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Growing apricots presents a unique challenge to gardeners. Native to the colder, higher elevations of China, the apricot has a low winter chilling requirement. In its native area, and other cold climates, it is required to go dormant, survive a cold winter and quickly wake up in the spring to bloom and set fruit before the following autumn. In the Pacific Northwest and other areas with mild winters the tree wakes up by February and starts to bloom. Then, in all but the most frost protected areas, the blooms are zapped by frosts and the crop is lost.
This season we are offering two varieties that bloom later and tolerate more frost while still setting fruit. They fruit most years at the Mt. Vernon Experiment Station, where numerous other varieties have failed. These varieties will extend the area in which Apricots can be successfully grown. They also appear to be somewhat less susceptible to the diseases apricots usually succumb to in our region. If you are not in a late frost pocket, try them.
Sun or shade: Sun.
Height at maturity: Height and spacing 15 feet.
Years to first fruit: 2-3
Yield: 30-120 pounds per tree.
How to Grow
Soil requirements: Well drained soil. Prefers a neutral pH soil.
Cultural requirements: Prune to an open center shape. Fruit spurs bear several years. Trees should be watered in the summer.
How to Use
In the landscape: Apricots have perhaps the most beautiful foliage of the fruit trees. Leaves as they develop are a bronze color, turning to green as they mature.
In the kitchen: Eat fresh, stew or can. Apricots are wonderful dried, in jams, nectars and as leather.
For Your Health: Apricots have 3 to 8 times the phytonutrients of peaches or nectarines. Fully ripened fruit from your tree is far more nutritious than the fruit picked semi ripe from a store.