Nectarines are easily confused with peaches. One of the main differences between the two is that nectarines are smaller, but their aroma is stronger. Scientifically known as Prunus persica, it is a fuzz-less variety of peach. So basically, it is the absence of fuzz that makes nectarines different from peaches. To put it simply, nectarines are smoother than peaches.
Nectarines are traditionally outdoor plants because of their size. If you plan to grow them indoors, however, the key is to choose the right variety to make sure that it will thrive in an indoor environment and that it won’t grow too tall. In this case, it is best to settle with the dwarf varieties since they will not grow too tall. Even their root ball will not be large, and hence, make it possible for them to survive even in containers or pots. Among others, one of the best varieties of nectarines that you can plant indoors is Tuscany, which is obviously one from Italy. Its skin is deep red while the flesh is white. Another great option is Crimson Baby, a dwarf variety of Crimson. Its fruit has red and smooth skin while the flesh is yellow. Necta-Zee and Nectar Babe are equally good choices when it comes to dwarf varieties of nectarines.
Planting and Growing Conditions
As noted earlier, the first thing that you need to do is to choose an indoor variety of nectarine. The dwarf varieties are the best since their average height is only six to eight feet, making them perfect indoor plants. It is best to grow nectarines from a young plant as against growing it from seeds. This is especially true if you do not want to wait long before the tree bears fruit and if you are a beginner in gardening. Now that your plant is ready, soak the roots in water for about an hour or two. Soaking it for a longer time is a no-no since this can damage the roots.
Next, prepare your container and soil. The container must have a capacity of 18 to 20 gallons. In the case of planting from a sapling, you can usually start with a small container. When the plant grows bigger, you need to transfer it to a larger container. Fill the pot with the right soil mix. Avoid soil that is too heavy and compact. Rather, use a moisture-retentive and well-draining soil. The soil should be neutral to slightly acidic.
After planting the nectarine in a pot, the next thing that you have to do is to select the right location for the plant. A south-facing wall is a good choice. A windowsill is also excellent since it is bright and warm, yet there is no direct heat from the sun. It is important that the plant receives six to eight hours of full sun in a day.
Not convinced that nectarines will make great indoor fruits? Here are some of its health benefits:
- Prevents Cancer: Nectarine contains carotenoids and phenolic compounds, which can help in fighting different types of cancer. It also contains chlorogenic acid, which is known for its chemo-preventive benefits.
- Boosts Immune System: The regular consumption of nectarine will be instrumental in improving your defense against common health problems, which can be attributed to the high content of Vitamin C and zinc.
- Helps in Weight Loss: The fruit has high dietary fiber, which will make you feel full and lessen unhealthy cravings. It does not have saturated fats and it is also low in calories. In fact, every 100 grams contain only 44 calories.
- Lowers Cholesterol: Eating nectarines can also be beneficial in terms of lowering the level of the bad cholesterol in the body. This is also the reason why you will be less likely to suffer from heart problems.
- Improves Eye Health: The fruit contains lutein, which plays a significant role in the improvement of vision. It also helps in the reduction of the possibility of suffering from macular degeneration, which is common amongst people who are aging.
Pests and Diseases
The diseases that nectarines can suffer from include bacterial canker and botrytis. Meanwhile, when it comes to pests, earwigs, spider mites, and aphids are some of the most common causes of infestation. They can cause aesthetic damages to the fruit, and if the damage is severe, the produce will not be fit for human consumption.
Care and Maintenance
For novice gardeners, here are some of the most useful tips to make sure that the nectarine will grow healthy:
- See to it that the containers have drainage holes at the bottom. This will make sure that water will get out of the pot. Otherwise, it will accumulate in the soil, make it soggy, and encourage root rot, among other common problems.
- Pruning the plant at least once a year will be necessary. This is to control the growth of the tree, considering that it is an indoor plant. When pruning, see to it that you are using clean shears as this can be a carrier of pathogens that could spread infection in the plant.
- When the plant outgrows the pot, this is an indication that you need to re-pot. Use only a new pot to be sure that it is free from an infection that can be transferred from the previous plants.
- The application of fertilizer will help to encourage better fruits, but be sure to do this with caution. Over-fertilizing will cause the plant to not bear any fruit at all. Feed the plant with a high potassium fertilizer when the flower blooms.
- Applying mulch on the top of the soil is also a good thing. This will help in providing the plant with more moisture.
If you have grown peaches before, the process of growing nectarine is pretty much the same. You need bright sun and the right soil, among other growing conditions. You also need to make sure that you choose dwarf varieties as they are the ones that would best thrive in an indoor environment.