There are few sensations so refreshing, and so quintessential to summer, as biting into a soft, sweet, ripe apricot. Why not elevate this experience with the knowledge that you grew the apricot yourself? Growing apricots is simple and rewarding, so if you’ve been wondering how to plant apricot seeds, read on!
Seed versus Pit
When you eat an apricot, a hard part remains at the center of the fruit. This is the pit–also referred to as the stone–of the apricot. Within it, there are seeds, which are also known as kernels. For the purposes of this post, we’ll stick to calling them pits and seeds, but it’s helpful to know all the terminology you might encounter if you decide to do some further research!
The first step is also the easiest: enjoy some store-bought apricots! Apricots are in season between July and September, which is a great time to start the growing process. However, if you choose fruit from earlier in the season, your seeds are less likely to germinate.
Eat several pieces of fruit and clean them until there is no flesh remaining on the pit. Rather than discarding them, let the pits dry for around three hours. While you can plant a whole pit, doing so will slow down the apricot tree growing process, so it is the seeds that are placed directly in the soil to grow an apricot plant.
Next, crack open the pits to release the seeds, which are roughly almond-shaped. Pits are very tough, so it’s best to secure them before carefully opening the pits with either a hammer or nutcracker. This must be done gently so as to avoid damaging the seeds inside.
Allow the seeds to dry a further few hours by laying them out on a newspaper or paper towel.
Fruit Seeds Are Unpredictable
While you can grow apricot trees from the seeds of self-purchased fruit, it is worth noting that the fruit produced might not be identical to that of the parent tree. This is because fruit trees are heterozygotes, which means that they do not always mature as the parent tree did when you start from the seed of a parent tree.
When attempting to copy a fruit tree more exactly, the best practice is to graft cuttings, or scions, from mature trees onto apricot, plum, or peach rootstock. This ensures more genetic similarity than simply planting the seeds directly. However, it is still possible that your seed will create an edible fruit-bearing tree, so it is a process worth exploring for those who don’t want the added step that grafting entails.
Seed stratification refers to the process in which you emulate the healthy growing conditions for the seed to stimulate germination upon planting. This process is only necessary if the seeds come from either a freshly plucked apricot or a farmer’s market apricot.
Stratifying the seeds involves storing them in a covered jar or airtight plastic bag at a refrigerated temperature for about two months.
If you purchased the fruit from a store, you can skip this step, because the apricot was likely stored in a refrigerator and therefore does not need to be exposed to a colder temperature again to promote germination.
If you choose not to stratify your seeds, it is best to place them in a plastic bag wrapped in a damp paper towel and then store them above room temperature, if possible by a window. You can add water to keep the seeds moist, but make sure to change out the paper towel if it begins to grow mildew.
Once you’re ready to plant, decide whether you will do so indoors or outdoors. Indoor planting is ideal for gardeners who live in colder climates that tend to experience extended frost periods, but it can still be combined with outdoor growing at certain times of the year.
How to Plant Apricot Seeds Indoors
For indoor apricot seed planting, take either a plastic bag or a glass jar and place a few handfuls of damp, but not soaked, peat moss inside. Then, mix the seeds into the moss and seal your chosen container, placing it in the refrigerator. Within four to six weeks, the seeds will begin to germinate, showing signs of roots appearing in the peat. At this point they can be moved into pots with the soil and water requirements detailed below.
How to Plant Apricot Seeds Outdoors
When determining whether to plant apricot seeds indoors or outdoors, check your USDA Hardiness Zone, which breaks down by location how the climate and local conditions will impact your plant. Apricot trees grow well in USDA zones 4-9.
If you decide on the route of outdoor apricot seed planting, which is best done in the spring, sow the seeds in 1-quart pots rather than directly in the ground of your garden to prevent rodents from getting to your seeds. The soil should be sterile, well-drained, and loamy to prevent root rot. Apricot seeds prefer a pH between 6.5 and 8. You should also use organic compost, blending it thoroughly into the soil, for the best results.
Using the right soil is essential when planting apricot seeds. You can find one ideal for fruit tree growing at your local garden store or order it online. Nature Hills, for example, has Dr. Earth Starter Potting Mix, which contains natural and organic materials. Here’s an article to help you make your own mix for germinating seeds if you’d rather go that route.
Plant the seeds about 6 inches deep, or at a depth that is about twice the length of the apricot pit, and then water immediately to settle the soil around the seeds. You can place an inch or two of sand over the soil to protect the soil from crusting in the winter. Place the pots in full sun.
Depending on the weather, you’ll want to water the seeds between one and three times per week, increasing in accordance with temperature to prevent the soil from becoming too dry during hotter weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
After planting apricot seeds, can the leftover seeds be snacked on raw?
It is important to note that apricot seeds should not be consumed raw, as they contain a harmful chemical called amygdalin, which when hydrolyzed releases cyanide in the body. Apricot seeds are dubiously linked to cancer-healing properties but they are more likely to poison anyone who consumes them in large quantities than they are to heal you.
I’ve planted my seeds in pots rather than the soil of my garden, but I still have pesky rodent visitors! How do I keep them away from my apricot seeds?
After figuring out how to plant apricot seeds, it is worth investing in the right equipment to protect your growing tree. You can find a fruit net from Home Depot for under $20 that will keep your growing seeds safe!
Start Planning When You’ll Plant Apricot Seeds!
As you can see, it’s not difficult to plant and sprout apricot seeds, but you will need some patience for this gardening project. But within three to five years, and with the right care, you’ll have an abundance of apricots growing on your very own apricot tree!
Now that you know how to plant apricot seeds, find out the next steps you can take to help your seeds grow by checking out our guide on How to Plant an Apricot Tree.