I don’t quite understand why humanity is wired the way that it is, but I’ve never met a northern-zone gardener who didn’t wish that they could grow plants not suited for our chilly winter weather. Doesn’t everybody dream of tropical and subtropical fruit — bananas, oranges, avocados, and more — growing right on their own patio? Despite our northern-zone climates ability to grow the world’s best apples, blueberries, and other cold-friendly fruit, the grass is always greener in somebody else’s gardening zone, and we all spend our favorite dreams on the most inconvenient things.

High on the list of these traditionally inconvenient things are peaches. Peaches are JUST on the edge of impossible for northern gardeners, which makes them oh-so incredibly tempting. Fortunately for us, there are some cold-hardy peach trees (well, at least marginally cold-hardy) that can give at least a fighting chance of success.

Mind you, I’m not saying these cultivars are going to survive your winter, but if you are one of those connivers and manipulators that is determined to make it work no matter what, I’ve listed some of the most promising varieties below. For you gardeners who dream of growing peaches in northern zones, the following peach tree cultivars are all rated for survival in zone four.


The Reliance Peach Tree has been advertised as a cold-hardy peach tree option for pretty much as long as I’ve been gardening, and is readily available from multiple online and local nurseries. The tree does NOT bloom in early spring, which makes it more likely to escape frosts and actually achieve a fruit set.

Usually sold as a standard tree, it is possible to get semi-dwarf and dwarf Reliance trees if you shop around a little bit for good options. Depending on the size you choose, you can select a Reliance tree that will reach anywhere from about 8 to 20 feet high at maturity.

One of my favorite “perks” with this tree is that it is freestone, meaning that the woody pit doesn’t stick to the juicy flesh of the peach, and pops right out. This makes it cleaner to eat and easier to use in canning. The fruit size and taste is essentially average, but hey — any peach is a good peach, especially in cold zones where a homegrown peach is hard to come by.

Where to buy: There are lots of options because this tree is so popular, but you can definitely find the Reliance at Stark Bros, Jung, and Gurneys. Please note I am NOT affiliated with any of these suppliers… I’m just sharing where I would look if I was planning to buy this tree.


When I first saw the Contender peach tree growing in popularity in nursery catalogs, it was advertised as an alternative to a Reliance, but better; better taste, better cold-hardiness, and better fruit yield. Could this be just over-aggressive marketing? Frankly, I don’t know. The jury’s still out on which is the better tree — but the Contender does get some very high ratings.

Similar to the Reliance, the Contender peach tree can be bought in multiple sizes from dwarf to standard, depending on how much space you have to add peaches to your fruit garden. The fruit from a Contender peach will also be freestone, which again is very helpful with less bother and less mess. Blossoms don’t start in early spring, which helps you avoid frost damage, and the fruit from this tree is less likely to turn that unappetizing brown when sliced open.

Where to buy: Again, this is a popular tree, so you can find it most online nurseries. I found it at Stark Bros, Jung, and Gurneys. Again, I’m not affiliated with any of these companies… I’m just passing along the links in case they are helpful.


Like its cousins, the Intrepid peach tree is very versatile and tastes pretty darn good. Of the three cold-hardy peach tree varieties covered in this post, the Intrepid is the newest arrival on the scene; with just over two decades of growing under its belt, the Intrepid is new enough to still be coming into full market potential, but old enough to have proven staying power and value to the northern-zone fruit gardener.

As with most peach trees, this tree comes in multiple sizes, so you can expect mature height between approximately 8-15 feet at maturity, depending on which size you choose. Once again, this is a freestone peach, so you don’t have to worry about fussing with a messy pit during processing.

Where to buy: The Intrepid peach tree has a smaller supplier line, so first and foremost on the list of suppliers is Stark Bros. There are several other places you can order from online — however, since I have not personally ordered from any of these companies, I am not including the links in this post. I’m a garden blogger, not a scam-detector, so I’m just not comfortable linking until I’ve ordered myself. If I order in the future, I will be sure to update this post. In the meantime, if you’d prefer to order somewhere other than Stark, drop “Intrepid Peach” into a Google search and you should come up with a wide variety of options. Happy shopping!


The following is a “short list” of other peach trees I’ve seen for sale, but with far fewer nursery options than the “big three” I’ve listed above. Please note that I have NOT planted any of these cultivars myself, and this is just my wish-list, not my I-can-personally-recommend-list.

I’m only linking to any nurseries I have ordered from myself and I know provide excellent quality and customer service. Any varieties not linked means that I have not seen them available (or guaranteed to zone 4) from any of my top 5 nurseries.

  • Blushingstar: This one is highest on my wish-list. Reportedly extremely cold-hardy, very productive, and a white-fleshed peach. The fact that it is freestone is great for anyone interested in canning or preserving the fruit. Guaranteed by Stark Bros as zone compatible to zone 4 as of the time of this post’s writing. (Please note that Blushingstar is a registered trademark.)
  • Madison: This tree comes with a great big caveat emptor. SOME nurseries will guarantee it to zone 4. Some will guarantee it to zome 4b (i.e., the warmer half of zone 4). Some won’t make any promises past zone 5. At the end of the day, the iffyness of this tree’s cold-hardiness makes it a pass for me. For anyone who is interested, the tree is freestone, has the classic yellow-orange flesh, and produces reasonably heavy crops.

If you absolutely can’t find a place on your property that is adequate for growing a peach tree planted in the ground, don’t give up. Growing bush-sized peach trees in pots is a thing – and it’s a pretty darn cool thing for northern gardeners, because you don’t have to worry about cold weather. You can just stick the tree in your basement to go dormant for the frigid winter months!

Not sure where to start when looking for a genetic dwarf peach tree? Check out this article on growing miniature peach trees in containers.


*Please note: Obviously, there are many other cold-hardy peach trees on the market today, and this blog is not intended to be a complete list of every type of peach tree that can survive in a northern gardening zone. However, these are some of the most popular winter-hardy peach trees available (i.e., these will be easiest to find without spending your entire life searching the internet and local garden stores).

The three peach trees outlined in this post are some of the best options available for growing peaches in northern zones – but again, just keep in mind that the zone rating doesn’t necessarily mean your peach tree will survive in cold climates. The value of purchasing a peach rated for your zone is that you can usually request your money back if it does not make it through the winter (and make sure you know how to choose a fruit tree rated hardy enough for northern zones).

If you are still too far north for the zone that the tree is rated for, you cannot expect (and should not request) your money back if the tree doesn’t survive. It’s not the nursery’s fault if you drop a warm-weather tree in an arctic-like zone. However, in that situation, choosing the most cold-hardy tree you can find will give you the best shot at getting the tree to survive your locale’s weather with some extra babying. You almost certainly cannot expect a zone 6 tree to survive in zone 3, but you might (MIGHT) get a zone 4 tree to survive in zone 3, if you are willing to spend an inordinate amount of time and ingenuity on figuring out a way to beat the weather.

Be aware that if the tree does survive the winter itself, it still may not set fruit if the blossoms are frozen off each spring. Because each gardener’s unique climate conditions and location will affect your tree’s survival ability, I can’t promise you that these trees will work out for you — but if you are a northern zone gardener determined to conquer growing peaches in cold climates, these varieties are your best bet. Best of luck!

Not sure what fruit trees will work in your zone? Check out my article on how to find cold-hardy fruit trees for zone 4 and colder.

This post was originally published in 2022. The post has since been updated to keep information and links current.

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