Would two apricot trees do well to the south of the garage?

olreaderDecember 15, 2013

Last week I asked about replacing my alpine currant bushes with better currants. I think I will plant some blackcurrants, redcurrants and/or spice currants somewhere in my yard this spring. But people suggested fruit trees, and I think I would like to plant some apricot trees next to the garage.

I chose apricot mainly because Colorado State extension says "Even if apricots don't produce fruit, they're useful in landscapes for aesthetic purposes. The glossy foliage is unequaled in plants of similar size and shape, and in the fall they add color to the landscape. They also have interesting bark."

This is Colorado near Denver. I would have to plant in my 8 foot wide strip to the south of the garage. This spot gets a lot of wind, but winds are mainly in the winter and relatively warm. We don't get as much hail in my town as other places around here. There are often late spring frosts of course and I know many years there wouldn't be a fruit crop.

These would be my only fruit trees and I would be able to baby them, water, prune as much as needed, maybe try to protect them against spring freezes.

My wishes:
1) A nice tree(s) to look at from a distance, this is a high visibility spot. Bright fall color is very much appreciated, nice flowers less important because there are plenty of crabapples, Prunus etc. around.
2) Delicious fruit when nature allows.

1) If you are going to try to grow fruit trees in my part of the country, is this spot to the south of the garage better or worse than most?
2) Would another type of fruit tree be better than apricot for my wishes?
3) If I get apricot, is a dwarf tree or standard better, considering that I will be doing plenty of pruning anyway.

Any other comments appreciated. Thank you.

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Try a puget gold apricot, I've read that Puget gold apricot tolerates frost.

Here is description from Dave Wilson Nursery, "Proven producer of large, flavorful fruit in Western Washington. Recommended for other western climates where spring rains and frosts limit apricot culture."

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 12:57AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I have a Puget Gold as part of a 5 way grafted tree.It's nice to look at with Spring flowers and Summer fruit but there is no Fall color really.The fruit is tasty.
The location looks fine.The lowest zone though for PG Apricots is zone 5,so yours is at the limit.If there is an exceptionally cold Winter,they could suffer.
I did see this one from Russia at Raintee's website, theTlor-Tsiran Apricot.It is rated for zones 4-9.Others in that range that they offer are Tomcot and Chinese Montgamet Sweet Pit.
I'm sure there are lots of other fruit trees that can fill your needs and wants,some searching will probably find them.
With plenty of pruning,standard or dwarf shouldn't matter. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Tlor-Tsiran Apricot at Raintree Nursery

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 2:07AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

This a followup about the Tlor-Tsiran Apricot.People were having trouble getting it to set fruit,although the flavor was good. Brady

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 2:24AM
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I had some good years with a Mormon here, but the tree finally failed to thrive and then died. I did a lot of things wrong with it (I've had several 'cots and a prune die on me.) Mormon is a tasty, good-sized fruit. I think the tree is very attractive.

I like semi dwarf as easier to keep to size and earlier to bear.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 8:00AM
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Apricot fruits are wonderful, but being at the limit of the range is courting trouble. You will lose a lot of crops to late frosts, because apricots bloom too early. Yes, the garage thermal mass and reflected heat will buy a fraction of a zone, but there are other, hardier attractive trees that you ought to consider (if you want fruits). Shipova takes forever to fruit, but is otherwise trouble free, and pears shoot up and are a bit more trouble to keep in bound. Peaches and dwarf cherries can be considered (cherries too will need pruning), and will be helped by the dry climate. All things considered I would use the spot for pears, or perhaps a multi-grafted pear (for pollination) and a peach.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 8:41AM
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What kind of fruit do you like to eat? If apricots, plant apricots. One benefit is that fresh tree-grown apricots can be better than anything you find at the store. And if you're going to plant apricots at all, that's the best place to do it.

In that spot, I'd definitely go for dwarf trees. I've never had success keeping standards or "semi" dwarf trees cut down to size. And seeing your satellite dish up there, I think you want to keep it clear.

I'd also go for two different varieties for cross pollination. True, apricots are self-fertile, but they bear better with some cross. Also, if one fails, the other may fruit. People here have mentioned good cold-hardy varieties. You might also consider the Har- series. I have Harglow in N IL, and it fruits more often than not. The key isn't so much sub-zero hardiness as latest possible bloom.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 9:30AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

You might consider a Montrose and Tomcot apricot from Bay Laurel Nursery. Montrose is frost resistant and selected in Montrose CO. Tomcot is the most widely adaptable apricot available. It does well from the Northeast to WA state and CA.

You don't need a dwarf but will need regular pruning to stay below TV dish.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 10:20AM
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I know a lot of people around here grow Chinese/mormon apricots and they can get to a fairly good size about 20 ft high by 20 ft wide if you let them go.
They are pretty good tasting and have the added benefit of being able to eat the pit. The pit isn't that great but it isn't any smaller or worse then some of the hybrid peach/almonds I have eaten sold as a cold hardy almond.
The big problem with apricots is about every 3rd to 4th year a late frost will wipe out most of the blossoms.
The good thing about them is that the fruit comes on early compared to other fruits and is one of the first fruits of the season.
If it were me I would go ahead and plant a multi grafted dwarf apricot for early fruit and some other type of dwarf multi grafted tree. Options like apple, plum, peach nectorine or pear would give you late fruit. Also apples and pears bloom later and are less likely to be burned by a late frost.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Thanks for all the great comments and please keep them coming. I will look up all the varieties that have been mentioned. The consensus seems to be that it's worth a try to plant some kind of fruit tree(s) here.

My two main worries had been:
1) the planting site was too close to the garage. I wasn't worried about the foundation, just the trees not growing well
2) the sunny spot and warmth near the garage would really accelerate spring blooming and make the trees more vulnerable to spring frosts.

In general my west facing front yard seems to be a little colder than some of my very close neighbors and my lilacs and purple sand cherry don't bloom until a couple weeks after my neighbors'. But probably the spot to the south of the garage is warmer.

The weather is warm this week and I will try to submit a soil test.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 2:14PM
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In a few minutes I will post the pic....

Here is the area today. We had high winds from the west and northwest all day, and the wind was blocked quite a bit in the area of the bushes (where I plan to plant the fruit trees). The snow melted much faster in the area around the bushes even there was less wind there. The strip to the left between my driveway and my neighbor's yard has the same landscaping rock as next to the garage, but only the area next to the garage had melted.

So my proposed planting area was warmer, but I wonder how much of the effect was just sun reflecting off the garage, maybe it wouldn't be much warmer at night. Still I am encouraged.

This post was edited by olreader on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 21:06

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I have been reading up on pruning various fruit trees because we inherited a few with this property. Peaches, Plums, Persimmons and Apples seem fairly easy to prune, but evidently apricots have a mind of their own. Four sure, ours does.

It had been neglected for years. Last year it was loaded with fruit.... too loaded! I tried to thin it, but the tree is too tall. We never ate one fruit because we were moving from one house to this one, and the birds got them all while we were away.

The other trees get pruned when dormant, but everything we read said to prune apricots when they start budding. I think that's weird, but I'm here to learn.

It snows a couple towns away from here, and one is known for it's many Cherry trees and the other, Apples.

Good luck with your decision! I hope we get to taste our Apricots this year. There probably won't be many because we are going to prune it back quite a bit.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 9:51AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


The right time to prune apricots in CA is when there will be no rain for 6 weeks after pruning, about July or August. Pruning during rainier times, winter or spring, can lead to disease. The later pruning will also save your crop this year.

If all else fails on thinning an apricot or peach, shake the tree violently after the fruits reach a certain stage. That will take off some to a lot of fruit. Hand thinning is better.

Here is a link that might be useful: apricot disease management

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Nice pic, OR. The satellite dish shows clearly the South direction, and the lack of snow at that particular spot tells you the spot is at least half a zone warmer than the surroundings (not enough to save some of your apricot crops though). Obviously you only have room for small trees, specially considering that the reflected heat will be less at 12 feet above ground.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 11:20AM
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jagchaser(5A NE, -15-115f may frost)

The heat gained in that location will not be a benefit for producing fruit on an apricot. It might allow a tree to survive a harsh winter but it will cause it to bloom earlier. If we lived somewhere that the wind didn't blow then maybe the heat could radiate from the garage all night and protect the blooms. The wind will blow the cold air in and it will still freeze just as hard in that location as it will on any side of the house.

I am actually playing with the idea of planting my early blooming fruit in "winter only" shade so they MIGHT come out of dormancy a week later or so. You would benefit from a west side planting because the MT adds shade in the afternoon. I did plant one of the Tlor-Tsiran black apricots last spring, we will see how that works out.

Fruitnut has a point about those 2 apricot varieties made for Montrose CO. Montrose and Denver are quite different climates, but those may still stand a better chance than other varieties.

I wouldn't worry about the planting site being too close, but I would probably go dwarf or prune hard.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 8:27PM
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