What to do with an apricot sprout to prepare for coming winter?

I have been nursing an apricot sprout that came from my compost. I know it was from my neighbor’s wonderful, huge old tree. It almost died out over the winter, but came back this summer and is now about 8 inches tall and surviving. It is in good soil and compost in a six to eight inch diameter pot.

What should I do with it for the coming winter? Should I plant pot and all in a warm, protected spot up by the house? Plant it in the ground where I will want it to grow? Thanks as always for your experienced perspective.

— Betty

I think I’d plant it out in the yard. The ground is warm so you should get some root growth this fall.

Do a good job amending the soil around the plant so it will get a good start. Water it in well and then put an inch or two of mulch on top of the ground around the plant. Once the ground starts freezing, about Thanksgiving, thicken the layer a bit to 3 or 4 inches.

Understand that this new apricot will probably be different to one extent or another from the parent tree your neighbor has. It’s like our kids are a bit different from us.

Your apricot may be a bust with sparse fruit or fruit that is small, hard or tasteless. On the other hand, it may be wonderful, putting the neighbor’s tree to shame. It’s going to be a surprise that you’ll find out about in a few years when the tree starts flowering and fruiting.

What time is the best for planting trees?

— Barb

When to plant depends on the state the plant is in.

If it’s growing in a pot, you can plant them any time. You’re not disturbing the roots much. You’re just slipping the plant out of the pot and into your garden and it doesn’t matter whether it’s 32 degrees or 102 degrees outside.

We plant container plants nine or 10 months a year, stopping when the ground freezes in the winter, so you still have lots of time this year if you want. In fact, a lot of people think fall is the best time of the year to plant. The ground is still warm so you’ll get root growth which gives the plant a good head start next spring.

However, if the plants are bare root or packaged (that’s just a bare root plant that has some packing material around the roots to keep them moist), then you really should plant them early in the spring from late February to early April. It’s important to plant bare root early in this area since we warm up so quickly. You want the plant to have as much time as possible to root out and replace as much of the root system that was lost in digging and storage before hot dry weather sets in.

A balled and burlap (B&B) plant is usually a larger plant that was dug with a soil ball around the roots from a growing field. The soil ball is wrapped in burlap and usually a wire cage to support and hold it together. B&B can be planted about the same as containers, though I’ll usually take a short break from planting them during the hottest part of summer. That really depends on how the B&B is held in the nursery.

Most of the time sawdust or wood ships are piled around the rootball to keep it moist. As time goes on the tree initiates roots into this material and those roots can be damaged or lost in moving, and the tree sometimes can go into shock. The tree almost always recovers but it is alarming for the owner.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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