Site and soil
Apricots prefer deeper, fertile soils with pH 6.5 to 7.5 with good drainage. On light sandy soils incorporate organic matter such as garden compost or manure based soil conditioner in the planting area to improve moisture retention.
Apricots can start flowering very early in the season. To prevent blossom damage plant in a warm sheltered site. Avoid planting in frost pockets.
Growing apricots as fans against a sheltered south-, south-west or west-facing wall helps to reduce potential cold damage and ripen fruit. However, frost protection may still be needed to prevent flower damage. In colder areas consider growing under cover in a cold greenhouse either fan trained in the glasshouse border or grown in containers.
Apricots can be grown as an open-centred bush tree with a clear stem of 75cm (2½ft) or pyramid if planted in a warm, very sheltered, sunny spot.
There are some naturally compact cultivars that are well-suited for container cultivation. Container grown trees are best overwintered under cover such as in a cold greenhouse.
Apricots (including compact cultivars) are usually grafted onto rootstocks to limit their size, but truly dwarfing rootstocks are not available. When considering growing apricot as a fan, bear in mind that wall space of 3.5-5m (11-16ft) wide and 2-2.5m (6½-8ft) high is needed.
Torinel: semi-dwarfing, improved tolerance to unfavourable soil sol conditions, 3-3.5m (10-11ft)
Krymsk 86: semi-vigorous, more tolerant of heavier, wet soils, 3.5-4m (11-13ft)
St Julian A: semi-vigorous, widely used, tolerant of wide range of soil conditions, 4.5-5m (15-16ft)
Apricots are self-fertile. However, they flower very early in the season when few pollinating insects are around so hand pollination with a soft paintbrush or similar is usually needed. Trees grown under cover have to be hand pollinated.
Flowers are vulnerable to frost damage so frost protection with fleece or plastic sheeting is desirable. It is more practical doing this with apricots that have been fan trained.
See our advice on tree and shrub planting for information on planting fruit trees.
Watering and feeding
Feed annually. In late winter apply of sulphate of potash at 35g per sq m (1oz per sq yd) around the base of the trees. In early spring feed with a general fertiliser such as Growmore or Vitax Q4 at 100g per sq m (3oz per sq yd).
Mulch with organic matter, such as manure based soil conditioner in late winter to reduce moisture stress. Aim to prevent drought stress, especially in early to midsummer when the fruit is swelling.
Apricots generally do not need fruit thinning. However, sometimes fruit set can be exceptionally good. If thinning is required, it should be done in stages. Start thinning when the fruit reaches cherry size in late spring and remove misshapen fruits first. Later in early summer, as the fruits begin to swell, thin pairs and clusters so that those left to ripen are spaced at 5-8cm (2-3in).