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Growing Apricot Pits

A question came in about growing apricots from pits, and because it would be a fun project to do with children, let's learn more. (The question is on the Seed of the Week:  Apricots post.)

First of all, can you grow an apricot tree from a pit or seed? The answer is yes, it is possible.

Another issue is whether the fruit will be any good. When you grow seeds from plants that have not had controlled pollination, or where you don't know much about the source (such as a fruit you bought at the store), you are taking a chance. You will not be able to predict what the fruit quality will be until your tree is big enough to produce fruit. The good news is that peaches, nectarines and apricots show less variability in fruit quality than some other fruit trees do.

What you will need:

  • reasonably fresh apricot pits
  • hammer, vise or nut cracker to open the pit
  • plastic close-top bag
  • paper towels
  • water source

Later you will need potting soil and a pot.

To grow a plant more quickly, you will need to get the almond-like seed out of the pit (the hard outer covering) without crushing it. If you are good with a hammer, you can set the pit on its side and with a single stroke the pit should break open. If you are not used to using a hammer, try a nut cracker or vise instead. Using pits that are clean and dry is easiest. As a last resort, you can germinate a seed in the pit, it will simply take longer.

Once you have the seeds out, wrap them in a clean, moist paper towel. The best way to prepare the paper towel is to wet it thoroughly and then wring it out until it is like a moist sponge. Try to keep everything as clean as possible, so you don't get a lot of mold growing. Place the paper towel with the seeds in it in a plastic bag and set them in a window.

Check regularly for changes. Water as needed to keep moist. Change the paper towels if things start to look moldy. Once the roots start to emerge, transfer the seeds to a pot full of potting soil and water regularly. After a few months you can replant outside, depending on the planting season in your climate. Contact your local fruit tree growers organizations or Cooperative Extension for growing tips in your area.

Stratification or not?

Some people recommend giving apricot seeds a period of cold temperatures (less than 40°F) for over 60 days prior to germination. Subjecting seeds to cold is called stratification. There seems to be some disagreement  about whether apricots really require cold to germinate or not. It is possible that the fruit you buy has been held at cold enough temperatures already. To hedge your bets, save a few seeds, wrap them in moist paper towels as described above and store them in a fridge. If the ones in the bags don't germinate within a few weeks to a month or so, try again with the ones you have chilled after 60 days. Sometimes it just comes down to luck with getting the conditions right.

The person in this video does not mention chilling and yet she seems to have been successful. She does suck the air out of the bag, perhaps to keep down mold?

Aren't those plants inspiring?

If you grow some apricots, peaches or nectarines from seeds, we'd love to hear what works for you.

17 thoughts on “Growing Apricot Pits

  1. Patricia Bergin

    Really enjoyed your video about the nectarine/apricot I will try this..I didnt know about the paper towel and baggy though..

  2. malose majadibodu

    how do i grow peach and nectranine pits.i would like to start my own orchard,and have so far collected more than a thousand pits

  3. Roberta

    Germinating peaches and nectarines should be similar to germinating apricots. I hesitate to give too specific instructions because I'm not sure about your growing conditions there or what cultivars you have. You are probably going to just have to try a few ways, including those shown in the video in this post, and see what works for you. Do you know some local farmers or gardeners who are growing them in your area that might be able to give you pointers?

  4. Geoffrey Grundlingh

    I farm with organic apricots in South Africa. Every year I have thousands of pips left over after drying - last year I used these as a draining layer in the bottom of my pot-plants. A couple of weeks later I was surprised to see hundreds of little apricot trees sprouting - the pips were at least 20cm under the soil - but the little trees were determined. I'm keeping some to see if they fruit after a few years.

  5. shirley heitzler

    The pits have been in the soil for 3 weeks I try to keep in the sun when there is any & they are in plastic bags with moisture no sign of growth yet they were in the fridge for the right length of time prior to planting & the hulls were taken off as decribed I may be hurrying the process up , have set my hopes high on getting a tree from this . have 3 pits planted. I have a mother tree.

  6. Reita Mulholland

    I am going to try to plant a apricot tree to see how they grow.
    But I don't want to plant it outside, I just want to grow in side or my patio and see what happens.
    I will keep you informed how long it takes and how many pots I will have to use.

  7. Bill

    I bought 2 small trees in black bags to bonsai. I left them in the growing bags longer than planned, and it was evident the tree were getting root bound. The trees were transplanted around September ( early spring in South Africa ). I used apricot pips as drainage on the bottom of the bag. About 20 cm. it's been a full one year season. The trees are also popping up now. Late spring 1 year later. I have a few about 30 cm tall now.
    The pips were not cracked. The pips were dry for about 3 or 4weeks before I used them. But the germinated 14 months later. I had no intention of growing them. They just popped up.

  8. maurice

    Hey very informative video
    The zip lock bags I use get very hot, is this normal and how long will it take
    Thanks

  9. Roberta

    Maurice,

    Do you mean that the bags have condensation forming on the sides, which is normal or that they start to heat up? Heating may be a sign that you have microbial action, which is a normal part of composting. Too high temps could harm the germinating seeds.

  10. Sundree

    I just checked my pit that i kept in moist paper towel and put in zippy bag then in frig. Left it in there for about seven weeks. Omg im so excited it has a root. This came off my friends back yard tree and i wanted to try it. It totally worked.
    I do have a question about soil. What kind and how deep a pot Is best til it sprouts? Do i keep it inside ( im in zone 9) or can i put it outside? Thank for your help.

  11. Roberta

    How exciting for you.

    Since it came off your friend's outdoor tree, I would say it would be okay to plant it outdoors.

    Regular potting soil would be fine. A bigger pot would mean you wouldn't have to re-pot as often, so start at least 8" diameter.

    Good luck!

  12. Bill

    I am in South Africa, so we have a warm to hot climate for 9 months of the year.
    I used my peach pips and apricot pips as a 2 inch drainage layer in the bottom of grow bags for some cuttings I started. the apricot pips were about 10 inches deep when the tree grew out of the ground. Just a bit of luck.
    If I was intentionally growing the trees, I would plant them 2 inches deep. I hope this answere helps. Enjoy.
    Bill

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