Almond Tree - Growing, Care & Havesting Tips

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by Max - last update on November 5, 2019, 11:19 pm
Almond tree

Almond Trees are fairly hardy, but if you want to harvest the nuts, make sure to give it plenty of water and sunlight, with a cold weather snap during the winter.

Almond Tree Overview

Quick Facts

OriginAsia
Scientific NamePrunus dulcis
FamilyRosaceae
TypeDeciduous fruit tree
Common NamesAlmond tree
Height15 feet
ToxicityNon-toxic
LightFull sun
WateringMaintain moist, well-draining soil

 

Varieties

Almond trees varieties

Almond trees come in bitter and sweet varieties. Bitter almonds are mostly grown for ornamental purposes, while sweet almond varieties are what you will need if you plan to consume your almond fruits.

‘All-in-one’

This compact variety is ideal for smaller spaces as it grows to around half the size of an average almond tree, and unusually, this almond tree is self-pollinating, so it does not require you to plant more than one.

‘Hall’s Hardy’

This variety is especially hardy and produces an abundance of stunning pink blooms. (Utah State University).

‘Mission’

This almond tree blooms later than most but is very productive.

Caring for Your Almond Tree

Planting

Giving your almond tree the best start in life is essential for developing a healthy, thriving tree. The ideal time to plant an almond tree is in the fall, as these trees have a rapid early growth phase, and this will ensure they develop strong roots before winter. You can plant the tree at other times of the year, but be careful to protect the tree from frost and heatwaves.

First, choose a spot for your tree which has full sun but is protected from cold winds. Almond trees prefer a pH of around 6.5, though they will grow well in just about any soil type. The exception to this is soggy, poorly draining soil, which is not suitable for almond trees. They can handle a variety of soils, including sandy, loamy, and clay, but they absolutely must be in well-draining soil. If your soil is not well-draining, you can add in organic matter and sand to increase its draining capacity.

Dig a hole for your almond tree at least the same depth as the root ball. This is important because the taproot is sensitive and should not be bent or forced into a space too small for it. The hole should be wider than it is deep, roughly twice the width of the root ball itself. Soak the roots with water before you plant them and gently spread them out in the hole. Fill the hole with topsoil and ensure it is well compacted without air holes. Add extra soil around the trunk of the tree to create a slightly raised angle that will encourage water to drain away from the trunk and prevent rot.

Once planted, add several buckets of water to the tree to help it settle. Young trees may need to be staked to help keep them in an upright supported position, but stakes should be removed when the tree is able to hold its own weight, to allow it to grow without restriction.

Almond trees are not self-pollinating, and therefore. if you wish to see fruit, you will need at least two different trees planted in close proximity to each other to allow for cross-pollination. As a guide, the trees should be planted between 15 and 25 feet apart, but if you are short on space, then you can actually plant two almond trees in the same hole. The trees will grow with intertwined trunks and will ensure cross-pollination of the flowers.

Watering

When the almond tree is young, it will need plenty of water, as much as 3 inches each day. As the tree becomes established, you can cut back on watering to 3 inches per week, dependent on its conditions and the time of year.

Although almond trees enjoy hot, dry conditions, they do need lots of water to set fruit. Almond trees can survive in almost drought-like conditions, though these trees are unlikely to produce an abundance of fruit. If the fruit is not important to you, and you are growing your almond tree an ornamental, then watering will not need to be as much of a consideration. If you want your tree to produce fruit, you will need to pay more careful attention to your watering regime as almond trees can be quite finicky.

Give your tree extra water early on in the growing season, as a lack of water during this time typically results in a poor yield of fruit. Extra water can also be beneficial during hot, dry summers and at the beginning of fall. However, you must ensure that you stop watering your almond tree several days before you harvest the fruits. This allows the fruits to dry out and does require some guessing as to when the fruits will be ready to harvest.

Although the tree does benefit from additional water throughout the year, always be careful not to overwater the tree as it will not survive in wet soil.

Light

almond trees in the sunlight

Almond trees should be planted in a position where they will receive full sun. They need at least six hours of direct sun each day, but a greater amount of sun will result in a greater abundance of fruit. The tree can survive in partial shade, but it will produce a much smaller volume of flowers and may struggle to set fruit.

Temperature

almond trees like long hot summer temperature

Almond trees like climates that experience long, hot summers, providing them with a long growing season. During very hot summers, you can whitewash the trunks of almond trees to protect them against sunscald. Although they enjoy the heat, they also require a certain amount of cold weather in order to break the dormancy of buds. Ideally, the tree should get between 300 and 400 hours each year of temperatures that are lower than 45 °F. This requirement is the reason why almond trees do not grow well in tropical climates, as they don’t get cold enough for long periods of time. However, it makes the almond tree ideal for growing in climates such as those found in California and states on the US east coast.

The almond tree is hardy to USDA zones 7 to 9 and will struggle outside of these regions. Although the tree requires a period of cold weather, frost can cause problems for it. Though the tree itself can cope with frost, it can affect the development of flowers, which will, in turn, affect fruit production.

Pruning

When the tree is young, you should prune it to encourage good shape, which will result in a healthy tree and ensure a long productive life. Prune it in winter during its dormant period, cutting out all of the weaker branches, leaving just 4 or 5 main branches remaining.

Once the tree is established, your pruning will be about maintaining the shape, as well as encouraging new growth. Cut out any branches that are growing back toward the tree and any outside of its natural shape. Aim to remove around 20% of a mature almond tree’s branches each winter when you prune, as this will promote new growth and ensure the tree continues to renew itself.

Thinning out branches will also help light to penetrate the tree and increase airflow, which will help with flower production and the tree's overall health. You should also prune back any dead or diseased growth at any time of year (University of California).

Harvesting

Almond trees

To harvest your almond tree, all you need to do is give the branches a shake. As long as the almonds are ripe, they will drop to the ground where you can collect them.

Almond trees are typically ready for harvesting in the fall. You will know they are ready when you see their hulls popping open. When the majority of fruit on the tree is bursting out of their hulls, you will know it is time to shake your tree. It’s a good idea to spread a sheet or tarpaulin on the ground to make for easy collection.

Once you have gathered your fruits, you will need to remove them from their hulls and allow them to dry out fully before they can be eaten. To do this, simply store them in a cool, dry spot for a few days. Some people leave the fruits on the ground for several days before collecting them, as this gives them a chance to dry out, but this should obviously only be done if you are sure that it won’t rain. 

Propagation

Almond trees are most commonly propagated by root graft. This ensures that the new tree is an exact copy of the parent tree, and means you can rely on it producing good fruit. Use a hardy rootstock, ideally peach, and then graft a fruit-bearing almond branch onto the rootstock.

You can also grow the tree from seed, but this will take much longer and may produce a tree different from the parent plant. To use your almond nut for propagation, soak a fresh nut in water for 48 hours. Then, set the nut on a paper towel and enclose it in a plastic bag. Leave the bag in a refrigerator for around a month, at which point you should see some sprouts forming.

Once you have sprouts, you can plant the nut in moist, well-draining soil in a pot. Position it on a warm and bright windowsill and wait for more growth. At around a height of 6 to 8 inches, you should transfer it to a larger pot. Once the tree has developed a strong root system, you can plant it outside.

How many pounds of nuts do you harvest from your almond trees? Leave us a comment! Also, share this page with others who may be interested in growing almond trees!

Almond Tree - Growing, Care & Havesting Tips

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