Peach and Nectarine Trees For
Northeast Florida Landscapes
What is The Difference between
a Peach Tree and a Nectarine Tree?
That’s a good question and the answer is a surprising ‘very little’. The best way I know to break it down simply is to say that nectarines are simply a hairless version of a peach. They are thought to most likely have their origins in a chance genetic mutation of a Peach tree limb. These genetic mutations are known as ‘sports’ and occur often in plant life giving us many of the modern selections of plants we grow in today’s gardens. Through intensive breeding we have developed selections of Both Peach and Nectarine trees that make the difference between the two a little more noticeable although still very slight.
The foliage of the trees are indistinguishable, making it nearly impossible to tell one from the other if nor bearing fruit at the time. The fruit however does vary enough to easily at a glace identify one from the other. Peaches have a fine layer of fuzz on the skin of the fruits and are generally slightly larger in size than a Nectarine fruit. The smell and the taste vary as well, but then again, both smell and taste can vary slightly from one hybrid of Peach to another and from one Hybrid of Nectarine to another.
Tom MacCubbin in his book “The Edible Landscape” has this to say ” The Nectarine is a Peach in disguise…Even today, limbs that bear nectarines will turn up on trees in peach orchards.” I like Tom’s humorous take on the fruit. In the Book Botanicas “Organic Gardening” the Author elaborates a bit to say “Peaches and Nectarines will happily interbreed. Peach seeds will produce nectarines and nectarine seeds will produce peaches.”
Care of Peach Tree and Nectarine Trees for Northeast Florida
Care for nectarine and peach trees will be the same for the Northeast Florida area. They require quite a bit of help compared to some other fruiting trees and I think I can safely classify them as ‘high maintenance’ fruit trees due to their need for a somewhat strict spraying, fertilizing, and pruning routine in order to keep them healthy and producing fruit for your edible landscape. I like to think of them as a ‘gardeners tree’ for people who like to tinker and be out in the yard. The Southern Living Garden Book” even goes so far as to say ” If you’re philosophically opposed to spraying, you may want to reconsider growing them.” Don’t let that make you run for the hills, peaches and nectarine trees, once you are familiar with their care routine, will reward you bountifully for the time you have spent in their care. You will even learn that after just their third year they will bear so many fruit that you will have to thin them out when young! That’s my kind of fruit tree!
Here are a few links, that will open a new window, that I think will help get you on your way once you have planted your Northeast Florida peach and nectarine tree.
An in depth guide to pruning your peach, nectarine and plum trees for maximum fruit production and ease of harvest. ( lots of example photos)
A six page guide targeted for commercial peach production in Florida by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension department.
Varieties of Peach and Nectarine Trees for Northeast Florida Landscape
These Hybrids grown and sold here at S & J Nursery are selected for insect resistance, fruit quality, disease resistance, and chill hour requirements. Perhaps the biggest determining factor when deciding what peach or nectarine tree to grow should be the chill hours required for the tree to bear fruit. Here in Northeast Florida we receive somewhere in the range of 400 -500 chill hours each winter. Here is the list of the recommended cultivar’s to grow and produce well in Northeast Florida landscapes.