Growing Apricot Trees

How to Grow Apricots

Apricots are an excellent choice for your backyard: they start bearing fruit in the third or fourth year and you can expect three to four bushels of fruit from a standard-sized tree.

Apricot flowers are also beautiful and will give a touch of pink and white to your garden.

Growing from Seeds

It is much easier to have a tree that produces fruits if you pick a plant from your local greenhouse (they will also advise you on what cultivar is most suited for your climate and terrain).

If, however, you still want to try growing a tree from seeds, you should be aware that Apricot stones need to be stratified before they will germinate.

Take the apricot stone directly from a ripe apricot, soak it for a day, then wrap it in damp paper towel then plastic (or in a bag of damp, sterilized sand, as is done in the nursery industry), and place it into the refrigerator at about 4� C for a month (if you want to try this with peaches and plums, the storage period goes up to four months).

This procedure is needed to replicate what would happen in nature: damp seeds from the fruit would fall onto the wet ground and go through a cold winter.

When conditions warm up again (i.e. when you remove the stone from the refrigerator) and sow it into potting mix at about 20-25�C, it should be ready to germinate. Don't be impatient though, the hard seed coat makes the process of germination very slow!


Apricots are generally grown on three rootstocks: Torinel, Myrobolan and Seedling Peach. The only thing you should beware of are suckers coming up from the roots: you should remove them immediately, since they belong to the rootstock and if left to grow, they will develop into the original tree and could harm the growth of your apricot.

Pruning and Growing

Apricot trees are suited for cooler climates, fruiting earlier than most other summer fruits, but they can also be grown just as well in sub-tropical climates, provided they don't get too warm during winter or they will fruit too early.

Your plant should be put in a location with lots of sunlight exposure and a loamy rich soil that drains well; trees grow to a large size, so plan to have at least 5m of space for your tree.

The secret in producing lots of apricots is really pruning: like most other drupe varieties (like plums and peaches), apricots are produced from second year wood, so for the first two years you should only prune lightly or the tree will take too long to bear fruit.

As the plant grows, you should remove any crossing and rubbing branches and the ones growing vertical, in the center of the tree, but leave all other branches untouched, since pruning can increase the chance of bacterial canker and the fungal disease silver leaf.

After the first two years, the best way to prune is the vase shape: it makes for easier access to ripe fruits, improves air flow through the branches and evens out sunlight exposure for apricots growing in different branches.

Pruning is best done during dry summer days: in winter, the chance of the tree becoming infected with bacterial canker is very high, as is the chance of silver leaf during wet summer days.

Some people with too little room for a tree prefer using a fan shape, but that will really limit the amount of fruit you get and will weaken the tree, especially if it's exposed to lots of strong winds.

Once you get the first set of fruits it is usually a good idea to fertilize again, to sustain the tree. You should also water up until harvest, since fruits are very water-intensive.

Watering and Fertilizing

Water should be applied about once a week, taking care not to drench the roots (apricots suffer from root rot). You can double the watering to twice a week during the fruiting period, but try not to overdo it.

Fertilizer can be applied in late winter, and a second time during the fruiting period to help the tree sustain the stress.


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