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Almonds (photo courtesy of David E. Perry)
Almonds (photo courtesy of David E. Perry)

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Zone
Zones 2B, 3B, 8-10, 12-16, 19-21, 29, 30
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Almond

Rosaceae
Deciduous, Edible fruit, Trees

Botanically known as Prunus dulcis, the almond is native to Asia Minor and North Africa. For flowering almonds, see Prunus glandulosa and Prunus triloba.

As a tree, the almond is nearly as hardy as peach (its close relative), but as a nut producer it is more exacting in climate adaptation. Trees bear best where summers are long, hot, and dry; nuts will not develop properly in areas with cool summers or high humidity. They need some winter chill, yet must be spared from frosts at the wrong time. Trees bloom early (winter or early spring); late frosts will destroy small nuts that are forming. To experiment in areas where frost is a hazard, choose late-blooming varieties. 

Unless you choose a self-fruitful type, two varieties that bloom at the same time are needed for pollination (they can be planted in the same hole if space is tight).

Nuts are borne on spurs that are productive for about 5 years; each dormant season, remove about a fifth of the oldest fruiting wood to encourage development of new spurs.

Trees reach 20–30 ft. tall and are erect when young, spreading and dome-shaped in age. Leaves are 3–5 in. long, pale green with a gray tinge; flowers are palest pink or white. Fruit looks like a leathery, flattened, undersize green peach; in late summer or fall, the hull splits to reveal the pit, which is the almond. Harvest nuts after hulls have cracked open and are partially dry. You can knock or shake them from the tree; waiting for nuts to drop takes too long and carries risk of rotting. Peel off hulls and spread nuts in the sun for a day or two to dry. To test for adequate dryness, shake nuts—kernels should rattle.

Almonds adapt to all soils except heavy, slow-draining ones. They also need deep soil (at least 6 ft).

Trees are subject to attack by brown rot (causes fruit rot, twig dieback, cankers on trunk and branches) and mites (cause premature yellowing and falling of leaves).

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