Attention northern dwellers, if you thought only folks in the Deep South could grow peaches, think again. Reliance peach trees are hardy to -25 F. (-32 C.) and can be grown as far north as Canada! And when it comes to harvesting Reliance peaches, the name hints at the bountiful harvest. Learn how to grow and care for Reliance peaches.
About Reliance Peach Trees
Reliance peaches are a freestone cultivar, which means the stone is easily removed. They can be grown in USDA zones 4-8, perfect for northern gardeners. Reliance was created in New Hampshire in 1964 and is still one of the cold hardiest of peaches without sacrificing taste. The medium to large sized fruit has a nice blend of sweet and tart.
The tree blooms in the spring with a profusion of aromatic pink blossoms. Trees can be found that are either of standard size or semi-dwarf running from 12 to a maximum of 20 feet (3.5 to 6 m.) in height. This cultivar is self-pollinating, so no need for another tree if space is at a premium in the garden.
How to Grow Reliance Peaches
Reliance peach trees should be planted in full sun in well-draining, rich, loamy soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Select a site that offers protection from cold winter winds and one that will help prevent sunscald.
Amend the planting site with a good amount of compost worked well into the soil. Also, when planting Reliance peach trees, be sure that the graft is 2 inches (5 cm.) above the soil surface.
Care for a Reliance Peach
Provide the tree with an inch to two (2.5 to 5 cm.) of water per week from flowering until harvest, depending upon weather conditions. Once the peaches have been harvested, stop watering. To help retain moisture around the roots and retard weeds, spread a 2-inch (5 cm.) layer of mulch around the tree, taking care to keep it away from the trunk of the tree.
Fertilize Reliance peaches with a pound (0.5 kg.) of 10-10-10 six weeks after planting. In the tree’s second year, reduce the amount to ¾ pound (0.34 kg.) in the spring at flowering and then another ¾ pound in the summer when fruit has formed. From the tree’s third year on, fertilize with one pound (0.5 kg.) of nitrogen alone in the spring at bloom time.
Additional Reliance peach care involves pruning the tree. Prune trees in the late winter just prior to bud swelling when the tree is still dormant. At the same time, remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches. Also, remove any branches that are growing vertically since peaches only bear on year old lateral branches. Cut back any overly long fruiting branches to prevent breakage.
To prevent sunscald on the trunk of the tree, you can paint it with whitewash or white latex paint. Paint only the lower 2 feet (.61 m.) of the trunk. Keep an eye out for any sign of disease or insect infestation and take steps to control these immediately.
If all goes well, you should be harvesting a bumper crop of Reliance peaches in August, about 2-4 years from planting.