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How to Prune an Apricot Tree: A Step-by-Step Guide for Healthy Harvests

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Ready to learn how to prune an apricot tree? Pruning is the key, and we’ve got your back with straightforward tips. We’ll answer the big question – do apricot trees really need pruning? Spoiler alert: it’s a game-changer for a fantastic harvest. Learn the why, when, and how of apricot tree pruning in plain language. No jargon, just simple steps for both new and grown-up trees. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right time to the tools you’ll need – it’s easier than you think!

Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, let’s make your apricot tree the star of the orchard.

The Benefits of Pruning

First things first, do apricot trees really need pruning? Well, it could get by without our help, but a bit of TLC goes a long way. Pruning is like giving your tree a health boost, making it stronger, more fruitful, and less bothered by pests and diseases. A pruned apricot tree not only looks nice but also pumps out more delicious fruit. It’s like giving your tree a yearly pick-me-up, starting from when you plant it.

When to Prune Apricot Trees?

Timing is everything when it comes to pruning your apricot tree, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Let’s break it down based on the age of your tree.

When to Prune Young Apricot Trees (Up to About Two Years Old):

For those fresh-faced saplings, the prime time for a trim is when new leaves are making their grand entrance. In the world of apricot trees, this usually happens around March or early April – a perfect window to shape those young branches.

When to Prune Established Trees (About Two Years Old and Bearing Fruit):

Once your tree has hit its stride and is reliably churning out those delightful apricots, it’s time for a summer makeover. Set your sights on a pruning session between July and late August, letting the sunshine do its thing. Why summer? Well, stone fruit trees, including apricots, can be a bit sensitive to canker and silver leaf diseases. Pruning during the growing season allows the tree’s sap to seal those cuts swiftly, acting as a natural defense mechanism against potential invaders.

A crucial note: regardless of your apricot tree’s age, resist the urge to prune during autumn or winter. You want to give your tree a pass to rest and rejuvenate without any interference.

The Tools You’ll Need

Now, let’s assemble our pruning arsenal. This is what you’ll need for pruning your Apricot Tree:

  1. Pruning Shears: Your trusty snippers for precise cuts on smaller branches and twigs.
  2. Loppers: Ideal for thicker branches that need a bit more muscle.
  3. Pruning Saw: When facing larger branches, this saw gets the job done efficiently.
  4. Gloves: Protect your hands from scratches, ensuring a comfortable pruning experience.
  5. Safety Goggles: Shield your eyes from debris when using cutting tools.
  6. Disinfectant: A quick spritz after each cut keeps your tools clean and helps prevent disease spread.

How to Prune an Apricot Tree?

Now comes the fun part – the actual pruning process. Depending on the age of your tree, this is how you do it.

Pruning Young Apricot Trees

For your budding apricot sapling, the key to a fruitful future lies in a well-balanced structure. Follow these steps to ensure your young tree grows up healthy and robust:

  1. What you need to prune: Identify and cut any broken, damaged, crossing, or oddly angled branches. Aim for 3-5 strong branches growing from the trunk.
  2. Remove lower branches: Remove branches or shoots growing too low on the trunk (about 45cm from the ground) to maintain an optimal shape.
  3. Encourage Outward Growth: Trim branches growing more upwards than outwards to promote an open crown and good air circulation, thwarting molds and infections.
  4. Mind the Gap: If two branches are closer than 15cm, retain the stronger or better-shaped one, pruning the other back to the trunk.
  5. Shorten and Guide: Trim remaining branches to 5-10cm in the first year, leaving an outward-facing bud. In subsequent years, prune by about a third to a half for continued growth.

Pruning Established Apricot Trees

As your apricot tree matures, maintaining its health and productivity becomes the focus of pruning. Follow these steps to ensure a thriving, fruitful tree:

  1. Pruning dead branches: Remove dead or diseased wood, keeping the tree vibrant.
  2. Straighten the Stance: Eliminate oddly angled shoots or branches originating from the trunk for an orderly appearance.
  3. Untangle Crossing Branches: If branches are crossing paths, bid farewell to the weaker one, allowing the stronger contender to flourish.
  4. Out with the Old: Prune out old shoots that have retired from fruit-bearing duties.
  5. Crowd Control: Trim small branches from the crown if things start feeling a bit too crowded.


Congratulations, you’ve successfully pruned your apricot tree! But now it’s time for the aftercare routine. There are a few things you can do to help your Apricot tree to bounce back quickly:

  • Apply a generous layer of mulch around the base to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Consider a balanced fertilizer to give your tree the nutrients it needs to thrive.
  • Keep a watchful eye for any signs of pests or diseases, and address them promptly – a healthy tree is a happy tree.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prune my apricot tree in the winter?

No matter how old your apricot tree is, don’t trim it during fall or winter. Let it take a break and recharge without any interruptions.

Can I prune an apricot tree if it has diseases or pests?

Pruning your apricot tree can help keep pests and diseases in check. Remove dead or diseased branches in the growing season, when your tree is more resilient. Also, the good airflow you can create with proper pruning will help your tree fight diseases more effectively.

What is the best time to prune an Apricot Tree?

You want to prune young apricot trees in March or very early April, while older Apricot trees should be pruned during summer.