A mature peach tree is a beautiful addition to any landscape. The lush pink flowers are highly ornamental in the spring, and the summer fruits create anticipation for many luscious pies, cobblers, and preserves to come. Young peach tree saplings can cost from $25 and up, but if you're patient, you can turn your peach snack into a future fruit-bearing tree. Planting peach seeds will not result in a tree identical to the parent plant that produced the peach you ate, but the resulting tree could be a chance seedling with characteristics even better than the parent plant.
Choose a Peach Variety to Grow
You just enjoyed the sweetest peach you've ever tasted on a friend's farm. Why can't you plant that pit and grow the same kind of peach? The answer lies in the way peach trees reproduce. A peach seed results from the male pollen of one plant combining with the female flower ovule of another plant. The offspring seed will have characteristics of both parents. Professional growers use grafting methods to attach a desired variety onto a mother rootstock, allowing them to control the type of peaches they grow. By growing a peach seed, you may end up with a tree that is more or less vigorous, flavorful, or cold hardy than the parents. Embrace this uncertain outcome as a fun part of the process.
Clean the Peach Seed
Unlike sprouting an avocado pit, where you can just suspend the pit over water, peach seeds need special preparation before planting. In nature, when ripe peaches drop to the ground and decompose, some seeds end up germinating, while others succumb to mold and mildew. You want better odds than nature offers, so you should clean and treat your seed to prevent mold growth.
Carefully scrub away any fruit that clings to the pit with a dry, soft toothbrush. Dip the seed into a bleach solution with 10 parts water to one part bleach. Allow the seed to air dry, and then apply a fungicide to the seed to further inhibit mold growth.
Conduct a Cold Treatment for the Peach Seed
Mother Nature provides a cold treatment for peach seeds that allows the embryo to develop and mature before germination can occur. You must provide the same conditions for your seed to germinate. Many fruit seeds require this cold period, but peaches need one of the longest treatments—about four months. The ideal temperature for this treatment is between 35 and 50 degrees, so the refrigerator is perfect. Keep your peach seed apart from other produce in the refrigerator, which may emit ethylene gas that can have a negative effect on the seed's viability.
Plant the Peach Seed
The deeply wrinkled covering you see on a peach pit is actually not part of the seed. This covering, called the endocarp, envelops the seed, which is smooth. Gently cracking the endocarp with a nutcracker or some pliers is optional and will speed up germination.
Using a high-quality growing mix will ensure that your peach seed gets the best start. A soil-free sterile potting mix, sphagnum moss, or vermiculite are all suitable growing mediums for a peach seed. Choose a large container at least 12 inches tall to allow room for the tap root to develop. Plant the seed an inch deep, and keep moist. Now that your seed has completed its cold dormancy, you can place it in a warm environment to encourage sprouting.
Wait for Germination
Depending on whether you cracked the endocarp, germination will take place in four to six weeks. The tap root will emerge before the top growth appears. The first leaves to appear will be the seed leaves, or cotyledons.
My Peach Seed Sprouted, Now What?
After your peach tree sprouts, it's important to acclimate the plant to the outdoors to prepare it for transplanting, as it will soon outgrow its container. After the peach seedling has at least two sets of true leaves, when all danger of frost is past, place it outdoors in a sheltered area for two hours. The following day, place it outdoors for three hours. Add an hour each day, until the peach plant is accustomed to the sun, wind, and temperatures outside.
Choose a site for your peach with full sun and excellent drainage. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the tap root of the peach plant without damaging it. Keep your peach tree moderately moist through its first growing season. The sapling will take about three years to reach maturity, when it will be capable of producing flowers and fruit.