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Issue: September 18

It is difficult, but not impossible, to start new peach trees from cuttings

Q. I have been enjoying the peaches from my backyard peach tree and decided that I want to have more trees. Can I start new peach trees from branches stuck into the ground?

A.A.

Truth or Consequences

A. Peach trees are difficult to propagate from cuttings. People have reported success, but this requires more than just putting the cuttings into the soil in the garden. Cuttings about one-half inch in diameter and 4- to 6-inches in length may be collected in late winter. Dip the base of the cutting into a rooting hormone and then carefully place the cutting into a good potting soil. The soil should receive "bottom heat" (keeping the soil about 70 degrees while the top of the cutting is maintained in cool air). This stimulates metabolic activity and, hopefully, root initiation at the base of the cutting while slowing down the development of leaves at the top. If leaves form too quickly, they will deplete the stored foods needed for root growth and prevent root development. After a few months and the plants have formed roots, these cuttings can be planted in the home orchard. In New Mexico, the dry air and soil require that you propagate the cuttings in a cool greenhouse or a cold frame. Most peach trees are grafted onto special rootstocks (usually to provide resistance to nematodes that attack the roots). However, you can easily sprout peach seeds and graft the desired variety on the top of the seedlings. This will be a much easier way to increase your number of peach trees. The easiest way to increase your orchard is to buy new plants. While this may not be as challenging for the gardener who likes a goodchallenge, it does allow the planting of other varieties that may prolong the period of peach harvest. You can try to start new trees from cuttings, but this method is typically an exercise for very advanced gardeners. For most New Mexico gardeners, grafting to seedlings or buying new plants will be the most successful method because of New Mexico's difficult environment and soil conditions.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h or http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/periodicals.html

Send your gardening questions to:

Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.