Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Almond:
Prunus dulcis

Back to Fruit, Berries and Nuts

Botanical Overview

Almonds, members of the Rose family and the Prunus genus, are closely related to apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums.


Form: Tree.
Lifespan: 40-150 years. Commercial trees are cut down after 28 years because their declining crop yield makes it more profitable to replace them.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 10-30' high and as wide depending on cultivar and rootstock.
Flowers: White to pink, five petals, fragrant, solitary or paired, appearing before leaves develop.
Bloom: Early spring. Late frosts can destroy blooms and new fruit. This tree tends to be alternate bearing, blooming and fruiting heavily one year, then lightly the next.
Self-fruitful: Depends on cultivar. Most dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars for home gardens are self-fruitful. Full size commercial cultivars are usually not.
Years before fruiting: 3-4.
Fruit: A thick, leathery, downy, grey-green hull covers a hard inner shell enclosing the almond seed. The seed is commonly called a nut.
Months for fruit to ripen: 8.
Harvest: Almond seeds ripen starting from the top of the tree and working down. Wait until nearly all the hulls have split, revealing their shells. If bird predation becomes a problem, start harvesting a little sooner. Remove the hulls, then spread the almonds out in a single layer to dry.
Storage after harvest: Fully dried almonds can be stored at room temperature for up to eight months, or in a refrigerator for up to one year.
Leaves: Green, serrated margins, lance-shaped.
Stems: Light grey bark.
Roots: Commonly grown on rootstock appropriate to the growing location.
Cultivars of Note: Self-fruitful 'Garden Prince' and 'All in One', and non-self-fruitful 'Ne Plus Ultra' and 'Nonpareil' produce almonds in regions with only 250-300 winter chill hours.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees and other pollinating insects.
Toxic / Danger: All parts of the tree are toxic except the ripe almond seed.
Origin: Near East.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 250-600.
Heat tolerant: Extra water and afternoon shade are needed when temperatures are over 90°F, especially when young. Avoid reflected light and heat.
Drought tolerant: Not without loss of fruit crop.
Sun: Full sun for at least 8 hours.
Planting: Locate this tree where it will receive full morning sun and afternoon shade. Being in a low area of the yard where cold air collects, and where the root area and trunk are in shade during winter, may help with winter chill hours. Being in a cold spot, however, may make the tree more prone to late frost damage to flowers. Dwarf cultivars can be grown in large containers.
Soil: The almond tree needs well draining soil. Remove any caliche layer down to a minimum 5' depth. It is tolerant of soil types but does better with moderate organic content. It accepts pH 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline) soil, but does best in pH 6.6-7.8 (neutral to slightly alkaline). This tree is salt intolerant.
Fertilize: Apply organic fertilizer every two months from mid-winter to early fall.
Water after becoming established: Deep water or basin flood weekly from flowering through fruit production. Decrease water to once a month in winter.
Mulch: Apply organic compost mid-winter, keeping it 8" away from the trunk.
Prune: In winter, remove dead, crossing or damaged branches. Flowers bloom on one year old wood. Keep the soil under the drip line weed-free. In hot climates, apply tree paint to any sun-exposed trunk and branches.
Litter: Dried fruit and leaves in the fall.
Propagation: Grafted cuttings.
Uses: Edible seeds.


Ask your neighbors if they have any success growing almonds before purchasing a tree. Find out the name of the cultivar they own.
Macadamia is another nut species that might be considered in almond growing regions.

Do you have additional information or a different experience for these plants that you would like to share? Email All contributions are welcome and appreciated.

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-10939915

By fir0002flagstaffotos [at] gmail.comCanon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-496628

CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-271934

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Latest update: March, 2021