A small tree, apricots are an ideal size for home gardens. Apricot trees grow just 12 feet high, and most apricot varieties are also available as dwarf or semi-dwarf trees. However, not all apricot trees are alike; some require separate pollinators and high-winter chill, while others bloom too early for cold-winter zones. The right apricot tree blooms and ripens at the right time, and as a bonus provides attractive foliage and fall color.
The "Chinese" or "Mormon" apricot tree is self-fertile and heavy bearing and produces a medium-sized fruit with good flavor and texture. It pollinates other varieties, and the yellow to yellow-orange fruit ripens early. This is a good variety for zones with late frosts; Chinese trees bloom very late, avoiding spring cold snaps that eliminate fruit production on early blooming trees.
"Moorpark" apricot fruit is large and has a superior taste when fresh. Like Chinese, Moorpark is self-fertile and acts as a pollinator for other apricot trees. The fruit has an uneven yellow to orange color. The Utah State University Extension states that the fruit is of average quality for home canning but flavorful when dried.
A hardy, all-around apricot tree, "'Tilton" is resistant to late frosts, brown rot and sunburn. The fruits have an excellent fresh flavor, and they are good candidates for canning and drying. The fruits are small, with a red cast to the skin, and they do not bruise easily during shipping or storage. Tilton pollinates other apricots, but it is a late-blooming variety; do not rely on Tilton to flower in time to pollinate earlier-blooming apricot trees. New Mexico State University names Tilton as the most popular apricot for home freezing and canning.
The standard variety for California gardens, the "Royal" apricot tree requires less winter chill than other apricot trees. The fruit has good flavor and keeps its color after drying, as does Tilton's fruit. This variety is a vigorous tree and bears heavily. According to the University of Georgia, Royal apricot trees produce 80 percent of the apricots grown in the United States.