Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Apricots were cultivated in China from 2000 BC, spreading later to the Middle East and Europe along the ancient Silk Road trading route, and reaching California during the late 1700s.
Apricots are stone fruits belonging to the Prunus genus of the rose (Rosaceae) family and produce tasty fruit and are beautiful flowering ornamentals.
Flowering can start as early as February to April when other plants just emerging and have not yet sprouted new foliage. The aromatic flowers are 1 – 2 inches in diameter, often in shades of white, pink, red, and bicolored, depending on the variety. Oval in shape, the leaves have serrated edges and pointed tips.
The trees can grow as high as 20 – 25 feet and as wide, while semi-dwarfs can reach 12 – 18 feet high and wide, with smaller dwarf varieties growing about 5 – 8 feet high and as wide. The lifespan of the trees is between 20 to 40 years depending on growing conditions and variety.
The yellow/orange fruit contains a stone encasing a bitter seed. The small one-inch fruits are standard – but a few modern varieties can produce larger fruit. It’s important to plant a variety that thrives in your zone, as late frosts can damage the new sets of blooms and prevent fruiting.
Under appropriate conditions, fruits will appear on the trees 3 – 5 months after the flowers.
Most varieties are self-pollinating, but a bigger harvest can be achieved by planting 2 varieties that flower together in the same month. Standard varieties are better planted in the ground, dwarf varieties can also be grown in containers if space is limited.
Apricot Tree Light Requirements
For better harvests of fruit and more flower production, plant the tree in a sunny location or it gets a minimum of 6 – 8 hours of full sun. It can benefit from partial shade in hot areas to protect it from the scorching sun in summer.
Apricot Tree Watering
Newly planted trees need frequent watering in spring and summer during their first year. Check to see if the topsoil is dry twice a week. After they are established, water them weekly. Mature fruit-producing trees need additional watering when setting out fruit. Drip, sprinklers, or other watering techniques can be used to make sure the soil is saturated.
Be wary of over-watering – if it starts to show yellowing leaves or looks droopy, reduce watering. Crispy dry leaves indicate under-watering, so increase supplemental watering. Container-grown trees need more watering, as their soil dries out faster.
Apricot Tree Humidity
These trees prefer dry environments of low humidity.
Apricot Tree Temperature
The ideal growing temperature for these trees is between 65 – 85°F. The trees need to undergo a cold period of 45°F and below for 250 to 1,200 hours (depending on the variety) to set fruit.
Most varieties enjoy warm weather but also need cold winters to become dormant and thrive and produce abundant fruit when winter and spring temperatures don’t fluctuate too much.
Apricot Tree Soil
These trees grow better in loamy, organically rich, and well-drained soils with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH.
Apricot Tree Repotting
Dwarf varieties are more suitable for keeping in containers including gardens if space is limited. They should be planted initially in deep containers with a width of 18 inches and need repotting into larger containers after a year, then every 2 – 3 years until they reach their full mature height of 5 – 8 feet. Repotting must only be done when they are becoming dormant in late autumn.
Begin by thoroughly watering the plant a few hours before since moist soil is easier to work with when repotting. Prepare the new container by filling the pot’s base with a mix of good draining soil and compost.
Carefully place the tree inside the container and add enough soil to keep it firmly in place without compacting the roots. Keep the soil saturated but not water-logged and place the container in a sunny area.
Apricot Tree Propagation
Most fruit trees of the Rosaceae family are best propagated by professional nurseries using cuttings, budding, and grafting as seeds don’t grow true as the parent plant.
Cuttings can be taken in autumn when leaves remain or in winter when the tree is dormant. Cut 6 – 9-inch long pieces from healthy branches, making sure each cutting has 3 or 4 leaf buds. Strip any leaves from the lower half of the cutting, leaving some foliage on top.
Wet the lower ends with water and dip them into rooting hormone before inserting the cuttings several inches into pots filled with wet sand and peat moss.
Keep the cuttings with foliage under partial shade and cuttings without foliage under partial shade or full sun. Keep the soil moist until they root and produce new growth in spring.
Apricot Tree Additional Care
Fertilize the trees in spring before new foliar growth emerges, using low nitrogen or fruiting fertilizer around the tree’s base.
Pruning helps maintain overall health and should be done in winter or spring before the trees start growing actively. Ornamental trees can also be pruned in summer. The trees are more robust when young, so cut back the trees by around 20% to help prep them for fruiting and provide good air circulation. Dying or diseased growth or suckers at the tree’s base should be removed whenever spotted.
Then, prune any inward-growing or cross-growing branches to prevent them from damaging their bark which can allow pests or diseases to attack the tree. Finally, prune 3 or 4 branches to reduce them to maintain the overall shape. Make sure to prune above the buds, cutting vertical branches at 45° and horizontal branches at a straight 90° angle. Remove any fallen plant debris and inspect the tree for splitting or damage that might serve as a potential entry for pests or diseases.
Apricot Tree Common Problems
The biggest obstacle to a productive fruit crop is frost. Good maintenance, suitable feeding, and watering are all the extra care needed when the tree is established and flowers have endured any frost in your area.
Sap-feeding pests such as aphids, mites, mealybugs, and scale drink sap from the tree and can eventually make the leaves become yellow and drop off. They also make the tree vulnerable to problems from other pests and diseases. These pests can be controlled and eliminated by spraying the tree with a neem oil or insecticidal soap solution every week during the growing season.
Powdery mildew can appear overnight and is characterized by web-like, white growth. Apricot trees infected by powdery mildew might have red or purple discolorations and scabs. A spray of water and baking soda is used by gardeners to treat powdery mildew. This solution only kills the fungus and won’t damage the tree.
Do apricot trees need plenty of water?
Apricot trees are not drought-tolerant and need to be watered thoroughly once every 10 – 14 days, provided that they grow in well-draining soil. More frequent watering is required for container plants or during summer. First, make sure the topsoil has dried before watering to prevent over-watering issues.
How many years will it take for an apricot tree to produce fruit?
Trees start bearing fruit when they’re 3 – 4 years old.
What kind of fertilizer is ideal to use on apricot trees?
The tree responds well to any granular balanced fertilizer however, using low-nitrogen or fruiting fertilizer is recommended for established trees.
What month do apricot trees start bearing fruit?
The flowers appear in late February or early March and require frost-free weather to produce fruit. It takes around 100 – 120 days before fruit can be harvested, usually around June or July.
Do apricot trees need pruning?
Apricot trees need to be pruned at least once a year. Pruning not only helps it look neater but also promotes new growth and more fruit. Removing dead /damaged branches increases airflow and light and improves the tree’s overall health.