Prunus armeniaca 'Homedale' STARK SWEETHEART
Common Name: dwarf apricot
Type: Fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Prefers moisture-retentive soils with good drainage. Best sited in a sheltered location (e.g., sloping ground on the south side of the home) where chemical spraying will not pose any problems with adjacent areas. Avoid planting in low-lying areas which can act as frost pockets.

Self-pollinating.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Apricots are stone fruits which have golden orange, smooth-to-pubescent skin, fleshy fruit and a center pit or stone. Apricot varieties are grafted onto rootstocks, which control the size of the tree.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means of Armenia, Western Asia.

STARK SWEETHEART is an exclusive introduction from Stark Bro's of Louisiana, Missouri, It has an added bonus in that each freestone pit may be broken open to harvest an almond-like kernel which can be used as an almond substitute in cooking or eaten whole as a snack. Stark Bro's sells this cultivar grafted to both standard (15-20' tall) and dwarf (8-10' tall) rootstocks. The tree growing at the Kemper Center is grafted to a dwarf rootstock. Dwarf trees bear full-size fruit, but have the advantages of fitting into smaller sites, of being more manageable (easier to prune, spray, harvest) and of often bearing fruit at an earlier age. This cultivar features white flowers in very early spring followed by freestone apricots which ripen in mid July in USDA Zone 5.

Problems

Apricots in general can be difficult to grow in Missouri because (a) their early blooming flowers (two weeks earlier than peaches) are extremely susceptible to frost injury and (2) insects/diseases. Potential disease problems include brown rot, root rot and bacterial leaf spot. Potential insect pests include plum curculio, borers and aphids. Mites can also be a problem. Although good sanitation practices are always essential, chemical spraying is usually necessary in order to adequately control pests.

Garden Uses

Grown primarily for the fruit crop, but has early-blooming ornamental value.

This dwarf apricot is ideal for smaller spaces because it is a small tree and is self-pollinating.