Growing apricots in containers
If for some reason you cannot grow a tree in the, either because of lack of room or because any suitable areas are paved or concreted, good trees can be grown in large pots or tubs. There is the added advantage with this method of growing that the trees are mobile, and you can put them under cover during the spring and so make sure of getting good crops, as well as being able to protect them fully in severe weather.
Choose a container of at least 30 cm (12”) diameter, big enough to take the roots comfortably without being cramped and doubled up. Put a layer of drainage material in the base, such as broken crocks, small pieces of brick, gravel and so on, to a depth of about 2.5 cm (1 “)5 and then fill in with a little of a good proprietary potting. Set the tree in this, spreading the roots out, and fill in with more compost, occasionally shaking the plant a little, so that the compost settles well round the roots.
When potting is complete, the surface of the compost should be level with the soil mark on the trunk of the tree, but remember also that a space of about 2.5 cm (1”) deep should be left between the compost surface and the pot rim, to allow for watering.
The compost needs to be thoroughly and evenly firmed in, especially at the sides, and when potting is finished, the plant should be watered. Then it should be put in a sheltered place while it becomes established, at the same time keeping an eye on its water needs.
If you can plunge the container into soil during the winter, this will protect the roots from frost, otherwise lag it with sacking, straw, or fibreglass wool.
Pruning an apricot in a container is done so as to encourage it to form a pyramid shape, pruning the leader in winter in the first two or three years, and pinching back sideshoots in late spring and summer, so that they are quite short and form spurs in due course. Although this is contrary to normal pruning techniques, apricots in containers tend to be very fruitful, partly because their roots are restricted, and the method works well. Very strong rank-growing shoots should be removed completely.
Never allow the plants to run short of water, and give a general slow acting compound fertilizer in mid-spring. Water this well in; the quantity should be about 60 g (2 oz) per tree. A top-dressing of rotted garden compost or leafmould in late spring will be useful.
Potting on into slightly larger containers, up to a maximum of about 40-45 cm (16-18”) diameter, will be needed in autumn every year; replace some of the old compost from the outside of the root ball with fresh material.
Otherwise care of the tree is as for the normally grown specimens.
Do not expect a container grown apricot to live as long as the open-ground ones. However, you should get useful crops for about seven or eight years from the time it comes into cropping.