Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weeping Apricot




When the garden was new, one of the first plants I put in was a weeping apricot (Prunus mume pendula). It sits in the middle of its own triangular bed and is virtually the first thing you see as you come in the driveway. I chose this tree because I had warm memories of a matching pair of weeping apricots on either side of a flight of steps at Burnley Horticultural College when I was a student there in the early 1980's. This tree is such good value! It starts flowering for me during the first week of June every year and the pale pink blossoms keep appearing until almost September. Its not like a flowering cherry or crabapple where all its blossoms come out at once, last a few weeks and then 'pffff' they're gone in a puff of wind. The flowering apricot continues to produce new blooms from the centre of the tree outwards and then down the long weeping wands. I prune the tree hard as the last blossom falls off and before the first leaf bud opens. This briefly transforms the tree from a weeper into a mop-top until growth gets going and the weeping branches start to grow again. In this way the tree never gets too big and always has plenty of current growth on which to produce hundreds of flowers. The tree also rewards me with a great autumn show when the leaves turn shades of butter yellow and glowing orange. And unlike the flowering cherry the apricot never gets pear and cherry slug which can defoliate a cherry almost overnight. The triangle bed is beside the driveway so this tree has always received plenty of run-off as the water puddles beside the bed. I can't recommend this tree highly enough! It should be more widely planted.

Recently I pulled out the dogs breakfast of plants beneath the apricot and decided to replace them with a monoculture figuring that would show off the tree better. I took heaps of cuttings of my Erigeron 'Elsie' a great little pink flowering erigeron that is very drought tolerant. I simply spread the bed with organic compost and stuck the cuttings in after first dipping their bases in a rooting gel. Fingers crossed it works! After two weeks the cuttings still look okay. The idea is as the last apricot flower finishes in September, the first erigeron flower will appear.

8 comments:

  1. Any tips on how to prune a weeping apricot - mine is starting to get a bit matted at the top

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you see my post a few days ago? When mine got too big for its boots a couple of years ago I cut it back hard in autumn. Has to be autumn. Like right back to the branches with a diameter of 5cm. It recovered better than ever.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to plant one of these near a paved driveway and was wondering how invasive the root system is?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't think the roots of my tree are partic invasive. Its not like a willow!

    ReplyDelete
  5. hi really enjoyed reading your blog, we are liking the idea of a weeping apricot in our small from yard in Thornbury, where it seems everyone has a weeping cherry or magnolia.. do you have any photos of your beautiful tree when it is green? Would love to see if you do!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have recently moved into a new home which has the Weeping Apricot tree. it is heavy with foliage yet seems twice the size of the photo I have when it was in bloom in August this year. Will it have flowers when it is due to bloom as I do not think it was pruned before the original owners moved out. it also has something making holes in the leaves but I cannot find a caterpillar. Can anyone help?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The holes in the leaves are probably 'shothole' a fungal disease. Look up treatment options. Annual pruning of weeping apricots takes place after the last flower bud has fallen off but before the leaves shoot. If the tree is too big and too congested then a major prune can be done in April. You will forgo a season's flowers but the tree will once again become a manageable size.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi i am looking at putting in a weeping apricot next to a fishpond. The other trees around it are an ornamental pear and a magnolia so i was wondering if there was a way i could keep the tree very short. Maybe 5-6 feet in height. Is this possible or should i be looking for a different tree species. I would really like a tree that will weep over the pond

    ReplyDelete