For Northeast Florida Gardens
(Prunus Nucipersica ‘Sunhome’)
Sunhome Nectarine / Prunus Nucipersica ‘Sunhome’ For Northeast Florida Origins:
Peach Trees, although originally attributed to Persia by botanists, actually originated in China and have been cultivated for 3000 years for their fruits. Nectarine trees are thought to be the result of a chance mutation of a peach tree and can be traced back about 2000 years.
Chill Hour Requirements For Sunhome Nectarine Trees:
Although there are plentiful selections of peach, plum and nectarine fruit trees, all with unique fruits, they generally require 600-900 hours of winter chill in order for them to produce fruit the following season. That’s a problem for our subtropical Northeast Florida Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens. Thankfully The University of Florida went to work producing some selections of these great fruit trees that will produce fruits with as little as 150-250 chill hours. Sunhome Nectarines are great for Northern and Central Florida requiring as little as 250 chill hours for fruit production.
Sun Exposure for the Sunhome Nectarine tree in Northeast Florida:
Plant Sunhome Nectarine / prunus nucipersica trees in a full sun location for best results her in our Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscapes.
Foliage of the Sunhome Nectarine Trees:
Perhaps my favorite of the peach and nectarine selections because of its spring new growth. Each year in spring the leaves emerge a deep dark purple and gradually matures to a nice medium green, this to me adds to its ornamental value because you can enjoy the bright colorful foliage after the flowers have gone.
Foliage of the Sunhome nectarine tree is deciduous and will fall off of the tree once temperatures drop for the winter season here in Northeast Florida in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area.
Soil Preference for the Sunhome Nectarine Tree:
Peaches, plums and nectarine trees absolutely must be planted into well draining soils, no flood zones at all, these trees do not tolerated having wet root systems or ‘wet feet’ as we like to call them at all even for brief periods after heavy rains. So remember to plant away from drainage swells or low spots that tend to collect water after a rain.
Amend your planting site generously with compost when installing your new tree and put a new layer of fresh compost around scattered around the tree under the foliage each following year. I like to treat my trees to a good layer of aged manure or compost in the winter when there are few other garden chores to be done.
Size of the Sunhome Nectarine Tree When Mature:
The mature size on a Sunhome nectarine10 – 25 feet in height depending on how it has been pruned. Open pruned peach, plum and nectarine trees are usually kept to 10-15 ft for ease of fruit production, spraying, and harvesting.
Pruning and Growth Habits of Sunhome Nectarine Trees for the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Peach, nectarine and plum trees are generally pruned with the central leader removed to form an open head or vase shaped foliage. This allows not only optimal sun exposure but also makes the trees limbs easier to access for spraying and harvesting fruits.
Following is a link that will open a new window from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences on how to prune nectarine trees for the commercial fruit producer, its fair to note that this way of pruning is harsh and does not tend to make the prettiest tree for the home garden, but the principles of pruning and thinning, and their importance in fruit production, will help guide your decision on how to prune your fruit trees.
Blooms and Fruit of Sunhome Nectarine Trees for Northeast Florida Landscape:
Sunhome nectarine trees have a beautiful light pink blossom in the early spring just before the new leaves emerge for the year. Trees are very showy when in bloom.
Sunhome nectarine trees are ‘self pollinating’, so there is no need to buy another pollinating tree in order for your tree to produce fruit.
Sunhome nectarines have a reddish blush and yellow flesh. Great tasting fruit.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of the Sunhome Nectarine:
Properly watering and fertilizing your newly planted peach, plum, and nectarine trees can help not only keep them healthy but keep them producing!
Water newly planted trees every time the top 2 inches of the soil is dry to the touch. That may be everyday, every other day or even only a few times a week depending on weather and soil conditions. Make sure to pay close attention to watering in the first few months after planting and for established trees water once to twice a week should be sufficient.
UFIFAS recommends 2-3 gallons of water per inch of diameter of trunk at each watering.
Fertilize your peach, nectarine, and plum trees each year in the dormant season with a layer of compost or composted manure.
Fertilize once in the spring, and again in the summer around August with a light scattering underneath the foliage of the tree in the mulched area. I like to use a mixture of organic Milorganite with Osmocote Plus. There’s no need to be exact as neither of these fertilizers will burn your trees leaves or root systems. Somewhere around one part Milorganite to 5 parts Osmocote, should be sufficient and about a cup spread around under the foliage of the tree for a mature tree.
Keeping your Sunhome Nectarine free from Pests and Diseases:
Peach, plums, and nectarine trees will require a strcit spray regimine to keep them healthy and free from disease and insect infestations. Spray with a combination spray that will help control both insects and diseases, like Bonide Fruit Tree Spray every 14 days during the growing season. Remember to stop spraying your fruit trees a month before harvest.
Harvesting your Fresh Sunhome Nectarine Fruits:
Harvest your Sunhome nectarine fruits with care, pulling the fruits can cause bruising of the flesh that will make them deteriorate faster. To harvest your fresh, ripe fruit by hand cup the fruits with your hand, lift or push the fruit up towards the branch slightly and twist them off. I like to use a fruit harvest basket as I allow my fruit trees to be a bit taller than recommended for hand harvesting.