How to Grow and Care for Apricots

Date:

Share post:

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca), with their sweet, delicate flavor and vibrant color, are one of the joys of the summer season.

Originating from the Mediterranean region, these fruits have become a staple in many different global cuisines.

Growing your own apricots can be a rewarding process, yielding delicious fresh fruit right from your garden.

Apart from offering delectable fruits, apricot trees also add an aesthetic appeal to your garden with their beautiful spring blossoms.

This guide aims to help you understand the process of growing and caring for apricot trees.

How to Grow Apricots

Growing an apricot tree begins with either a store-bought sapling or your very own seed from a fruit.

  • Seed preparation: Extract the pit from a fully-ripe apricot, scrub off any fruit matter, and let it dry. Crack open the seed, take out the almond-shaped kernels, and stratify the seed by soaking it in warm water overnight. Seeds from mid to late-season apricots work best.
  • Germination: Place the prepared seeds in damp peat moss, seal them in a jar or plastic bag, and keep in a refrigerator between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It typically takes 4 to 6 weeks for the seed to sprout. Until ready to pot or plant, keep the seedlings on a sunny windowsill or under grow-lights.

Where to Grow Apricots

Apricot trees are native to the Mediterranean region and thrive in areas with plenty of heat and sunshine.

Therefore, the choice of location and soil for planting is crucial.

Apricot trees require deep, well-drained soil with a good amount of organic matter.

  • Site selection: Pick a sunny, sheltered site for your apricot tree. A south-east facing garden is an ideal choice, especially in cooler regions.
  • Climate considerations: Apricots love warm weather. They need at least 700 to 1,000 chilling hours to set fruit, making them suitable for most western states and regions with plenty of sunshine. Remember, apricot trees are early bloomers and can be adversely affected by frost. So, select a hardy variety and plant where the tree will get some protection from sudden cold snaps.
  • Tree size and rootstocks: Apricot trees can vary in size from 1.2m to 5m, depending on the type of rootstock they are grafted onto. You can grow an apricot tree as a free-standing bushy tree or train it as a fan against a wall. For a pot, compact varieties are more suitable.
  • Maintenance: Apricot trees generally require a fair bit of maintenance. The blossom needs protecting from frost in late winter, and in summer, the fruit needs protecting from birds and wasps. If everything goes well, an apricot tree should start producing fruit within two to three years and could continue for decades. Remember, they’re self-fertile, so you don’t need two trees to get fruit.

So there you go, you’re ready to grow your own apricots. It may take a bit of work, but the reward of biting into a juicy apricot, fresh off the tree, is well worth it.

How to Plant Apricot Plants

  • Starting with the Seed: Apricots, like many fruits, can be started from seed, but it’s a bit of a meticulous process. Firstly, you need to extract the pit from a fully-ripe apricot. Scrub off any fruit matter clinging to the pit and let it dry. Crack open the pit carefully to get the almond-shaped seed inside. This seed needs to be prepared for germination, or stratified, which you can do by soaking it overnight in warm water.
  • Choosing the Right Seeds: Here’s a handy tip for you – always pick your seeds from mid to late-season apricots, and from a fruit that’s been grown away from other trees of the same genus. This reduces the chance of inbreeding during pollination. Prepare several seeds at once, because not all of them will germinate.
  • Germination Process: You’ll have to play the waiting game here. The germination process involves keeping your seeds in a refrigerator, in a jar or baggie with damp peat moss. Keep your eyes peeled for sprouts, which can take 4 to 6 weeks to appear. Once they do, it’s planting time!
  • Selecting a Cultivar: Apricots come in a variety of cultivars, so choose one that suits your region’s climate. Some are better suited for cold climates, while others thrive in warmer regions. Regardless of the variety, apricots need plenty of heat and sunshine.
  • Preparing for Planting: Prior to planting, you’ll want to keep the seedlings on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Apricots prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. A site that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily is ideal.

How to Care for Apricots

  • Regular Care: Caring for apricot trees isn’t a one-time thing. You need to shower them with attention throughout the growing season. This includes regular watering, feeding, and pruning.
  • Protecting the Tree: Protecting your apricot tree from pests and harsh weather conditions is critical. They’re prone to frost damage in some regions, so choose a hardy variety and plant it somewhere it will be shielded from sudden cold snaps.
  • Flowering and Fruiting: Apricots are typically self-fruitful, meaning they don’t need a pollination partner. However, having a second variety planted nearby can boost the harvest. Keep in mind, these trees need at least 700 to 1,000 chilling hours to set fruit.
  • Monitoring the Crop: Throughout the growing season, you may have to do some tasks like thinning heavy crops and tying in new growth. You’ll also need to safeguard your ripening fruit from hungry birds.
  • Dealing with Weather Conditions: Apricots blossom early, so in certain climates, a late frost could be an issue. This is something to keep in mind, particularly if your temperatures are not stable all year round. You may have to be content with admiring the beautiful blossoms and leave the fruit-growing to those in warmer climates.

Growing apricots can be a delightful journey. But remember, patience is key.

You’ll need to wait a few years before you can enjoy your first home-grown apricots.

But rest assured, the fruits of your labor will be far sweeter than any store-bought apricot.

How to Prune Apricots

Apricot trees, belonging to the Prunus genus, specifically Prunus armeniaca, require regular care and maintenance to thrive.

Among these maintenance activities, pruning plays an essential role.

Pruning is the act of selectively removing specific parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots, and it has multiple benefits.

For apricot trees, this process controls growth, removes dead or diseased wood, and stimulates the formation of flowers and fruit buds.

An appropriately pruned apricot tree is more productive and lives longer.

Here’s a list to guide you through the process:

  • Timing: The best time for pruning an apricot tree is late winter or early spring, before new growth begins but after the risk of severe freezing has passed.
  • Tools: Utilize sharp and clean pruning shears, loppers, and a pruning saw for larger branches.
  • Safety: Ensure you are wearing appropriate safety gear, including gloves and safety glasses.
  • Technique: Begin by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Follow this by pruning branches that cross over others or grow inward towards the center of the tree.
  • Thinning: Regular thinning of the canopy improves air circulation and sunlight penetration, crucial for the overall health and fruit production of the tree.
  • Training Young Trees: Pay careful attention to pruning and training young apricot trees to improve their later productivity and longevity.

How to Propagate Apricots

Propagation of apricot trees, specifically Prunus armeniaca, usually occurs through seeds, grafting, or cuttings.

  • Seeds: One common method is growing the tree from an apricot seed. Plant the seed in a pot with good quality soil and place it in a sunny spot. Regular watering and care should see a seedling sprout in a few weeks.
  • Grafting: Grafting involves attaching a scion (a shoot or twig) from a mature apricot tree to a rootstock of a different tree. This method allows you to propagate a specific variety of apricot.
  • Cuttings: Propagation can also occur through cuttings, but this method is less common and more challenging.

Pests and Diseases

Like all plants, apricot trees can suffer from a range of pests and diseases. Here are a few common ones:

  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects suck the sap from the tree and can cause damage if present in large numbers. They can be controlled using natural predators or by spraying with a mild soap solution.
  • Canker: This is a fungal disease that causes sunken, dead areas on the tree’s bark. Infected areas need to be cut out and destroyed, and a fungicide may need to be applied.
  • Leaf Curl: This is a fungal disease that causes the leaves to curl and discolor. It can be controlled with a fungicide applied in early spring before the buds open.
  • Borers: These insects tunnel into the wood of the tree, potentially causing significant damage. Infested limbs should be removed and destroyed, and a suitable insecticide may need to be applied.

Regular inspection and prompt action can help ensure that your apricot trees stay healthy and productive, providing you with a bountiful harvest for years to come.

Advice on Buying Apricot Plants

When you’re on the hunt for an apricot plant, you’ll want to consider a few essential factors:

  • Climate Compatibility: Apricots flourish best in a warm, sunny spot. If you live in a climate with plenty of sunshine, this could be the perfect fruit tree for you. They are hardy in zones 5 through 8.
  • Soil Requirements: Apricot trees love light, loamy soil teeming with humus. The soil needs to be well-draining, as they aren’t fans of heavy, wet, clay soil. Before planting, it could be worth checking your soil’s suitability.
  • Space: Ensure you have enough room to accommodate the growth of your apricot tree. While they can be grown in a pot or trained against a wall, free-standing trees need ample space to grow and thrive.
  • Care and Maintenance: Apricots require regular attention throughout the growing season. This includes watering, feeding, pruning, and protection of their flowers and fruit.
  • Self-Pollination: Most apricot trees are self-fertile, meaning a single tree will produce fruit without the need for a second tree to aid pollination. However, helping out with a small brush during blossom time can increase your fruit yield.

Where to Buy Apricot Plants Online

If you’re looking to buy apricot plants online, there are several options available.

Here are some places where you can find apricot plants for sale:

  • Noah Garden Centre: This online marketplace in Singapore offers a wide selection of plants and pots. While the search results didn’t mention apricot plants specifically, they have a diverse range of plants, so it’s worth checking their website for availability.
  • The Garden Store Online Singapore: This online store offers a variety of gardening products, including plants. They have a section dedicated to fruit trees, and apricot trees may be available for purchase. You can explore their website to find apricot plants and other gardening supplies.
  • Raintree Nursery: Although the search results didn’t provide specific information about buying apricot plants from this nursery, they specialize in fruit trees and may have apricot trees available. It’s worth checking their website for apricot tree listings, especially during their pre-order period.
  • Ty Ty Nursery: This nursery offers a wide range of fruit trees, including apricot trees. They provide information about different cultivars and offer trees that are grafted onto rootstocks for easier maintenance. You can explore their website to find apricot trees for sale.
  • Willis Orchards: This online store offers various fruit trees, including apricot trees. They provide information about different apricot tree varieties and their uses, such as fresh eating, canning, or drying. You can browse their website to find apricot tree varieties that suit your preferences.

Remember to check the availability, shipping options, and any specific requirements for growing apricot trees in your location. It’s always a good idea to read customer reviews and compare prices before making a purchase.

Apricot Varieties

Apricots are a pleasure to grow in your very own backyard.

Whether you’re a seasoned orchardist or a novice fruit grower, there’s an apricot variety out there for you.

With a vast selection available, exploring the world of homegrown apricots is an adventure you won’t want to miss!

Apricot Varieties to Grow

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to apricots.

Numerous varieties are available, each with their unique qualities:

  • Ripening Time: Apricot varieties ripen at different times from mid to late summer. Choose a variety that suits your local climate and your harvesting preferences.
  • Fruit Characteristics: Some apricots are renowned for their reliable or abundant crops, while others are loved for their larger or sweeter fruits. The shades of apricot fruits can range from yellow to orange to red.
  • Location Suitability: Some apricot varieties are more adapted to cooler locations. An example of a widely grown variety is ‘Apricot Moorpark,’ known for its reliability and delectably juicy fruits that ripen in August.

Apricot Varieties to Grow

  • Chinese Apricot Tree: The Chinese Apricot Tree is the perfect choice for beginners. Versatile and delicious, this apricot tree offers fruit growers everything they desire. It thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9, requiring around 700 chill hours. With a mature height of 15-20 feet, it won’t take up too much space in your garden.
  • Apache Apricot: Apache apricots are a delicacy developed by Agricultural Research Scientists in California. They boast a sweet, delicate flavor with an appealing aroma. The fruit is of average size, featuring pinkish-orange skin and finely textured orange flesh. It ripens in the first week of May, making it an early-season treat.
  • Blenheim Apricot: Considered the most flavorful and best-tasting apricot in production, Blenheim apricots live up to their reputation. The fruit is medium to large, with a yellow skin and orange cheek. Its firm, juicy, pale orange flesh delivers a burst of delicious flavor.
  • Castlebrite Apricot: If you’re eager for apricots in early June, Castlebrite is your go-to variety. The medium-sized fruit turns golden yellow when ripe and offers a mild, sweet flavor that’s perfect for fresh eating. Additionally, Castlebrite can serve as a good pollinator to increase production in other apricot varieties, like Robada.
  • Autumn Glo and Autumn Royal: These late-ripening apricots bring a unique touch to your orchard. Autumn Glo may ripen a month later than Autumn Royal, making them a delightful pair for extending your apricot harvest season.
  • Ansu Apricots: A delightful variety hailing from Afghanistan, Ansu apricots require Zone 5a and buds die below -20°F. It ripens early to mid-season, coming after Monique and Lasgerdi Mashhad.
  • Goldstrike™ Apricot: This Prosser Center introduction stands as a regular and productive bearer. With large, firm fruit and excellent eating quality, it can be shipped to distant markets.
  • Moorpark Apricot: For beginners in home gardening, Moorpark is an excellent choice. This variety is known for its vigorous growth, adaptability, and disease resistance. The large, juicy fruits with a rich flavor are sure to delight your taste buds.
  • Armeniaca Apricots: Known for their bold flavor profile, these tiny fruits contain many important nutrients. Apricots are native to Central Asia and have been grown and harvested for over 1000 years. Although California is a major hub for commercial production, you can also grow them in your backyard.
  • Apricot Tree Etymology: Although apricots are usually from the species Prunus armeniaca, the fruits of other species in Prunus sect. Armeniaca are also referred to as apricots. The name “apricot” has an interesting etymology, tracing its origins from Latin via Late and Byzantine Greek.

With such a diverse array of apricot varieties available, you can find the perfect ones for your garden and enjoy the delights of homegrown apricots all season long. Happy gardening and fruitful harvesting!

Consider your local climate, available space, soil type, and the care requirements before choosing your apricot plant.

When selecting the variety, factor in your taste preferences, local climate conditions, and desired harvest time.

With careful planning and maintenance, you’ll be rewarded with a bounty of sweet, juicy apricots in the summer.

FAQs

What type of soil is best for Apricots?

Apricots prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should be fertile and have a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Apricots can grow in almost any good garden soil as long as the site is well-drained. If the soil is heavy or compacted, you can improve drainage by adding organic matter to the planting area. A lightweight, well-drained potting mix is recommended for container-grown Apricots.

When should I plant Apricots?

Apricots can be planted in the fall or spring, depending on the climate and growing conditions. Spring planting is typically done in March or April, while fall planting is done in September or October. Choose a location that receives full sun exposure for optimal growth. Apricots require a warm and moist climate to grow properly.

How often should I water my Apricots?

Apricots require regular watering to maintain moist soil. Water the plant deeply once or twice a week, especially during dry periods. However, be careful not to overwater, as Apricots can be sensitive to waterlogged conditions. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent root rot. Adjust the watering frequency based on the weather and soil moisture levels.

Do Apricot trees require fertilization?

Apricot trees require regular fertilization to promote healthy growth and fruiting. A balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 16-16-16 is suitable for Apricots. Apply the fertilizer at the time of planting and again during the growing season. Organic fertilizers, such as compost or aged manure, can also be used to provide additional nutrients. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause the tree to produce too much foliage and fewer fruits.

How do I plant Apricots?

When planting Apricots, choose a location that receives full sun exposure. Sow the seeds to a depth of 1/3 to 1/2 of their height, depending on the seed size. Space the seeds 6-8 inches apart in rows that are 12-15 inches apart. Water the seeds immediately after planting to provide moisture to the soil. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds. When planting in containers, choose a pot that is at least 6 inches wider than the seed and use a well-draining potting mix.

How much sunlight does Apricot need?

Apricots require full sun exposure to grow and develop properly. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Planting it in a location with full sun exposure will ensure optimal growth and yield.

Are there different varieties of Apricots?

Yes, there are many different varieties of Apricots available, each with its own unique characteristics, growth habits, and fruit flavors. Some popular varieties include Goldrich, Moorpark, and Blenheim. Choose a variety that suits your preferences and growing conditions.

Are there any pests or diseases that affect Apricots?

Apricots are susceptible to a range of pests and diseases, including aphids, mites, and fungal diseases. Regularly inspect the plant for any signs of infestation or disease, and take appropriate measures, such as using organic insecticides or fungicides, if necessary. Good air circulation and proper watering practices can help prevent fungal diseases.

How do I care for Apricots after harvesting?

After harvesting, you can prune the Apricot tree to maintain its shape and encourage new growth. Cut back the stem to about 2-3 inches above the ground. This will help rejuvenate the tree and promote vigorous growth and abundant yield in the following season. Regular deadheading of spent flowers can also encourage continuous yield.

Can Apricots be grown in containers?

Yes, Apricots can be grown in containers, making them ideal for small gardens or patios. Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches wider than the seed and use a well-draining potting mix. Plant the seed with its “shoulders above the soil,” so the top inch or so sticks up out of the soil. Water the seed thoroughly after planting and place the pot in a location with full sun exposure. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged and fertilize the plant every 2-3 weeks with a balanced fertilizer. The tree should bloom within 2-3 years after planting.

Additional Resources

These are some additional resources that can help you further in your journey of growing apricots:

These sources will provide more detailed information on the care and maintenance of apricot trees, ensuring a healthy and fruitful harvest.

Related articles

How to Grow and Care for Wisteria

Wisteria is a twining vine known for its beautiful, fragrant violet-blue or lavender blooms that cover the plant...

How to Grow and Care for Willow Tree

Willow trees are a beautiful addition to any landscape, known for their graceful, drooping branches and love for...

How to Grow and Care for Walnut Trees

Growing and caring for walnut trees can be a rewarding endeavor. These majestic trees not only provide shade...

How to Grow and Care for Potatoes

Potatoes are a versatile and hearty crop that can be grown in a variety of climates and conditions....