Asked on Sep 27, 2013

How can I save a dying Apricot tree?

by Jeannie
I love this tree. My son planted a seed 30 years ago. We've enjoyed watching it grow and harvesting it's fruit but earlier this year my neighbor aggresively "pruned" all the limbs reaching over the fence that divides our property. Now there are many dead and dying branches. I fear next spring it will not leaf out. Is there any hope?
Sick Apricot Tree needs help. Is there anything that can be done to save it?
  13 answers
  • When you drastically prune a tree (or shrub) especially fruit or ornamental, you can cause stress as well as allow bugs and/or disease to seep in through the pruned branches (which if the neighbor does not garden he does not know that diseases and such are spread through dirty tools). Calling in a "tree doctor" will be expensive but an option and depending upon the diagnosis can treat the tree. I know from neighbors that have saved trees that this is expensive. From the pic is it just the branches the neighbor heavily pruned or has it spread? Since it is fall and it is getting cool, I would possibly trim back the dying branches to a main branch and see what happens. Check for rotted or hollow branches and make sure to clean before and after any pruners, saws and anything else you use to cut the tree (sterilize just like at the doctors office) The tree is never going to be the same and it will take years before it will recover, if it ever does. It is hard to describe what to look for in the branches that are dying but from the pic that it looks like the whole tree is now affected. You have got nothing to lose by pruning back the dead to the main branches. This may rejuvenate the tree. Technically you wait to late winter or early spring but if you do then whatever is inflicting the tree may spread even worse. If in doubt about a branch, scratch it to check for green under the bark. If it is brittle and brown it is dead. Good luck and I hope I helped.
    • Jeannie Jeannie on Sep 29, 2013
      @The Garden Frog with C Renee This is very helpful. Yes, I believe it has spread to the whole tree. I will wait until it is completely dormant and give it a severe hair cut!
  • Nancy Nancy on Sep 28, 2013
    If you do prune it back past the damage the neighbor has done, check into getting a sealant to paint over the raw wood. This might keep the damage from going any deeper. We had to use a sulfur spray on our peach tree when we bought our house because it was almost dead. Now the tree is starting to revive. I would go to a good greenhouse that deals with fruit trees and take lots of pictures of your tree to show them. That's how we found out about the sulfur.
    • See 2 previous
    • Nancy Nancy on Sep 29, 2013
      @Jeannie Lime sulfur comes in along about the 3rd spray but you don't use them on apricots. The 4th application of copper, you add the dormant oil to suffocate aphids. I think your problem is more of aggressive pruning. Do you know if he sprayed your tree with any chemical? Like Roundup? Is there a dead patch of grass under your tree or on his side of the fence where he pruned it? I don't want to cause problems with your neighbor, but check for that too.
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Sep 28, 2013
    I echo both remarks. The good news is fruit trees are surprisingly resilient and need a heavy pruning. I would imagine mr neighbor (I'll try not to call him OTHER names) pruned this tree at the worst time in high summer heat? I'd do a light prune when it's cool enough the tree is dormant, to remove the struggling branches. Then in very early spring, a heavy heavy pruning. For me that would be in early March but maybe check with your extension office about when to prune fruit trees in your area. Good luck!!
  • Patty Reisz Patty Reisz on Sep 28, 2013
    That was mean. I have a mean "neighbor" too.
  • Gretchen Gretchen on Sep 29, 2013
    Wow, he really did a horrible job of it. My suggestion is to either call a certified arborist (not all tree cutting companies are arborists) and pay him to fix it correctly (there are real "rules" about how to prune) or call your cooperative extension office and ask them about how you can try to fix it. This would entail you going onto your neighbor's side of the fence, climbing a ladder, and cutting the branches correctly. The use of sealants is not generally advised any more but a certified arborist can tell you exactly what to do in your situation. Additionally, your cooperative extension office very likely will be able to send someone out to look over the tree and give you advice - for free or very inexpensively. You might be able to save this tree but don't wait to take action.
  • Jeannie Jeannie on Sep 29, 2013
    All of your comments are helpful. My neighbor did this while we were gone, during high heat season. I guess he didn't like picking up the free apricots that fell on his side! LOL. He sold his house and moved within a few weeks of doing this. I sure hope I can save it, there are lots of sweet memories and delish fruit I will miss.
  • Ponto Ponto on Sep 29, 2013
    there is a borer that lives in roots of tree near base...its big inch long or so...clear dirt from base and look
  • Leona G Leona G on Sep 29, 2013
    Can you post a picture of where the tree goes into the ground? Yes you can prune but most Extension service DO NOT recommend sealing the cuts as a lot of times this traps insects and disease into the cut, so it is best to let the tree heal itself. Good luck
  • Jeannie Jeannie on Sep 29, 2013
    Upon closer inspection, it appears there is more going on than just the brutal pruning. I see some gummy residue that might be some kind of borer. Now what?
    comment photo
    comment photo
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Sep 29, 2013
    I heartily agree with the above suggestions to contact your local extension office. Your neighbor (and I would be calling him other names, myself) did your tree no favors. The latest pictures you posted indicate borer damage, which is not always easy to deal with, but is correctable. Your extension agent should be able to help you with this and make suggestions of the best way to try and save your tree.
  • Jeannie Jeannie on Sep 30, 2013
    No damage to the grass. I don't think he sprayed it.
  • Kelp4Less Kelp4Less on Sep 30, 2013
    What a horrible thing to do!!! I hope your tree does well! I think you are smart to talk to a specialist. Best of luck to you. I do not know if it will be helpful to you, but I often times will recommend Kelp when damage has been done. We have it on our website, I can post a link if you would like it.