The Moorpark apricot tree is a classic tree featured in gardens around the world. Grown both as an ornamental and a fruit producer, the tree is known for its white blossoms, beautiful round canopy, and delicious apricots.
There are three centuries of history behind the Moorpark apricot in Europe. But these days, it is enjoyed in many areas. In particular, it is known for thriving in cold, rainy regions. It blooms late, avoiding unseasonable frosts to produce a bumper crop of fruit every summer.
If you want to find out how to cultivate a Moorpark apricot tree, this guide has everything you need for success.
History of the Moorpark Apricot
The Moorpark apricot has its origins all the way back in the late 1600s. When Lord Anson, a British admiral, visited China, he brought back this delicious apricot variety. He cultivated them at his estate, Moor Park, and took great pride in his orchards.
In the more than 300 years since then, the Moorpark apricot has remained popular. It is now grown around the world, thriving even in cold and rainy climates.
Tree / Fruit Characteristics
The Moorpark apricot tree is known for its extremely fast blooming time. Most of the time, you can expect to have a fruit harvest within the first year. The tree is also hardy, being highly tolerant to frost and moisture, so you can grow it almost anywhere.
This variety of tree is also planted as an ornamental, as it blooms with beautiful white, fragrant flowers. You may spot it in gardens both as a decorative tree and a fruiting tree.
The Moorpark apricot is small, with a hairless, deep orange skin. It may have a pink blush. The flesh is sweet and firm. When in bloom, the tree produces beautiful white flowers. It typically produces multiple fruit harvests throughout mid to late summer. That means that you won’t get all the fruit for the year at once, but in stages.
Aside from its delicious fruit, the Moorpark apricot tree is prized as an ornamental because of its attractive flowers and pleasing round shape.
Because the Moorpark apricot tree is highly resistant to frost and rain, it thrives in a wide variety of regions. It does well in growing zones five through eight. One characteristic that helps it flourish in colder areas is its late blooming season, which protects it from late frosts.
Size and Spacing
The Moorpark apricot tree is a fairly large tree that grows rapidly. At full maturity, it will reach between 15 and 20 feet tall, with a canopy as wide as 20 feet across. You can expect the tree to gain about 24 inches in height each year.
For the best results, plant these trees a minimum of 15 feet apart.
Like many other apricot trees, the Moorpark is self-pollinating. That means that you will get a good harvest of fruit with a single tree. However, planting a second tree nearby is a good way to increase the amount of fruit both trees produce.
Moorpark apricot trees are low-maintenance and require minimal care. With the right soil, sunlight, and water, they are almost guaranteed to produce a good crop of fruit every year. Plant the tree in soil with good drainage to avoid accumulating too much moisture. This can increase the risk of the tree developing harmful bacteria or rot.
When you plant the sapling, place it in a shallow hole, with the root ball remaining partially above the ground surface. Make sure the hole is about twice as wide as the root ball. Fill it with loose soil to let the roots move easily.
With good soil, fertilization isn’t necessary until you see fruit begin to appear. Once that happens, use a nitrogen-enriched fertilizer.
The Moorpark apricot tree needs full sun. For best results, make sure it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
The Moorpark apricot tree’s water needs depend on where you live and how much rainfall the region gets. Usually, it will need to be watered once a week. But if you live in a rainy area that averages at least an inch of rain in 10 days (this being most important during the growing season), you do not need to water.
A good rule of thumb is to check your apricot tree every few days. Check the soil to make sure it is moist two to three inches below the ground surface. If not, water it enough to get it wet down to that point.
Pruning is an important part of keeping your Moorpark apricot tree healthy. This is most essential during the first few years of the tree’s life. During this time, you will be training the tree — that is, shaping it into the prime shape for optimal growth and fruit production.
Learning how to prune an apricot tree may take some time, but don’t get overwhelmed. This gets simpler after the first year or two. The goal of training is to shape the apricot tree into an open shape. This ensures that sunlight can access every part of the canopy.
Common Uses For The Fruit
There are many ways to eat a Moorpark apricot. These firm, juicy fruits are delicious right off the tree. But the tree tends to produce large amounts of fruit, both in number and in size. So you will likely need to think of some other ways to use up your harvest. Luckily, there are many options!
What Do Moorpark Apricots Taste Like?
Moorpark apricots are large with deep orange flesh. Unlike many varieties, they do not have a fuzzy skin. They have an extraordinary rich, sweet flavor and aroma and are known for being deliciously juicy. For these reasons, many people think the best way to enjoy them is picked straight off a branch.
Chefs have used apricots in the kitchen for centuries, most often in baking. Many classic recipes incorporate apricots, such as apricot crisp, fruitcake, and couronne. However, you may also find savory recipes that incorporate apricots. They are sometimes used in Middle Eastern meat dishes, paired with lamb or chicken. They may also be dried and used in stuffing, stew, or other dishes.
Often, the best way to enjoy Moorpark apricots is simply fresh off the tree. However, they are also delicious incorporated raw into smoothies, yogurt, parfaits, fruit salad, or even drinks.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
There are endless ways to preserve apricots. They can be stewed or made into jams, marmalade, or other preserves. Dried apricots have long been a favorite for adding to trail mix, bread, fruitcake, or enjoyed on their own.
You can make dried apricots at home with a food dehydrator. They will be shelf stable and ready to use for months or even years.
Apricots are also ideal for freezing. Frozen apricots can be added to smoothies, made into popsicles, or even enjoyed on their own.
Health Benefits of Moorpark Apricots
Moorpark apricots are full of antioxidants. These powerful vitamins may have benefits for your eyes and skin, such as improving skin elasticity. Because of the high fiber and water content, apricots are also excellent for digestion.
Some research also indicates that consuming these vitamins regularly may help fight inflammatory diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Where To Buy Moorpark Apricot Trees?
You can buy Moorpark apricot trees at certified growing websites like Nature Hills Nursery. These vendors usually supply a rootstock that is ready to sprout, so that you will have a crop of fruit within the first year.
Where To Buy Moorpark Apricots
Moorpark apricots are not grown commercially, so there is no guarantee that you will find them in your local grocery store. However, you may have some luck finding them from a local grower.
What Type of Soil is Best For Moorpark Apricot Trees?
Moorpark apricot trees do best in loamy or sandy soil. However, the most important criterion is good drainage. As long as the soil keeps the root system from retaining too much water, the tree is likely to do well.
Can I Grow Moorpark Apricots in a Cold Climate?
Moorpark apricots tolerate cold and frosts well and can even handle extremely rainy regions. They are fairly resistant to rot and disease that too much rain can cause in other plants, especially if they are planted in well-draining soil. One reason they do well in the cold is that they bloom late in the season, which protects any potential fruit from late frosts.
Despite the fact that it is not commercially grown in the United States, the Moorpark apricot tree has staying power. This is evident in its long history. People have enjoyed the sight, smell, and taste of this tree and its fruits for centuries. It is a beautiful addition to any garden.