Do you like almonds? If you do, we won’t be surprised. After all, the delicious nut can be enjoyed in many ways. Eaten as is, soaked, marzipan, candy, cake, even as milk. You name it. Here we won’t be talking about how to enjoy almond, however. Rather, we will tell you how to grow almond on your own.
We will tell you about things like where do almond trees grow, how to grow an almond tree and growing almond tree from seed. After you finished reading, you will be better equipped to grow an almond tree (or more, it’s up to you) in your backyard. Ready? Let’s start with getting to know where almond trees grow first.
Where Do Almond Trees Grow
When we talk about where do almond trees grow, we need to get to know a bit about the nuts first. Prunus dulcis, more popularly known as almonds, have been cultivated as early as 4,000 BCE. Almond trees are said to be native to southwestern Asia and the Mediterranean. The exact ancestry of the nuts, however, is not yet known.
So, where do almond trees grow?
- Coming from arid and semi-arid regions, almonds are quite sensitive when it comes to growing conditions. Yes, you might find it challenging when you grow almond on your own. For starters, almonds thrive on zones 7 to 9 of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, especially where there are long summers with dry, hot, and sunny weather.
- Interestingly enough, while almonds do thrive on semi-arid areas, a certain amount of cold is needed for them to grow optimally. To break their buds’ dormancy, almond trees need less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (about 7 Celsius) for approximately 200 to 400 hours per year. Due to this, almonds are not a good choice for areas with tropical climates.
- Almond trees also don’t tolerate wet soils and frosts. Why? The reason is that wet soils and frosts create problems for the early flowering almond as it is quite vulnerable to frosts. Due to its needs of semi-arid climate and occasional needs of cold, places like the East Coast and California make the best places to grow almond.
- Not only almonds love dry, hot, and sunny weather, the trees love the sun as well. They grow best when they are planted in a spot where they are basking in full sunlight. If planted in a spot where they get partial shade, the trees will not flower or fruit as well as trees planted in a spot with full sunlight.
- That’s the weather and sunlight. What about the soil? When it comes to soil, almond trees love deep, well-drained, and loamy soils. They grow best with such soil. If the soil in your backyard is not like that, don’t worry. It can tolerate other types of soil provided that the soil is not poorly draining or wet.
- Despite not being able to tolerate poorly-drained or wet soil, almond trees require ample irrigation or rainfall to produce well-filled nuts and good yields. The annual rainfall amount required is somewhere between 500 and 600 millimeters or about 20 to 25 inches. So yes, almond trees can survive with less water but the right amount helps them grow best.
- Extra watering is especially needed during the beginning of the growing season. If you don’t water your almond trees enough during this period and they are too dry, the yields won’t be as much. Other times that need extra watering is in the early days of spring, during the summer, and the first months of autumn.
- There are times when watering almond trees should not be done. These times are days nearing and around the harvest time. Commercial almond growers will stop the irrigation about 3 to 4 days before the harvest time. Since you grow almond on your own, you have to more or less guess and find the right balance for this.
In short, almond trees grow on areas where the weather is dry, hot, and sunny with deep, well-drained, and loamy soils. They grow best and thrive in such areas. When it comes to watering, there are times where extra watering is necessary at the beginning of the season and during the summer.
When it comes to sunlight, almond trees need to bask in full sunlight. They might tolerate partial shade, but they won’t grow as they would without shade. So if you are growing almond trees on your own, be sure that they are grown on a spot with good soils, proper watering or irrigation, and full sunlight.
How to Grow an Almond Tree
After knowing the best place to grow almond trees, let’s talk about how to grow them. We divide this section into three parts: planting, pruning and harvesting. Like planting any other trees, you need to give almond trees a proper start in life. This is what leads to future success. In this case, that means optimal yields and well-filled nuts.
There are two ways you can propagate or plant almond trees. The first one is by root grafting. If you propagate this way, the ‘descendant’ almond trees will have the same characteristics as their parents. The second one is from seed. This process is generally longer and the almond trees may not have the same characteristics as their parents.
Which one should you choose? That’s up to you, of course. We will explain how to grow almond tree from seed in the next section. In this section, we will focus on how to grow an almond tree. If you are planting more than one almond tree, the trees should be planted between 15 and 20 feet apart.
- Before you start planting, dose the roots thoroughly with water. You want to make sure that the almonds are wet before you put them into the soil in your backyard. Doing this will give the almonds a good start in life, which in the future will result in good yields and nuts.
- Next is the hole. Each hole should be both deep and wide to accommodate the size of the almond’s root system. Keep your eyes on the taproot. When you plant it, avoid bending the taproot out of shape. Almonds, like many other nut trees, have a sensitive tap root. Put them only in a hole that accommodates the taproot.
- The rest of the almond roots should be handled carefully as well. You should spread them out carefully to prevent matting. The almond should be planted as deep as it was at the nursery. Usually, the colors of the roots and the rest of the almond plant are different. Use this to indicate the part that should be buried.
- Now, the soil. After you place the plant properly, the next thing to do is to refill the hole. When you refill the hole, compress the soil around the roots firmly. Don’t put too much pressure. As long as the soil is firmly compressed, that will do. Once the refilling is done, give each tree two buckets of water.
The planting process is done. You can add some fertilizer for your almond plants if you want. It is not a must but it will surely help the plants to grow. Doing it later on is good as well. If you plant your almond plants in the autumn, the best time to add some fertilizer is in the spring.
- When you grow an almond tree, you also need to prune it. You see, pruning an almond tree has different effects depending on what stage of life the tree is. For example, pruning when the tree is young will determine the shape it will take in the future, which affects its productivity as well as the quality of nuts.
- Since pruning is that important, you need to do it right if you want the best yields from your almond trees. Typically, almond trees are pruned into a ‘vase’ type shape. In this shape, each tree has 3 to 4 main branches. This allows for easy harvesting when the harvest time has come.
- When done properly, the ‘vase’ shape pruning results in an almond tree that is more productive, more vigorous, and has a longer lifespan compared to trees that are not pruned. When you prune after the tree reached maturity, it is to maintain the shape that has been established during the early stage of the almond tree’s life.
- How does pruning affect a mature and old almond tree? To put it simply, pruning after the tree is mature not only renews but also stimulates the tree so it produces more yields. How many parts should be pruned in an older almond tree each year? About 20% of the canopy part.
- The last part of growing an almond tree is harvesting. This is the part that you have been waiting for. Harvesting almond nuts are easy, especially if you prune the tree into a ‘vase’ shape that we talked earlier. All you need to do to harvest is to shake the tree and the nuts will fall to the ground.
- Knowing when almond nuts are ready to harvest is also quite easy. You just need to take a look at them. The almond nuts are ready to harvest when their hulls begin to split open. That’s all. If you are in the U.S., this happens around the late summer to October.
- To make the harvest even easier, place a sheet underneath the tree that you want to shake. This way, after all the nuts have fallen you can collect them easily. Before consumption, you need to dry it first either by leaving these nuts on the ground for a few days or store them in a cool and dry place.
- How many pounds of nuts does a healthy almond tree produce? On average, a healthy almond tree produces about 50 to 60 pounds. This is the average. Your trees may produce more or less, depending on how you treat them. If you grow your almond trees and take care of them properly, you should get satisfying yields from them.
Grow Almond Tree from Seed
In this last section, we will talk about how to grow almond tree from seed. There are many reasons why you’d want to grow an almond tree from seed. Whatever your reasons may be, it is 100% acceptable to do so. Just keep in mind that you will need to wait longer before you can harvest the fruit.
- The first thing to do is to find fresh nuts. Yes, fresh nuts. You can’t grow an almond tree with roasted almond nuts. After you get fresh nuts, soak them for about 48 hours. Then, place them on a wet paper towel. Put the nuts with the paper towel inside a plastic bag. Put inside the refrigerator.
- How long should you leave the nuts inside the refrigerator? About 3 to 4 weeks. After 3 to 4 weeks, the almonds should begin to sprout. You can put these sprouts in a pot filled with a well-drained soil mix (sand and compost, for example). Place the pot in a spot where the sprout can get full sunlight.
- When you grow an almond plant form seed, the most important thing is to do is keeping the young plants moist. Do not allow them to be soggy. Once they are 6 inches tall, move them to a larger pot. If you move them into the soil, ensure that there is ample space between each almond tree.
Speaking of seed, there are different varieties of almonds. Each variety has its own unique characteristics. For example, the ‘Carmel’ variant produces well-protected nuts and is a good pollinizer, the ‘Mission’ variant produces good yields, and the ‘All-in-One’ variant grows only half the size of a regular almond tree, making it an excellent option if you have small space.
That’s how to grow almond on your own. In terms of maintenance, almond requires so little maintenance, especially once it grows big. Almond thrives on semi-arid conditions as well, which means you don’t have to water or irrigate it often. That being said, growing almond on your own takes time but it sure is rewarding. You will love it.