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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Miniature Peach Poor Growth in Container Might Be Container Size

Q. I have this miniature Bonanza peach tree in a large pot for 4 years the first year several large peaches since then nothing. The second and third year flowers and fruit buds, but then they fell off and I was told by a nursery that it was because of all the high winds we had. Then this year I moved it out of the wind and same thing happened and the leaves were kind of narrow and had some tan spots on them, I sprayed it with a fungicide and it took care of the tan spots but the leaves still look anemic.

Readers Bonanza peach tree with poor growth, sparse canopy and poor color.
A. You are right. The plant does look anemic. The leaves are light green at best and doesn't really show much new growth. On peaches and nectarines the fruit is produced on one year old branches. This means that the fruit that will be produced in 2012 will appear on stems that grew in 2011.

The contaimer looks small to me for a tree that old. I will bet the roots will be rootbound (circling in the container). Having a plant with rootbound roots can cause the poor growth.

Readers Bonanza peach tree in a container, closeup.
If the growth of a peach or a nectarine is poor and very small then there may be little or no room on this one year old growth to produce fruit. This might be because of the soil that was used in the container. If the soil was bad to begin with then your tree will show evidence of slow decline and lack of fruit production.

The poor growth could be due to several things. Make sure it is getting enough water. The volume of water that you apply needs to be enough so that water drains from the bottom of the container.

Secondly, poor drainage. Water applied to the top of the soil in the container should drain easily into and through the soil.

I could not tell exactly but on your picture there appears to be some flowers. That is a key question to ask yourself if your peach tree produced no fruit; “Did the tree have flowers?” If there were flowers present but no fruit then something happened after flowering that caused the fruit to drop from the tree.

Nearly all peaches and nectarines are self-fertile or in other words do not need a pollinator tree. So a lack of pollination is unlikely to cause the fruit drop.

Either poor drainage or not enough water could also cause fruit to drop.

The question is what to do now. I would probably start over. This is a bad time of the year to try to pull this tree out of the container and try replanting it. At this point in time you could try replanting with a totally new plant. If you plan to keep it for several years I would look at a larger container.

If you keep this one, rinse the inside of the container with a 5% Clorox solution and let it air dry. Make sure the container drains easily after it is full of soil. Don't skimp on soil amendments. Use a top-quality compost amendment or good soil at the very beginning.

Plant tree at the correct depth. Stake it first year of growth. Fertilize once a year in the spring and combine that with an iron chelate. Water the soil until water comes out the bottom of the container and then stop watering. I hope this helps.

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