How to grow almonds
Almond trees put on a wonderful show of pink or white spring blossoms followed by beautiful slender green leaves in summer and a crop of nutritional, sweet, tender nuts in autumn. Because of their all-year-round seasonal beauty, they are also grown for ornamental purposes.
The almond is quite a tall tree with the level-1 reaching heights up to 20 feet (6m). A genetically modified dwarf version is available that only grows 6 1/2 — 10 feet (2-3m) tall, making it suitable for smaller spaces.
Some varieties of almond trees are self-pollinating like ‘Roy’ (dwarf), ‘Hall’s Hardy’ (level-1), and ‘All-in-one Almond’ (level-1), while others like ‘Garden Prince’ (dwarf), ‘Nonpareil’ (level-1), ‘Johnson’s Prolific’ also known as ‘Mission’ (level-1), require other almond trees grown nearby to help them fruit.
Prepare the hole
Choose a location in full sun and sheltered from winds. Dig a hole twice as wide and one-and-a-half times as deep as the tree’s root-ball. Mix in a shovelful of well-rotted compost to the soil taken from the hole to help with drainage. Almonds will grown in almost any type of soil as long as it is well-drained.
Prepare the tree
With the secateurs, trim off any dead or twisted roots. Form a mound of soil in the middle of the hole then spread the tree roots out evenly over the mound.
Plant the tree
Adjust the mound of soil so the top of the roots are sitting just below the soil level. Back-fill the hole with the compost/soil mix and water thoroughly. There is no need to firm down the soil as the tree will settle in naturally.
Once planted, prune the almond tree by cutting it back to the height at which you want the first set of permanent branches to emerge. After this there will be very little pruning to do until the tree is older. Then it will appreciate a light annual pruning to keep it tidy and increase its productivity.
Pinch back unwanted branches
In order to direct the tree’s energy to permanent growth, throughout the season pinch back any unwanted branches that form when they are about 1-2 inches (3-5cm) long.
Train against a support
Almond trees do well when trained against some sort of support, like espaliers, during the first year after planting. Prune back any wayward and unwanted branches throughout the first and second year, then prune the trees only to minimize the density of their foliage.
Fertilize and Mulch
In spring only feed established almond trees with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer underneath the almond tree reaching out as far as the widest branches. Mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it away from the trunk, with organic mulch or compost to keep the weeds at bay.