The best ways to protect your peach trees from frost include covering them, mulching around their base, or giving them warmth from strings of lights. Protecting peach trees from frost is vital to the health of your trees. Peach trees can experience damage relatively quickly if temperatures plummet, although they will typically bounce back from an occasional brush with frigid weather.
3 Ways to Protect Peach Trees from Frost
Peach trees are not overly difficult to grow, but like most fruit trees, they do not do well in extremely cold temperatures. Follow the three tips outlined below to protect your peaches from an unexpected visit by Jack Frost.
Protect Your Peaches With Row Covers
One of the most commonly used systems to protect peaches from frost is covering them with blankets or row covers. This method works best for trees that are small enough to be accommodated by a simple frame. Full-grown peach trees can be difficult to protect with these types of coverings, unless you have the skills and materials to build a very large framework to which to attach the blankets.
- Protect young peach trees with blankets or row covers.
- Don’t allow the covers to touch the trees.
- This method protects the cambium of the tree and prevents long-term damage.
For younger trees, row covers are a great frost shield. Build a simple frame, making sure to leave adequate space so that the row covers do not touch the trees. If they do, it can lead to the proliferation of mildew or mold. Proper covers will protect the cambium, which is a thin layer of bark located under the rough, outer bark.
Mulch the Ground at the Base of Your Trees
An often overlooked, but very effective way to protect your peach trees from frost is to apply a layer of mulch to the base of the trunk. Then, wrap the trunk with a tree guard. Don’t use rock mulch, though. Shredded bark or wood chip mulch are the best options for keeping the ground insulated.
- Apply a 4–6 inch deep (10–15 cm) layer of mulch around the base of the tree trunk.
- Wrap the trunk with this tree guard.
- Opt for wood chip or shredded bark mulch, rather than rock mulch.
- Mulch provides insulation for the trees’ roots.
Make the mulch layer several inches thicker than you make your mulch layers during the growing season. This technique is very effective because the mulch provides insulation for the roots of the trees. Peach trees of any age will benefit from this strategy.
Install Warming Lights
If your peach trees are being grown in proximity to a power source, you can install warming lights to prevent frost damage. Simply string up rows of botanical warming lights or even everyday holiday lights to create warmth for your peach trees. The best time to use such lights is after the sun sets when the biggest danger of frost is present.
- String up special warming lights or everyday holiday lights to provide warmth for your peach trees.
- Do not allow the lights to touch the trees, but keep them 18 inches (45 cm) away.
Never allow the lights to touch your trees. Instead, keep a distance of 18 inches (45 cm) between the trees and the bulbs. This is because this method is not meant to heat the trees, but merely to prevent frost damage. This approach can be used for trees of any age as long as you have a nearby power source.
Does Frost Hurt Peach Trees?
Although peach trees have some frost tolerance, frost can hurt them. In most cases, peach trees bounce back quickly from light frost damage.
- Peach trees have some frost tolerance.
- If peach trees are overexposed to frost, their health will be compromised.
- Peach trees will experience stunted growth if exposed to freezing temperatures.
If your peach trees are subjected to frost on multiple occasions, it will eventually compromise their health and the quality of your peach harvest. Temperatures that are consistently well below freezing will stunt the growth of your peach trees.
When Should You Protect Peach Trees from Frost?
Generally speaking, anytime the temperature is expected to drop below 32℉ (0℃), it is time to protect your peach trees from frost. More specifically, peach flower buds that have recently started to swell can often withstand temperatures as low as 20℉ (-7℃).
- Protect your peach trees from frost any time the temperature drops below 32℉ (0℃).
- Blossoms that have opened are far more susceptible to damage than buds that have only recently begun to swell.
Peach blossoms that are already open usually show signs of damage when temperatures drop to 26℉ (-3℃). If peach blossoms have already dropped off, immature peaches will die if temperatures reach 28℉ (-2℃) or lower.
How to Cover Peach Trees from Frost
Protecting peach trees from frost is essential. Frost can damage both young trees and older ones. Most stone fruit trees are not immune to frost damage, but preventative methods can stop such damage in most cases.
- Peach trees can experience frost damage relatively quickly.
- Cover young peach trees with row covers on a frame to prevent frost damage.
- Mulching around the base of the peach tree can protect it from frost damage.
- Wrap peach tree trunks with insulating material to protect your trees.
- Hang strings of lights in your peach trees to add warmth and ward off frost.
Although late frosts can pose a threat to peach trees, most peach varieties can withstand temperatures below freezing as long as the freeze is not deep and does not continue for days.