Apricots can be grown as bush trees, but these do not do very well in cooler climates. Grown against a wall, where they can be given winter protection, they are more successful. They can also be grown against fences, but walls provide better shelter. Glasshouses built against a wall are the ideal situation.
Fix parallel horizontal wires to the wall, spaced at about 30cm (12in) intervals, the bottom wire about 45cm (18in) above ground-level. The wires should be stretched taut and held about 10–15cm (4–6in) away from the wall. In warmer areas, the fan can be supported by a strong fence or on wires strung between sturdy posts, solidly set in the ground about 2–2.5m (6–8ft) apart.
Start with a young feathered tree with two suitable laterals just below the level of the first wire. The first spring after planting, cut the leader back just above the uppermost of the desired laterals. Tie them to individual long canes, and secure these to the wires at an angle of about 40 degrees. Cut back these two laterals to about 45cm (18in) from the base to an underside bud. Cut back any other laterals to two buds. In summer, cut them back completely, tight to the trunk. Around mid-summer, tie in the new branch leaders to the canes. Select the best-placed side shoots and tie these in to the wires. Remove the rest, especially any vigorous, vertical shoots. Try to encourage downward growth to fill the fan evenly. Do this every summer, tying the main shoots to canes, until the fan has filled out.
Once the fan is established, prune it in early to mid-summer only. Spring pruning can result in diseases entering the tree through the pruning wounds. Cut out any dead, diseased or damaged wood. At the same time, remove any vigorous growth, stems that tend to crowd the framework and shoots that point towards the wall or project away from the plane of the fan. New growth on all branch leaders and side shoots should be cut back to just a few leaves. Thin out any other new growth, retaining only those shoots that are required to fill gaps or to replace older stems. Periodically remove any old growth that is unproductive, cutting it back to a replacement shoot. Try to keep the centre reasonably open and clear of shoots. The canes can be removed and the shoots tied directly to the wires once the fan has reached maturity.
Year one, winter: Plant a feathered tree in winter, and in spring remove the leader just below the bottom wire. Tie in two strong laterals to canes at 40 degrees and reduce their length to 45cm (18in). Cut back any other laterals to two buds.
Year one, summer: Tie in the main side shoots as they develop, creating an even coverage of the wall and ensuring that the sides are balanced. Remove any unnecessary shoots, including the laterals on the trunk.
Year two, summer: During the following summer remove completely any vigorous vertical shoots and any misplaced ones, and tie in the rest to suitable spaces to ensure a good coverage.
Established pruning, summer: Once established, continue to cut out any vigorous vertical growth and any unwanted shoots in summer. Cut back any new growth on branch leaders and all side shoots to one or two leaves. You can remove the canes when the fan is mature.
- ‘Early Moorpark’
- ‘New Large Early’