ripe peaches on a tree
Updated: June 14, 2021

Growing peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries

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.
  • Sweet cherries tend to crack as harvest nears when excessive rainfall occurs.
  • Do not expect to harvest a crop each season. Because of the challenges above a harvest can be hit or miss. 

Stone fruit purchasing and planting

Tree Fruit Purchasing and Planting

Selecting recommended peach varieties

Peaches Listed in Order of Ripening
Candor Early, medium-sized fruit. Semi-freestone, resistant to bacterial spot but susceptible to pit splitting.


A sport of Redhaven. Medium-to-large, fuzz-less, red fruit. Firm, yellow, semi-freestone flesh. Vigorous and productive.

Reliance Buds are cold-hardy. Good for gardeners in Northern and Western areas of Maryland.
Redhaven Most popular peach in Mid-Atlantic region. Red, semi-freestone fruit. Requires thorough thinning.
Raritan Rose Large, red fruit with white flesh; excellent quality. Vigorous and productive trees.
Loring Medium-to-large red fruit over a yellow background. Can produce heavy crops but blooms early.
Newhaven Similar to Redhaven. Very reliable with good disease resistance.
Cresthaven Medium-to-large golden fruit overlaid with red. Vigorous trees require thorough thinning.
Summerglo Large, yellow fruit. Vigorous and productive trees with above-average cold hardiness.

Large, oblong fruit turns red over an orange background. Important commercial cultivar. Susceptible to bacterial spot.


Large fruit, very high quality. Blooms over a long period. Vigorous tree developed at the University of Maryland in 1931.

Red Rose Medium-sized, red fruit with white flesh. Vigorous, hardy trees.
White Hale Similar to J.H. Hale but with white flesh. Large, high-quality fruit; productive trees.

Selecting recommended European and Japanese plums

Plums European

Medium-sized, dark-blue freestone, oval in shape. Greenish-yellow flesh. Good for fresh eating, drying, and canning. Ripens mid-August.

Bluefre Later and larger than Stanley. Yellow, freestone flesh.
Italian Prune Medium-to-large, purple-black fruit. Excellent quality, freestone flesh. Productive trees.


Shiro Round, yellow fruits sometimes with a pink blush. Very juicy clingstone that ripens late July.
Santa Rosa Very large, round, red-purplish fruit. Very high-quality, clingstone flesh.
Methley Round, purple fruit with red blush. Ripens early to mid-July. Vigorous tree.


Large, red fruit with yellow clingstone flesh. Harvest early to mid-August.


Selecting recommended sweet and sour cherries

Cherries Sweet Cherry
Ulster Medium-sized fruit with dark skin and flesh.
Hedelfingen Very productive trees begin bearing quickly. Good quality, black fruit with some cracking resistance.
Van Fruit similar to Bing, but firmer. A vigorous, productive tree can tolerate harsh weather.
Sam Early ripening, large, black cherry. Large, vigorous, upright trees. Blooms later than most other cultivars.
Stella Self-fertile, vigorous large trees (25 - 30 ft.). Large, dark-red fruit.
Lapins Self-fertile, heavy producer. Fruit has good crack resistance and ripens mid-July.
Starkrimson A self-fertile tree that only reaches 12 - 14 ft. in height. Large, red fruit ripens in early June.
Royal Ann Very old yellow cherry with a pink blush. Large, productive trees.
  Sour Cherries
Montmorency Very old, standard cultivar. Red fruit with yellow flesh. Tree reaches 15 ft. at maturity with a spreading habit. Ripens in mid- to late-June.
Meteor Genetic dwarf, reaches 8 - 12 ft. at maturity. Fruit similar to Montmorency.
North Star Genetic dwarf, reaches 6 - 12 ft. Heavy producer that often begins bearing in second year. Mahogany-colored fruit is crack resistant and can remain ripe on the tree for up to two weeks.

Selecting recommended apricots

Harcot Early ripening, productive trees.
Veecot Medium-to-large fruit with orange, freestone flesh.
Harlayne Medium-sized fruit with orange, freestone flesh. Productive and cold-hardy.