Several options for replacing an aging apricot - Albuquerque Journal

Several options for replacing an aging apricot

Tracey FitzgibbonQ. My 25-year-old, 30-foot apricot tree seems to be on its way out. Only about a quarter of it had small blossoms this spring. The rest of the tree has no growth and woodpeckers are pecking the dead bark off. I’d like to plant another apricot tree. The branches are really lovely the way they spread out. What variety would you recommend for the Eldorado area, just outside Santa Fe? The fruit would be a bonus, but not the main goal. Faster growth and shade is my main aim. – D., Eldorado

A. I know it’s sad when a beloved tree is aging out. But wanting to replant is always a good thing. You’ll be contributing to the world a tree that creates oxygen and is perhaps home to birds, and certainly since apricots flower, having blossoms that bees and other pollinators will visit to gather life-giving pollen very early in the growing season. So good on you.

With that, you already know that since apricots tend to bloom so early, having a harvest of fruit from an apricot, especially at your elevation or in your zone, will be relatively rare.

I found Payne’s Nurseries in Santa Fe and pursued their website for apricot varieties. They list four available, and since they are in the same “neighborhood” as your home, I figure they know better what grows where.

The four varieties listed on Payne’s website are the Royal, the Tilton, the Moorpark and the Chinese apricot.

Since your fading apricot is definitely a standard tree and you are aiming to mimic the old tree, hunt for a standard variety. Choosing between standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf will certainly affect the choices you have.

A standard variety will eventually offer the size you are looking to replace, especially since your tree is upwards of 30-feet-tall.

What’s the difference between standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties? Standards will grow to an average of 18-to-20 feet, semi-dwarf usually to a height of around 10-to-12 feet and dwarf to about 6 feet tall. Choosing between those options is usually a matter of harvestability.

Having a shorter tree in the landscape allows more ease of gathering the fruit.

Left to its own devices and environment, it’ll certainly grow slower. Tended with adequate water during the growing season and not being attacked by insects will encourage the tree to grow fastest.

You say there are woodpeckers hunting in the old tree, so be sure to consider maintaining a pest prevention program to keep the youngster safer. I will recommend that when you remove the elder apricot, you get rid of it completely. I believe the woodpeckers are searching for borers and if you leave the old tree standing, you’ll leave an existing home for the borers or a whole host of other pests to ravage any new plants.

Apricots are defined as stonefruit trees and they have a natural tendency to be attacked by several pests.

The county might have an agricultural agency that could have printed information as to what grows well in your area.

I mentioned the nursery because nurseries tend to fill their shops with what grows best where they are. You might find a selection of fruit trees available at the big box stores, but just know that the plant life is usually arranged by a mass buyer with little to no regard as to what grows reliably in a specific area. I’m not saying that a lot of what will be offered won’t do well, it’s more a buyer beware situation. So it’s up to you to do the appropriate homework when shopping for your selections and/or shopping in places that have done the homework for you by offering plant life that is more suited for a specific area.

Here’s to finding a good replacement for your aging apricot and that you’re determined to continue enjoying and contributing to a happy environment while you’re out there Diggin’ In.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to


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