A Beginner’s Guide to Pruning Apricot Tree

Apricots are a popular fruit, and they can take up a lot of space if you don’t prune them correctly. In this article, we’ll outline the basics of pruning an apricot tree and advise how to choose the right time to do it. We’ll also explain the different types of apricot trees and talk about when to prune them. Finally, we’ll give you a list of tips on caring for an apricot tree after you’ve pruned it.

Why Pruning Apricots?

The main reasons why you should prune your tree are to ensure its survival, stimulate growth, and shape the tree’s shape.


To ensure your tree’s health, we remove many of its tiny feeder roots from the root ball before shipping it to you. Tree pruning allows the roots to re-establish themselves in your yard before spring growth, helping to maintain a healthy balance between top and root growth.

Pre-pruning is already done for you when you receive your Stark Bros. bare root tree. As a result, when you plant them, you won’t have to worry about pruning them again. Branches and roots that have been damaged will be pruned at this time.

When your fruit trees are dormant, plan to prune them. Late winter is a great time to plant in Zone 6 and further north. Pruning Made Easy, for example, is a great resource for getting answers to pruning questions and guiding you through the process.


Cutting the tree back also encourages the remaining buds to grow stronger and more vigorously. When pruning a tree, it will grow larger than a similar unpruned tree within a year.


Even more critical is the need to shape your fruit tree. A fruit tree’s natural shape isn’t always the best bet when it comes to fruit production. After you receive your trees from Stark Bro’s, you must continue to prune them correctly at home. Every year, pruning and shaping your trees and shrubs will result in fewer large, difficult-to-heal cuts.

When to Prune

Apricot trees should be pruned in the late winter or early spring when the new leaves and flowers are just starting to emerge from their buds. When the tree is in full growth mode, the wounds from pruning are quickly healed, preventing the spread of disease. It also catches problems early, resulting in smaller incisions.

Pruning Apricot Trees

Apiculture requires regular pruning of the trees to ensure that they grow well. You can stimulate new growth and increase the number of healthy apricots produced by your tree each year by pruning it. To keep your apricot tree fruitful, you must remove unwanted branches, reduce the length of the remaining branches, and care for your tree properly throughout the season.

Getting Ready to Prune

It would help if you waited until late summer to cut down your apricot tree. The best time to prune is when they’re in the period of dormancy during winter. Apricot trees can be especially vulnerable to disease when they’re pruned. Cutting an apricot plant in the summer lets it heal quickly and protect itself from water, which can cause damage and spread disease.

Trim your tree as soon as you can after getting your fruit from it. You’ll see that at this point, the tree is still growing. It will quickly heal.

Apricot trees grow new branches more quickly when cut back in late summer. This means that your tree will have more apricots next year.

Pruning Shears

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a pair of shears. A pruning saw is usually required to cut through thicker branches of trees. The blade should be curved, and the teeth should be wide. The local hardware store may be able to sharpen some of your older tools.

You’ll also require a sturdy ladder if you can’t get to the top of your tree. If you’re pruning on uneven ground, folding and leaning ladders are not a safe option. On the other hand, Orchard ladders have a more robust tripod structure.


You can use rubbing alcohol, a disinfectant, or a 10% bleach solution to sterilize your tools. Make sure your shears and saws are clean and won’t spread disease to your tree by soaking them for 30 seconds. Do not use the same tools for multiple apricot trees at once. You may want to use a disinfectant that is less damaging to your tools than bleach.

Removing Branches That Are Unhealthy or Unnecessary

Remove any branches that are dead or otherwise damaged. These limbs will hinder the tree’s growth and maybe a source of disease transmission to the tree’s other healthy limbs.

Make sure to remove any branches that have recently sprouted new or hardened sap. Disease and decay can cause food to be gummy.

Get rid of Small Sprouts

It doesn’t look like these new shoots will make apricots, but they could get in the way of other fruit-producing trees. If possible, get as close to the trunk or branch as possible without leaving a stub.

Suckers are small sprouts that grow from the trunk’s bottom. They are called “suckers.” People should look for them below the tree’s main branches, near the ground.

When the main branches of the apricot tree reach the ground, they become “water sprouts.” These shoots grow straight up from the main branches. Even though they won’t bear fruit, these perfectly vertical new branches are often responsible for stifling the growth of fruit on lower branches.

Remove Branches Grown Toward the Center and Downward

Remove any branches growing directly downward or toward the center of the tree’s trunk. If these branches are not removed, they may prevent the formation of healthier branches. It is preferable to retain only outward and upward-growing branches from the trunk.

Eliminate Competition

Look for areas where two branches grow parallel to one another or where multiple branches grow from the same spot on the trunk. In these instances, remove all but one branch that appears healthy.

Pruning and Reduction of Branches

Identify a Few Healthy Scaffolding Branches

Choosing 3-5 branches between 18 and 36 inches (46 and 91 centimeters) from the ground can encourage optimal tree growth. This is where most of your fruit will come from.

Vertically-growing branches are more likely to snap off if they produce a lot of heavy fruit, so choose those that grow outwards away from the trunk instead. Aim to keep the angle of the branches growing outwards between 2:00 and 10:00.

For the tree to be balanced, all of the scaffold’s branches should be evenly spaced around the tree’s trunk.

These scaffold branches should be marked with a piece of brightly colored ribbon or string to avoid trimming them in the future. Preventing over-pruning by leaving these in place will help your apricot tree’s overall structure remain sound.

Cut the Remaining Branches

Pruning shears or a pruning saw can cut newer, thinner branches. Leave no more than 0.25 inches of space between the remaining branches and the trunk (0.64 cm).

This branch has a collar at its base, so look for it. An area of bark that connects the branch to the trunk is thicker and more ridged in this area. To promote new tissue growth and avoid damaging the branch, cut it just outside the collar.

Prune branches 8–10 inches

Branch pruning should be done 8–10 inches (20–25 cm) away from scaffold branches. Your tree’s main branches should have plenty of room. This improves air circulation and allows sunlight to reach apricots on lower branches. Less space is needed between thinner branches near the top of the tree and thicker branches near the bottom.

Remove Extra Branches

Extra branches should be removed to thin the tree. Aim to cut 13 branches total. Apricot trees grow rapidly and require more pruning than other fruit trees. Your tree should have sparse but evenly spaced branches throughout its height. Young trees get more limbs cut off than older trees. To encourage growth rather than fruit production, prune aggressively for the first three years.

Reducing Remaining Branches

Maintain Your Scaffolding Branches

Leave the tree’s primary branches uncut to maximize apricot yields the following season. Ensure that the scaffolds are balanced; if one is larger than the others, shorten it so that all the scaffolding branches are equal in size.

Reduce the Length of All Other Branches by 20-30%

Depending on the size of the tree and how much it has grown in the last year, trimming could range from 2 inches (5.1 cm) to 4 feet (1.2 m). Chopping the ends encourages the tree to grow shorter and bushier branches and more fruit on the lower branches.

Trimming vertical branches encourages the formation of new branches and leaves while also preventing them from growing too tall and blocking sunlight.

Pruning horizontal branches encourage the growth of new fruit-producing wood.

Trim Above the Level of Any Buds, Stubs, or Branchlets

Trim the branches to 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) above any buds, stubs, or branchlets on the tree. Buds will grow outward from the trunk and other nearby branches if they face outward when selected. When you cut away from the bud, you should be cutting at a 45-degree angle.

If you want to prune a branch close to another branch, you should prune it near a bud facing the opposite direction of the nearby branch.

A branch that has been pruned will produce more vigorous buds within 1–8 inches (2.5–20.3 cm) of the cut. Trim the branch at a point along the branch where new buds will have room to develop.

Reduce the tree’s height to ensure that you can reach all of its twigs and twig ends

Picking apricots from the tree will be much more enjoyable if you can easily reach all branches. To keep your tree looking its best, you should have it trimmed every year.

Do not cut a lot of the tree’s height off at once, as the thick bark of the lower trunk and branches could hinder the tree’s ability to form new growth. Instead, gradually reduce the apricot tree’s height over the next three years until you achieve your desired result.

Taking Care of Your Tree During the Season

Removing Summer Small Sprouts- New growth can be cut back to ensure that the tree gets enough light in its branches by snipping it off.

Remove Any New Growth Toward the Trunk or Other Branches- Heading off new branches early will train your tree to continue growing in the proper structure and reduce the number of large branches to be removed later, once they begin causing problems.

Remove Damaged Branches Immediately- If a branch breaks due to high winds or bears a lot of heavy fruit, it should be removed as soon as possible. To promote healthy, quick healing, clean the edges of the break by cutting away any jagged or broken pieces.

Apricots Are About an Inch Long- When thinning fruit-bearing branches in early summer, apricots are about an inch long. The tree’s color and health are improved throughout the process, reducing the risk of overproducing. Watch for branches overburdened with apricots and are at risk of breaking by being left unattended. To encourage your apricot tree to produce a consistent crop year after year, thin out fruit branches on heavy years when your tree only produces a significant crop every other year.

Tree Pruning for Apricots During the Planting Season

Begin by searching for a few strong branches that extend outward rather than upward before you begin chopping them down. In describing these branches, the angle between the main trunk and the branch is their “wide crotch.” Those are the ones you want to pay particular attention to because they are worth saving. If you need to remove a branch, cut it close to the collar, the thickened area between the trunk and the branch. Shortening branches should always be done just above a branch’s side branches or buds. This is how you begin pruning your new apricot tree:

  • Remove all damaged or broken limbs and shoots from the plant. A narrow crotch branch grows upward rather than outward.
  • Remove all branches less than 18 inches (46 centimeters) above ground level. Reduce the main limbs to a 36-inch height (91 cm.).
  • Keep the distance between the branches at least 6 inches (15 cm) by removing additional branches as needed.
  • Reduce the length of the remaining lateral branches by 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm.). One bud should be present on each stub.

Following Year Pruning of Apricot Trees

Performing second-year apricot tree trimming helps to reinforce the framework you established the first year while also allowing for the addition of a few new main branches. Remove any stray limbs growing in an unnatural direction, such as upwards or downwards. You should leave a few inches (0.8 cm) between each branch on the tree. Reduce the length of the main branches from last year by 30 inches (76 cm.).

Pruning will be a cinch now that your tree is well-established and has a sturdy framework. Remove old side shoots that aren’t producing fruit and winter damage. Shoots taller than the tree’s main trunk should be removed as well. Reduce the canopy’s thickness to allow more sunlight and fresh air into the building’s interior.