Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Care for an Apricot Tree

Apricot trees produce some of the most versatile fruits. Eat the sweet golden globes right off the tree, make jam or dry them for future use. Proper watering, timely pruning and the thinning of immature fruit are great ways to ensure maximum harvest from your tree and keep it healthy.

Apricot Varieties

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca), suited to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, are members of the Rosaceae family. Common varieties include the 'Wilson Delicious," the 'Zaiglo' Stark Golden Glo and the 'Homedale' Stark Sweetheart.

All three prefer full sun and planting in a sheltered location in moderately moist soil. A good spot is on the south side of a home on slightly sloping ground to assure good drainage. The flowers bloom in April, which can make it challenging to grow apricots in areas that are subject to late frosts. All three varieties grow to between 8 and 10 feet tall with a spread of 8 to 10 feet. These apricots are self-fruiting. Even if you have a solitary tree, it will bear fruit.

Watering Your Apricot

Apricots need a consistent source of water during the growing season to maximize fruit yield. The current crop will have larger, more succulent fruits and the moisture will help strengthen the buds for the next year's yield.

  • For mature trees, water every 10 to 14 days if there's been no rain. Let it soak into the soil but don't let the water pool around the tree trunk because it can cause root rot. Trees just getting established need more frequent watering, particularly during the first year.
  • If your area gets lots of moisture during winter and spring, you may only have to water the mature apricot three to four times from summer into fall.

Pruning Your Apricot

Pruning apricots not only maintains the tree's shape, it maximizes fruit yield. Spurs first develop on year-old branches and they produce fruit for up to four years. Cutting away older wood encourages new branch growth, and new spurs.

  • Apricots need a consistent source of water during the growing season to maximize fruit yield.
  • Wait until the fruit has fallen, usually by late August, before pruning. This timing also allows the cuts to heal before the winter season. Allow at least six weeks between pruning and the usual start of the rainy season in your area.
  • Dead or diseased branches should be trimmed away, especially those that droop down from the main stem in the tree's center. By keeping the crown thinned, more sunlight reaches the remaining branches, improving photosynthesis, the process by which plants manufacture their food. The extra sugars produced by photosynthesis help make the fruit sweeter.

Maximizing the Harvest

Since apricots flower so early, usually in April, there's always the danger of a late frost damaging your crop. Some people try to minimize the damage by covering the trees with blankets or even a frame covered with burlap, sometimes with the addition of a heat source.

Another way to maximize the harvest is to thin out the fruit. The flowers grow in clusters and if every one produces an apricot, there's not enough room for the maturing fruits. If there is no frost damage, it's up to the grower to pull off some of the immature fruits so the remaining apricots grow larger and sweeter. Late May is the best time to thin in most climates.

Tip

In mild climates, apricots ripen in July. In cooler areas, fruits should be ready by August. Not all fruits on the tree ripen at the same time. Ripe apricots are an orange-yellow hue, are a bit soft to the touch, and have a sweet scent.

Related Articles

How to Care for a Peach Tree to Make Big Peaches
How to Care for a Peach Tree to Make Big Peaches
Peach Tree Varieties in Missouri
Peach Tree Varieties in Missouri
Varieties of Apricot Trees
Varieties of Apricot Trees
What Fruit Trees Are Good for Indiana?
What Fruit Trees Are Good for Indiana?
The Best Fruit Trees Suited for Pueblo, CO
The Best Fruit Trees Suited for Pueblo, CO
When Do Pecans Ripen in Texas?
When Do Pecans Ripen in Texas?
Peach Trees for Florida
Peach Trees for Florida
Late-Flowering Apricot Trees
Late-Flowering Apricot Trees
How to Prune Apricot Trees in California
How to Prune Apricot Trees in California
How to Prune a Peach Tree in Texas
How to Prune a Peach Tree in Texas
How to Prune a Dwarf Peach Tree
How to Prune a Dwarf Peach Tree
The Best Fruit Trees to Grow in Central Texas
The Best Fruit Trees to Grow in Central Texas
How to Prune Old Cherry Trees
How to Prune Old Cherry Trees
The Best Peach Trees for South Carolina
The Best Peach Trees for South Carolina
How to Prune Feijoa Trees
How to Prune Feijoa Trees
List of Self-Pollinating Cherry Trees
List of Self-Pollinating Cherry Trees
Garden Guides
×