Peach trees, like many fruit trees, must spend a certain number of hours in temperatures below 45 degrees F in order to bear fruit. The hours the tree spends in this temperature range are called chill hours. Many peach varieties must have between 200 and 1,000 chill hours or more in order to bear fruit, making them unsuitable for growing in warmer USDA zone 10.
Thankfully, there are some varieties of peaches that need fewer chill hours and can thus be successfully grown in these hot climates. Here's a look at four so-called low-chill peach varieties.
Santa Barbara Peach
This peach is so well suited to the weather in Southern California that they named it after a SoCal city! The Santa Barbara peach is self-fertile variety, making it great for backyard growers. (You don't need to plant a second tree in order to pollinate it.)
The trees do require regular watering to thrive, especially during heat waves. They'll reach up to 25 feet in height when mature, though you can moderate their size with regular trimming.
Santa Barbara peaches are big and round with yellow flesh and streaks of red close to the pit. They are a freestone variety and have a very fine, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Expect them to ripen in midsummer, usually in the middle of July.
Red Baron Peach
Red Baron peach trees do well in the California heat in zone 10. The well-drained, sandy soil in this area is also perfect for them. Heavy mulching is recommended to keep the soil moist and reduce the need for watering, though you will still want to water this tree several times per week.
The bright pink blooms of Red Baron peach trees make them incredibly attractive in the springtime. This variety is somewhat susceptible to a fungal disease called peach leaf curl, but you can keep the disease at bay by spraying the tree with fungicides just as the buds appear.
Red Baron peaches themselves are average in size, but they are incredibly flavorful. They are a freestone variety and are known for their firm flesh, though they do not store very well. The peaches ripen in August.
Sweet Bagel Peach
If you want to grow something more unique, consider planting a Sweet Bagel peach tree. These trees require careful care, but the donut-shaped peaches are super sweet with a beautiful yellow flesh. The fruit ripens between late August and early September.
Sweet Bagel peach trees require fertile soil and regular pruning in order to produce a good crop. They are also susceptible to an array of diseases, including brown rot and leaf curl, so you will need to spray them with fungicides early and often.
Desert Gold Peach
If you want an early-ripening peach, Desert Gold is a great variety to consider. You could have peaches as early as late May or early June! The trees are self-fertile and easy to care for. They tolerate semi-dry conditions and are pretty resistant to disease, though spraying is still recommended. Desert Gold trees tend to be pretty broad, so they bring some shade to your yard, too.
Desert Gold peaches are medium in size with yellow flesh. They are a clingstone variety, which makes them better for eating out of hand than for baking or canning, but they are sweet and have good flavor — especially for an early peach.
Don't let your location in zone 10 keep you from growing peaches in your yard. As long as you choose one of the varieties above and take good care of your trees with regular trimming and spraying, you should have delicious fruit to enjoy each autumn.