Plump, ripe, juicy apricots are a delicious summertime treat. Have you ever considered growing an apricot tree of your own? You don’t even need to visit your garden store, as it’s possible to take the pit straight out of the fruit and grow yourself a tree from that. In this article, we will explore how to grow an apricot tree from a seed. Read on to find out more.
What You'll Learn Today
Can I Grow an Apricot Tree from a Stone?
Yes, it is relatively simple and fun to grow an apricot tree from a stone!
To get a stone, take a lovely ripe, juicy apricot and remove the hard pit (stone) from the center. Give it a wash-off, then, turn it on its side, so the thin edge of the pit is facing upwards. Give it a gentle tap with a hammer, and the pit will break in two, revealing the seed hidden inside.
Don’t hammer the pit on its flat side, however, as this will destroy the seed no matter how carefully you hit it.
You can also try removing the seed by using a pair of nutcrackers – again, squeeze the pit along its narrow sides, not the flat sides.
Trees with pits include not just apricots, but also nectarines and peaches. They usually have the best traits of their parents carried in the seeds. Because this isn’t always the case, commercial growers usually take cuttings from their best trees and graft them onto rootstock to produce almost exact clones of the mother trees.
Will An Apricot Tree Grown from Seed Produce Fruit?
Normally yes, an apricot tree grown from seed will produce fruit, providing that it is given the right conditions for its particular cultivar and if the flowers are pollinated.
The length of time it takes for a tree grown from seed to produce fruit can vary, but it will take at least several years.
How Do You Get an Apricot Seed to Sprout?
Once you have removed the seeds from the pits, as I explained above, you need to prepare them for sprouting.
Make sure that all of the sticky fruit residues are removed from the seeds by giving them a good wash.
Then, in clean water, soak the seeds for 24 hours.
Stratification is a process of cooling the seeds over a period of time that mimics them going dormant when spending a winter out of doors in the cold ground.
Different cultivars need varying lengths of time in the cold. This can vary from as few as 300 to as many as 900 hours.
Some seeds will germinate without stratifying because they have already been kept in cold storage during transportation to the grocery store.
It is still best not to skip this step, as successful germination outcomes are more likely.
To stratify your seeds:
- Place them onto a sheet of kitchen paper about one inch apart.
- Fold the paper over the seeds.
- Spray the paper with water until it is good and moist all over.
- Place the paper with the seeds inside into a Ziplock bag and place it in the refrigerator.
- After three weeks (500 cold hours), check the bag weekly to see if the seeds are growing any shoots. Change the kitchen paper if it begins to show any signs of mildew.
Once the seeds have grown some root shoots of an inch or more, remove them from the refrigerator and carefully unwrap the kitchen paper.
Next, plant in equal amounts of sand and potting compost, being very gentle so as not to break off the root.
The seed should be placed approximately one inch below the surface of the soil in the pot.
You can also stratify seeds naturally over winter by planting them in potting compost and putting the pot into the soil outside, so it will get cold naturally.
You can see the process from taking the pit from the fruit to having a young seedling in this video:
How To Grow an Apricot Tree from a Pit?
The best types of apricot to grow into a tree from a pit are those that fruit later in the season as they usually produce the most luscious fruit.
It is however very advantageous to know which cultivar of apricot you have and check that it is compatible with growing in your area.
- Follow the steps detailed earlier above to remove the seed from the pit and germinate it. If you are in any doubt about how to do this, you can try simply planting the entire pit straight out of the fruit into a pot, but it will usually need to be left outside over winter and should shoot the following spring if you’re lucky.
- Plant your seedlings in the early spring where you want them to grow. This should be after any late frost, if possible. Keep in mind that apricots grow best in zones 5 through 9 in the United States. They like cool winters so they can go dormant, and warm to hot summers.
For best results, choose a sunny, sheltered location where there is plenty of room for the tree to mature and spread out its roots and branches without being crowded out by other trees or buildings – 25 feet around for a standard tree and 15 feet around for a dwarf tree.
- Soil should be loamy and well-draining with a slightly alkaline pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Use soil amendments to help you achieve this if necessary.
- If the soil you have is very shallow before reaching rock, then the tree won’t be able to establish a strong enough root system. In this case, you can grow a small dwarf tree in a large, deep pot.
- Use organic potting compost around your seedling to help keep it moist and fed. This type of compost is designed for growing young plants and shouldn’t burn the roots.
- Stake your young tree when it starts to grow to prevent it from getting broken in the wind.
- You can also screen the tree to stop animals from digging it up or eating it.
- Water regularly depending on climate. You are aiming to keep the soil slightly moist but not wet.
How Long Does an Apricot Tree Take to Grow?
Growing an apricot tree from a seed to a full-grown tree will take many years, although some cultivars are faster growing than others. It can take several months to get a seed to germinate and an additional few weeks before you have a leafy seedling.
Your wait to taste the juicy, ripe fruits is going to take quite a bit longer though, as it will be another four to six or more years before your young apricot tree is mature enough to bear fruits.
- Early Years – These early, non-fruiting years are an important time when your young tree is maturing and becoming strong. If it were to fruit too early, the tree would be weakened and it may interfere with its growth and health.
- Remove Blooms – It’s better to remove the blooms from a young tree to give it time to develop fully and grow healthy and strong.
- Dormancy – Another consideration for your young tree is winter dormancy. Depending on which cultivar they are, apricot trees require 300 to 900 hours where the temperature is below 35°F to 45°F, or they won’t bloom and fruit properly.
However, if you live in an area where heavy winter frost continues well into spring, that could kill off any early blooming apricot flowers. This is when later blooming varieties will be better for your situation.
- Short Chill Varieties – There are some cultivars that only need around 300 chill hours each winter, but they are really only suited for climates with very mild winters. These include varieties such as ‘Katy’ and ‘Golden Kist’.
- Bloom to Fruit – Most apricot trees don’t require a second tree to cross-pollinate them in order to produce fruit. It is, however, essential that pollinating insects are around when the flowers are in bloom. Once a tree blooms, it will take a further 100 to 120 days before the fruit is ripe enough for harvest. Typically, in June or July.
- Longevity – If you’re wondering how many years your apricot tree will live, it can be anywhere from 40 to 150 years! They don’t, however, produce fruit for their entire lives. Usually, they will only do this for 20 to 25 years. Still, they will continue to be ornamental even after they no longer bear fruit.
If you have the space for several apricot trees, then it may be worthwhile raising some up from seed. It can be fun to do, especially if you eat an apricot that is exceptionally juicy and delicious and want to grow more of your own in the future.
Do check that the cultivar of apricot is suitable for the climate where you live, to avoid disappointment.
The process of growing an apricot tree from a seed is relatively straightforward, and by following the steps given above, you should be able to achieve success.
The main danger points come at certain times:
- Seeds breaking when you remove them from the pits
- Mold growing when you stratify your seeds
- Roots being damaged when you plant your germinated seeds
- Over and under-watering of seedlings
- Animals eating planted out seedlings
- Cold weather conditions killing planted out seedlings
- Wind breaking off the tops of young trees
- Incorrect cultivars for the area you live in
Providing you protect your plants against these things, then you should enjoy great success!
To read more about growing your own apricot trees and other plants, or a diverse range of interesting farm and animal topics, take a look at our website.