How to Prune an Apricot Tree

Updated February 21, 2017

Apricot trees do best in climates with dry spring weather and without frost. The fruit blooms in February and March, ripening in June and July. Apricot trees are nice to have in a backyard because they don't need another tree in order to pollinate. Thus, you can plant just one and have a good crop. It's common for young apricot trees to become inflicted with bacterial canker. Pruning apricot trees will allow you to remove diseased branches, control the size of the tree, make them stronger and ensure a healthy crop of fruit.

Perform major pruning in the first three seasons of a young apricot tree. Remove all shoots and buds with the clipping shears. This will ensure a more bountiful crop down the road.

Cut the ends off of vertical branches to encourage more fruit to grow. This will also allow more sunlight to enter the tree canopy and provide nourishment. Place the cut within 1/4 inch of the last bud visible.

Identify apricot tree branches that face downward. They are not getting enough sunlight and make the tree less aesthetically pleasing. Cut them at the V-shaped joint they share with the centre tree trunk.

Remove limbs that are growing at an angle that is less than 60 degrees from the centre stem. They will be weaker and unable to withstand a heavy fruit crop.

Thin excessive fruit by cutting off the ends of horizontal limbs. This will also renew the wood. Without cutting, the apricots will grow earlier in the season and result in a heavier crop.

Prune diseased, dead or damaged limbs by cutting them at the point where they meet healthy ones. Clean your clippers between each cut to ensure you don't spread disease.


Prune apricot trees during the winter, so you can better see the tree's form. When pruning, remove 20 per cent of the previous season's growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Clipping shears
  • Gloves
  • Ladder
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About the Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.