Care Of Apricot Trees: Apricot Tree Growing In The Home Garden

Care Of Apricot Trees: Apricot Tree Growing In The Home Garden

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Apricots are one of those wonderful trees that are self-fruitful,meaning you don’t need a pollination partner to get fruit. As you select acultivar, keep in mind some important apricot tree facts – these early bloomerscan be adversely affected by frost in some regions, so select a hardy varietyand plant where the tree will get some protection from sudden cold snaps.Additionally, apricots need at least 700 to 1,000 chilling hours to set fruit.

Apricot Tree Facts

The blushed orange, velvety skinned apricot has beencultivated for centuries and is an important food in many internationalcuisines. Apricot tree growing is suitable in most western states and regionswith plenty of heat and sunshine. As a Mediterranean crop, apricots grow wellwhere spring and summer are warm and plenty of water is available.

Apricots are stone fruits, similar to plums,cherriesand peaches.They can be grown from that stone or pit, but trees are not true to the parentand rarely produce fruit. Instead, they are grafted onto rootstock withbeneficial attributes. The early spring flowers are spectacular and thebrightly colored fruit are decorative. Apricots are either trained to a centralleader or open center.

Some excellent winter hardy varieties for cold regions are:

  • Royal Blenheim
  • Moorpark
  • Tilton
  • Harglow
  • Goldrich

How to Grow Apricots

Once you’ve selected your cultivar, you need to know how togrow apricots. Site selection and soil are the most important considerations.The trees need deep, well-drained soil with plenty of organicmatter.

Apricot trees bloom early. There are times in apricot treecare where a late frost is a problem, so be sure to plant your trees on higherground.

Do a percolation test prior to planting by digging a hole onefoot deep and wide (30 cm.). Fill with water and wait until the next day. Fillthe hole again and lay a stick or straight edge over the top. Measure the waterdrop every hour. Ideal readings will be around 2 inches (5 cm.) per hour.

Once you have adjusted the soil to have adequate drainage,dig a hole twice as deep and around as the root ball and plant your tree. Waterin well.

Care of Apricot Trees

Apricot tree growing is fairly simple, provided you have thesoil, sun, and drainage necessary. Apricots are not tolerant of high levels ofsalt, boron, chloride and other elements. Feeding of apricot trees will beimportant in their overall care. They normally get what they need from the soilthough, provided it was set up for apricot tree growing beforehand.

The trees will need an inch (2.5 cm.) of water weekly,especially during bloom and fruiting. Use a drip irrigation system to avoid wetleaves, flowers and fruit.

Be sure your apricot tree care includes thinningof the fruit once it comes in; thin the fruits to 1 ½ to 2 inches (3.8 to 5cm.) apart. This ensures that the fruit will be larger. If you don’t thin thefruits, they will be much smaller.

Apricotsneed to be pruned and trained annually in early summer to late fall. Thereare several pests of apricots and numerous fungal diseases. Apply fungicidesprays in spring to avoid such disease issues.

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How to Grow an Apricot Tree

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As a fruit tree the Apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca) gives us delicious fruit to eat, and, as a flowering ornamental, it gives us a delicious feast for the eyes and the nose.

People who grow Apricot Trees, however, are often dismayed to find out that most climates do not support fruiting on the trees. Unless you live in an area where your temperatures are stable all year round, this will sadly be the case. Apricot blooms are very susceptible to spring frosts. The good news is that the trees are stunning in their own right—you might just have to make peace with the fact that your apricots will have to continue to be store-bought.

Including this delicate Asian native into your landscape design is an excellent way to extend the bloom time of a garden or add some visual interest by playing with shape and negative space.

In early April, the apricot tree blooms when other plants are still emerging and have yet to sprout fresh leaves. The early blooms on bare branches against a naked landscape showcase the dainty flowers and allow them to have the spotlight until other plants bloom or a later frost comes along and causes the sensitive blooms to drop from their branches.

An important thing to note regarding apricots and the genus Prunus is that not all apricots are created equal. The Japanese apricot (Prunus mume), which is sometimes just referred to as an “apricot,” is an entirely different species. The flower is similar, but they are different. The Japanese apricot blooms much earlier.

Botanical Name Prunus armeniaca
Common Name Apricot Tree
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 20-30 ft. tall and wide.
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type average, medium moisture, well-drained
Soil pH Neutral to Slightly Alkaline
Bloom Time Late April
Flower Color white or pink
Hardiness Zones USDA 5-8
Native Area China
Toxicity Partially

General Care

The key thing about care is that you thin the tree when the fruit comes in. Most reference works recommend 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches between fruit. This is important to many people because they want a good-sized piece of fruit. Thinning should be done when you see the bud and stone shape. I actually haven't thinned. My fruit grows to 1 1/2" to 1 3/4" in diameter and I find them just fine and delicious. But, if I thinned it, I could get bigger fruit. Maybe I am being lazy?

Watering, of course, is part of the care for your apricot tree. When newly transplanted and young (1 to 2 years old prior to bearing fruit), your apricot tree can do well being deep watered a couple of times a month. For a watering schedule for fruit-bearing apricots, talk to your nurseryman. I live in Arizona where it is unforgivingly hot in the summer. I water twice a week deeply. Fruit trees, apricots in particular, consume a large amount of water in the heat.

How to Grow Apricots

Last Updated: March 4, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

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Having your own apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca) is a pure delight. A few years after planting it in a sunny spot, you can expect delicious fruits that are at least as good as the ones from the store, if not better! You can start with either a sapling from a store or prepare your own seeds from a fruit, but in either case, lots of sun, careful pruning, and smart use of pesticides can make your apricots healthy and delicious.

Common apricot tree problems and how to solve them

Apricot trees are not usually greatly affected by disease and this is one of the reasons I recommend growing them, however, like all plants there is a chance they could be affected.

Here are some problems that may affect your apricot tree:

Bacterial Canker – This is the most common disease that affects apricot trees. The main sign of bacterial canker is the gum that starts oozing out of the bark. The best course of action if this disease affects your tree is to cut out the affected areas. If it is not possible to cut out the affected area then you should use a spray to treat your apricot tree.

Spider Mite – Spider mites are so tiny you probably won’t notice them individually but when an infestation takes place you will notice webbing around the shoots and leaves. The spider mite is not actually a spider it is a mite. The first sign of this infestation is the leaves turning yellow and falling off. If the atmosphere is too dry is when this infestation can take place so you should try and maintain some humidity to stop it happening.

Ripe Fruit Rot – This is one of the most devastating diseases that can affect your apricot tree as when it takes hold there is nothing that can be done apart from removing the affected fruits. You will notice this disease by the brown lesions that appear on the fruit and quickly turn into gray spores. The common name for this disease is brown rot .

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