Apricot

Given their exotic image you may be surprised to learn that there are apricot varieties that grow well and reliably in cooler climates and in most of the UK, you will be able to add apricots to your fruit garden. They can be grown in a variety of shapes and can provide you will another delicious fruit crop to add to your repertoire.

Growing apricots:

Apricot trees can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid-shaped. There are also dwarf varieties that can be grown in containers on a patio. You will only need to buy one apricot tree as they are self-fertile and can crop as single specimens.

Apricot trees will grow best in a particularly sunny and sheltered location, ideally against a south facing wall. They like a deep, moisture retentive, well drained and ideally slightly alkaline soil and will struggle in shallow soils with low fertility.

Apricot trees should be covered with a clear polythene or horticultural fleece to protect the delicate blossom from frost Make sure that this covering does not touch the flowers. These covers should remain in place only during the night and should be removed during the day to allow sunlight in and to allow pollinating insects to reach the flowers.

Since blossoms appear very early in the year when few insects are out and about, hand pollination can help improve your chances of a good yield of fruit. Ideally around noon on a dry and sunny day you should use a small brush or cotton bud to pollinate. Lightly mist the tree with water so that the pollen sticks but it is essential that the flowers dry out before dark.

Make sure that you water newly-planted specimens well in their first spring and summer as they begin to become established. Mature trees may also need to be watered if there are drought conditions. It is particularly important to make sure that the trees are well watered when the fruits begin to swell.

Mulch the trees with a rich compost or well-rotted manure in March and early April. This will help to fertilise and keep down competitive weeds.

If your tree is cropping heavily then you should thin apricots to around 8-10cm intervals when they are roughly the size of hazelnuts. Of course you should first thin out any damaged or misshapen fruits or any growing towards the wall, if the tree is trained against one.

Apricots will be ready to harvest in late July and August. They are ready to pick when the fruits are soft and detach easily from the tree. Take care when harvesting to avoid bruising the delicate fruits.

Why grow apricots in the garden?

Apricots are great for impressing your friends and relatives. While not the easiest fruit tree to grow in the UK garden, they can if treated well provide a reasonable and delicious yield. You will surely have no problem eating the fresh fruit straight away but if you do have a bumper crop they can also be used in a number of preserves and desserts.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Prunus armeniaca