In their natural cycle, peach trees are meant to drop leaves on a yearly basis because they are deciduous. If you notice that the leaves are dropping at the end of fall or early in the winter, it’s a natural part of their cycle. But at any time other than that, if you find yourself wondering—why is my peach tree dropping leaves, you have cause to worry.
There are a few different reasons why this might be happening. We will walk you through them all in this piece. Let’s begin.
Not Enough Water
A mismanagement of the watering schedule and quantity is a common reason for leaves to drop off your peach tree. But oftentimes, the leaves will turn yellow to help you see that this is coming.
The solution varies from tree to tree because it depends on the canopy. If your tree does not have too many leaves and you notice that the leaves are dropping, the tree is probably not getting enough water.
In new trees, it is enough to water them on alternative days when the soil is bare. But if the leaves are turning yellow or falling off, you need to make a change. You can start solving this problem by covering the soil with 3-4 inches of mulch. Then, you might be able to take a 2-3 day break before watering the tree again. But you must give it the right quantity during each watering session.
For instance, if your tree is about 7 feet in height, you must feed it about 90 gallons every week. The soil must be wet from 18-24 inches in depth. Use a screwdriver or a rod to check the depth after watering.
Too Much Water
But you will face the same problem if you overdo it too. Here, there are two possibilities. You might be giving it too much water in one session, or you might be watering the peach tree too often.
More sessions can cause more damage compared to more water in one session. Peach trees need water to make sure the soil around the roots is wet. But this changes with seasons.
For instance, in a desert climate, peach trees require about 500-800 percent more watering in the hot months of July and August compared to their needs in the cold January. This change means you need to increase the sessions, not the length of each watering session.
Excess watering can also cause the roots to rot and will eventually kill the tree. The best way to avoid this is to make sure you never have water stagnating at the bottom of the tree.
Water accumulating at the bottom will also cause fungus in the root and kill it. That might also change the color of the leaves to yellow or cause dropping. You can try adding soil from the nearby area gradually because it encourages growth in the peach tree’s roots.
If you are not new to growing a peach tree, you might have heard the term, peach leaf curl. This is basically a disease, especially in peach trees, that occurs in their growth season. In the spring season, when the temperature is down and there is wetness, the fungal infection is in the perfect place to grow.
This disease causes the leaves to get distorted, change colors and drop off eventually. If it is not noticed on time and treated, it might even kill the peach tree. You can comfortably call this an affliction and it is actually easy to notice.
In a diseased peach tree, leaf curling starts in the spring season. You will see that the peach leaves start to pucker and there will be red spots on the surface of the leaves. Over time, the leaves will turn yellow in color. Following that, you will notice white spores on the leaves that are basically fungal spots. And eventually, the leaves will drop off way before they are supposed to.
The good news for you here is that, if the leaves of your peach tree are falling off mysteriously without any of these physical transformations, it is probably not leaf curling.
But in case you notice any or all of these symptoms on your dear peach tree, you must get yourself a fungicide immediately. The effective fungicides usually contain Bordeaux, copper or a mix of chlorothalonil. The fungicide must be used on the tree twice. Once after the leaves fall and a second time after the flower buds start to grow but before they start to bloom.
You need to get to the disease before the tree is infected. If not, you will have to wait for the tree to go into its dormant period, typically in the winter season, to apply the fungicide.
This is because once the fungus infects the tree, there really isn’t a way to stop it. You just have to wait and watch the leaves fold, change color and fall off. And once the infection subsides, you have to make a plan and treat the tree before it is time for the next growth season.
When you are treating the infection, you must also identify the mildly infected leaves and prune them. This is also the time to get rid of the fallen leaves to make sure that the fungus does not spread to any other part of the plant. Yes, this is a possibility by simply having infected and fallen leaves near the plant.
Gather the infected leaves that you have pruned and those that fell. Burn the leaves so that there is no trace of the fungus anywhere near the tree. And the next time you want to plant a peach tree, get a variety like Muir or Frost that are resistant to diseases.
Pests are another reason why the leaves are dropping off your peach tree. For instance, aphids are a common problem with peach trees. They are very small pests that suck on leaves.
They stick to a coating that is present on leaves which also attracts molds. This makes the leaves go black in color. And if aphids are feeding on the honeydew present on the leaves, they will curl and turn yellow before dropping off the tree prematurely.
If you want to avoid pests, you must prune the peach tree on a yearly basis. You build a frame by balancing the scaffolds. Start this process by disinfecting the shears using a regular bleach solution.
Then you must add organic mulch at the base of the tree to protect it from pests. This needs to be done in early spring or late winter. But in the winter season, when the peach tree is in its dormant phase, add an oil spray to make sure insect activity is under control.
With aphids in particular, if you catch the activity right in the beginning, you can get rid of them by just giving the tree a good hosing down.
Lack of Nutrition
The lack of nutrition is also another reason why leaves drop off peach trees. In fact, it is a big factor and it is because the tree is lacking in a key mineral like potassium or nitrogen and this will lead to wilting of the leaves.
If you can manage it, get a soil sample to your local cooperative extension office to see what the deficiency is. But even otherwise, you can get a good fertilizer and solve the problem yourself.
Fertilizing a peach tree is not a big hassle because doing this once every two years is good enough. When you do pick the year, make sure to have a plan for a session in early spring, then in late spring or early in the summer season.
If it is a newly planted tree, you must do it once a week after planting the tree and then once again 1.5 months or 40 days later. This gives the plant the ability to establish its roots in the setting it is in.
Typically, these trees need a 10-10-10 fertilizer which is meant for general use. They grow well when they are fed a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Keep it about 4 to 12 inches away from the trunk so that it reaches the new roots well and the tree is able to absorb the nutrition.
The amount of fertilizer you give is directly related to the size of your peach tree. A new tree will need only about 100 grams of fertilizer. But if the tree is one to five years old, it needs about half a kilo. A mature peach tree will need about two kilos of fertilizer for good growth.
If you notice that the tree is getting bushier but is producing fewer fruits, you must reduce the amount of fertilizer till you find the balance.
The above-mentioned reasons are the main answers to the question—‘Why is my peach tree dropping leaves?’ But when you notice this, you must also check if the tree is getting enough sunlight. Typically, they need 6 to 8 hours of direct sun in their growth season. This will also help you keep the fungal infection at bay. You must also give it 6 feet of breathing space from other plantations.
Checking the soil for key nutrients is also a good idea. Apart from the ones your general use fertilizer can provide, you must also check for manganese or iron deficiencies, which can turn the leaves yellow and cause them to drop before their time.
You must also see if the tree has been planted a little too deep. If they are packed too tightly in the ground, they can experience a lack of oxygen and the roots might suffocate. Another big cause for leaf dropping in peach trees.
Now that you know the basics, you are in a position to take good care of your peach tree. Happy plantations.