How to Start Pecan Trees


Pecan trees, Carya illinoinensis, are grown in commercial orchards and on farms. Their large size also makes them a popular landscaping tree with home and property owners. They can reach heights of 65 to 130 feet and spreads of 40 to 80 feet. Pecan trees are hardy and starting them from nuts is easy. By using proper harvesting, planting and growing methods your trees will reach nut-bearing potential within 10 years.

Step 1

Locate pecan trees growing in your region. Collect the nuts between October and November.

Step 2

Soak the nuts in a bucket of water for 24 hours. Remove and discard any floaters. These nuts are not viable.

Step 3

Drain the water through a colander. Take the wet nuts and spread them in a single layer on a flat surface. Allow the nuts to dry. They will be ready when they snap when bent.

Step 4

Fill a bucket with sand. Dampen the sand with water. The sand should be moist, not wet.

Step 5

Bury the nuts in the sand. Place the bucket in a refrigerator for four months. Moisten the sand with water anytime it feels dry.

Step 6

Locate planting sites with well-draining soil. Sites should be spaced 25 feet apart.

Step 7

Dig holes that are 10 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Put four to five nuts in each hole. Position the nuts so they are on their sides. Refill the holes with dirt.

Step 8

Water each planting site thoroughly. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost over the planting sites.

Step 9

Watch for pecan sprouts to poke through the ground in four to six weeks. Water the sprouts once a week. If you have more than 1 inch of rainfall in your area weekly, do not water.

Step 10

Apply fertilizer to the planting sites in midsummer. Choose a slow-release tree fertilizer.

Step 11

Weed out the weakest sprouts in late summer or early fall. Leave only the strongest seedling in each planting site. Discard the weaker sprouts, or transplant them into a new growing area.

Step 12

Continue to water your growing areas during the spring and summer. Continue to add an application of slow-release fertilizer annually during midsummer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Colander
  • Sand
  • Refrigerator
  • Small digging tool
  • Mulch
  • Slow-release tree fertilizer


  • Texas Agriculture Extension Service: Propagating Pecans
  • ATTRA: Sustainable Pecan Production
  • University of Missouri: Propagating Pecan and Black Walnut in Missouri

Who Can Help

  • Pecan Tree: Everything Pecan
Keywords: start pecan trees, plant pecan nuts, grow pecan trees

About this Author

Leigh Walker has been working as a writer since 1995. She serves as a ghostwriter for many online clients creating website content, e-books and newsletters. She works as a title flagger and writer for Demand Studios, primarily writing home and garden pieces for and Walker pursued an English major/psychology minor at Pellissippi State.