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The Basics of Growing an Apricot Tree

Do you enjoy eating apricots?  These sweet, slightly juicy fruits are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.  With a texture and taste similar to the peach, apricots have so many health benefits for you.  Because it can be pricey to buy a lot of apricots, you may find it to be a fun experience to grow your own apricot tree.  If that is something you plan on doing this year, read on.  In this article I will be going over how to plant an apricot (along with tips for growing it from seed), how to properly care for your apricot tree, how to successfully prune your apricot tree, and tips for telling when the apricots are ripe.  I hope this article helps you grow an apricot tree so that you have an abundance of apricots.  Let's get started.

How to Grow an Apricot Tree from Seed

Growing an apricot tree from seed is an affordable and easy way to grow an apricot tree.  Usually people choose not to grow apricot trees from seed because it doesn't seem like it would work.  However, growing an apricot tree from seed works just as well as growing a seedling.  It is recommend to choose an apricot seed that is hard and almond-like.  These seeds tend to carry on the most desirable traits of the parents.  Once you have chosen your seeds, or have chosen your fruit, here are the steps you must take.

Steps for Growing an Apricot Tree from Seed:
  1. To begin your apricot seed planting, choose a luscious mid- to late-season type of apricot, ideally one that was grown from seed itself.  Eat the fruit so that you can get to the seed.  If you will be growing multiple apricot seeds, eat a few apricots.  Scrub any flesh off and lay them out on newspaper for three hours or so to dry.
  2. Now you need to get the seed out of the pit.  Use a hammer carefully on the side of the pit to crack it.  You can also use a nutcracker or vise.  It is important that you get the seed out of the pit without crushing it.  It is possible to plant the entire pit, but the germination will take longer.
  3. Once the seed is out of the pit, allow it to dry on the newspaper for a few more hours.  You can then store it in a jar with a lid or a zip-top plastic bag in the refrigerator to stratify the seeds for 60 days.  However, if you got the apricots from the grocery store, they have already been in the cold.  This means that you don't need to stratify them.  But if you bought them from a farmer' market or picked them directly from a tree, it is necessary to stratify the seeds.
  4. If you are not going to stratify the seed, wrap it in a clean, damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag by a window.  Water the seed as needed to keep it moist and change the paper towel if mildew begins to grow.
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How to Plant an Apricot Tree

Whether you grew it from seed or bought a seedling, you'll need to plant your apricot tree into the ground at some point.  You will want to plant them into a pot before you plant them outdoors.  This is because your apricot tree needs time to grow and get big before it gets transplanted outdoors.  Here are the steps to planting your apricot tree.

  1. Once you spot some roots emerging from the apricot seed, it is time to plant it.  Plant the sprouting seed into a pot.  If you plant multiple seeds, which is recommended, put one seed per 4-inch pot.  Make sure the pot is filled with potting soil.  Place the root end down.
  2. Keep the growing apricots in a sunny window, under grow lights, or in a greenhouse until they get bigger.  When they are bigger, transplant them outdoors.  Apricot trees can be grown indoors, but you'll need to transplant them into a larger pot.

Tips for Caring for an Apricot Tree

Just like all trees, apricot trees need plenty of care in order for them to produce fruit.  The main ways you must care for your apricot tree is to watch out for pests and diseases, water your apricot tree, and prune the branches.  You will also need to provide the proper soil for your apricot tree.  Here are the steps to caring for an apricot tree.

How to Water Your Apricot Tree

Apricots need a consistent source of water during the growing season to maximize fruit yield.  The moisture will help strengthen the buds for next year's yield, and it will make the tree produce larger, more succulent fruits.  For mature trees, water every 10 to 14 days if there's been no rain.  Let it soak into the soil.  Be careful though that you don't let the water pool around the tree trunk because that can lead to root rot.  If your apricot trees are young, they will need more frequent watering for about the first year.  However, if your area gets lots of moisture during winter and spring, you may only have to water the mature apricot three to four times from summer into fall.

Watch Out for Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases that can damage apricot trees are the peach twig borer, San Jose scale, aphid and mite eggs, brown rot, and shot hole fungus.  These pests and diseases can be prevented if you spray the apricot tree.  Spray the tree in the winter with dormant oil to kill aphid and mite eggs, as well as to control San Jose scale and peach tree borer.  For brown rot and shot hole fungus, spray the tree just as the buds begin to open with a fungicide that contains fixed copper.  Never use sulfur sprays on apricots.  Painting the trunk in the spring with a half-and-half mixture of white interior latex paint and water may also help prevent borer infestation and sunburn.  Read the entire label before using insecticides and follow the instructions.

Provide the Proper Fertilizer

Apricot trees benefit from fertilization with urea twice a year.  The first feeding should be given in the spring, just before the first irrigation, and the second feeding should be given in the summer.

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How to Prune Your Apricot Tree

Pruning a tree is very important, which means your apricot tree must be pruned in order for it to produce a large quantity of fruit.  To prune your apricot tree at planting time, look for a few solid branches that grow out more than up before you start cutting.  These branches are said to have a wide crotch, referring to the angle between the main trunk and the branch.  Those are the branches you want to save.  When you remove a branch, cut it close to the collar, which is the thickened area between the main trunk and the branch.  Here are the steps to pruning an apricot tree:

  1. Remove all the damaged or broken shoots and limbs.
  2. Remove all branches with a narrow crotch, which would be those that grow up more than out.
  3. It is important to remove all branches that are within 18 inches of the ground.
  4. Shorten the main trunk to a height of 36 inches.
  5. Remove additional branches as necessary to space them at least 6 inches apart.
  6. Shorten the remaining lateral branches to 2 to 4 inches in length.  Each stub should have at least one bud.
How to Prune a Mature Apricot Tree

Once your apricot tree is mature, you'll want to start pruning it in a different manner.  The difference between pruning a young apricot tree and a mature apricot tree is that during the second year, pruning reinforces the structure you began in the first year and allows for some new main branches.  To prune your mature apricot tree, remove wayward branches that are growing at odd angles.  Also remove branches that are growing up or down.  Make sure the branches you leave on the tree are several inches apart.  Shorten last year’s main branches to about 30 inches.

Remember to remove branches that were damaged during the winter and old side-shoots that are no longer producing fruit.  You should also remove shoots that grow taller than the main trunk.  Thin out the canopy so that sunlight reaches the interior and air circulates freely.  By pruning your tree, more sunlight will reach your apricot tree which means it will be healthier and will produce more fruit.

How to Tell When the Apricots Are Ripe

Unlike some fruits that can be hard to tell if they are ripe, apricot trees are normally very easy to tell if they are ripe or not.  Ripe apricots will turn from green to yellowish-orange in color.  They should feel slightly softened, but still firm to the touch.  To remove the apricots from the tree, gently pull it off the branch.  Apricots can be stored for three weeks in a cool location.  You also have the option of canning, freezing, or making them into pies.  Or you can eat them fresh.  For more information on ways to eat apricots, click here.

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Final Thoughts

Are you thinking of growing apricot trees in your yard?  You have come to the right place.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this article on how to grow your own apricot tree.  In this article, I went over how to plant your apricot tree from seed, how to care for your apricot tree, how to prune your tree, and tips for telling when the apricots are ripe.  So, go buy some apricots and plant the seeds.  Your hard work will result in a large supply of apricots.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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