Prunus persica var. nectarina 'Mericrest'
Common Name: dwarf nectarine
Type: Fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Best grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Self pollinating. Benefits from regular watering, fertilization and pruning. Plant in full sun in a site where periodic chemical spraying will not pose any problems to adjacent sites. Avoid planting nectarine trees in the same soil where other stone fruits have recently grown. Dwarf trees may be planted as close as 10' apart.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus persica, commonly called peach, is native to China. It is grown for its luscious fruit but some cultivars are grown chiefly for there flowers and produce inedible fruit. Species trees grow up to 25' tall and wide but peach trees sold in commerce today are grafted to rootstocks which control the size of the tree. Dwarf trees bear standard size fruit, but have the advantage of fitting into smaller sites and being more manageable (easier pruning, spraying and harvesting).

Var. nectarina, commonly called nectarine, is basically a smooth-skinned peach. Nectarine trees sold in commerce today are also grafted to rootstocks which controls the size of the tree.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means Persia. Prunus persica reached Europe from China through Persia.

'Mericrest' produces soft pink blossoms in early spring are followed by medium to large freestone nectarines with bright yellow flesh and fuzzless, yellow skin blushed with red. Fruit ripens in early to mid August (USDA Zone 5). Dwarf trees produce standard-sized fruit, but have the obvious advantages of fitting into smaller sites and being more manageable (i.e., easier pruning, spraying and harvesting). The tree growing at the Kemper Center was grafted to a dwarf rootstock which results in a very small tree typically growing to only 8-10' tall. 'Mericrest' is also available in commerce as a standard-sized tree (grafted to a standard rootstock) which typically grows 12-15' tall.

Problems

Nectarines are susceptible to a large number of serious pest problems. A regular regimen of chemical spraying is needed in order to insure harvesting a good crop. Potential disease problems include peach leaf curl, brown rot, bacterial leaf spot and canker. Potential insect problems include peach tree borer, plum curculio, oriental fruit moth, root nematodes, mites and aphids. Very cold winter temperatures and late spring frosts often cause significant damage to the buds/flowers of nectarines.

'Mericrest' is noted for its cold hardiness.

Garden Uses

Nectarines are grown almost exclusively for their fruit crop. Attractive early spring bloom is a nice bonus.

Dwarf trees fit into small places and are ideal for a sunny spot in the back yard.