Choosing and Planting a Pecan Tree in your Garden
When choosing shade trees for the lawn, or when creating a self-sufficient mini-farm, planting a pecan tree seems like a sensible option. Pecan trees, like many other nut trees, grow into very large, stately, beautiful trees. There are some contraindications to growing pecans, but planting a pecan tree will eventually provide you with a yearly supply of delicious, healthful nuts.
If you are thinking of planting a pecan tree, there are a few things you need to be aware of. For one thing, they grow to be very large. A pecan tree can grow to be 100 feet tall and the crown spreads out widely. This means that they can affect the shade level in your neighbor’s yard. If your neighbor enjoys having a vegetable garden each year, they might not appreciate your rapidly growing nut tree.
Where to Pecan Plant
When choosing a location for planting a pecan tree, be sure to pick a spot that provides good drainage. The tree will not be able to absorb the nutrients it needs if it is standing with wet feet for large periods of time. It might not even be able to absorb the water it needs, because the poor drainage will affect the quantity of oxygen in the soil.
If you are unsure of the drainage where you are planning on planting a pecan tree, you can test it. Simply dig a hole that is 8 inches wide and 32 inches deep. Do this test while the soil is already wet. Put seven gallons of water in the hole. Check it periodically.
If it still has water in it after 48 hours, pick a different spot. If the hole is empty within the first 8 hours, you have really good drainage, but even if it doesn’t drain until 24 hours, you could still grow a pecan tree there.
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Planting and Growing Pecan Tree
Soak the root system in water for about an hour before planting a pecan tree. The hole should be the same size as the root ball. The depth should be such that only the roots will be underground. Start filling in around the roots with loose soil, preferably the same soil that your dugout.
Press the soil down around the root. Add water after you have the hole about three-quarters full. Let the water soak in, and then finish adding soil, but leave the top part of the soil loose.
In some of the southern states, pecan trees grow wild along creeks and rivers. If you don’t have any other pecan trees within a couple of miles of your home, and you have a lot of room, it makes sense to plant two varieties for cross-pollination. When planting a pecan tree, one of the best varieties for the home is called the Sioux.
Pecan Tree Care
Whether you’re starting to grow pecan trees to harvest their nuts or simply as an adornment to your garden, at some point you’ll need to find out what the best things to do in pecan tree care when planting new ones. A species of the Hickory family, the Pecan tree (Carya Illinoinensis) is the state tree of Texas and Alabama, which is not too surprising as the tree generally occurs across the south of North America and into Mexico.
Ideal Soils and Pican Tree Fertilizer
Pecan trees thrive in two main types of soil; alluvial and upland. Alluvial soil is that found by streams or rivers that have been prone to flooding, laying down nutrients from upriver/stream each time they flood. This means the soil has an excellent water supply that is well-drained, along with being highly fertile.
Upland soil is typically a sandy loam, which makes a generally good soil that will drain well. However, upland soil may well require regular additions of fertilizers as it will not have the nutrients in the soil replenished naturally by river or stream floods.
Unfortunately, Pecan trees do like frosts, and trying to grow them in areas where there are regular snow-falls is nigh on impossible unless you can create a micro-climate in your garden to suit the tree. However, neither does it like the temperature too hot and certainly not too dry. In the winter it can happily survive temperatures down to 7 degrees Celsius, with a winter average of about 10 C.
In the summer the trees quite like an average temperature around the 27 C mark. Winter temperatures in its natural habitats aren’t usually a problem. However, during the summer months, especially with global warming to take into account, whilst young and immature trees are growing they would benefit from the protective shade of other plants or trees, especially if the temperature is regularly above 30 C.
Read More: What are the Benefits of Organic Fertilizer?
Planting Pecan Trees in your Garden
You will probably have two options in the pecan trees you buy to plant, either bare rooted or container grown. Either way, make sure that they are between 4 to 8 feet tall, an ideal height for re-planting. Bare-rooted trees can be replanted between December and March, whereas container-grown ones can be handled between December and June.
Dig a hole big enough to take all of the root systems with the taproot on the bottom of the hole but, especially for container-grown trees, do not make the hole much bigger than the existing root ball. If you give the tree roots too much room, too quickly, the tree will settle or sink and not grow properly.
Using the same soil that you dug out of the hole, pack it tightly around the roots and two or three inches above the level of the surrounding earth. Add a tree wrap to the lower 18 inches or so of the trunk to protect it and add a stake if necessary.
Thoroughly water it in, watering it weekly thereafter until the fall with 5 gallons of water. If not in a flood area, annually apply fertilizer, like 2 pounds of ammonium nitrate, spread in a 5-foot radius of the tree.
Pecan Tree Pests Control
Another thing to consider when planting a pecan tree is that they are prone to a certain amount of insect damage. Tent caterpillars are an ugly sight, but pecan trees are prone to get them. Pecan trees also have a number of things they drop throughout the years, such as male flowers and sap, making them a rather messy tree to have in your yard.
If you still think planting a pecan tree is for you, look for one in the nursery that is about three or four years old. It should be between six and eight feet tall. If it is smaller than that, it might be a run that will never do very well.
The tree you pick should not have a lot of branches. When you plant it, you should cut it back to 42 inches tall. The tree should be cut back because when a nursery balls the root of a young tree, the tree loses about half of its roots.
A newly planted tree will not compete well with many weeds especially grasses like Johnson’s and Bermuda. Obviously the larger the tree you plant the less of a problem weeds will be, but it’s still a good idea to remove weeds growing in a three to a five-yard radius of your tree, at least for the first three or four years. If you decide to cultivate them out, be careful not to damage the rootstock of the tree. If you choose to use a weed killer, make sure it is a selective one that won’t harm the tree.