?
You can best protect a decorative peach tree from frost by putting a tarp on it. You can create a lightweight tripod around the weeping peach tree from a PVC pipe. Put a tarp, frost cloth, or a blanket on top of the tripod. Don’t use plastic sheets, since they don’t insulate all too well.
You can also spray the ornamental peach tree with water as frost approaches. The water will freeze and coat the tree trunk with ice. The ice will trap the heat beneath itself, which will protect the tree. This approach is only recommended for experts since it can backfire.
Finally, you can hang Christmas lights on the weeping peach tree and turn them on. If you also use the tripod tarp trick, the effect will be much greater. This trick won’t work with LED lights, since they don’t give off enough heat.
What climate does a decorative peach tree need?
Weeping peach trees grow in USDA hardiness zones 5–9. They need sun but do not enjoy blazing heat. Provide them with at least 6 hours of sunlight each day for best growth. Planting decorative peach trees in partial shade may stunt their growth. Planting them in full shade will kill them.
Ornamental peach trees can survive a 0 °F winter but the next spring they’ll show feeble growth and bloom. They need a climate where the winter temperature is at least 45 °F every fourth day. During the summer, temperatures should average 75 °F.
Why is my ornamental peach tree oozing sap?
The oozing of peach tree sap aka. peach tree gummosis happens when the bark gets hurt. This damage most often comes from fungi eating the bark or insects laying their eggs there. But, you can also nick the bark when using a weed clipper or lawnmower.
Gummosis can also happen when your decorative peach tree gets too much water. The tree then oozes sap to get rid of excess water. Use less water and less mulch and you can even skip mulching in the winter. Continue with the care regimen until the sap stops oozing.
If you find unhealed pruning wounds on your peach tree, the cause could be bacterial canker. Don’t use a bactericide spray but use a nematicide. Spray it around the tree and it will improve sap flow. Repeat the spraying according to directions until the tree is 8 years old or the sap stops oozing.
Why is my weeping peach tree not growing?
Weeping peach trees can suffer from the PTSL (peach tree short life) symptom. When you see a decorative peach tree suddenly stop growing in the spring, it’s likely PTSL. It could also be the cause if a tree suddenly drops its leaves or never bears them. This problem is very difficult to solve.
There are many potential causes of PTSL. One is bacterial canker and another is nematodes (worms) around the roots. These worms feed on the roots and you can’t see them with a naked eye. Shoddy pruning and freeze damage are also possible causes; any mix of these can cause your tree to have a PTSL.
The best solution for PTSL is to strengthen the tree as much as you can. Protect it from the elements and give it plenty of nutrients. Test the soil and inspect the tree for damage as often as you can. You should also contact the tree vendor for advice.
How much water does an ornamental peach tree need?
Use 20–40 gallons of water a month for first-year trees. That’s when the ornamental peach trees need the most water but too much water, later on, can cause brown rot. Use either sprinkler spraying every 2–3 weeks or daily drip irrigation for older trees.
Decorative peach trees need evenly moist soil during the first year of growing. The soil should be moist at 4–6 inches depth. The surface of the soil should completely dry out between watering sessions. Check the soil moisture by digging with a shovel or with your fingers.
You should do occasional, deep watering rather than frequent, shallow ones. Walk barefoot near a decorative peach tree one hour after watering. If your feet get wet, you’re overwatering it.
Diseases and pests of weeping fruit trees
Funguses are the most common weeping fruit tree diseases. They thrive in wet conditions and target weakened parts of the tree. If you notice any of these diseases, those parts aren’t getting enough sunlight. You should prune more and increase the weeding, fertilizing, and mulching.
The most common diseases of weeping fruit trees are:
- brown rot
- powdery mildew
- peach tree leaf curl
Cut off diseased growth and use a general-purpose fungicide before spring blossoms appear. Repeat spraying after 2–3 weeks.
Peach tree borer is a wasp-like moth that plants eggs in the tree trunk, favoring young trees. Clear out old, weak, and diseased trees nearby, since moths don’t travel far. Spray neem oil on the tree and the crown when you spot the moths. Cover the bark with kaolin clay-based paste, such as Surround WP, to make laying eggs difficult.
Should you use Epsom salt on weeping peach trees?
Weeping peach trees normally don’t need Epsom salt. This salt is rich in magnesium, which this ornamental peach tree doesn’t need too much of. However, if the soil has too much potassium, the decorative peach tree could have a lack of magnesium.
If the leaves on a weeping peach tree develop yellow borders, it might have too little magnesium. Still, it doesn’t mean Epsom salt is the best solution. Consult a vendor and ask about other forms of magnesium. For example, you can ask about slow-release magnesium or sprays.
Other than that, a healthy decorative peach tree doesn’t need Epsom salt or magnesium.
How to fertilize a weeping flowering peach tree?
Use evenly balanced fertilizers, such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Don’t put the fertilizer near the trunk or the tree might get damaged. Instead, leave at least a 12-inch free space from the trunk all around. The best place is at the edge of the canopy since that’s how far the roots go.
Use half a cup of fertilizer for freshly planted trees. Add one pound for each year of maturity up to 5 pounds for 5-year-old trees.
Don’t fertilize with too much nitrogen. It will make the weeping peach tree produce too many leaves. If you find this happening to you, use sawdust mulch, which will take up nitrogen as it decomposes.
Can you use manure on a weeping peach tree?
You can use manure on a decorative peach tree but avoid those rich in nitrogen.
The types of manure richest in nitrogen, from most to least, are:
Compost the manure before you use it on a weeping peach tree. Add in brown leaves or grass clippings before applying the manure.
How to mulch a decorative peach tree?
Choose the type of mulch that needs little replenishing. This includes wood chunks, chips, or shredded bark. They can last for a year, though you will have to fluff them up.
From time to time, you should also:
- flip the mulch
- remove weeds
- sprinkle some more fresh mulch on top
Leave a 6-inch free space from the tree trunk and don’t use any mulch there. If you do, you risk attracting pests and rot. Your mulch should be 4 inches deep. Once you mulch, you can reduce the watering by 25%.
Water the mulch wet right after you put it to prevent fungus growth. Weed before mulching or use organic mulch, like compost or leaf mold, to curb weeds. Avoid using rock-based mulches, since they can overheat the weeping peach tree.
In this article, you’ve learned that:
- You must prune a weeping peach tree to keep it healthy
- A young weeping peach tree needs special care for the first three years
- Fertilizing a weeping peach tree with too much nitrogen produces extra leaves
- Avoid mulching and fertilizing a weeping peach tree too close to the trunk
If you shower a decorative peach tree with care and attention, it will shower you back with grace. As it blooms, the gorgeous drooping branches explode with color, wowing onlookers. Sneak beneath the flower curtain and relish in the beauty you helped make.