The Q&A Archives: Planting Apricot Seeds

Question: A friend of mine gave me a delicious apricot from his tree. I saved the seed. How do I plant this seed to produce an apricot as delicious as my friend's and how long will it be before the tree produces apricots?

Answer: Apricot is Prunus armeniaca- Home grown apricots can be so sweet and flavorsome, you won't believe your taste buds! The main challenges are to keep birds away from them, and in warmer areas, to get good fruit set. They require less winter chilling than most peaches, but, paradoxically, often drop their buds following a warm winter and early spring. Equally, because they flower very early in Spring, the blossoms can be damaged in locations that tend to trap frost in pockets. Apricots really need reasonably free draining soil, unless they are grafted onto plum roostock. Many varieties of apricot are self fertile. However, a pollenizer will increase production.

They are reasonably attractive in bloom, although not quite as showy as most peaches. As they bear fruit on short spurs, they don't need the regular fairly drastic yearly pruning that peaches and nectarines do. Most pruning can be done in summer, after fruiting, and is aimed at controlling size and form, removing old played out spurs and encouraging some new growth for future spurring.
Birds love apricots, and netting the tree is difficult, given it's size. This makes dwarf cultivars an interesting proposition. In addition, like all stone fruit, apricots are subject to 'silverleaf' fungus disease, and 'brown rot' of the fruit. Drier climates have far fewer problems with fungus than wetter areas, and are regarded as almost trouble free trees.

All in all, apricots are immensely rewarding, but because selecting the right variety for your local climatic conditions is of the highest importance, and the fruits have to be protected from varmints, apricots are best regarded as a must for those drier and cold enough but not too cold areas where apricots fruit well, but an uncertain bet in late frost prone, or humid, or very warm areas.

While you can start a new tree from an apricot seed, it's best to purchase a cultivar that has been grafted onto a vigorous rootstock.

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