University of Maryland Extension

Stone Fruit - Peaches, Cherries, Plums, Apricots, Nectarines

Stone Fruit Planting and Maintenance:

plums hanging on tree
plums on tree

Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries are all closely related members of the Prunus genus. They are commonly referred to as stone fruits because their seeds are enclosed by large and hard (stony) pits (endocarps).

Most stone fruits are native to warmer climates of the world and therefore are very susceptible to injury from low winter temperatures. In addition, they bloom earlier in the spring than pome fruits, and the flowers frequently suffer damage from spring frost. Because of this, the backyard culture of stone fruits has unique challenges:

  • Stone fruits should only be planted on the very best sites, with excellent air and water drainage and protection from high winds;
  • Peaches, nectarines, and apricots are less hardy than cherries and plums;
  • Stone fruits are susceptible to a wide range of insect and disease pests;
  • All of the stone fruits are susceptible to brown rot disease. Apricot, sweet cherry, and peach are very susceptible and tart cherry and plum are less susceptible; and
  • Sweet cherries tend to crack as harvest nears when excessive rainfall occurs.
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