How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Elberta’ Peach Trees

‘Elberta’ peaches are plump, sweet, and juicy. These peaches won’t disappoint in a cobbler or eaten straight off the branch. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss will walk through the care and keeping of these trees and their tasty fruits.

A close-up captures the vivid hues of ripe 'Elberta' peaches surrounded by lush green leaves. Bathed in sunlight, the peaches gleam with a golden blush, enticing with promises of juicy sweetness and the essence of summer orchards.


‘Elberta’ peach trees are one of the most popular peach tree varieties. These moderate to early fruit-bearing trees grow quite large and produce an abundance of fruit by their fourth year. These peaches are so popular that you can often see them at roadside stands or in supermarkets. 

Here is everything you need to know about adding one to your garden or orchard!

‘Elberta’ Peach Tree

‘Elberta’ Peach trees:

  • produce world-famous juicy fruit
  • are self-fertile
  • have high pest and disease resistance
  • feature fragrant pink blossoms in spring

buy at Epic Gardening Shop


A close-up of 'Elberta' peaches and green leaves. The peaches exhibit a yellow-green hue, indicating their unripe state. Sunlight softly illuminates the scene, highlighting the intricate textures of the fruit and foliage.
The ‘Elberta’ peach belongs to the Rosaceae family.
Plant Type Deciduous tree
Family Rosaceae
Genus Prunus
Species persica
Native Area Hybridized in Georgia
Exposure Full sun
Height 8’-25’
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests and Diseases Brown rot, peach tree scab, peach leaf curl fungus, borers, aphids, mites
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
Hardiness Zones 5-9

What Are ‘Elberta’ Peach Trees?

Super sweet, tasty fruit is reason enough to grow an ‘Elberta’ peach, but this tree has other great attributes, as well. These trees are highly pest-resistant and have good cold tolerance. They are easy to maintain at an accessible size. You can also allow this tree to become a larger, more significant tree in the landscape. 

Native Area

A close-up reveals the 'Elberta' peach tree, adorned with elongated green leaves. Its branches bear an abundance of plump, golden fruits, each promising succulent sweetness with their blush of ripeness under the sun's gentle caress.
This peach variety was introduced in 1870 by Samuel H. Rumph.

The ‘Elberta’ peach heirloom variety has its origins in that peachiest of states— Georgia. A grower named Samuel H. Rumph introduced this tree in 1870 and named it after his wife. It was bred for high production and good pest and disease resistance.


An 'Elberta' peaches in close-up, highlighting their fuzzy peel, which adds a tactile dimension to their appearance. Surrounding the peaches are green leaves, gently cradling them, enhancing the natural beauty of the fruit.
These trees are capable of reaching heights of 25 feet.

Under the right circumstances, this variety can grow up to 25 feet tall, producing a significant harvest. However, you can prune it to a far more manageable 10-15 feet tall. This makes for a more accessible tree, although it will bear less fruit. 

In early to mid-spring, ‘Elberta’ bursts onto the scene with a profusion of fragrant, pink blossoms. It’s a stunning spring tree that creates quite a spectacle in the landscape. The tree is self-pollinating, so you don’t need to plant more than one peach tree to have fruit. However, planting a second tree nearby will usually result in a greater yield for both trees. 

‘Elberta’ peaches are large with sweet, yellow flesh. They are freestone peaches, meaning the flesh comes away from the pit easily and cleanly. In mid-to-late summer, the yellow fruits take on a red blush, indicating they are ripe for the picking. 


The most common ways to propagate a peach tree are by seed or greenwood cuttings. Both are effective, although planting from seed will result in a longer maturation time.


A hand gently places a peach seed into the rich, dark soil nestled within a black pot, initiating the promise of growth and life. Nearby, delicate peach slices rest upon a porcelain plate.
Begin propagating from seed by drying and preparing the pits.

The process of propagating a peach from a seed is not difficult, but it is time-consuming

1. Dry and Prep Your Pits

If you are planting from a seed that you purchased, you can skip this step. If you’ve just finished a delicious peach and want to harvest the seed, you’ll need to deal with the outer casing. The part of the peach that we call the pit is not the actual seed, but rather, it is a seed pod. You will need to crack it open to retrieve the seed. Wash the pit and lay it in an airy spot to dry out for a few days.

2. Remove the Seed

Carefully crack the pit open to reveal the seed, which is white and resembles an almond. You can use a nutcracker or small pliers to carry this out without damaging the seed.

3. Soak the Seed

You will want to soak the seed to prepare it for germination. It doesn’t need to soak for long, but this step will speed up the germination process. Place the seed in a ziplock or plastic container with about a cup of room-temperature water. It should soak for three to four hours.

4. Chill Before Planting

Your peach seed will need some chill time to germinate, and the refrigerator is a great way to carry this out. Leave your seed in the container of water, add enough soil to absorb the water, and remain moist. Seal the bag or container and place it in the fridge for four to five weeks. It should remain at 42°F (6°C) or lower during this time.

5. Move Your Seed to a Pot

Once it has sufficiently chilled, it’s time to plant your seed. By this time, the seed should be sprouted. Plant it with the sprouted side up in a 5″ nursery pot with a well-draining soil mix. Add in some compost to give your peach tree a healthy start. Place the container in partial sun, gradually moving it to full sun over a few weeks.


A pair of hands, clad in green gloves, skillfully wields pruning shears to trim a branch from a peach tree. In the background, a blur of green foliage creates a lush and verdant backdrop to the gardening scene.
Greenwood cuttings offer a simple propagation method for peach trees.

Propagation using greenwood cuttings is a great option if you have a healthy tree available to take cuttings from. Grafted rootstock is a typical way to grow a fruit tree from cuttings. But, peach trees can grow with their own roots, so this method is simpler. 

Take your cuttings from a healthy tree that has plenty of new growth. You’ll want to take several cuttings, just in case they don’t all take. 

1. Sterilize Your Container

If you are using a new container, this isn’t important. If your container is used, it’s best to sterilize. Use a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water, and soak your container in this for 20 minutes. Then rinse with water and allow it to dry.

2. Take Cuttings

Your cuttings need to come from new growth or green wood. Look for branches that range from four to six inches long and have several sets of leaves. Cut the branch as close to the adjoining branch as possible, cutting at an angle. Keep your cuttings moist at all times.

3. Prep Your Cuttings

Using a sharp knife or blade, remove any leaves on the lower two inches of the branch. Lightly scrape the bark from the bottom of the branch, and give it a clean, diagonal cut.

4. Plant Your Cutting

I highly recommend using root hormone to propagate from cuttings. Dip the cut end of your cutting in the root hormone and tap off the excess. Place the cut end down in your soil mixture of potting mix and organic compost. Planting more than one cutting at a time will improve your chances of successful propagation.


A close-up of a peach tree seedling emerges from rich, dark soil, reaching for the sunlight. Its tender leaves delicately unfurl, embracing the warmth and energy of the sun, nurturing its growth.
Plant peaches in late winter or early spring for best results.

Planting time for ‘Elberta’ peaches hinges on the climate where you are growing them. In general, late winter or early spring is ideal for putting your peach tree in the ground. Plant as soon as the ground is workable while the tree is still dormant. This will minimize the amount of stress on the tree and give you a good first growing season. 

When choosing a location for your tree, look for a spot with lots of sun and soil that has good drainage. If you are planting a bare-root tree, you should soak the roots for four to six hours ahead of planting. Water a potted peach tree ahead of time as well. 

For a bare root tree, dig a hole that is 18″x18″ wide and deep. Build a mound in the bottom of the hole with soil or compost. Spread the root system over the soil mound. Backfill with soil and compost. If the tree is on grafted rootstock, the graft should sit just two inches above the soil level. 

If planting a potted tree, your hole should be as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Situate your root ball in the hole facing in the desired direction. Backfill the hole with soil and compost. Often, young trees need support. You can stake your tree to help it stay standing while it gets established. 

After you plant your tree, it is important to water it in. Peach trees like a fair amount of moisture. This first watering should be a long one. Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow deep. 

YouTube video

How to Grow

Peach trees require moderate growth and maintenance. If you want a healthy harvest, you must invest some time. Keeping your tree moist, fertilized, and pruned is key to a healthy tree and a robust harvest.


A close-up captures the rich hues of ripe red peaches nestled among verdant leaves on a branch. Bathed in warm sunlight, the luscious fruits and delicate foliage create a scene reminiscent of a tranquil summer day in the orchard.
Grow peach trees in a location with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Like most fruit trees, peach trees need lots of sunlight to produce the sweetest, juiciest peaches. Sunlight also helps to prevent fungal diseases, which are the most common type of diseases faced by this type of tree. 

Choose a location in the garden that gets full sun. This means the tree should receive at least six to eight hours of direct sun daily. The more hours of sun the tree gets in the morning, the better. The afternoon sun is hotter and no more searing than the morning sun, so if the tree gets any shade, it should be in the afternoon. 


A person's hand gently grips a green hose, directing a stream of water onto delicate peach tree saplings. Warm sunlight filters through the branches, casting a gentle glow upon the lush greenery.
Regular watering is essential for establishing strong root systems in peach trees.

In the first few months after planting your new tree, you need to water it regularly. This helps the tree to establish roots, making it stronger for the following winter. During the hotter months around mid-summer, you may need to give your tree some extra water. 

Water your new tree two to three times per week through the spring. Water deeply, meaning allow the water to thoroughly soak into the earth around the roots of the tree. This encourages deeper and stronger roots. The same sentiment applies to mature trees, but you won’t need to water them as often once established. 

A mature peach tree needs about one to two inches of water weekly. In times of drought, water your tree enough to keep up with this need. Peach trees are not drought-resistant and need water, especially during the hot summer months. 


A finger points into the rich loamy soil, its texture moist and crumbly, perfect for nurturing plant life. Dark in color, it suggests abundant nutrients, promising a fertile ground for seeds to take root and flourish.
Well-draining, slightly acidic soil is crucial for peach trees to thrive.

Loose, loamy soil is best for peach trees. ‘Elberta’ in particular, needs well-draining soil and is quite happy in soil with a high sand content. If the soil is sandy, mix some well-rotted compost in to add organic matter and beneficial microbial activity. Some additional amending may be necessary for clay-heavy soils that compact easily. 

Proper drainage is important for peach trees. They appreciate moisture, but wet roots can cause root rot and other fungal issues. Try to select a location where standing water is not an issue. Peach trees also like slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.8) soil.

Temperature & Humidity

A close-up captures a cluster of ripe peaches, their golden hues glowing in the sunlight. Surrounding them, verdant leaves gently cradle the fruit, adding a touch of lush greenery to the scene.
This variety tolerates cold temperatures down to -20°F.

‘Elberta’ is a variety that can tolerate fairly cold temperatures in dormancy. Frost will affect the foliage, fruits, and flowers, but the roots are hardy. This variety is hardy to zone 5, and the roots can tolerate temperatures down to -20 °F (-29°C). This tree has a moderate number of chill hours, 600 minimum. We don’t recommend growing this tree south of zone 9. 

Peach trees are tolerant of humidity as long as there is proper air circulation. Ideally, a humidity level between 50-70% is best for peaches. If the humidity is too high and the tree has crowded branches, you run the risk of fungal disease. Pruning yearly and giving your tree some space from neighboring trees will help with this issue. 


A hand gently disperses blue chemical fertilizer granules onto the soil surrounding green plants, fostering growth and vitality. The granules cascade from the fingers, promising nourishment and prosperity for the eager vegetation in this close-up scene.
Regularly fertilize newly planted trees with a balanced 10-10-10 formula.

Your newly planted tree will need fertilizer regularly. A balanced formula with a 10-10-10 ratio is a good fertilizer to use for this plant. Fertilize your young tree once weekly through the spring, and then decrease to every month and a half through the summer. Stop fertilizing in the fall to avoid a lot of tender, new growth going into the winter season. 

You won’t need to fertilize an established tree as frequently, but don’t skip it altogether. Fertilize your tree once at the beginning of spring to start the season strong. Fertilize again in late spring to early summer to help ripe those pretty peaches. Don’t fertilize in the fall or winter. 


A hand grips blue pruning shears, ready to snip a peach tree's stem. In the background, a blur of lush greenery sets the scene for this meticulous gardening task, promising the renewal of vibrant orchard life.
Pruning in late winter or early spring improves tree health and fruit production.

Your ‘Elberta’ peach will continue to produce new growth without pruning. However, pruning will significantly improve the health and production of fruit. The ideal time to prune is in late winter or early spring before the tree comes out of dormancy. The new branches formed last summer will bear fruit in the new year. This means that pruning must be sparing and deliberate. 

First, take a look at your tree and identify any dead or damaged branches. Look also for branches that cross the interior of the tree. Crossing branches crowd the interior of the tree and create issues with air circulation. Remove all of these, plus any water sprouts that have popped up as these will not bear fruit. Water spouts are green stems that grow straight up. 

Once the dead weight has been removed, you can work on the overall shape and structure of your tree. First, identify the scaffold branches. These are the primary and typically the thickest branches. They grow directly from the trunk. If you need to remove any of these, aim to only remove those that grow at a 45° angle or less. These are strongest when they sit at a 60° angle from the trunk.

If any branches on the main trunk are narrower than a pencil, cut those off. If you want to manage the size of your scaffold branches, you can cut them back to an outward-facing bud. Cut just after the bud. This will create a nice shape and increase convenience for harvesting. Last, prune your scaffold branches. The shoots on these branches should occur as close as possible to 12-inch intervals.

If the fruits appear too close together, it’s fine to thin them out. Too many peaches on a branch can cause it to snap under the weight. One peach every six inches of branch is a good number to aim for. 


Hands delicately reach towards two perfectly ripe peaches, poised for harvest. Branches laden with lush green leaves and more succulent peaches frame the scene, promising a bountiful harvest in the orchard's embrace.
Gently squeeze a peach for slight softness to determine ripeness.

‘Elberta’ peaches ripe in the mid-summer. This is about average, as most trees ripen between June and August. The fruits on this tree are large, with light-colored flesh. They are mature when the fruit takes on a rosy glow and feels slightly soft.

Gently squeeze a peach to see if it is ready to pick. It should be slightly soft. Twist as you pull, and if the peach doesn’t come away from the branch easily, it’s not ready. 


Glass jars filled with succulent peach slices and their juicy essence adorn the kitchen counter, gleaming under the soft light. Each jar glistens with the promise of sweet indulgence, a display of nature's bounty captured within their transparent confines.
This variety yields abundant sweet fruit suitable for fresh consumption.

These sweet peaches have soft flesh that easily comes away from the pit. They are perfect for eating fresh. This tree is a big producer, so prepare for a good harvest. ‘Elberta’ peaches are also great for canning, freezing, or baking with. 

Common Problems

Fruit trees tend to be attractive to pests. Humans aren’t the only ones who love a ripe, juicy peach. There are a handful of diseases that can crop up in these trees, too. 


A brown squirrel perches atop a peach tree. The tree, with its slender branches reaching skyward, is adorned with small, unripe green peaches, promising a fruitful harvest in the coming months.
Squirrels are adept at targeting ripe peaches and can outsmart most deterrents.

The number one peach tree nuisance in my yard is the squirrels. They seem to intuitively know the very second that the peaches are ripe. Then they eat as many as they can in one day, usually the day before you plan to harvest. 

Squirrels are tenacious animals. They will try to circumvent every obstacle that you place in their way. If your tree is on the taller side and not touching the branches of another tree, a baffle may help. I’ll be using nets this year to protect my peaches from birds, squirrels, and insects. 

Some of the other pests that you might encounter are aphids, borers, and mites. Fine mesh bags around your individual peaches are a good defense against insects. Spraying them with diatomaceous earth is a natural but temporary solution. Neem oil is effective, as are physical lures that attract insects and trap them.


A close-up reveals two ripe peaches hanging from a deep red branch.  Unfortunately, both fruits display signs of a fungal disease, manifesting as dark spots, affecting their overall health.
Preventing fungal diseases in peach trees requires proper care and pruning.

Most of the diseases that affect peach trees are fungal. Prevention is the best treatment for fungal diseases. Keep your tree pruned and well cared for and avoid overwatering. Hot and humid weather exacerbates fungal issues.

Fertilizing and pruning your tree will keep it healthy and help it resist damage from diseases. Sanitize your tools regularly and remove any leaves, fruit, or branches that appear to be infected.

Lack of Fruit

Distinctive crinkles mar the otherwise smooth surface of peach tree leaves, hinting at potential health issues within the plant. Against a blurred backdrop, lush foliage remains a testament to the resilience of nature's beauty.
Excessive tree vigor can inhibit flowering and fruit production.

It takes two to four years for a peach tree to grow from seed to produce fruit. Slightly less if you planted an older tree or propagated from cuttings. Either way, if you reach year four or five and there is no fruit, there is an issue to deal with.

The tree’s vigor can cause a lack of flowering and fruit. This seems counterintuitive, but excess green growth can mean less energy for fruit production. Ensure you are fertilizing and pruning properly and the issue should be resolved by the following season. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Grow ‘Elberta’ peaches in Zone 10?

We don’t recommend it. This tree needs at least 600 hours of temperatures below 42°F (6°C) to grow fruit. That would be uncommon in zone 10 and south.

Are Peach Seeds Toxic?

Yes, peach seeds, like most stone fruit seeds, contain a small amount of cyanide. They shouldn’t be ingested by humans or animals.

Can I Propagate a Peach Tree in Water?

Yes, you should be able to get a cutting to root in water. Make sure to change the water often to keep it clean and free from mold.

Final Thoughts

‘Elberta’ peaches are wonderful, large, sweet fruits that grow in abundance on large trees. While fruit trees come with some special challenges and needs, it is worth the effort. You will celebrate the day you pluck the first one of these peaches in your own garden. 

A branch of an apricot tree laden with ripe, orange apricots. Sunlight shines through the leaves, casting dappled shadows on the fruit. In the background, there is a patch of green grass and several other trees.


How to Grow an Apricot Tree from Seed

A fresh, juicy apricot is a tasty treat in late summer and is even more special if you grow the tree yourself. If you live in a good zone for growing deciduous fruit trees, why not give growing an apricot tree from seed a try? The benefits outweigh the time it takes. In this article, gardening expert Wendy Moulton shares how to grow an apricot from seed!

A vibrant cherry tree branch with lush green leaves and plump red fruits, creating a lively display of nature's bounty. The cherries dangle delicately amidst the verdant foliage, casting subtle shadows in the dimly lit surroundings.


Can You Grow a Tree by Planting a Cherry Pit?

Do you love eating cherries? Every fresh cherry you eat contains a pit with the potential to grow into a new cherry tree! In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares some tips for turning the next cherry you eat into a tree.

Fast Producing Fruit Tree Called PawPaw


21 Fast Producing Fruit Trees, Shrubs & Vines

Are you thinking about adding some fruit trees to your garden or fruit orchard this season? Fruit trees can take time to grow, but there are some that produce fruit faster than others. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen looks at some of the fastest-growing fruit trees you can plant.

Gooseberry fruiting plant growing in partial shade


17 Fruiting Trees, Shrubs and Vines That Grow in Partial Shade

Do you have a partially shaded area of your garden where you'd love to place some fruiting plants? If you aren't sure which types of fruiting trees, vines and shrubs thrive in shady areas, you've come to the right place! In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen looks at her favorite fruiting plants for shady garden spaces!