If you can develop apricots, you are in luck. The trees are all beautiful, using mottled bark, beautiful blossoms in early spring and dark green leaves. They are also excellent for smaller gardens, as even the typical varieties rarely reach over 20 ft tall.
Though they have a reputation for being delicate, so that applies mainly to the fruit. Apricot trees are amazingly cold tolerant, which means it is possible to technically grow them in cold-winter areas. If you want fruit, though, your best option for developing apricots is in a climate such as California’s. Before the fruit can set they blossom so ancient that the blooms are often destroied by frost. When most varieties want some winter cool, they also do best where springs are warm and not too wet. Still, breeders are pushing the selection; checking with the regional county extension office and nurseries could uncover a variety for your area.
Where to grow : In areas having early spring weather that isn’t too wet. You’ll be successful in USDA zones 7 through 9, but give it a go in zones 4 through 6 also.
Favorites: Autumn Glo, Autumn Royal, Blenheim, Flora Gold, Goldcot, Gold Kist, Harcot, Manchurian Bush, Montrose, Moongold, Moorpark, Newcastle, Nugget, Pixie-cot, Puget Gold, Royalty, Sungold, Tomcot, Wenatchee
Planting guidelines: Plant bare-root trees in late winter or early spring in colder climates; in fall in warmer climates. Bare-root trees predominate on the market, but there might be a few accessible containers. Don’t plant where you’ve developed other plants that may develop verticillium wilt, like tomatoes and eggplants.
Care demands: Water newly planted trees and frequently through the blossoming and growing season. Adding compost around the trees (keep it inches away from the trunks) can help conserve water and prevent bruising on fallen fruit. Water trees profoundly but just sometimes.
Feeding: Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in the spring.
Thinning: Thin immature fruit about halfway through the growing season once the fruit is about the size of a quarter. Spacing recommendations vary from 1 to 4 inches; just be sure the full-size fruit will not touch. (The apricot in the center of the cluster in this photograph is a great candidate for pruning)
Pruning: You have a Few options when pruning. Start when planting, shaping the tree to have either an open centre or a modified central leader, where the central trunk is surrounded by equally positioned reduced branches, then topped with a vase-like cluster of upward-growing branches. After that, unlike with most fruit trees, prune just after harvesting the fruit to prevent diseases from spreading during the rainy season. Prune chiefly to keep the tree in shape and remove dead, diseased or crossing branches. The fruit will sort on spurs off the prior year’s expansion, so you’ll want to keep these. Once a spur no longer generates fruit, eliminate it.
Pests and diseases: Fungal diseases can be an issue with apricots. These diseases include black knot, brown rot, canker, leaf spot, powdery mildew and silver leaf. Other diseases might be prevalent in certain areas; check with nurseries and cooperative extension services and look for disease-resistant varieties. Pest problems include aphids and nematodes. A preventative spray schedule is most likely your best choice for controlling these issues.
Maintaining birds and squirrels out of your harvest is just another situation. Netting and shiny objects can help somewhat. To defeat rabbits, imitation predators or even a backyard dog or cat could be your best option.
Harvest: Harvest time varies, depending upon variety, from early summer to midsummer, but overall this season is pretty short. Pick when the fruit is fully orange and slightly tender. Gently twist the stem to remove the fruit. Utilize the fruit quickly; apricots don’t keep well unless they are preserved or dried.