I am hoping to store my potted peach tree inside at room temperature over the winter. No direct sunlight. The leaves have already dropped. Will this interfere with its cycle?
Thx so much!
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
In fall, deciduous fruit trees lose their leaves and enter a dormant state in order to survive winter. To end dormancy, bloom and set fruit they require a certain amount of winter cold followed by a certain amount of heat. The problem with bringing a potted fruit tree indoors is that it will break dormancy before it’s time and thus will disrupt the flowering and fruiting process.
My advice would be to place your fruit tree in either an unheated garage or a cold cellar where they will be exposed to cold temperatures but the roots will not freeze. Since the tree has no leaves, the amount of light doesn’t matter. The back of an unheated garage would be ideal. Once brought indoors, keep the soil slightly moist. Too wet and the roots will rot. Too dry, and the roots will die for lack of water.
Move your fruit tree back outdoors in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Once outdoors, place the trees in a partly shaded area for a few days to get accustomed to the higher light levels. Then move it into full sun.
If this is not an option then, I suggest burying the pot temporarily in the ground, making sure that the soil covers the top of the pot. You want to create conditions which will protect the roots, to ensure that they do not dry out and are protected from the freeze/thaw cycle. Make sure that you water well before freezeup. You could mulch the buried container, or the young seedling with sawdust, straw, wood chips or leaves to insulate against freeze/thaw. Try and make sure that mulch is not right next to the stem of the seedling as otherwise you will have created cozy conditions for any mice, rabbits etc. that might chose to nest under the mulch for the winter and nibble on your seedling. Your greatest risks in wintering outdoors are the roots drying out, rodents and freezing/thawing.
Here is a link to a very informative article from Orchard People who gave a workshop at Evergreen Brickworks on how to overwintering fruit trees https://orchardpeople.com/preparing-your-potted-fruit-tree-for-winter/