Growing Crops: Apricots

Apricot propagation, like that of apples, is done by grafting different varieties onto specific rootstocks that will determine how they grow. Apricots are susceptible to brown rot, canker, and silver leaf diseases. Do not attempt to grow apricot trees from seed; instead purchase young, healthy, disease-resistant varieties from a reputable nursery to transplant into your garden.

Nature Hills Nursery has a good selection of live apricot tree varieties; click on the banner below to see your choices:

Be sure to read Growing Fruit 101 in conjunction with this post.

Best Climate to Grow: Apricots are native to warm climates, with horticultural historians unable to agree if they originated in Armenia (now Turkey), China, or India. If you live in a cooler climate, the best way to grow apricot trees is to espalier them against a sunny wall that is sheltered from wind.

Light Requirements: Lots of sunlight. They will not survive regions that are disproportionately cold and dark.

Soil Requirements: Light soil that drains well yet retains moisture. Slightly acidic pH is ideal; amend as needed before planting.

Feeding and Water Requirements: Fertilize well in early Spring with bone meal or fish emulsion until they reach the fruiting stage; thereafter annually with compost and well-rotted manure. Mulch to retain soil moisture, replacing the mulch periodically as it breaks down into the soil. If you live in a dry climate, you will need to water more frequently and make sure your trees are very well-mulched.

Treegator-« Drip Irrigation – $ 25.99
The Treegator® Drip Irrigation System offers approximately 10 hours worth of drip time. It has a 20 gallon capacity and 2 or 3 can be zipped together to fit larger trees. It is 3 feet tall when empty. The fill opening will fit a 1.5 inch diameter hose. Treegator® Drip Irrigation System must be used on a level surface or properly built mulch pile.

Treegator-« Jr. – $ 23.99
The Treegator® Jr. offers approximately 6 hours worth of drip time. It is 33 inches round and 7 inches high when filled. The fill opening will fit a 1.5 inch diameter hose. Treegator® Jr. must be used on a level surface or properly built mulch pile.

When to Plant: Plant in the winter, and protect from frost with garden fabric.

Planting Depth and Spacing: Dig a hole deep enough to cover all but the top of the root ball where the graft is. The graft must be above ground. Fill the whole with a mixture of compost, bone meal, and soil, press firmly, and water thoroughly but gently. Mulch and then water the mulch, too. If purchasing full-sized trees, plant them 20-25 feet apart, as they will grow quite large. If planting dwarf varieties, it will depend on how large the adult trees get. The distance between trees could be as little as 6-8 feet.

Container Requirements: Your best bet for container growing apricots is to grow the dwarf varieties. A large container at least 18 inches deep is recommended; make sure that you purchase a self-pollinating variety if you intend to grow only one tree.

Pruning: Maintain a balance of old and young branches, as both bear fruit. Prune back the leading branches by one-third each year, and prune to keep the shape you want, especially if you’re espaliering against a wall. You will need to thin the leaves to 5 per shoot during the Spring, then to 3 per shoot after they have fruited. Thin the fruit at an early stage (when it is about the size of a marble) if it appears too thickly clustered.

Harvesting and Storage: The fruit is ripe for picking when it is easily twisted off the branch. Apricots do not store for long fresh and are best eaten right off the tree or within a few days of storing in the refrigerator. They are ideal for drying or canning and making into jams and jellies.

Pests to Monitor: Aphids, Flies, Wasps. Visit our pest control beneficials, barriers, scare tactics, homemade organic pesticide, and commercial organic pesticide pages to see your options and choose your weapons.

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