Pruning the peach and forcing branches indoors

After spending an hour last night reviewing how peach trees are pruned I set to work today on pruning my peach.  With the oscillating temperatures in January buds have begun to form and now is the time to get pruning. It’s a very chilly 27 degrees, hopefully not too cold.  I start by pruning out any dead wood, root stock suckers (branches growing up from the ground) and water spouts. You can tell a water spout as they grow straight up. Now take a look at your tree.  The shape you want is a large V, with 3 to 5 main branches creating a framework. 

6 year old peach before many lower branches, a couple suckers, and water spouts. The tree is about 3 feet taller than I want it to be.

The biggest point to pruning established trees are maintaining an open center to allow light penetration. This will give you larger fruit.  Prune out inward facing branches, downward or horizontal growing branches. Remove branches that are thinner than a pencil width (weak growth) and lastly control the height by shortening branches you want to keep.  My tree is actually two trees I’ve let grow next to each other to hopefully cross pollinate.  Here are my before and afters.  I will see how it does this year.  Last year we had a late freeze that killed the few blossoms I managed.

Post February buzz. lower limbs are gone, thinned and shortened. But I do not have the wonderful V going. Perhaps next year.

Forcing Peach Branches

With so many good branches being cut to create a shorter tree I have branches to force indoors. These peaches will take between 4 and 5 weeks to bloom. I start by cutting down the longer branches so that they will fit in a vase of water. There are two ways to force blooms. You can do it by a cold method which requires you cut the branches at a sharp angle and then place them into a pail of cold water setting them in a cold area such as a garage or other room for 2 days. You then bring them indoors to vases filled with cool water and recut the branches. The method I will be trying is the warm method. Put the WHOLE branches into warm water between 90 and 110° overnight. I have mine in the tub. In the morning I will put them into a vase with warm water and recut to arrange.

Then put them into a bright room without direct sunlight. And wait. Many sites say that peaches should be cut in late January and the forcing time is about 4 to 5 weeks with a 7-Day bloom period. Will check back in early March to see how these are going. The branches of this peach are just lovely. On one side they are a lime green and the other a pretty red.

Peach branches in warm water after an overnight soak. Feb 9.
Peach branches on Feb 28, 27, and 26.

The smaller branches first bloomed, and others quickly followed suit.  Though the flowers didn’t last for long – they were a nice bit of color.

Other plants for forcing

Late January

Forsythia and plums. Cut in early January and blooms will last between 7 and 10 days.  For forsythia forcing time is only one to three weeks and plums are three to four weeks.

Cherries and pears can be cut anytime between late January and mid-march. Forcing period is two to five weeks and the blooms will last up to 14 days.


Quinces and pussy willows. Quince take between two and five weeks and will  bloom for a short time four to seven days. But you can get some lovely red blooms this way. Pussy willows can be forced in one or two weeks and the blooms can last indefinitely if you allow them to dry out.

Search for your spring plant


March is the time for apples, dogwoods and our favorite lilacs.   Apples will take 2 to 3 weeks and the blooms will last about 7 days. Dogwoods take two to four weeks and their blooms last up to 10 days.  Lilacs can take up to 4 weeks and will only last three to seven days but they scent indoors are glorious.

I may try the lilac since my neighbors have some that hang over the fence. And mine are too tiny to be of note yet. Spring can’t get here soon enough!

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.