By: Kristi Waterworth
Ah, fruit trees — gardeners everywhere plant them with such hope, but more often than not, new fruit tree owners are disappointed and underwhelmed when they discover their efforts aren’t bearing fruit. Prunus species, including apricots, are no exception. An apricot not blooming is one of the most frustrating experiences in gardening. If you find your apricot with no blossoms, read on for some ideas for improving your chances next season.
Apricots, like all fruit trees, have some basic requirements that must be met before they start to create blooms, and another set of requirements that keep those growing buds and blooms alive through the end of fruiting. It sounds really complicated, but it’s easier than you think to cure no flowers on apricot trees. Start with these basic questions when you’re trying to determine how to get blooms on apricot tree:
How old is your tree? Young trees don’t always bloom right away, so check the age of your apricot before you start to panic. If it’s older than five years, it should be mature enough, but younger than that means you simply need to wait.
What’s your hardiness zone? Apricots can’t take too much cold over a long period of time, so if you’re trying to grow them in a cooler climate than Zone 5, you may have to find a way to protect blooms from freezing to death in the winter. However, many species also require about 700 chilling hours before they’ll set fruit, so anywhere below Zone 8 is also going to give you trouble. To further complicate things, an early-blooming apricot may be losing blooms to late frosts.
How did you prune your tree last year? Since apricots bloom on two-year-old wood, you have to be really careful how you prune them and realize that any year with heavy pruning may lead to a couple of years without fruit. Leave plenty of old growth to balance the new when you’re pruning apricot trees in the future, but do prune to stimulate fruit production.
Is your tree properly fed? A healthy, happy fruit tree will produce a lot of fruit, but it requires a balance between stored food and readily available nutrients to pull this off. Of course, add too many nutrients and you may encourage your tree to put on a lot of vegetative growth at the expense of flowers. On the other hand, too little fertilizer and plenty of stored food can cause weak vegetative growth and poor or no fruit development. A soil test can help you determine which is to blame.
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Peaches and apricots are some of the earliest bearers. A standard size peach or apricot can start producing fruit when it is 2-4 years old. Standard size apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees take a little longer, from 3-6 years.
Dwarf varieties of fruit trees should start producing earlier, many within the 2nd or 3rd growing season after transplanting. Keep in mind that all of these numbers are averages there are other factors that affect when your tree starts to bear.The Spruce / K. Dave
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Hormone sprays can be used on fruit trees to inhibit their growth and minimize the amount of fruit they produce. It is important to note, however, that these sprays may not eliminate all fruit. It is also crucial that you check with your local garden center or cooperative extension agency as the legality of using certain chemicals sometimes changes. Gardeners may generally use a hormone spray containing the active ingredients ethephon and Napthalene acid. Ethephon is sold under the commercial name Florel Fruit Eliminator and Napthalene acid is sold as Fruitone or App-L-Set, and is generally recommended for apples and pears. The insecticide Sevin was once used to reduce the amount of fruit produced by trees, but was found harmful to bees. It is now illegal to use Sevin as a fruit inhibitor, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
If possible, have the soil tested at a nearby garden center. The results determine any imbalance in the soil’s nutrients. Correct that imbalance with organic products as you prepare to plant. Collect falling leaves in the fall and compost them until you plant your tree to add vital nutrients to your soil.
As long as your soil is not overly wet or frozen, you can plant your apricot tree. But if freezing temperatures can move in at any time, it’s best to wait until winter is over. However, keep blankets nearby in case a surprise drop in temperatures occur.
Late spring is the best time to plant your tree. Till the soil, breaking up any clumps, and put the topsoil aside as you dig the hole. Make it deep and allow enough room for the roots to expand and breathe. If you’re planting more than one tree, spread them far apart for future branching needs. Place the topsoil at the bottom of your hole to give the roots a good start.
Can they be controlled? The last two years our apricot and nectarine trees were infested by ants, ruining a lot of our fruit. I cannot find a source and am afraid to spray because of the fruit.
There are likely aphids in the trees, which are attracting the ants. It could also be they are just attracted by the juice.
I would treat the tree with neem oil for possible aphids (neem oil is organic and will not harm people, pets and beneficial bugs).
Also, to keep the ants away, either paint the trunk with a sticky substance (some garden centers will sell products for this) or wrap flypaper or reversed duct tape around the trunk. This will trap the ants before they can reach the fruit.
John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on April 28, 2020:
Thank you for your positive comment. Enjoy Spring in Florida.
JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on April 28, 2020:
John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on February 29, 2020:
Basic care must be improved to help it resist borers in apricot trees.
Water the tree regularly to prevent stress.
Prune dead and infected branches - where the ooze is. Clip at least 6 inches into healthy tissue.
Look for any holes at the soil level (and just below) and use a knife to manually remove the larva.
Shannon Ratts on February 29, 2020:
Last fall I had to inject my tree for Borer. I am wondering what I can do to soil to prevent another one from getting my Apricot this year?
John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on October 08, 2018:
You are most welcome. Hoping you get a bumper crop.
Reem on October 08, 2018:
John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on October 08, 2018:
January and February are the months to plant apricot trees in Arizona. They are a lot of fun to watch mature - good luck and enjoy the fruit.
Reem on October 07, 2018:
When I can plant the apricot tree in fall or in spring in Phoenix?
John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on March 22, 2018:
A lot of fruit trees need a chilling period, lower than 45 degrees for a period of time. My apricots have not bloomed either, nor peaches. I live 60 miles east of Phoenix in the high desert. You probably are seeing many citrus blooming in your yard. Be patient and you will probably see some blooms, but perhaps not many. We didn't get the bigger plunge in temps we usually see in winter. Really hot summers are also hard on the stone fruits. The combination, I think, retards production. Let's hope we don't have high winds to blow the blossoms off just as they start out. Don't forget to feed - it is time for fertilizer if you haven't done it yet.
[email protected] on March 22, 2018:
I have to apricot trees that
haven't bloomed this year all my other trees are in full bloom I live in Arizona do I have a problem?
jon smith on January 27, 2011: