Can you train apricot into a weeping form?

After loosing my apricot crop second year in a row even before the buds start to swell, I want to make some “sleeping quarters” for it, by building permanent frame around it and using insulated panels on it in winter (Yes, I am crazy, but it is only one apricot in my yard and it is dwarf ). Thinking about the height of the structure I got an idea that it will be nice if my tree has weeping form, kind of dropping branches down from the 5-6’ tall trunk. Is it possible at all?

Apricots have crazy upright growth, I do not think it is possible. Also apricots are strange in that their lower branches flower first and the upper branches have more delayed bloom. This year the lower parts of the trees have frozen bud and the upper parts seem not damaged.


Honestly, I do not know for sure, but if I were trying to do it I would prevent it from fruiting (I know -that’s already happening!) so that it would continue with vegetative growth, and I would try to establish four longish scaffold branches about five feet from the ground, and I would try to train them to horizontal right away.

I don’t know if it would work, but it’s a plan, for what it’s worth!

It also occurred to me that some kind of wrap or bag might be more doable than insulated panels …
fun things to think about.

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The reason I want panels is wind. We having winds up to 60 m/h, it is very difficult to make any temporary wrapping and keep it all winter long. Also, insulated panels should protect from warmth in the middle of the winter. This winter we had several 70f events, followed by teens. I want to make those jumps not so bad, not insulated and not reflecting wrap can make it worse when temperature raised like this.

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Get rid of the 5-6ft of trunk and start the branches/spurs near ground level. I’ve got plenty of cots, pluots, and nectarines in my greenhouse with fruit 6-12 inches off the floor. Trees are topped off at 7ft. I really should either cut off the top or clean up the bottom. Bending over isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I think your structure can be successful.


It’s hard for me to imagine a weeping apricot tree. As an alternative idea, you can train the tree as a fan. This will drastically reduce the volume you need to enclose.

Thanks, everybody!
Fruitnut, when you saying start near ground, do you mean plant a new whip, or just cut the 3 years old tree I have just a little above the graft? It has no branches there at all, do you think it will not just die when I chop it and start new branches?

You can train anything to a weeping form as far as scaffolds go, and apricots are partial spur bearers so they are even easier to manage this way than peaches. It is only a matter of pulling branches below horizontal and making sure branch parts all get adequate light. Whatever the species.

The fruiting shoots will mostly be upright, but with summer pruning you can keep them close to the scaffolds, removing the most vigorous, managing them as one would an espalier.

It won’t be the most efficient managing system, of course, when you factor in pruning time. But this is a hobby, right?


Yes, Alan, it is hobby! I need to think about what I want to do, the low branches as fruitnut suggested are very tempting! Also the trunk has some kind of sore the tree came with from Stark’s, and now it looks kind of even worse, cutting the trunk will solve this issue as well.

Galina, there are techniques to put branches where you want them by nicking the trunk above a bud or area that has been active (and maybe pulled off for the sake of tidiness). Several folks on the forum have reported on this. Not sure what to search on but I’m sure I’ve read it here.
The biggest challenge is to erect a ‘temporary’ structure that can sustain 60mph winds. Some ideas are to place a corner in the direction of the prevailing winds, keep it low as possible (as you already surmised) and use tie downs over the top. I have a high poly tunnel and several low poly tunnels and fortunately we don’t encounter those kinds of winds in the winter. They are taken down before huirricane season. Not sure they’d handle 60 mph.

Anne, The idea is to build “Permanent structure” - anchored logs on the ground and wooden frame on top - like shed, just without walls and roof in summer. In winter, the walls and roof will be closed with wall and roof panels. As of now I think the panel will be wooden ladder-like frame securely covered with tarp from inside and with reflective foam insulation from outside. Panels will be secured in place with some locks and also several ropes around whole structure, both vertical and horizontal. Anyway, this is a plan for now, will see what my personal builder(hubby it is) will bring in. He usually improves my plans for more difficult implementation :slight_smile:.

I think what Justanne talked about is scoring and notching teachniques. If you google Home Orchard Society, Scoring and Notching, there is a page explaining the techniques in an easy to understand term.

I don’t know much about apricot,. Many literatures say do not prune it during dormant. There is a disease that could kill it. It is suggested that apricot needs to be prune in the summer. Check UC Davis website. They have info on apricots.

If apricot behave like peach, cutting a trunk of a 3 yeras old tree may or may not force a tree to push new growth.

No I won’t cut off a 3 yr old tree. But this sounds like a lot of effort and expense. Maybe you should start over with a tree grown for this project. Or cut off and graft the tree you’ve got at about 1ft height. Then you could have a multi graft for extended harvest.

You can pull what you’ve got down.

Does anyone have a mature apricot on peach roots? I have two 3-year-old trees that have long horizontal branches so far. I’m wondering if this is typical or coincidence. It will be interesting to see how tall they get (if I can keep them alive). The apricots I’ve had on plum roots grew more vertical and tall.

If the canker is not healing, I would probably run with the lower branches as well.

What Anne is talking about is called scoring- just a cut with a sharp saw above where you want a branch- through green tissue, maybe an inch or 2 wide, depending on diameter of the trunk. Not sure it works on apricots, but is great for pears and apples which are more inclined to send out new branches from old wood. It often even works when you don’t do it immediately over a latent bud, because those species have better ability to dedifferentiate cells, apparently.

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Ahhhh for the love of growing.

@fruitnut, I was thinking about to start over, but only can go with dwarf apricot and it should be suitable for zone 5, so only source I can find for such tree is Stark’s. I already got two Harglow apricots from them with no much luck. First one came with a sore, and was very late to wake up next spring, so I thought it died. They sent me replacement, (by the time I got it, first one woke up), replacement was growing great and very fast, much faster I would expect from the dwarf tree, and next spring it just didn’t wake up, I found phytophthora root crown rot on it. So the one I have alive now is the first one I got. It really seems to be dwarf, but the sore is still bad. I am not willing to play lottery with Stark’s again. If I decide to graft it, how do I do it? Just cut top completely and graft? Does it need any feeding branch?
@alan, thanks, and when is the best time to do the scoring, now?

My area is a bit warmer than yours, and apricots die a great deal simply from cambium freeze- and this outcome seems completely unpredictable as far as specific weather preceding it. If you order another, don’t be seduced by the slightly earlier bloom of H. Glow. My experience is that Hargrand has consistently been the survivor of the Har series I’ve tried here- this involves 3 different sites where Grand lives on when others failed (harlayne, and harcot- not sure about glow, but I must have bought a 5 bundle, and only manage one). Alfred is the other survivor, but it gets scab and has smaller cots. Admittedly, my experience is too limited to be definitive, but at least you probably are experiencing the same issues and your diagnosis may not be correct. Especially if drainage is good.

I would be reluctant to go with a dwarf as well, I doubt it would be as strong- but who knows? Reduced vigor could also be a help.

I would certainly keep at least one nurse branch, maybe all the branches, until the grafts have taken and are secure. I think Dave Wilson recommends keeping nurses through the first season.

@alan, I never grafted before, and only tried cleft graft this winter on some wood I cut from crab apple for practice. What kind of graft would be right for this apricot? Any video for reference?
For the crown rot - it was bright orange colored soft mess right on the root crown, so I assumed it is phytophthora, may be it was not.

I do a ton of grafting but mostly only splice grafts on vigorous one-year shoots- used to do a lot of clefts- so I am not your expert. Dave Wilson has a video you can check out- I think it was nectarines and cleft grafts. I’m sure someone will provide you with direct links- you can always post a specific request.