Starting peach trees from cuttings? Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to do. I have never had much luck starting anything from cuttings, but the possible result is worth the risk of failure. There is hope that the blossoms will produce peaches this year, and that I can also try to start a few from seed.
Before I go further, let me first give a bit of background information. First off, the tree in question is getting old, around forty years old in fact, and has not had an easy life. The tree's life started quite by accident (if one really believes in accidents) when my mother threw out a bowl of peach peelings and pits after canning some peaches purchased from an orchard in the next county. As they often do, the seeds that found favorable conditions sprouted, producing the tree in question and another that has long since died. They both turned out to produce large, wonderful, yellow freestone peaches and though not of the same variety as each other, had all the characteristics of the ones that had been purchased. This all happened long before I purchased the property from my parents and the trees have had a variety of hardships since then.
First problem was my mother. Being a more devout tightwad than I will ever be, she flatly refused to allow fruit trees to be pruned, simply because you might cut off a limb that would have produced fruit. Her reasoning did not allow them to be properly and healthily pruned and trained as young trees. Later, when my parents had moved into their new home, they let my brother and his family live here. To my nephews, trees were for climbing, stick fight training and general abuse. With my brother working all the time and his wife not concerned with teaching the kids discipline or the importance of fruit trees, there was a lot of damage. When I finally purchased the property 26 years ago, all the fruit trees had been pretty much destroyed but still alive. The apples, pears and the one peach, were beyond hope of saving. This one tree; however, survived and has in recent years produced some fine peaches. Despite my best efforts to save this one, an ice storm in 2007 broke it down terribly, causing it to require drastic pruning. After finally almost recovering from the ice and heavy pruning, two wind storms last spring broke out limbs and damaged the trunk.
At present, the poor tree is growing prolifically and is covered with blooms, leading me to believe it is its last effort to produce before it dies. As a confirmed tightwad, I see no sense paying for a tree if I can save the money and grow my own, but as you can see, there are deeper reasons this time. Thursday, after work, I pruned as much as the old tree could tolerate, and put the cut ends of the prunings in a bucket of water. Next day, I returned home with rooting hormone and proceeded to pot the prunings. I really hope they take root, and if not, that there will be a few ripe peaches to start seeds from (and hope it didn't cross pollinate with the almond in the front yard.) I will post an update as soon as I know for sure.