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What will happen if I plant a peach pit?

If you take the pit from a peach and plant it, a peach tree may grow. It takes about three years for the tree to begin producing fruit. Remember, the fruit you get may look nothing like the peach the pit came from (you do not look exactly like your parents).  It is interesting to plant pits from white fleshed peaches or from nectarines. Who knows, you may get an interesting new variety!

Further Tips for Successful Peach Pit Growing

Some peaches will not germinate no matter what you do--it depends on the parents. Some peach variety seeds germinate easily, some poorly, some not at all. Seed from early season varieties (Red Haven season and before) do not germinate readily, and the very early season will not germinate without laboratory culturing work called embryo rescue. So try pits from several different peach varieties.

Store the seed in a plastic bag in a refrigerator. The seed should be nearly dry at this point. However, do not put them in the refrigerator if it has apples or banana. These fruit release a ripening gas called ethylene. Or simply store the pits at room temperature, but out of the sun.

Planting seed outside: In the fall plant the pits about 3 inches deep. A successful gardener can advise you here. Mark where you put it so that you can watch for the sprout coming out of the soil in late spring. This system generally works if you live in the northern 2/3s of the United States where the soil temperatures get cold enough. Plant as many as you can of different varieties to increase your chance of getting a seed that will germinate. The orientation of the pit is not important--the roots and the sprouting top will sense the right way to grow. Ground squirrels have been known to tunnel and eat the seeds just as they start to send out roots, so be on guard.

Planting seed indoors: Yes, you can plant pits directly in soil in your house.Good quality soil is important--a good balance of sand, silt & organic matter. The soil should be firm around the pit. The soil should be slightly moist to the touch. If you squeeze the soil in your hand and water drips out, it is too wet (unless you just watered). Again, the typical amount for good growth as a seasoned gardener can advise you. If the soil is saturated with water continuously, the pit tends to rot.

A better approach to planting seed is to clean and dry the seed, store the seed until December and use a cold treatment to induce the seed to germinate. The method is as follows.

Cold treatment (stratification): After the pits are removed from the peach, remove the flesh thoroughly, wash under tap water and dry them overnight.  If they attract fruit flies, scrub to remove flesh of peach, wash in water, then dry them overnight again.

Store the dried seed in a plastic bag with the opening slightly open and then into a refrigerator (don't store with apples).  If you don't have a refrigerator without apples, then store the bagged seed at room temperature out of the sun.  The seed should be nearly dry so that they do not mold.  You should see very slight condensation on the inside of the bag.  If the seed appear completely dry add a slight bit of moisture to the bag, shake, and then drain completely. 

Keep the seed like this until December or January. At this time, soak the pit in tap water for a few hours, then put the seed into slightly moistened soil, vermiculite, or perlite (available from garden supply store) in a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator (temperature 34 F to 42 F). & start checking for germination after about 1 1/2 months. If you are fortunate, it will start to develop a root. At that time, transfer to a pot with soil and grow as a normal plant. Plant it outside in the spring when the chance for frost is past.

Instead of working with a whole pit, you can use hand clippers to remove the hull from the pit before stratifying. This increases the chances for successful stratification and germination. However, it takes practice to avoid nicking the brown cover of the seed (see picture below on left). Put the seed into a plastic bag with enough good quality soil, vermiculite or perlite to cover. The soil should be just barely moist. Put the zip lock bag in your refrigerator It will generally take 2 to 3 months to see growth. Transplant to a pot once the root is 1/2 inch or more in length.

 


 

 

Sprouting seed. The hulls were removed before seed stratification and germination started.

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For questions, e-mail us at: mips@michiganpeach.org