It’s thought that apricots originated in China, perhaps around 5000 years ago. They’re a type of stone fruit that produce the most delicious golden orange fruit and when you grow them yourself, can be picked when they’re at their absolute sun-warmed sweetest. Apricot trees are very decorative too, with masses of pretty spring blossoms and colourful autumn foliage.
Apricots do best in areas with a cool winter, so they receive sufficient ‘chilling hours’. However, there are varieties such as ‘Glengarry’ that will still fruit in sub-tropical areas. Apricot trees also like a warm and dry spring and summer to help ripen the fruit.
Apricot trees can reach up to 5 m tall. For smaller spaces look out for dwarf varieties of apricots, reaching around 2 m tall, which can also be grown very successfully in large pots, making them ideal for a sunny courtyard. A Yates® Tuscan 400 mm pot is a sturdy, attractive and lightweight pot choice. For best results, fill pots with a good quality potting mix such as Yates Premium Potting Mix.
Apricots will need to be grown in a full sun, wind sheltered position that’s ideally protected from spring frosts, which can damage apricot flowers. Most apricots are at least partially self-fertile however growing them near another apricot tree can help achieve the best possible harvest. It’s also possible to grow a few different varieties that fruit in early, mid or late summer, giving you mouth-watering home grown apricots over several months. For the best flavour and maximum sweetness, allow apricots to ripen on the tree. They’re ready to pick when they’re just starting to soften.
Winter is a great time to plant a new apricot tree. To give the tree the best possible start, mix some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into the hole. Then from spring to autumn feed with Yates Thrive® Natural Citrus & Fruit Organic Based Pelletised Plant Food, which promotes healthy leaf growth and lots of delicious fruit. Yates Thrive® Natural Citrus & Fruit Organic Based Pelletised Plant Food also contains more than 50% natural ingredients, which helps improve soil quality and encourage hardworking earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms.
Pruning tip: apricots are best pruned during summer, after the fruit have been picked. This enables the tree to heal the pruning cuts quicker and be less susceptible to infection than if pruned during winter.
Distorted and discoloured foliage on stone fruit trees like peaches, nectarines and plums is caused by a fungal disease called leaf curl. The tree ends up looking awful and in severe cases it reduces the tree’s ability to photosynthesise, which in turn can affect plant health and fruit yield.
Leaf curl disease spores lurk in bark crevices and around leaf buds during winter, waiting to infect the newly emerging foliage in late winter and early spring. Leaf curl is a disease that needs to be prevented by killing the disease spores before they infect the new leaves, as the damage done by leaf curl is irreversible.
It’s easy to break the leaf curl disease cycle and stop leaves from being affected by spraying stone fruit trees during winter with Yates® Lime Sulfur.
Spray trees thoroughly with Yates® Lime Sulfur while the trees are dormant and before bud swell.
Yates® Lime Sulfur will also control other stone fruit diseases like freckle, rust and shot hole, which hide on fruit tree stems during winter, as well as some scale insects. Spray all stems and the trunk thoroughly before new foliage emerges. This will help give fruit trees a fresh start in spring, so they can concentrate on giving you a fantastic harvest.
Note on Yates Lime Sulfur – it does have quite a strong odour (it smells a little like rotten eggs…..), however it’s definitely worth putting up with the smell and applying during winter to help protect your fruit trees against a range of common diseases.