Genetic Dwarf Trees Grow in Popularity; Macadamia — A Hard Nut to Crack | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:26

011713reBy Buzz Bertolero

The Dirt Gardener

Q: Sitting on my deck in a container is a genetic dwarf peach tree that I planted last spring. How do I go about pruning it since it’s a compact, bushy grower?

A: The popularity of genetic dwarf fruit trees is increasing as gardeners with small yards look to pick homegrown fruit. Their bushy and compact growth habit comes from the space between two leaves, also called internodes, is very short. They’re also desirable, as you don’t need a tall ladder to manage them; although, some varieties can grow to 10 feet if left unpruned.

Genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines are excellent container plants on decks patios and balconies. They’re often used as a substitute for citrus along with making handsome landscape shrubs, and require little pruning each year.

Pruning involves thinning the branches to open up the canopy to maintain the height and spread of the tree. You also strengthen limbs by removing entire branches instead of reducing their length. You need strong branches to support the weight of the fruit.

Fruit production occurs on the extremities of the higher branches so removing this growth is not a serious problem. In addition, you should remove any of the rubbing and crossing branches — keeping those branches that best add to the overall shape of the plant. This improves the air circulation, which is important for controlling disease and allows more sunlight to reach the ripening fruits in the center of the trees.

The dead or dying twigs and branches are also removed. This dieback tends to occur in the lower section due to the shading from the dense growth.

You should remove any unwanted growth and/or suckers on an as-needed basis during the balance of the year.

And, finally, genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines are susceptible to peach leaf curl. Apply a copper fungicide, starting in late November, to control it. Right now, I’d make two applications with the last one occurring just as the buds are swelling and showing color. This is called “the pink bud” stage.

Q: We purchased a small Macadamia nut tree from one of the gift shops at the Honolulu International Airport. It’s growing and thriving in our backyard. Can you tell us when it will produce nuts?

A: Macadamia trees are a very large evergreen reaching a height of 50-plus feet with a wide spread.

It’s easy to grow, taking the same care and fertilizer as an avocado, but they don’t start producing until they’re between seven and 10 years old.

They are somewhat problematical to harvest as the nuts fall randomly from the tree when they’re mature.

In addition, a very hard shell protects the nut which isn’t very easy to crack.

But the biggest drawback is that they’re very susceptible to cold weather damage; hence, very few are grown in California.

Macadamia trees are also known as the Queensland Nut and are native to Australia. It’s the only native Australian plant introduced into the United States that is used as a food source.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or to 360 Civic Drive, Ste. “D,” Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, and on Facebook at

CAPTION: Genetic dwarf peach trees require little pruning each year. And, when they do, you probably won’t need a ladder to stand on, as they usually top out at 5 feet tall.



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