Apricot Trees UK – How To Grow & Care For Apricots

Growing apricot trees in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon but it’s one that’s not impossible. There are now a few apricot tree cultivars that have been specially developed to suit the UK climate. They have shown to be prolific croppers of delicious fruit and what’s more, they’re simple to grow.

apricot tree with bunch of apricots set against leaves
It is now possible to grow apricots in the UK climate.

Apricot trees are fast growing, winter-hardy fruit trees that will eventually reach a height of around 3m. While they can be grown as standard trees, it is advisable to train them to grow as a bush, this way you’ll have better access to the fruit and the tree won’t become too big for your garden.

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Apricot Fruit Production & Growth Seasons

An apricot tree will product fruit around 3 to 4 years after planting. If you choose to grow your tree in a pot you might get a fruit crop after 2 years. You can look forward to yummy creations such as jam, pies, sauces, cakes, and as a tasty salad accompaniment.

Apricot trees blossom in late February

Apricot trees blossom very early in the season. Late February sees the emergence of gorgeous pink blossom petals on apricot trees. This blossom gives way to glorious apricots in reds, pinks, and yellows. Apricot trees are ready to harvest in July and August.

Apricot trees blossom very early in the season. Late February sees the emergence of gorgeous pink blossom petals on apricot trees. This blossom gives way to glorious apricots in reds, pinks, and yellows. Apricot trees are ready to harvest in July and August.

How To Grow Apricot Trees

Imagine having your own juicy apricots ready to bite into from the comforts of your lovely garden. It is easier than you might think to grow apricot trees – you just need the right conditions such as sun, shelter, and well-drained soil.

When planting the tree, cut back the main stem to encourage the growth of the side-shoots. This will encourage it to become bushy, rather than grow upwards. Then as the plant grows, remove any branches that are growing vertically, and any branches that are susceptible to picking up disease, such as those, which are rubbing together. Make sure you don’t over-prune the tree, however, as this in itself can encourage the onset of disease, particularly canker, or silver leaf, which would infect the tree through the wounds made when pruning.

Planting Apricot Trees

If you are growing your tree as a bush, make sure you leave lots of space to grow outwards. This can be as much as 5m if you have the space. Alternatively, you can grow the tree along a trellis, and train it in a fan shape. This is ideal for small gardens, though it is likely that you will get less fruit if you grow it this way, and the greater amount of pruning needed to train the tree will increase its risk of developing a disease.

When To Plant Apricots

The best time for planting your apricot tree is between November and March – otherwise known as the dormant period. If you are looking for the most ideal conditions possible then get it planted in the Autumn, before the soil gets colder.

Where To Plant Apricots

In your mind, you may well have a picture formed of where your apricot tree will sit and this is great. However, you need to make sure you get the location 100% spot on to get the best fruit production. With that in mind, your tree should be planted in a sheltered location, in a south-west facing direction. Apricots tend to be grown in rootstocks – mainly ‘St Julien A’ or ‘Torinel’. Planting should ideally be done in deep soil that is well moisturised.

Plant bare-root trees from autumn onwards, making sure they are in the ground by mid spring. They prefer a free-draining soil, rich in organic matter. They can tolerate quite chalky soils but will do less well in heavier, clay soils. Their roots also enjoy a free reign, so it’s best not to grow them in pots or in confined spaces where they’ll have lots of competition.

Apricot Rootstocks

Apricots are typically grown on three rootstocks: Torinel, Myrobolan and Seedling Peach. Beware of suckers coming up from the roots and remove them immediately (they belong to the rootstock and, if left to grow they will develop into the original tree and could even harm the growth of your apricot.)

How To Prune Apricot Trees

In June, you can prune back shoots causing overcrowding and any that don’t look healthy. After fruiting, you can cut your tree back to just three leaves, ready for plentiful fruit to grow next season. It’s strongly advised to prune a few branches each year after fruiting as this encourages new, healthier growth.

When To Harvest Apricots

Your apricots are ready to be picked during the summer months of July and August which is perfect timing for those tasty jams and salads. They don’t store very well so make sure you have plans for them before picking. They do, however, dry nicely if you’d like to make some dried fruit with yours.

Apricot Tree FAQ’s

Worried you don’t know all the ins and outs when it comes to planting,  and growing your own apricot tree? Read our useful FAQs so you are never stuck on how to care for yours again.

How Big Will An Apricot Tree Grow?

Apricot trees can grow up to 4 metres high and 2 metres wide. The average height is 3m high.

How Fast Will They Grow?

Once in the prime location, apricot trees can grow quickly and can produce fruit as soon as year 2 or 3. By year 4 or 5 your tree should be producing a good number of apricots.

How Do You Pollinate & Do You Need Two Trees To Produce Fruit?

Apricot trees are self-fertile but you can give them some help by providing some hand pollination when the insect count is still low.

How to Grow Apricots From Pits?

You will find the seeds inside the apricot pit and these can then be germinated in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. You can give them a helping hand by growing indoors on a sunny windowsill until you are ready to plant outdoors.

How To Hand Pollinate Apricots

Hand pollinating is really helpful for plants and trees that flower early before pollinators are active. As Apricot trees flower very early in the season before there are many pollinators around, it’s a good idea to help them along. To do this you just need a small paintbrush, and brush gently in the centre of the flower to gather pollen. Take this pollen to a second flower and brush it onto the flower stigma.

How Fast Does An Apricot Tree Fruit?

A three-year-old tree can produce at least 20 fruits; these appear in clusters on wood that is at least one year old. Don’t thin the fruits, as you would with apple trees and pear trees, but leave them to develop naturally. When the crop starts to swell, water the tree thoroughly and regularly. Harvest the fruits only when they are fully ripe and come off the tree easily.

Quick Tips for Successfully Growing Apricots

  • Avoid pruning apricots in winter, or wet weather as this can increase the chance of your tree being attacked by a disease.
  • Remove suckers developing on the rootstock and leave the area around the tree free from weeds, who will compete with it for light, water and nutrients until the tree is large enough to fend for itself.
  • If you grow your tree in a fan shape, you may need to protect the blossom with fleece in the spring to protect it from a late frost. This is not necessary when growing the trees as bushes or standards.

Apricots are delicious eaten fresh, or dried. An apricot tree in your garden will provide you with decades of fresh fruit and will also make an attractive addition to your garden.

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