Apricot Trees UK – How To Grow & Care For Apricots

Growing apricot trees in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon but it’s an achievable fruit gardening feat. 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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If you do only have a small space, there are also dwarf apricot trees and patio apricot trees available to buy from garden centres and online retailers.

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.

If you’re lucky enough to grow too many, our guide on using up an apricot glut is here to help!

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 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 Fast Will Apricots 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 Apricots & 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 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.

22 thoughts on “Apricot Trees UK – How To Grow & Care For Apricots

  1. MT says:

    I have an Early Moorpark. Five years in still no fruit. Have tried helping pollination.. leaving alone… I always cover with fleece..I train it as a fan following all pruning advice..what am I doing wrong!! This year a number of lovely whitish flowers and two pink..no fruit as yet…all advice gratefully accepted.

    • Jane says:

      I did the same many years ago. I threw my moorpark away but wish I had been more patient.
      I did get it to fruit by hand pollinating. It is also apparently helpful to mist the flower after hand pollinating to help stop the pollen blowing away. Do it early in the day though so it can dry before evening.
      The two fruit I did get fell off due to the breeze.
      Apparently you just have to be patient for ideal growing conditions.
      I am now buying a golden glow apricot as I live in Malvern and they originate here having self seeded. A friend told me there are several growing wild.
      There is an apricot tree growing in a neighbour’s garden and a sorry looking dried out fruit fell off onto public ground. I cleaned it off and ate it. It was so very delicious I decided to try again. IThere is loads of information about but I think the RHS is the most comprehensive.
      Best of luck and keep trying.

  2. si says:

    I am interested in purchasing a desert apricot to grow into a fan in an unheated glasshouse I already have a new early which is very satisfactory. I know nothing about modern apricot variaties and would be grateful for your advice together with a quotation for what you could supply

  3. jake47 says:

    Hi i have an apricot i got from aldi (it was labelled as an almond lol)its about 5 years old now 2 years ago i got just 2 fruit ,last year 4 fruit ,this year thers lots of blossom as i pruned out the main stem to about 5 feet this has bushed it out nicely.As the blossom is really early its always a worry about late frosts. Hopefully i will have more fruit this year.

  4. Skeggygran says:

    I am exploring my options with a view to buying an apricot tree to fan-train on a south west facing fence. Tomcat, Moorpark AGM, Flavorcot, Aprigold and Alfred have all come up as good options, and a variety of rootstocks are being suggested. The best option seems to be a Flavorcot Apricot on a St Julian”A” rootstock.. Would you agree with this?

  5. Welshgrower says:

    I am really keen to try a Apricot ‘Flavourcot’® tree in our front garden, lots of sun but am not sure how it will do in South Wales with the rain and wind. Does anyone have experience with this variety in a non-southern part of the UK?

  6. Annie says:

    Have been given an apricot tree about ten inches high would like to grow in pot as standard tree how do I do it thanks annie

    • Fruit Expert says:

      @Annie – Apricot: St Julien A or Torinel are good varieties for pots. It a nutshell, make sure you have good drainage and use a good-quality compost mixed with grit or perlite and feed regularly. As the tree continues to grow, you will need to re-pot annually in order to make sure it doesn’t become root bound. Plus, protect through winter from rains and frost in a more sheltered environment. This is a very quick run-down, you may wish to do some further research online for more specific care, or buy a specialist book from your local garden centre. I hope this helps.

  7. brodie says:

    Apricot tree in pot, lots of leaves last year, no leaves yet but amberish coloured sap dripping off branches couple of weeks ago in nice weather….

    • Fruit Expert says:

      @brodie – I think you may need to do some research, or speak to someone who can look at your tree, as it is hard to say without more detail. It could possibly be gummosis which is caused by the fungus Cytospora and arises through infected wounds; infestations; or damaged bark. On the other hand it could be the result of an infestation of peachtree borers. These borers feed beneath tree bark near the bottom where the sap is visible. You might want to look both of these up online or speak to someone from your local nursery to see whether either apply. If so, then you can seek advice on how to eradicate them. I hope this helps.

  8. fifi says:

    i have bought a patio apricot tree last year at the end of summer and i have put it in a large pot. i covered the pot for the winter but not the tree. it is may now and it has no blossom and no leaves and some sap is coming out of some branches. what is wrong with it. thank you

  9. ted says:

    i have an apricot in a pot in a cold greenhouse lots of fruit all fell off when small ? will it grow and fruit in a cold greenhouse , in the ground ? or will it put on too much groath geenhouse is 8×6

  10. roughdiamond says:

    My threeyear old Tomcot tree had a good crop of fruits this year but most fruits have brown mold and are falling off.What is wrong with them and please suggest treatment.

  11. AmateurAppricotGrowe says:

    Please, let me know what I shall do to kill warms inside every apricot cherry fruit I got on the tree. Apparently I missed the time when I needed to spray the tree. My problem is that I don’t know when shall I must do this and what spray shall I use. I would greatly appreciate information to fix my problems in the future. Tit is such a beautiful tree! Thank you very much, MR.

  12. djs224 says:

    I’ve an apricot in my garden here in Sunderland. Flavourcot is the variety and I have about 50 apricots on at the moment. is approximately 4 years old

  13. Denver Newhill says:

    I have a Peach tree which is approx 4 years old, last year I had a bumper crop fantastic, this year started off fine good blossom and looking forward to a very good crop but, the leaves have all died back and are crumpled and falling off, have you any idea what is the cause and what is the remedy?

  14. steve says:

    I have an apricot tree but for some reson the leaves have not opened up this year they are all there but are tiny and not open, have you any idea what it could be? thank you steve.

  15. lumpitt says:

    I have an apricot tree, 3years old. The 1st year lots of snow, plenty of blossom no pollination. Last year ideal weather, huge crop of large fruit (20 lbs). This year blossom very early, very cold, blossom died and now I have a sticky amber coloured sap oozing from branches and main stem and no leaves are as yet showing. Please could you diagnose the disease and can it be treated? many thanks

  16. brendi says:

    What do you feed pot grown Apricots and pot grown cherries with? They are both about 2 years old and this year they have flowered. Thanks.

  17. Richard Reynolds says:

    I have had an apricot growing for two winters now, but at last have found some great information and tips on how to make the most of these delicious fruits. I also have a Victoria Plum, a Breaburn Apple and a Cherry, all the same age and growing nicely in huge pots.

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