The pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is native to the United States and has been grown commercially in Alabama, mainly in Baldwin and Mobile counties, since the early 1900s. Although Alabama's humid climate agrees with the tree, it can cause fungal diseases, especially scab. Plant bareroot pecan trees in Alabama in January or February. Container-grown trees should be planted in the spring. Recommended pecan trees for Alabama gardeners include Jenkins, Carter and Gafford.
Test the soil in the planting area three to five months before you plan on planting the tree. Although you can use a home testing kit, the Alabama Cooperative Extension office in your county offers an inexpensive and more thorough soil analysis. The agent will be able to tell you, based on the soil test results, what type of amendments, if any, are required.
Soak the roots of the bare root tree in a bucket of water while you prepare the planting area.
Dig a hole the same depth and twice the diameter of the pot in which the pecan tree is growing. If the tree is bare root, dig the hole twice the diameter as the rootball. Check the lower end of the trunk for a dark ring. This is known as the soil line, and it marks the depth at which to plant the bare root pecan tree.
Place the roots of the pecan tree in the hole and gently fan them out in all directions.
Add 1/2 pound of garden lime to the backfill soil and fill the hole, packing the soil with your feet to remove any air pockets. Most Alabama soils require additional lime in order to get the pecan tree off to a good start.
Water the tree until the water puddles. The pecan tree requires consistently moist soil while it is becoming established. Late August and September are especially hot in Alabama, so keep an eye on the soil during this time and water when it appears dry.
Add a 5-inch-diameter, 6-inch-deep layer of shredded bark mulch around the tree. Keep it 6 inches away from the trunk. The mulch will protect the roots of the tree from the heat in the Alabama summer. It also helps to discourage weeds.