From Seed to Fruit: A Guide to Growing Apricot Trees from Scratch

Apricot trees have a rich history and are believed to have originated in China over 4,000 years ago. They were then introduced to the Mediterranean region and eventually made their way to Europe and the Americas. Apricot trees are known for their beautiful blossoms in the spring and delicious fruit in the summer. They are also highly valued for their nutritional benefits, as they are packed with vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants.

Growing apricot trees can be a rewarding experience for both experienced gardeners and beginners. Not only do they provide a beautiful addition to any landscape, but they also offer a bountiful harvest of sweet and juicy fruit. Apricot trees are relatively low-maintenance compared to other fruit trees, making them an ideal choice for home gardeners.

Key Takeaways

  • Apricot trees are a great addition to any garden or orchard.
  • Choosing the right variety is important for successful apricot tree growth.
  • Preparing the soil properly before planting is crucial for apricot tree health.
  • Proper watering and fertilization are key to ensuring a bountiful apricot harvest.
  • Protecting apricot trees from pests and diseases is essential for maintaining tree health and fruit quality.

Choosing the Right Apricot Tree Variety

When choosing apricot tree varieties, there are several factors to consider. First, you need to determine the climate in your area and choose a variety that is suitable for your region. Apricot trees thrive in areas with cold winters and hot summers, as they require a certain number of chilling hours in order to produce fruit.

Popular apricot tree varieties include the Moorpark, which is known for its large and flavorful fruit, and the Goldcot, which is an early ripening variety. The Blenheim apricot is another popular choice, as it has a rich flavor and is great for eating fresh or making preserves. Each variety has its own unique characteristics, so it’s important to choose one that suits your taste preferences and growing conditions.

Preparing the Soil for Apricot Tree Planting

Apricot trees require well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, it’s important to test your soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. This will help you determine if any amendments are needed to create the optimal growing conditions for your apricot tree.

If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH level. If it is too alkaline, you can add sulfur to lower the pH level. Additionally, adding compost or well-rotted manure to the soil will help improve its fertility and drainage.

To prepare the soil for planting, start by removing any weeds or grass from the area. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your apricot tree. Mix in any necessary amendments and backfill the hole with the amended soil. Make sure to water the tree thoroughly after planting to help settle the soil.

Planting Apricot Trees: Step-by-Step Guide

Step Description
1 Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil
2 Prepare the soil by digging a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball
3 Remove the tree from its container and gently loosen the roots
4 Place the tree in the hole and backfill with soil, tamping down gently
5 Water the tree thoroughly and add a layer of mulch around the base
6 Prune the tree to remove any damaged or crossing branches
7 Continue to water and care for the tree regularly

The best time to plant apricot trees is in the early spring, after the danger of frost has passed. Choose a location that receives full sun and has good air circulation. Avoid planting apricot trees in low-lying areas where cold air can settle, as this can increase the risk of frost damage.

To plant an apricot tree, follow these steps:

1. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your apricot tree.
2. Mix in any necessary amendments, such as compost or well-rotted manure.
3. Place the tree in the hole, making sure that the bud union (the swollen area where the tree was grafted onto the rootstock) is above ground level.
4. Backfill the hole with the amended soil, making sure to firm it gently around the roots.
5. Water the tree thoroughly after planting to help settle the soil.

Watering and Fertilizing Apricot Trees

Apricot trees have moderate water requirements and should be watered deeply but infrequently. It’s important to provide enough water to keep the soil evenly moist, but not saturated. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases, while underwatering can cause the fruit to shrivel and the tree to become stressed.

During the first year after planting, water your apricot tree once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions. As the tree becomes established, you can reduce the frequency of watering to once every two weeks. However, it’s important to monitor the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

In terms of fertilizing, apricot trees benefit from a balanced fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply a slow-release fertilizer in the spring, just as new growth begins. Avoid fertilizing in late summer or fall, as this can stimulate new growth that may be susceptible to frost damage.

Pruning and Training Apricot Trees

Pruning is an important part of apricot tree care, as it helps maintain the tree’s shape, promote healthy growth, and improve fruit production. The best time to prune apricot trees is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This allows the tree to heal quickly and reduces the risk of disease.

When pruning apricot trees, start by removing any dead or diseased branches. Then, thin out any crowded or crossing branches to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration. Finally, prune back any long or leggy branches to encourage branching and fruit production.

In addition to pruning, training your apricot tree is important for shaping its growth and maximizing fruit production. The central leader training system is commonly used for apricot trees, where a single main trunk is encouraged to grow vertically with lateral branches spaced evenly along its length.

Protecting Apricot Trees from Pests and Diseases

Apricot trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases that can affect their health and fruit production. Common pests include aphids, mites, and peach twig borers. Diseases such as brown rot and bacterial canker can also cause significant damage to apricot trees.

To prevent pest and disease problems, it’s important to practice good sanitation in your orchard. Remove any fallen fruit or leaves, as these can harbor pests and diseases. Additionally, monitor your trees regularly for signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate action if necessary.

There are several organic methods for controlling pests and diseases on apricot trees. These include using insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils to control aphids and mites, and applying copper-based fungicides to prevent fungal diseases. It’s important to follow the instructions on the product labels and apply them at the appropriate times.

Harvesting Apricots: When and How to Pick Them

Apricots are ready to harvest when they are fully ripe and have a deep orange color. They should be slightly soft to the touch but not mushy. To determine if an apricot is ripe, gently press your thumb against the skin. If it leaves a slight indentation, the fruit is ready to be picked.

When harvesting apricots, it’s best to use a pair of pruning shears or scissors to cut the fruit from the tree. This helps prevent damage to the branches and reduces the risk of introducing diseases. Make sure to leave a small stem attached to the fruit, as this helps prolong its shelf life.

It’s important to harvest apricots when they are fully ripe, as they do not continue to ripen after being picked. If you pick them too early, they may not develop their full flavor and sweetness. However, if you wait too long, they may become overripe and start to rot.

Storing and Using Apricots: Tips and Recipes

Apricots are best enjoyed fresh, but they can also be stored for later use. To store apricots, place them in a single layer in a shallow container or tray. Store them in a cool location, such as a basement or refrigerator, where the temperature is around 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Apricots can be stored for up to two weeks if kept in optimal conditions.

In addition to eating apricots fresh, there are many delicious recipes that feature this versatile fruit. Apricot jam and preserves are popular choices, as they capture the sweet and tangy flavor of apricots. Apricot tarts and pies are also delicious options, as the fruit’s natural sweetness pairs well with buttery pastry.

For a savory twist, apricots can be used in salads, salsas, and chutneys. They add a burst of flavor and a touch of sweetness to these dishes. Apricot chicken is another popular recipe, where the fruit is used to create a tangy glaze for roasted or grilled chicken.

Troubleshooting Common Apricot Tree Problems

Despite their relatively low-maintenance nature, apricot trees can still face a variety of problems. Some common issues include frost damage, sunburn, and nutrient deficiencies. Frost damage occurs when apricot trees are exposed to freezing temperatures during bloom or fruit set. This can cause the flowers or young fruit to die, resulting in reduced fruit production.

Sunburn can occur when apricot trees are exposed to intense sunlight without adequate protection. This can cause the fruit to develop brown patches or become shriveled. To prevent sunburn, it’s important to provide shade for the tree during the hottest part of the day, especially in regions with hot summers.

Nutrient deficiencies can also affect apricot trees and lead to stunted growth and poor fruit production. The most common nutrient deficiencies in apricot trees are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Regular soil testing and proper fertilization can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote healthy growth.


Growing apricot trees can be a rewarding experience for both experienced gardeners and beginners. These trees have a rich history and offer a bountiful harvest of delicious fruit. By choosing the right variety, preparing the soil properly, and providing the necessary care, you can enjoy the beauty and bounty of apricot trees in your own backyard. Whether you eat them fresh, preserve them, or use them in recipes, apricots are a versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in many ways. So why not give apricot trees a try and experience the joy of growing your own fruit?