Name: almond (Prunus dulcis)
Height: 2–3m if pruned, 6–9m unpruned
Climate: prefers cold temperate climates but will grow in warm temperate and arid/semi-arid areas, producing nuts if conditions meet winter chill requirements (300+ hours below 7°C).
Soil: well-drained soil, enriched with compost and decomposed manure.
Position: full sun, protected from strong winds.
Flowering and fruiting: white blossoms decorate the tree in late winter and early spring, followed by nuts ,which are usually ready to harvest in early autumn.
Feeding: apply a fertiliser suited to fruit trees in autumn and spring at the rate prescribed on the packet.
Watering: although drought tolerant, regular watering is required from flowering until harvest, but only if you want a delicious and abundant harvest of nuts.
Once established, the almond is a prolific nut tree with a lovely, naturally rounded framework and deciduous foliage. Ornamental and edible, an almond is a wonderful tree for gardens of all sizes, producing white cherry blossoms in late winter and early spring, while the felty nut shells adorn the tree like ornaments until early autumn, when they crack open to reveal the nuts, hidden inside a secondary shell.
The almond tree is primarily grown for its nuts, which can be eaten as they are or used to create almond oil and almond milk. But they also make a nice addition to any garden because of their drought tolerance and striking floral display.
Almonds are usually planted as bare root trees in winter.
An almond tree can be a little tricky to establish, as it can sulk when first planted. If this happens, water during hot dry spells and hopefully your tree will shoot next spring. You can check that your tree is still alive, even if it is not shooting, by using your fingernail to scrape a little patch of bark off the trunk. If it is green underneath, your tree is alive, but dormant.
Frost during flowering can impact cropping, so select a protected position and spray with a seaweed solution to improve frost resistance and plant vigour.
Birds and possums can quickly decimate your nut crop. To prevent this, net the tree as nuts start to develop. Use a frame to keep the net from damaging your tree.
Regular watering is required from flowering through to harvest to ensure a good crop of almonds. If trees are allowed to dry out for too long, nuts will be small and unpalatable.
An almond tree is susceptible to peach pests and fungal diseases. Spray for Peach Leaf Curl and Shot Hole in autumn and again at budburst using a copper-based spray. Fungal problems can decimate your crop. Prune to maintain an open habit and to improve light penetration and airflow.
An almond tree is usually propagated through budding. Budding is a process where an almond bud is inserted into the rootstock of another tree, usually a stone fruit such as a peach, plum, apricot or almond. This is an advanced method of propagation and involves removing the bud from an existing almond tree and inserting it into a “T” slice in the bark of the rootstock tree.
Peach: the closest relative to the almond.
Dwarf fruit trees: perfect for gardens of all sizes.
Lemons: our favourite of all the fruit trees.
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