The delicious little peach-colored fruits of the apricot tree make it worth growing. The trees feature beautiful pink flowers in the spring, with foliage that starts off bronze-colored, then turns green as the season progresses. The first fruits appear after two to three years, and can live up to 60 years or more in the right conditions.
Selecting a Good Site
Apricot trees thrive in hardy zones four through seven, requiring a cold winter dormant period so they can start growing in the spring. When they do awake in the spring, apricot trees grow very fast--making them susceptible to late frosts. This makes it important to find a frost-free site away from buildings that create cold pockets. You also need plenty of space for apricot trees to grow, as they reach up to at least 25 feet in diameter. Once you've selected the best site, plant the trees in full-sun areas--preferably in well-drained soil.
As soon as you've planted your tree, make sure to water it thoroughly. After that, give the tree a good soaking every four weeks until the tree matures. Mature apricot trees use up to 200 gallons of water per week in the hottest parts of the summer, so consider installing an irrigation system to keep the tree healthy during dry spells.
While apricot trees require little fertilizer, apply some in the early spring before they begin growing. Apply a small amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer along the tree's drip line. If your apricot tree grows right next to a lawn that receives fertilizer, you may not need to add any at all. Just make sure you're not using pesticides in that area of the lawn, as they can harm fruit trees.
Training and Pruning
To encourage growth leading to abundant fruits, apricot trees require training. This involves making sure the top of the tree does not overshadow lower branches. During the first pruning, head the upper three or four shoots to encourage branch growth. After apricot trees mature, they require minimal pruning although you may want to occasionally thin the branches.
Fruit starts appearing on apricot trees into the second or third year of growth. To harvest the largest fruit you can, you need to thin the fruit when it reaches about 1 inch in diameter. This means keeping fruits about 2 inches apart, and discarding the rest. Fruit matures in mid-to-late summer, depending on the type of tree you plant.