How to Grow an Apricot Tree from Seed

A fresh, juicy apricot is a tasty treat in late summer and is even more special if you grow the tree yourself. If you live in a good zone for growing deciduous fruit trees, why not give growing an apricot tree from seed a try? The benefits outweigh the time it takes. In this article, gardening expert Wendy Moulton shares how to grow an apricot from seed!

A branch of an apricot tree laden with ripe, orange apricots. Sunlight shines through the leaves, casting dappled shadows on the fruit. In the background, there is a patch of green grass and several other trees.


It is not hard to grow an apricot from seed, and the process is well worth the effort. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8, you have no excuse not to grow one of these lovely deciduous fruit trees!

Plant your seedling in a sunny spot, and in a few years, you can start harvesting your very own fruit. Use these steps to make sure you have the right conditions to grow a healthy, happy, fruit-bearing tree.

How to Grow from Seed

Step 1: Extract the Pit

A halved apricot unfolds its secrets: glistening orange flesh bursts with summer sweetness, while the smooth-skinned pit rests in the center, ready to be cracked open and savored. This juicy jewel promises a taste of sunshine.
Extract apricot kernels carefully using a nutcracker or pliers.

Take the pit from a ripe apricot and wash away any flesh of the fruit. You then need to get the kernel out of its hard outer shell. You can do this easily with a nutcracker – just be gentle so you don’t damage the delicate apricot seed inside. If you don’t have a nutcracker, use pliers, a shifting spanner, or a knife to carefully pry open the seed at the seam.

Step 2: Soak

Close-up of several apricots, some halved and pitted, scattered on a weathered wooden table. Light brown, smooth apricot pits lie beside the halved apricots. The table is made of rough-hewn planks of wood, and its surface is stained and worn.
Apricot seeds require stratification by soaking in warm water overnight.

Once you have the kernels released from their safety pit, soak them in warm water overnight. Prepare a few seeds because some may not germinate.

Step 3: Package the Seeds

A close-up of a pile of apricot seeds. The seeds are of various shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from light beige to dark brown. Some seeds have smooth surfaces, while others have wrinkles or grooves.
Ensure ample refrigerator space when germinating apricot seeds.

To get the apricot seeds to germinate, you’ll need to prepare them for cold-stratification. Use a jar with a lid or a plastic bag. Add some water to coconut coir to hydrate it, then squeeze out the excess. Use the coconut coir to fill your chosen container halfway. If you prefer, use a moistened paper towel to wrap your seeds before placing them in the jar.

Make sure no one eats the seeds. They contain cyanogenic compounds, and although they are of medium toxicity, they are still not a good idea to consume.

Step 4: Cold Stratify

A vibrant green Apricot sprout bursts from dark soil, cradled by its earth-toned seed coat. Delicate emerald leaves reach skyward, promising future blooms, with a hint of purple on their slender stems suggesting the magic of new life.
Refrigerate sealed seeds in the substrate at 32-45°F (0-7°C) for 4-6 weeks.

Place the seeds on top of the moistened coir or paper towel and seal the jar or plastic bag. Place it in the refrigerator. The temperature should be between 32 and 45°F (0 and 7°C).

After 4-6 weeks your apricot seeds should have sprouted enough to plant in pots for growing on. If the seeds have not sprouted, rehydrate the coir and place them in a warm place for a few more weeks.

Step 5: Prepare Your Pots

Close-up view of a hand mixing brown potting soil with white perlite granules in a bucket. The perlite appears as small, lightweight volcanic rock pieces, contrasting the rich brown soil. The image captures the focused act of preparing the seedling environment, hinting at the anticipation of new plant life.
Plant germinated seeds in pots filled with nutrient-rich soil.

Fill some pots (around 15 inches in diameter) with a seedling mix or germinating substrate and plant one germinated seed in each pot, being careful not to damage the little root. Cover with about half an inch of soil and water well.

Step 6: Monitor

Keep seedlings in a warm, shaded area in moist soil.

Keep the seedlings well-watered in a warm, shaded place and watch them grow. As they get bigger, repot them into bigger pots until they are big and strong enough to go out into the garden with lots of leaf cover.

Step 7: Harden Off 

Rows of small Apricot tree saplings growing in individual black plastic nursery bags. The saplings have slender green trunks and branches, and some have delicate green leaves beginning to sprout. The afternoon sun casts dappled shadows across the rows of saplings, creating a textured effect.
Gradually expose seedlings to increasing sunlight daily before planting them in the garden.

Before planting out, give them a little more sunshine each day to prevent the shock of the full sun in the garden. Start with one hour a day and then move on to two hours and so on, until they are acclimated. This process is called hardening off.   Keep your seedlings sheltered until you are ready to plant them out.

Step 8: Pick a Planting Spot

A view of rows of apricot trees in an orchard. The leaves on the trees are a vibrant orange color, and there are also some small orange apricots visible among the leaves. The ground beneath the trees is covered in brown soil and dried leaves.
Apricot trees thrive when planted in autumn or slightly warmed spring soil.

The best time to plant apricot trees is in autumn, when they can settle in over the winter. They’ll then burst forth with new growth come spring. Alternatively, plant in spring when the soil has warmed a little. 

Choose the spot for your tree carefully. They will need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day to get a good flowering going, and this will ultimately give you a good harvest of fruit. 

The site you choose must have well-draining soil, more towards the sandy side, and then add plenty of organic materials like compost and a general slow-release fertilizer into the planting hole to give them a good head start. 

If needed, stake your tree when you are planting so that you don’t damage the roots later on when trying to stick a stake in the ground. Use two stakes on either side of the tree and tie them all together with a figure-of-eight tie you can adjust as the tree grows.

Make sure to protect the trees from strong winds so that the flowers don’t blow off the tree before they can form fruit.

YouTube video

Step 10: Plant

A row of apricot trees in full bloom. The delicate pink flowers blanket the branches, creating a canopy of color overhead. Lush green grass carpets the ground beneath the trees, and the clear blue sky peeks through the blossoms.
To ensure optimal growth, select a well-drained spot with sandy soil for planting apricot trees.

Dig a hole twice the size of the pot your sapling is in and twice the depth. Set the topsoil aside and then set the subsoil aside in two piles. Add the compost and slow-release fertilizer into both piles and mix well, returning the topsoil pile into the hole first to bring it up to the correct level. The stem of the tree should be at the same level it’s in the pot when you are done. 

Carefully take the tree out of the pot and place it in the hole, backfilling with the rest of the soil as you go. Make a basin around the tree to ensure you get the most out of your water supply and water it in well.

Step 11: Water and Support

Crystal water droplets dance on delicate pink and white blooms of apricot trees in full spring glory. A gentle spray from a hidden sprinkler system bathes the blossoms in refreshing nourishment, promising a bountiful harvest under a vibrant blue sky.
Apricot trees benefit from staking to prevent root damage and shield from strong winds.

If needed, stake your tree when you are planting so that you don’t damage the roots later on trying to stick a stake in the ground. Use two stakes on either side of the tree and tie them all together with a figure-of-eight tie that can be adjusted as the tree grows.

Make sure the trees are protected from strong winds so that the flowers are not blown off the tree before they can form fruit.

Apricot trees need very little care, but a few things should be done for the best results. Water well for the first year to get it established, and then leave it to the rain unless it’s very hot. Don’t overwater your apricots. To get them rooted and well-settled, water twice a week for the first two months. Overwatering may cause diseases to attack the plants and root rot to take hold.

Only feed your apricot trees if they are not growing well enough and are a bit stunted. You shouldn’t have any feeding issues if planted in the right zone. A boost in spring is advisable should your plant not look too good.

Keep an eye out for any pests and diseases and act quickly to eliminate any threats.

Step 12: Maintain Healthy Growth as Tree Matures

 Sunlight dances on a hand, wielding green-handled shears with practiced ease. The shears snip cleanly through a vibrant green apricot branch, its delicate leaves dusted with soft sunlight. New growth awaits, nurtured by this mindful pruning session.
Pruning is crucial for apricot trees to allow sunlight to reach inside for flowering and fruit production.

Of all the maintenance items on the list for apricots, pruning is perhaps the most important, as with all deciduous fruit trees. This is because you need sunlight to reach inside the tree to produce flowers and then fruit. The inside branches need to be pruned to get the light into the tree. Annual pruning takes place in late winter.

Start by removing any damaged or diseased branches and all the branches crossing each other with a sharp saw or pruning shears or loppers. Cut any suckers away from the base of the stem. Choose three to five main branches, the strongest and healthiest, and then remove up to 25% of the other branches to form a V-shape. Make sure the light is getting into the center of the tree.

Follow up in spring with a tree thinning when the fruit is the size of a grape. Cut away some branches so that the remaining fruit has space to mature, leaving about 6 inches of space around them. This may seem counterintuitive, but in the end, you will have a better, sweeter crop of apricots. It also keeps the tree healthy and productive.

Final Points

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) will bloom in spring with fragrant white and pink flowers that turn into wonderfully sweet fruits when they are ripe. The trees can grow from 10-20 feet tall in ideal conditions, and each year you have them, they will bear more fruit. When you see a tree begin to bloom, you can be assured of harvesting your first homegrown apricots in 100-120 days. What a treat!

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