You love gardening and you love apricots. And, growing apricot trees is easy. So, why not grow an apricot tree or two right in your backyard!?
Apricot trees are easy to grow. They prefer cooler temperatures. They grow better, and are more productive, in the northern part of the U.S.
Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 – 8.
Apricot trees are grown from seed… the “Stone” inside of the fruit. It takes three or four years to go from the seedling stage to a fruit-producing tree. Like other fruit trees, most people don’t want to wait that long. Rather, home growers turn to garden nurseries to purchase young trees that can be transplanted in your backyard. The trees at your local nursery are a couple of years old. A small, nursery-bought Apricot tree will still need to grow another two years, before producing the first crop of fruit.
Important: Apricot fruit grows on second-year wood. So, keep this in mind, when pruning your tree, especially in its early life.
If you decide to grow your own Apricot tree from the stone, here’s how: First, soak the stone (or pit) in water for 24 hours. Then, place the stone in damp paper towels, moist sand, or peat moss. Put it into a sealable plastic bag. Place it in your refrigerator for at least a month. Then, it will be ready to plant and grow.
Select a location in your yard that receives full sun. Dig a deep hole. Add plenty of decomposed compost, if available. Mix thoroughly with regular garden soil. If the tree you have bought is inside of a peat pot, leave it in the container. It is helpful (but not required) to slit the container to allow roots to more easily exit the container. While making the slits, be careful not to cut the roots, as you can do more harm than good. If your tree is in a burlap bag, remove the bag. Gently spread the roots in the hole you have dug.
Bury the plant up to where it was in the container. Soak the soil thoroughly. Add more rich garden soil around the tree, if needed.
Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0.
Once your new Apricot tree is planted, it should grow quickly. We recommend staking the tree in its first year of life. Strong winds can bend the young sapling, causing the trunk to grow at an angle. Really strong winds might even cause the tree to sway and damage roots.
Fertilize plants in late winter-early spring, and again during the fruiting stage.
Tip: Fruit tree fertilizer spikes are a great way to boost the growth of your new Apricot tree. The spike slowly releases a fertilizer specifically formulated for fruit trees.
Each spring, before buds open, apply a dormant oil fruit tree spray. This will kill a variety of insects.
We highly recommend a regular program of spraying for both insects and plant diseases. If you use insect and/or disease sprays, follow the directions on the label carefully. Make sure to wear protective clothing and a mask when spraying.
More on Insects and Disease
Sometimes, birds will peck at the ripening fruit. Pest netting is an effective control measure.
Harvest fruit just before it turns completely ripe. Apricots are ready to pick when they have lost their green color and just begun to soften. Also, they separate easily from the branch. The fruit will still be hard, making it easier to handle and store.
Once it is picked, it will soften and ripen quickly. Store fruit in a cool, dry place, out of sunlight.
Like other plants, pruning established trees is healthy for them. It results in a bigger crop. Prune apricot trees annually in the early late winter or early spring, before the new year’s growth begins.
First, remove dead or unhealthy branches and limbs. Prune in areas where growth is very thick. This will increase sunlight and air penetration, to help the overall health and growth of the tree. You can also prune branches to maintain a shapely-looking tree.
IMPORTANT: As you prune, it is very important to keep in mind, that fruit grows from second-year wood. Prune lightly in the early years, to maximize fruit harvest.