Almonds, members of the Rose family and the Prunus genus, are related to apricots, cherries, peaches,
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.
Flowers: White to pink, five petals, fragrant, solitary or paired,
appearing before leaves develop. Flowers bloom on one year old wood. Late spring frosts can kill flowers
and reduce fruit production.
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
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 and place them
into a composter, 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 selected rootstock.
Cultivars of Note:
'Garden Prince' This genetic dwarf grows 10-12' high,
needs 250 chill hours, is self-fruitful, and requires very well-drained soil.
'All-in-One' This genetic semi-dwarf grows 15' high,
requires a hot summer to ripen, is very winter and frost hardy, needs 300-400 chill hours,
and is self-fruitful.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees and other pollinating
Toxic / Danger: All parts of the tree are toxic except the
ripe almond seed.
Origin: Near East. Almonds have been domesticated more than
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-9.
Chill hours: 250-600.
Heat tolerant: Somewhat. Extra water and afternoon shade
may be needed when temperatures are over 90°F. Avoid reflected light and heat.
Sun: Full sun for at least 8 hours.
Drought tolerant: Not without loss of fruit crop.
Water after becoming established: Basin flood weekly from
flowering through fruit production.
Soil: The almond tree needs well draining soil 5' deep.
Remove any caliche layer if required. 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 6.6-7.8
(neutral to slightly alkaline) soil. This tree is saline intolerant.
Fertilize: Apply compost every two months from mid-winter
to early fall.
Mulch: Apply 3" of compost mid-winter, keeping it 6" away
from the trunk.
Planting: This tree can be grown in a large container.
Prune: Keep the soil weed-free under the drip line.
In hot climates, apply tree paint to the trunk and exposed branches.
Litter: Dried fruit and leaves in the fall.
Propagation: Grafted cuttings.
Pests: Almond trees are prone to verticillium wilt,
crown gall, mites, and other insect, fungal and bacterial diseases.
Uses: Edible seeds.
Prunus amygdalus is a synonym.
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