Planting apricots can be more challenging than other stone fruits. Not only do you have to keep their root-ball intact, but their root system might cause problems in the future, so you should strategically plan where to plant them. So, where do you plant apricot trees, and are their roots invasive?
Apricot trees have root systems that are more aggressive and larger than many other trees. While you can start an apricot tree in a container, knowing where to plant them is vital to preventing damage to your property. Their roots have been known to damage patio decks, water pipes, and more.
So, just how invasive can apricot roots get? And what can we do about it?
How Invasive Are Apricot Roots?
Since they’re more prone to drying out, apricot roots have adapted to seek out water with their long and extensive root system. Unfortunately for apricot tree owners, this can mean busted water and sewer pipes.
Apricot roots can reach a depth of 7 feet and a length of about 40 feet. Close to 80% of the roots are in the first 2 feet of soil. These roots are invasive to the point of damaging many structures on properties, even including foundations.
Consider planting apricot trees away from your house, pipes, or any structure. If you’re growing an apricot tree in a container, it should be fine for up to five years. After that, you may want to consider trimming back some of the roots or planting it in the ground to encourage new growth.
Where Should You Plant Them?
Space the apricot tree at least 8 feet away from other trees, and up to 40 feet from houses, sewer pipes, or any other structures. Where to plant your apricot tree depends on cross-pollination, surroundings, spacing, sunlight, soil, and the type of tree.
Normally, apricot trees are grafted and don’t need to be pollinated from another tree. However, if you grew your apricot tree from a stone, then you should be growing at least a few other apricot trees to increase the chance of cross-pollination.
Apricot trees require different spacing depending on the size and type of tree you’re growing. Space miniature apricot trees 4-6 feet apart, dwarf trees 8-10 feet apart, standard size trees 15-20 feet apart.
Plant your apricot trees in spaces that don’t block out the sun for any nearby plants. If your tree is in a container, avoid placing it near a sunny wall as it will become hotter and dry out faster.
For best results, plant your apricot trees in areas that have full sun (6-8 hours). They also prefer well-draining sandy loam soil and don’t like clay or alkaline soil. If your land is mostly or entirely alkaline soil, consider amending the soil surrounding the apricot trees.
How Do You Plant Apricot Trees?
The main focus when planting apricot trees should be on their roots and how much you’d like to limit their invasiveness. Apricot trees need a good amount of water, so make sure it’s in a location that you can easily water them if needed.
You can plant apricot trees by digging out a hole slightly deeper and twice as wide as their current container. Next, plant the tree and fill the hole with sandy loam soil. Finally, lightly pack and soak the soil well to help remove air pockets.
If you bought your tree from a nursery, you can plant it at the same depth, with the stem sitting at the same soil level. If possible, the root-ball should not be bent. If the root-ball won’t fit, you can do a light pruning on the roots with pruning shears and remove broken or damaged roots.
Apricot roots grow better in loose soil, so if you have compact soil, try mixing in some light compost, sand, or peat moss. They prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.1-6.5.
These trees need generous watering to fruit properly, so you should be aiming for 1-2 inches weekly, or keeping the top 3-4 inches of soil moist consistently. Compared to other fruit trees, apricots are more dependent on water and their roots can dry out quickly as they’re more exposed. To help with this, you can mulch the soil with leaves, wood chips, or compost, especially if frost is approaching. This will help keep water and warmth in.
Additionally, it the tree will need more water in the spring and summer due to the heat and the emerging fruit requiring lots of water to develop. This also means less watering in the fall and winter since it’s cooler and typically not a fruiting season.
Keep in mind, apricot trees can get overwatered and develop diseases such as root rot. This can lead to conditions such as dropping fruit and leaves. So, if you’re planting in a container, or at the base of a hill, be sure that the soil drains well.
If you think the apricot trees are going to be too invasive on your property, you can put them in pots if they’re small enough. But by growing the tree in a container, you’ll need to water it almost daily.
Apricots trees grown in pots can be moved indoors in the winter, but they’ll need to be moved outside as soon as spring arrives to get full use of the sun and cross-pollinators.
Apricot trees have some of the most invasive roots you can find in a fruit tree (or even many other trees). Spreading out as much as 7 feet deep and 40 feet long, their roots have learned to access water across a large area of land. The bad news is that other trees can be strangled and pipes or manmade structures can be busted.
Depending on the size and type of your apricot tree, you may want to plant it a good distance away, but not far enough where you won’t be able to water it. The roots might be a pain to deal with, but if done right, you’ll end up with plenty of fruit.
If you’d like to get some great tips on growing apricot trees, check out this video by Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh: