Propagation

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[13]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[13]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[14]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[15][13]. Difficult. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[13]. Cuttings of mature wood, late autumn in a frame. Layering in spring.

 

Cultivation

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[15][13]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[16]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[15][13]. The almond is often cultivated in the temperate zone for its edible seeds, there are many named varieties[17][13]. It prefers a Mediterranean climate with a clear distinction between winter and spring, in milder maritime areas it can be induced into flower too early in the season and is then very liable to be damaged by frosts[13]. There is also likely to be a shortage of pollinating insects around when the tree is in flower so hand pollination may improve the crop. Although partially self-fertile, better crops are obtained if at least 2 cultivars are grown[13]. There are two basic forms of almonds, one with bitter seeds and one with 'sweet' seeds. The bitterness is caused by the presence of hydrogen cyanide (see notes above). Although the bitter forms are used in making marzipan and as a food flavouring, the seeds themselves should not be eaten. Even the sweet forms should not be eaten in very large quantities. (Approximately 900 seeds at one time is considered to be a toxic dose for the average adult). Trees are hardier when grown on a plum rootstock[15]. Almond seedlings are the preferred rootstock when plants are grown on hot dry soils, peach rootstocks are better for heavier soils[13]. Trees are at least partially self-sterile. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[10]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[13].

Additional information for Almond