Gardening 101: Peaches, plums and apricots
NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) — If you have a spot in your yard for an ornamental tree, then you have room for a tree from the Prunus genus.
These include peaches, plums and apricots. It is always nice to have a small, flowering tree to accent your landscape with; it is even better to have a tree that produces fruit you can eat.
Like all fruit trees in this genus, the timing of the springtime blooms makes for heartbreak or harvest here in North Texas.
If the tree blooms too early, it risks getting hit with a freeze. This will destroy the tender flowers. Since the fruit develops from the bud of the flower, no flower means no fruit that growing season.
Local commercial peach growers say they average about two crops every three years because of this.
Breeding controls when a fruit tree sets its blooms, and Mother Nature decides when the last freeze of winter hits. And around here, that's always a gamble.
Because the average date is March 12. The actual date can vary by a huge margin. Just look at DFW:
But if you willing to risk the heartbreak (early freeze) and frustration (your pack of neighborhood squirrels), there is certainly a big reward with a basket of fruit from your own yard.
Peaches are well known here in North Texas thanks in large part to the annual Parker County Peach Festival. Please know there is a lot to growing this fruit. Just read the Texas AgriLife Texas Peach Handbook and you'll see.
Growing any kind of fruit or vegetable is ringing a dinner bell for pests; you'll have to spray to have fruit by picking time. This makes the process a little too high maintenance for many.
There is a variety called "Harvester" that waits (for a peach tree) late into early spring to bloom. That is the one recommended to me for North Texas.
The Burgundy Plum is also a late bloomer and delivers great fruit. I've done stories before on another great choice for this area, the Santa Rosa.
Apricots just flat-out bloom too early for this area, so I can't recommend them. However, they started crossbreeding apricots with plums (since plums bloom later) to create a hybrid—plumcots. But I recommend pluots (about 75% plum, 25% apricot). They produce a delicious fruit, but you'll have to search around for these. Make sure to find one that is described to bloom late in the spring.
Fruit trees are a challenge. But fruit trees reward the brave and—in some seasons—the lucky.