How to grow apricot trees in Perth

Growing apricot trees in Australia

Apricots are a delicious stone fruit – just as good for eating fresh as they are for stewing and even baking. While store-bought apricots can be really underwhelming, fresh apricots, straight off the tree, are delicious. What a lot of people don’t realise is just how easy it is to grow apricots in Perth, Western Australia. Apricot trees are hardy and grow well in most climates, though hot, dry summers will generate the best fruit. This makes many parts of Australia including Perth, ideal for growing apricots.

As well as their delicious fruit, apricot trees provide an explosion of colour in autumn, as the leaves turn from bright green to vibrant yellow. Fragrant flowers in spring give way to luscious fruit in summer, which will ripen from late November to January.

If you have ever wondered how to apricot trees in Perth then look no further. Pear trees are a simple fruit tree to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing apricots in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant apricot trees in Perth:
Best is to plant your apricot tree is March – May. However you can also plant your apricot tree in spring or summer but regular watering is a must.

Types of apricot trees in Australia:
Apricots belong to the Rosaceae family, with peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, and almonds joining the cluster of stone fruits. Whilst there are some 400 apricot varieties in the world, and these are the most common apricot varieties in Australia.

  • Moorpark apricots – A apricot variety with large juicy, orange fruit was developed in the 1600s in England and is massively popular to this day. It ripens late December to early January.
  • Trevatt apricots – A yellow apricot with a distinct red blush, is also delicious and ripens in December, in time for Christmas.
  • Fireball apricots – A deep orange colour, Fireball have a sweet, traditional apricot taste.
  • Divinity apricots – A reddish-orange slightly oval fruit. Capacity to bear plenty of fruit, this variety is excellent for Australian home gardens.
  • Tilton apricots – Slightly oval with bright orange flesh. The fruit can be eaten raw or used for canning and preserving. This variety can tolerate cold temperatures.

Dwarf apricot Perth:
These are the common varieties of dwarf apricot trees you can find in Australia:

  • Dwarf apricot Bulida – Dwarf Apricot Bulida is a well known and popular Apricot with large rounded golden fruit. A medium chill variety, this can be grown in most temperate areas of Australia, and produces large golden orange fruit which is sweet and juicy.
  • Dwarf apricot Fireball – Dwarf Apricot Fireball (Prunus armeniaca) is an early maturing apricot which will grow in most temperate areas of Australia.
  • Dwarf apricot Moorpark – Dwarf Apricot Moorpark (Prunus armeniaca) is a classic variety with excellent flavour. The sweet and juicy fruit is ideal for eating fresh
  • Dwarf apricot Trevatt – Dwarf Apricot Trevatt Prunus armeniaca bears large rounded fruit with excellent flavour. A very popular variety for the home garden as fruit is very versatile, Trevatt Apricots are well suited for fresh fruit, drying, preserving and jams.

How to grow apricot trees at home:
Growing apricot trees at home is easy, fun and rewarding! Below are the steps on how to how to grow apricot trees in Australia;

  1. Before planting: Soak tree roots in a tub of water for one to two hours to keep its roots from drying while you dig. Do not soak more than six hours.
  2. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room.
  3. Roots grow better in soil that’s been loosened, and it is worth mixing in some fruit tree garden compost.
  4. Avoid creating air pockets by working the soil carefully around the roots and firming down.
  5. Create a rim of soil around the planting hole 5cm above ground level. This allows water to stand and soak in.
  6. Water your new tree. Deep, thorough soaking is best, with a fruit tree liquid fertiliser.  After watering, if soil compacts, be sure to add enough soil to fill the hole to ground level.

How to grow apricots in a pot:
Apricots can be grown in pots, at least 60cm wide and deep, to allow the roots to spread. There are a number of dwarf apricot varieties available and most varieties can also be grown in pots.

  1. Choose a pot at least 60cm wide. Position your apricot pot plant in full sun and fill with quality potting mix.
  2. Remove the shrub from the purchased container which may be smaller than required for the apricot to thrive, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots before replanting.
  3. Position in the pot placing a small amount of potting mix at the base and backfill, gently firming down. Water in well.
  4. Water thoroughly, once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
  5. Remember to feed your tree once every autumn and spring with Dynamic Lifter and a Soil Improver. When flowering and fruiting, feed weekly with liquid plant food to help promote fruit production.
  6. You should re-pot apricots within the first 12 months, and then every 2-3 years, re-potting is recommended.

Planting an apricot tree from seed:
You may happen to have sweet and juicy apricots and would like to harvest fruit of the same quality. If you want to be rewarded with fresh apricots from your own garden, simply follow these tips on how to grow an apricot tree from seed:

  1. Prepare the pit – Clean then dry the pits indoors. Most apricot plants inherit the traits of their parent plants. Choosing pits from good-tasting apricots will increase the likelihood that your apricot trees will bear sweet fruit as well.
  2. Get the seed – Use a hammer, lightly pound the pit to remove the apricot seed. The trick is to be able to crack the pit without damaging the seed inside. You can also use a nutcracker if this is easier for you.
  3.  Store the seed – Clean the seed, then keep it in a cool area of your home for 4 to 6 weeks.
  4. Grow the roots – To start the germination process, soak the seed overnight then place in moist paper towels. Store the paper towels containing the seed in the fridge until small roots develop. This usually takes about a month or two.
  5. Position well – You can start planting as soon as roots appear. Make sure to plant the seed after the last frost. An area where there is full sun is the best place to grow an apricot tree. Check that the soil is alkaline enough and there is enough space for your tree to grow.
  6. Start digging – Prepare your planting site by digging a 15cm hole. Plant the seed root-side down and cover it with a mixture of compost and soil. Protect the newly-planted seed with a piece of hardware cloth or screen.
  7. Water well – Water the seed well to boost its growth. Watering once a week is sufficient when the climate is cooler, but you can water up to 3 times a week if the temperature is higher. Remove the screen as soon as your tree starts to sprout.

How to prune an apricot tree:
Annual pruning is recommended to increase fruit productivity on your tree. Pruning is generally recommended twice annually in spring or fall months.

The goal is to even out and balance the tree’s growth. Increase air circulation by removing weak branches. Retain outwards-growing branches.

By pruning apricot trees prior to Spring you can ensure the tree produces a thicker crop, this pruning can be fruit-inducing. Do this before spring growth resumes.

It’s also wise to prune apricot trees in fall. As soon as leaves have fallen off, pruning is in order. Slightly reduce any branches that have born fruits. Also ensure removal of weak and damaged branches.

Apricot trees are very vulnerable to wounds. While it is not essential it is a good idea to apply wound-healing paste after pruning.

When to harvest apricots:
If you are wondering when to pick apricots in Australia. They are a summer fruit and typically ready to harvest between November and February.

Storing apricots at home:
Apricots continue to ripen after picking. The best way to store apricots is at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat until they give to the touch and have that sweet apricot smell. Once ripe, refrigerate apricots as necessary to prevent spoiling, but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste so it is best to eat fresh, preserve or stew apricots.

Best apricot varieties for cooking:
Most varieties of apricots can be used to cook with, however Trevatt apricots do no hold their shape particularly well.

Companion plants for apricots:
Chives and leeks, are useful for deterring borer insects and basil and tansy repel fruit flies. Tansy can also repels ants which can often be seen climbing up apricots searching for sugars. Plant a number right round the tree can help if you have a problem with ants.

Apricot tree care and common problems:
Birds are one of the major problems you will face. The answer to this is to net securely, taking care not to bend the branches, or to pick the fruit a little before it is fully mature and ripen it indoors in a single layer on trays. Small insects like earwigs and garden weevils can be a nuisance and are responsible for small holes in the fruit. Treat as needed with a natural repellent.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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