How to Care for and Fertilize a Pecan Tree


Pecan trees are a popular tree for the home garden because of the delicious nuts they produce each fall. Although there are native pecan trees that grow in the wild that produce crops of pecans without any assistance, most modern hybrids need extra care and fertilization. Pecan trees need another pecan tree of another variety planted within the vicinity, so the trees can cross-pollinate for optimal nut production. Pecan trees must be planted on well-drained soil that has the capacity to hold water for a short time. They do not do well in areas where the soil remains waterlogged or the soil is so thin it cannot hold water.

Step 1

Irrigate a pecan tree so that it receives the equivalent of 1 inch of rain per week during most of the growing season, increasing to 2 inches per week during the hottest part of the summer. Be sure the water is covering the entire root base, which is usually two times the width of the spread of the branches. To be sure the water is getting deep enough, push a shovel into the soil. The soil should be damp at least 6 inches down after a watering session.

Step 2

Cultivate around the tree to prevent the growth of weeds. Weeds take needed water and nutrients from the tree. Create a circle around the bottom of the tree at least 6 feet wide, which is cleared of weeds. As the tree gets larger, the shade from the tree canopy will help keep weeds from growing around the tree.

Step 3

Spray the tree with a mixture of zinc and water every two weeks during the growing season until the tree is seven years old. After year eight, spray with the zinc mixture only three times a year: during the time the leaves first appear in April, and again in May and June. If using zinc nitrate, which is a liquid, mix at the rate of 2 to 4 tsp. per gallon of water. If using powdered zinc sulfate, mix at the rate of 2 tsp. of powder per gallon of water.

Step 4

Fertilize the pecan tree with nitrogen sulfate (21-0-0) at the following rates: The first year, apply 1 cup around the base of the tree just outside the root zone in June. The second year, apply one cup in April, May, and again in June. In years three and four, apply 2 cups in April, another 2 cups in May and again in June. In years five through seven, apply 4 cups of nitrogen fertilizer in each month of April, May and June. After year seven and each year afterwards, apply 2 cups of nitrogen for each inch of trunk diameter in spring just before the leaves appear. Apply the fertilizer 5 to 6 feet away from the trunk and a few feet past the tree canopy. Spread the fertilizer over as much of the root base as possible. Water the surface of the soil thoroughly to wash the fertilizer into the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Pecan tree
  • 21-0-0 nitrogen fertilizer
  • Measuring cup
  • Zinc powder or concentrated liquid
  • Sprayer
  • Teaspoon


  • Agrilife Extension: Home Fruit Production-Pecans
  • Alabama Pecan Growers Association: Growing Pecans
Keywords: fertilize pecans, grow pecan trees, growing pecans

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.