- Apricot Trees
- Apricot Trees
- Care Of Apricot Trees: Apricot Tree Growing In The Home Garden
- Apricot Tree Facts
- How to Grow Apricots
- Care of Apricot Trees
- How to Care for Apricot Trees
- Planting an Apricot Tree
- Repotting an Apricot Tree
- Feeding Apricot Trees
- Mulching Apricot Trees
- Watering Apricot Trees
- Pruning Apricot Trees
- Apricot Fruit and Flowers
- Apricot Tree Winter Care
- Growing Apricots
- Plant and Position Me Well
- Feed Me Too
- Water Me as Well
- Prune Me
- Choose Me – Varieties
- Protect Me – Pests
- Protect Me – Diseases
- Assist Me – Companion Planting
- Nutritionally Speaking
- Planting an apricot tree
- Caring for your apricot tree
- Other apricot tree diseases and treatments
- How to prune an apricot tree
- Favorite apricot tree cultivars
- All there is to know about apricot tree
- Insects, parasites and apricot tree diseases
- Smart tip about apricot trees
- Old apricot tree
Prunus armeniaca, otherwise known as the Apricot, is a member of the rose family. The apricot is closely related to peaches, plums & cherries. When you buy apricot trees, you are investing in an excellent source of Vitamin A. Apricots are best if left to ripen first and refrigerated after they ripen to avoid impairing the ripening process. The state of California grows about 95% of all apricots in the United States. Apricot trees bear fruit reliably around 25 years before needing to be replaced. The apricot can be eaten fresh, canned, or dried and they are also good made into jellies, jams, and preserves.
The Apricot Tree dates back 3,000 years to northeastern China. Apricots are versatile nutritious fruit grown from Asia to Europe and from east to west in North America. Apricots are sweet and delicious when eaten fresh, however, they may be just as often used as a dried fruit. These small to medium-sized, self-fertile trees have spreading canopies with lovely white blossoms in Spring, and yellow to red leaf color in Fall. Willis Orchard Company offers only the finest apricot trees for sale to place in your home orchard.
Apricot trees have a long history of cultivation. Apricots seemed to have originated in China and from there they were spread throughout central Asia. From there the Romans spread them into Europe. Apricot fruit is very tasty and they are now widely grown and consumed in the United States. Apricot trees flowers are white or pink and the trees produce a stone-fruit with soft flesh. It ripens to an orange-yellow color. Apricots contain good amounts of vitamin A and kalium. It is also an excellent source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and traces of sodium, sulphur. Manganese, cobalt and bromine. Apricots do not store well and so they are eaten fresh, dried, or frozen. Apricots are a staple of the jam industry.
Apricot tree need well drained soils for optimum health and production. The soil should be moderately fertile. It is best to thin the fruit early in the season to maximize size and quality. Thin the fruits enough so each individual fruit has about 3 to 5 inches of room. Apricot trees are quite handsome trees in the summer displaying the furrowed bark and heart shaped glossy leaves. A number of apricot-plum hybrids, such as plum-cot, Pluot, and Aprium, have been developed and are gaining popularity. These apricots trees are all orchard quality trees.
Care Of Apricot Trees: Apricot Tree Growing In The Home Garden
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 a cultivar, keep in mind some important apricot tree facts – these early bloomers can be adversely affected by frost in some regions, so select a hardy variety and 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 been cultivated for centuries and is an important food in many international cuisines. Apricot tree growing is suitable in most western states and regions with plenty of heat and sunshine. As a Mediterranean crop, apricots grow well where spring and summer are warm and plenty of water is available.
Apricots are stone fruits, similar to plums, cherries and peaches. They can be grown from that stone or pit, but trees are not true to the parent and rarely produce fruit. Instead, they are grafted onto rootstock with beneficial attributes. The early spring flowers are spectacular and the brightly
colored fruit are decorative. Apricots are either trained to a central leader or open center.
Some excellent winter hardy varieties for cold regions are:
- Royal Blenheim
How to Grow Apricots
Once you’ve selected your cultivar, you need to know how to grow apricots. Site selection and soil are the most important considerations. The trees need deep, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
Apricot trees bloom early. There are times in apricot tree care where a late frost is a problem, so be sure to plant your trees on higher ground.
Do a percolation test prior to planting by digging a hole one foot deep and wide (30 cm.). Fill with water and wait until the next day. Fill the hole again and lay a stick or straight edge over the top. Measure the water drop 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. Water in well.
Care of Apricot Trees
Apricot tree growing is fairly simple, provided you have the soil, sun, and drainage necessary. Apricots are not tolerant of high levels of salt, boron, chloride and other elements. Feeding of apricot trees will be important in their overall care. They normally get what they need from the soil though, 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 wet leaves, flowers and fruit.
Be sure your apricot tree care includes thinning of the fruit once it comes in; thin the fruits to 1 ½ to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm.) apart. This ensures that the fruit will be larger. If you don’t thin the fruits, they will be much smaller.
Apricots need to be pruned and trained annually in early summer to late fall. There are several pests of apricots and numerous fungal diseases. Apply fungicide sprays in spring to avoid such disease issues.
While soft fruit trees can be a little more challenging to grow than harder fruits like apple and pears, modern apricot varieties have been specially bred with the home grower in mind. Varieties are now self-fertile, and designed to grow in cooler climates, so with a little care, your apricot tree has every chance of producing a fantastic crop.
For a larger garden, the Flavourcot apricot tree is a fantastic choice, well regarded for its resilience and reliability. If space is more limited, why not try the Dwarf Aprigold apricot tree? Suitable for pot growing, this tree will reach a maximum of 2m/6ft, but produces truly exquisite golden fruits.
How to Care for Apricot Trees
- Latin name: Prunus armeniaca
- Hardiness: Fully hardy, but susceptible to frost damage in spring
- Pollination: Self-fertile
- Height and spread: Variable – dependant on rootstock
- Flowering: Spring
- Harvesting: July-August
- Difficulty: Moderate
Planting an Apricot Tree
On receiving your apricot tree, it is important that you remove it from the outer packaging immediately and store it in a suitable place until you are ready to plant. In winter, we advise a shed or garage to prevent frost damage. Plant your tree when it has gone into dormancy and the roots are not growing. Either October/November or late February/March as the ground can become frozen solid in intervening months.
Choosing where to plant your tree is of vital importance, as apricot trees need plenty of sun to ripen fruit and are also susceptible to frost damage. A south facing wall would be idea, as the wall would retain and radiate warmth throughout the year, but if that is not possible, any location with at least six solid hours of full sunshine in summer will work. Your apricot tree will do best if planted into deep, well draining, loamy soil. If necessary, dig some organic compost into the planting hole.
An hour before planting your apricot tree, water the pot thoroughly. Remove the tree from its container and gently tease out the roots. Prune any that are damaged or broken. Dig a hole roughly three times the width of the trees roots, but no deeper, then plant the tree with the bud union at ground level. Back fill any gaps with a soil and compost mix. Use a supporting stake to anchor the tree until the root system is strong enough to support the tree unaided.
Repotting an Apricot Tree
If you are growing a dwarfing apricot tree, it will grow quite happily in a pot – perfect for smaller gardens or patios. Pot grown apricot trees will require repotting into a larger container in the first 12 months, then every two – three years until it reaches its full height. Look out for the following signs that your apricot tree is ready for a new home:
– Does the tree look less healthy than it used to?
– Does it seem to dry out quicker?
– Are there roots growing out of the holes in the bottom of the pots?
– Have the apricot tree been in the same pot for three years or more?
Remember to always choose deep pots with drainage holes! Try to repot in the winter months to minimise the risk of damaging the roots.
Some tips for repotting
– The soil in the apricot tree pot should be slightly moist – water thoroughly an hour before repotting to achieve this.
– Loosen the soil around the edge of the pot and pull the tree out by the base of the main stem.
– If you are moving your apricot tree to a bigger pot, add some extra soil into the bottom of the pot before you insert the plant.
– Fill in with a mix of soil and compost.
– Water the plant thoroughly and keep it well watered for several weeks.
Once the tree is fully grown, it will be too big for repotting, but you will still need to replace 30-50% of the compost every other year so the tree does not exhaust its supply of nutrients.
Feeding Apricot Trees
Feeding your apricot tree will help it to gain all the nutrients it needs to fruit. February is an ideal time, and we would advise using a potassium rich granular fertiliser according to packet instructions, as these are potassium rich.
Mulching Apricot Trees
Mulching is the term used for the layer of organic material that is placed on top of the soil around your plants every year. It has a whole host of benefits, including keeping the soil moist and nutrient rich throughout summer and discouraging weeds. The best time to do this is in March/April.
First, prepare the ground by removing debris and weeds and water the surface of the soil if it is dry. Apply a thin layer of well rotted manure or good garden compost all around the tree – we suggest using John Innes No. 3.
Watering Apricot Trees
We advise you to water your tree regularly until the plant is established. Once this point is passed, the plant will only require watering in times of drought, or in very hot periods of spring and summer. Make sure you always water the roots, and avoid getting water on the leaves of the plant, as this encourages disease.
When fruit trees are grown in containers, they will have more restricted access to water than those growing in the garden, so will need watering with greater regularity. As a rule of thumb stick your finger into the first inch of topsoil and if it feels medium dry, water immediately.
Pruning Apricot Trees
Like all stone fruit, apricots should be pruned in the spring, as they are susceptible to bacterial cankers that infect pruning wounds that don’t heal quickly. As fruit will only form on year old wood, your tree will not need pruning at all in its first year, except to remove dead or damaged branches. In following years, you can begin training your apricot tree – we prefer a bush shape as it is a lovely natural shape but still designed to improve productivity.
First, remove any branches that are growing towards the centre of the tree instead of pointing outwards, as these will not get enough sunlight to produce fruit. Then remove any branches that are dead, diseased or dying.
Lastly, cut back all but the main branches and leave six or so buds on each stem. Once your tree has reached its full height or a height you are happy with, you can also cut the main branches back by about a third, which will ensure your tree doesn’t grow much taller. After four years, prune away some of the oldest branches to make way for newer wood. Rub out any buds or suckers that form on the stem or rootstock of the tree.
Apricot Fruit and Flowers
Apricot trees are very early flowering and can respond to any sustained rise in temperature by bursting into full bloom. These early blossoms are very susceptible to late frosts, which will mean little fruit. Protect the blossoms with horticultural fleece at night, ensuring that it does not touch the tree blossoms. Uncover the tree in the daytimes so it gets plenty of light.
After a couple of years, fruit should appear in summer. At this point, it might be an idea to invest in a fruit cage or fruit netting to deter birds.
You may need to thin the fruit (which should be done when the fruits are about the size of a 20p coin). Any fruit that looks misshapen or bad should be the first to go. After that, any cluster with more than three or four apricots should be thinned. This will allow the remaining fruit to grow to a larger size. The fruit should be ripe by July/August and is ready for picking. Only pick fruit that is fully ripe, and preserve by making into jams and chutneys, or drying.
Apricot Tree Winter Care
Your apricot tree will go into dormancy over winter and lose all its leaves – this is normal! Although modern apricot varieties are hardy, they may need some protection from extreme temperatures and frosts with horticultural fleece.
Check out our information on caring for fig trees and berry plants.
Apricots with their luscious combination of sweetness and tanginess are, in my opinion, the tastiest fruit in the stone fruit orchard. There’s nothing like waiting for those first tree-ripened apricots, red-blushed on the side facing the sun, in December or January and taking a first bite of their sweet juicy flesh. Heaven!
Plant and Position Me Well
Although apricots are generally thought of as being only suitable to grow in warm temperate and cool temperate climates, there are some varieties with low chill requirements that grow in subtropical areas. Plant in winter when the tree is dormant. Choose a well-drained, fertile spot and dig a deep hole. Incorporating some slotted pipe down the side of the hole will make delivering water direct to the roots both easy and efficient later on during hot weather.
Select a tree that can develop 4 main branches and prune to a vase shape. When you plant, check the width the tree will grow to and leave ample space all the way around it (including appropriate distance from fences) as this will allow good air circulation and prevent a build-up of humidity resulting in fungal disease. And plant in full sun so that the fruit will ripen!
Feed Me Too
There is some contention about the best regime for fertilising apricots. Some experts say that autumn is the time to feed apricots and not spring and recommend fertilising after cropping has finished so that the tree and its fruit are nourished for the following spring and summer. They say spring feeding may result in lower crop quality. Others say that apricots should be fertilised in late winter, mid-spring and mid-summer if needed and NOT to fertilise late summer and autumn as this produces sappy growth prior to winter and increases the risk of infection. Both schools agree that a fertiliser high in potassium and phosphorous and low in nitrogen is best for apricots. Composted chicken manure is ideal along with worm castings and worm juice. Drinks of seaweed solution during the growing period are also helpful
Water Me as Well
Water is a must! Apricots need water during hot summers and after cropping so that their buds will develop well the following spring. Water around the tree’s drip line once a week or, as mentioned above, install slotted pipe at planting and water directly to the roots through summer and autumn. Apricots do not like wet or boggy ground so your site must be well drained. They also do not like rain at flowering time or when the fruit is close to maturity, but there is not a lot we can do about that. I have, however, seen beach or market umbrellas placed over small and medium-sized trees used to good effect during downpours to prevent apricots splitting.
Mulching with pea straw will help retain water, but make sure that it is not close to the trunk in order to prevent development of fungal disease.
First, make sure you clean all pruning equipment with methylated spirits before beginning and after each cut of a diseased limb. Initially, pruning should shorten branches, retaining 4 main ones that form a vase shape. For second year pruning, choose 2 laterals per branch and shorten them to expand the structure of the tree and keep it balanced. This also allows the branches to thicken and strengthen. The time of pruning is critical. It needs to be done in February or March on a warm dry day and preferably in a week that is predicted to be the same. This avoids infection from silver leaf and bacterial canker and other fungal infections entering and taking hold through moist pruning cuts. The quicker that the cut dries the better. In general, begin by pruning dead wood and dried out spurs, any diseased wood (e.g. branches with any dieback on their tips or seeping gum), and any crossed branches, plus thin out the spurs removing old and weak ones. Then stand back and look at the structure and decide what else to prune. This will include long laterals – you want to keep the gnarly spurs close to the trunk and main branches – and any branches cluttering up the centre of the tree. Having an open centre will also prevent fungal infections caused by a lack of air flow resulting in humidity. You may also want to lower the height of the tree for easy and safe picking, and to deter possums and bats that prefer taller trees. When you have finally finished, stand back once again and survey your work. This will alert you to any imbalance in your pruning which you can immediately rectify.
Apricots grow on spurs and these last 2 -3 years. After the third year, prune out old spurs to make way for new ones. Flower buds open on one-year old wood, and later as the tree matures, on older spurs. Apricots often fruit heavily one year and not the next but to some extent this can be remedied by reducing the fruit when they are small and green in the ‘heavy’ year. If all the energy goes into the crop one year, it won’t be available for the next. Twist one out of three apricots from the branch to reduce numbers and this will also increase the size of the fruit.
Choose Me – Varieties
My all-time favourite is Moorpark. Moorpark, with its large juicy, orange fruit was developed in the 1600s in England and is massively popular to this day. It ripens late December to early January. Trevatt, which is yellow with a red blush, is also delicious and ripens in December, in time for Christmas. Both Moorpark and Trevatt come in dwarf forms. Fireball, with its deep orange colour and sweet, traditional apricot taste is a delicious new cultivar. When it gets down to it though, what apricot isn’t delicious and worth having?
Protect Me – Pests
These include possums and bats as mentioned, but also rats. Rats are harder to deter. They run up the branches taking a bite here and there of all ripe fruit and can destroy a crop overnight. This happened to me one year and what was a fabulous crop one evening, was a tree stripped bare the next morning. I found all the pips under a tub nearby, so was able to count exactly how many apricots had been demolished! Birds, of course, like a tasty nip of ripe fruit and the answer to this is to net securely, taking care not to bend the branches, or to pick the fruit a little before it is fully mature and ripen it indoors in a single layer on trays. Small insects like earwigs and garden weevils can be a nuisance and are responsible for small holes in the fruit. Good hygiene is the best deterrent along with a barrier to prevent them climbing up the trunk and spreading. Make a trap for earwigs and place under your tree but empty it every day. If you spy harlequin beetles, this is an indication that your tree is not healthy so thank them for letting you know.
Protect Me – Diseases
The disease most of us are familiar with is brown rot. This is easily seen as the term accurately describes the large spots of rotting flesh. As the rot develops, whitish grey spores will cover the surface of the apricot. Brown rot is a fungal disease spread by wind and rain. It develops on mummified fruit left on the tree and ground and settles on twigs as well. Remove any mummified fruit or dried flowers, rake up and remove all litter regularly beneath the tree and use a Bordeaux spray at leaf fall and again before bud swell in late winter. Spray all sides of the trunk and branches and agitate the mix every few minutes to stop the copper and slaked lime from separating. You may also need to clear the nozzle. Apricots also suffer from gummosis (bacterial canker) which appears as gummy swellings on branches where there is a wound to the bark. It occurs when there is splitting in the crutch between trunk and branch and this can be caused by such things as too much weight of fruit on a soft branch or rapid growth in spring. It can also be caused by borers – check for sawdust in the gum or around it – or mechanical damage from mowers or whipper snippers. Or even blunt secateurs. Gummosis needs to be managed – spraying won’t help – so keeping the tree well pruned, using clean secateurs and protecting it from mechanical damage are the best strategies to use. Other less common diseases include silver leaf and verticillium wilt.
Assist Me – Companion Planting
A little-known fact is that a fungus that capsicums are prone to can infect apricots so avoid planting capsicums near or beneath apricots. Alliums, especially chives and leeks, are useful for deterring borer insects and basil and tansy repel fruit flies. Tansy also repels ants which can often be seen climbing up apricots searching for sugars. One plant won’t do the trick. As a companion, you need to plant a number right round the tree.
Apricots are high in Vitamin A – in fact, they are the supreme stone fruit in this regard. They also contain Vitamins B and C and minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium and some protein, so they are a wonderfully nutritious and versatile food. Eaten fresh they are sweet and tangy. They make luscious jams, curds, butters, tart fillings and chutneys on the sweet side. On the savoury menu, they can be paired with chicken and lamb. And dried as fruit leathers or dried apricots they are delicious.
A favourite recipe in my home is Moroccan lamb tagine with apricots, prunes and almonds.
500 grams boned and cubed lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions
2 garlic cloves
chopped knob of ginger
pinch of saffron
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons crushed coriander
12 prunes pitted and 6 dried apricots soaked in cold water for an hour then drained
4 strips orange rind without pith
3 tablespoons of blanched almonds
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper
A bunch of coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a tagine or heavy pan, sauté the almonds till golden, then add and sauté the onion and garlic, then the spices. Add the lamb and sauté for a further 2 minutes, stirring well. Cover the mix with water and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour until the meat is tender. Add the prunes, apricots and rind, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the honey, season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 the coriander leaves. Make sure the tagine doesn’t run out of liquid, add more if necessary to maintain a syrup. Serve with couscous and sprinkle with coriander.
Recipe from: Flavours of Morocco by Ghillie Basan
Apricots are beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat, but many people still don’t fully appreciate them. Fresh apricots are difficult to find in many markets because they don’t ship well. Apricot trees can be a lovely centerpiece in a yard: their blossoms are white or pink; their foliage is bronze in the spring, deep green in the summer, and yellow in the fall.
The commercial growing range for apricots is limited, but home gardeners can grow them successfully in many parts of the country by selecting the right variety and location for the tree. Genetic dwarf varieties can be grown in containers. In areas with severe winters, you can wheel them into the garage or other sheltered area until spring warms things up outdoors.
Planning for Success
Apricots bloom earlier in the spring than other fruit trees and have only a limited tolerance of high summer heat. While the tree is fairly hardy (some varieties withstand winter lows down to -20° F), it can bloom too early–if you get a warm spell in late February or early March. In areas that have late frosts, you can choose some of the newer varieties developed in the North that bloom later and produce well in harsh climates.
When choosing a variety, select one recommended for your zone and climate that will flower after the last spring frost in your area and that will live through your winter. In preferred apricot growing areas such as Santa Clara and San Benito counties in California, you will want to consider the ripening period–early, midseason, or late. Most varieties are self-fertile; that is, one variety is all you need for trees to fruit. The full-size trees generally grow be between 20 and 30 feet tall and live about 75 years. Most will start bearing in their third or fourth year. Expect 3 to 4 bushels of fruit from a standard-size tree, 1 to 2 from a dwarf variety.
Reliable dwarf apricot trees are rare, if you really want a dwarf tree, try a genetic dwarf such as ‘Stark Golden Glo’ or ‘Garden Annie’ apricot. These trees are naturally small, so they don’t need to be grafted onto dwarfing stock. Buy dormant, bare-root, 1-year-old trees, if possible. Plant trees in early spring in the North and East; in California and other mild-winter areas, you can plant in the fall.
Photography by USDA
The apricot tree is a wonderful fruit tree that requires a bit of care to produce beautiful apricots, but it’s easy to grow.
Key facts about the apricot tree
Name – Prunus armeniaca
Family – Rosaceae
Type – fruit tree
Height – 16 to 20 feet (5 to 6 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – March
Harvest – July-August
Planting, pruning and caring for them is important to avoid diseases and ensure proper development for your apricot tree.
- Read also: health benefits and therapeutic properties of apricots
Planting an apricot tree
Best is to plant your apricot tree in fall, with a distance of about 5 feet (1.5 meters) between trees if you are planting several.
You can also plant your apricot tree in spring or summer but provide for regular watering at the beginning.
- Apricot trees require sun to flower correctly.
- Rich and well-drained soil will increase apricot harvest.
- Apricot trees don’t do well in waterlogged and excessively moist soil.
- It is much better to plant in a location that is sheltered from strong wind.
- Refer to our guidelines for planting.
Be careful! Flowers die off in below freezing temperatures, so if you expect late frost spells in your area, choose later-blooming varieties such as the Prunus armeniaca ‘Polish’ variety.
Caring for your apricot tree
Easy to care for, an apricot tree only requires little attention when it is correctly settled in.
To avoid diseases, a simple treatment at the end of winter helps protect your apricot tree from a great number of fungus.
- After the blooming, spray Bordeaux mixture, which is particularly effective in stopping apricot fruit rot, called European brown rot.
- In spring, bury 1 or 2 handfuls of fruit tree fertilizer at the foot of the apricot tree.
- In fall, spread compost or even manure at the base of the tree.
Other apricot tree diseases and treatments
Like most fruit trees, apricot trees are vulnerable to multiple diseases and parasites that can go all the way to ruining an apricot harvest.
If treated well, and especially if treated in a timely manner, it is possible to avoid apricot tree diseases and fungus.
The first weakness to watch out for is spring freezing that can devastate a harvest. It is mandatory to plant in the sun and out of strong winds to mitigate this risk.
Most common apricot tree diseases and parasites
European brown rot – This is the most common apricot tree disease. Apricots literally rot while still on the apricot tree, with brown bruises and white spots appearing.
- Here is how to fend off European brown rot.
Powdery mildew – Young apricot fruits are colonized by this fungus, and a layer of whitish velvet and white spots appear.
- Here is how to fend off powdery mildew.
Aphids – These are the most common apricot tree parasites.
- Here is how to fight aphids off.
Regular spraying of Bordeaux mixture, as soon as buds open and up to about two weeks before harvesting the apricots is a sure way to avoid many fungal diseases. A beautiful summer harvest can then be expected.
How to prune an apricot tree
Pruning is generally performed in spring or fall, as long as it doesn’t freeze.
The goal is only to even out and balance the tree’s growth.
Increase air circulation by removing weak branches and favoring outwards-growing branches.
Pruning apricot trees in spring
In order to coax the tree into producing many beautiful apricots, it is possible to perform a fruit-inducing pruning before spring growth resumes.
Pruning apricot trees in fall
As soon as leaves have fallen off, the tree is pruned to slightly reduce the branches that have born fruits, and weak and damaged branches are removed.
Apricot trees are very vulnerable to wounds, and it is a good idea to apply wound-healing paste after pruning.
In case of of abundant production, feel free to thin the fruits in spring, simply removing a few fruits.
If a branch breaks, cut it off cleanly near the wound and apply pruning paste.
Favorite apricot tree cultivars
‘Bergarouge’ – Red colored, sweet and juicy large apricot, harvested from mid-July onwards.
‘Bergeron’ – Yellow colored, juicy and harvested in August. This variety is very hardy.
‘Hargrand’ – Yellow colored, perfect for jams. Harvested mid-July.
‘Luizet’ – Cute, mottled apricot that is particularly juicy, harvested mid-July.
‘Muscat’ – Yellow colored, a heirloom variety that is particularly tasty, harvested from mid-July.
‘Orangered’ – Red colored, is one of the early varieties, first to be harvested. It is crisp.
‘Gros Peche de Nancy’ – Yellow colored, large musk-flavored fruits harvested end of July to beginning of August.
‘Pointu de roquevaire’ – Yellow colored, very fragrant and recognizable thanks to its distinctive pointed end, it is harvested from July onwards.
‘Polonais’ or ‘Polish’– Yellow colored, perfect for making your own jam, harvested from beginning of July.
‘Rosé de Provence’ – Red colored, very sweet and harvested from early July.
‘Rouge de Roussillon’ – Red colored, particularly fragrant and harvested from early July.
‘Tardif de Tain’ – Orange-yellow colored, late variety harvested end of August.
All there is to know about apricot tree
Native to Asia, it likes heat, and depending on the location and the variety, produces apricots from June for the earlier ones up to August for the later ones.
Artifacts prove that it was grown in ancient China over 2000 years ago.
Very productive in terms of fruits and flowers, this little tree has many assets, be it in spring with its magnificent pinkish white flowers, or in summer with its orange yellow apricots.
Most apricot tree cultivars are self-pollinating. However, ask your local horticulture store if the variety you’re purchasing requires cross-pollination.
Easy to care for, apricot trees like rather hot and wind-sheltered areas and are simple to grow.
- Read also: health benefits and therapeutic properties of apricots
Insects, parasites and apricot tree diseases
Apricot trees are vulnerable to the same diseases as those attacking peach trees, specifically peach leaf curl and also European brown rot.
- A good solution is to spray natural fermented tea which helps control fungus.
Smart tip about apricot trees
No point in watering often, since this tree resists short droughts very well.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Apricot branch close-up by Xamumu under license
Apricot blooms by Nare Park ★ under license
Unripe apricots by Rebecca Hales ★ under license
Fruit-filled apricot branch by Tilly Sfortunato ☆ under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Old apricot tree
This is complicated.
Why not remove the tree and plant your desired tree, using new dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties that are available at most whole sale nurseries.
If you are adamant about keeping the tree you would need to ask yourself these questions:
• Is the trunk of the tree sound with no major holes or a rotted center?
• Does the tree appear to be healthy with minimal limb dieback or signs of disease?
• Does the tree produce a desirable variety of fruit, one that I will use?
• Will I be able to care for this large tree properly? Spraying and picking will probably need to be done from a ladder.
• Is the tree in a location that fits into my garden plan?
• Will I be more likely to keep a small tree in good shape or the large old one?
If you decide to save your old fruit tree you will have to start a program of renovation that will usually take three to four crop years. It is best to wait until your tree has dropped all it’s leaves and is dormant before doing major corrective pruning. You will want to reshape your tree over a period of several years with corrective pruning. During the first year reduce the height of the tree. If your tree is over twenty feet tall it is acceptable to shorten it by six to eight feet with the first pruning. Shorten the tree by cutting the main scaffold limbs back to a strong well positioned side shoot or riser.
In the second year during the summer inspect your pruning and remove most large vigorous new
shoots that have arisen at the top of the tree. Just leave a few minor shoots that do not shade much. If you see new shoots developing lower down in the tree especially off of the main trunk or scaffolds leave them alone. We are trying to get the tree to start producing new fruit wood in the lower canopy. During the second dormant pruning period you should decide on the desired final height for the tree. You probably won’t be able to lower the tree more than another two feet from the previous year without hurting your tree and yield potential. Continue to thin out shoots in the upper half of the tree trying to space the main limbs and distribute the new fruiting wood uniformly. Limbs around the outside of the tree should be shortened to allow better light exposure to the lowest new limbs. Help train new shoots off the trunk to go outward not straight up.
During the third year in the summer return to the top of your tree and remove about half of the new shoots that have once again arisen near your heaviest pruning cuts. Remove the most vigorous shoots first. When the third dormant period comes continue to shape your tree by shortening the outer branches by a foot or two. Spread the new fruiting wood evenly over the entire tree from the lowest limbs to the upper scaffolds. Your tree should now allow very good light and air penetration to all the limbs.
From the first year of your renovation project your tree’s recovery will be enhanced by clearing
away any tall grass or brush from around the trunk of the tree out to the dripline. You should also
check the PH of your garden or yard soil near your old tree to see how acidic your soil has become.Home owners can buy an inexpensive soil test kit at any garden supply store. If your soil has become very acidic with a PH below 5.6 you will help the nutrient uptake of your old tree by liming. Mulching under your old tree out to the drip line with aged manure or compost will also help return health to your soil and vigor to your tree. You will also want to start a regular spray program with dormant oils and fungicides every dormant season to keep your tree in top shape.