When to prune, spray trees so that they're just peachy

GARDEN Q&A

April 14, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement | Ellen Nibali and David Clement,Special to The Sun

When do I prune and spray peach trees? We're reluctant to use sprays but want to salvage some peaches this year.

Peach trees are not pruned when dormant like other fruit trees. Prune between bud-opening and full bloom. They fruit mainly on two-year-old wood, so remove old, unproductive branches. Prune to open the tree canopy center. This reduces disease and increases sunlight, which is necessary for good fruit.

Brown rot fungus is ubiquitous on Maryland peaches. To prevent its fuzzy decay, spray a labeled fungicide when 10 percent of blooms open, when 90 percent of blooms open, 10 days later, and at 14-day intervals all summer until two weeks before harvest when fruit changes color but is still too firm to eat. You may be able to get away with only the most critical sprays -- the first two and the last. Our Home Fruit Production Guide ($8) has spray schedules for fruit trees and small fruits.

Checklist

Easter lilies should be kept cool and given bright indirect light. After they bloom, plant them in your garden for reblooming next year.

April is a prime month for dividing perennials.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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