Apricot trees are beautiful to look at and if you grow the right type, can bear delicious fruit. Here are helpful information you should have in hand before you plant
Planting apricot trees
- The European apricot is comparatively fussy about climate and location. Apricots with Manchurian and Siberian genes are much tougher.
- There are two strains of apricots: the traditional European varieties that are relatively tender and need a sheltered site, and new varieties that have been developed using hardy species from Manchuria and Siberia. While the fruit of these is not of such a high quality, they are much hardier and can be grown successfully on the Prairies. They are still very early flowering and should never be planted in a frost pocket.
- European strains of apricots are best grown as fan trees against a south-facing wall. In milder areas they can be grown as dwarf trees if they are sheltered from cold winds.
- One tree should be enough for an average family. The fruiting time is from midsummer to early fall, depending on the variety.
- Trees bear fruit on one-year-old and older wood.
- Apricots are self-fertile, but they flower when few pollinating insects are about; so artificial pollination is advisable to ensure a good crop.
- Dab a small, soft paintbrush on the open flowers every two or three days.
- Thinning is necessary only if the branches are very heavy with fruit. Wait until the stones are formed (check by cutting a fruit), as there is often a natural drop of fruit just before this. Fruits should be spaced 12 centimetres (4 3/4 inches) apart on the branch.
- Always plant named varieties. Nursery catalogs will sometimes offer plants as just apricot, or Manchurian apricot, but these are seedlings whose performance is unknown. They could be satisfactory and give good-tasting fruit, but there is an equal chance that the fruit could be inedible.
- European apricots
- ‘Goldcot’: Mid-season. Medium sized with good quality.
- ‘Harglow’: Mid-season. Juicy fruit on a dwarf plant.
- ‘Harlayne’: Late season. One of the hardiest Europeans.
- ‘Skaha’: Early-mid season. Not self-fertile. Good on West Coast.
- ‘Veecot’: Late season. Good for canning.
- Hardy apricots:
- ‘Brookcot’: Mid-season. 4-cm fruit with good flavor.
- ‘Moongold’ Mid-season. Plant with ‘Sungold.’
- ‘Sungold’: Mid-season. Plant with ‘Moongold’ for pollination.
- ‘Westcot’: Mid-season. The most bud-hardy, with good flavor.