The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas. It is a long-lived and sturdy shade tree that produces delicious nuts used in a variety of dishes. They grow very large and should be planted 50 feet from any structures, as well as other trees. Pecan trees also attract insects that secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, so planting next to a driveway or patio where the honeydew secretions can be a problem is not recommended. Bare-root pecan trees are planted in the winter and container-grown pecan trees can be planted any time of the year. Bare-root trees are dug up, leaving roots exposed and held in cold storage until time for planting.
Planting the Tree
Choose a pecan tree variety that is suitable for your area. The dividing line in Texas between east and west when choosing the correct pecan variety is Interstate 35. Varieties suitable for planting west of I-35 are the Western and Wichita varieties. East of I-35 plant Caddo, Desirable, Kiowa, or Shawnee variety. The Cheyenne and Choctaw varieties are suitable for planting east or west of I-35. To ensure good cross-pollination, purchase two or more varieties suitable for your area.
Soak new pecan tree roots with water before planting. Water potted trees well and let drain. Bare-root trees need to have their roots soaked by placing the roots in a bucket of water for 24 hours, but no more than 36 hours.
Find a well-drained location where water is accessible to plant your pecan trees. Pecan trees will probably need supplemental water for the first two years in Texas.
Dig the planting hole deep enough to accommodate the tap root of the pecan tree. Spread out any roots that may be girdling or surrounding the root base.
Add native soil mixed with water back into the planting hole. Add enough water so there are no air pockets left around the roots after dirt is replaced around the roots. Water deeply once a week until trees are established and actively growing. Apply water to the new planting if the winter is unusually dry. Do not add soil amendments such as compost to native soil. The tree is adapted to your area and does not need amendments that can prevent drainage.
Growing the Tree
Mulch the root base or area around young pecan trees by adding a 2-inch thick layer of mulch, leaving a 1-inch space between the trunk of the tree and the mulch to prevent mildew from spreading to the tree from the mulch.
Fertilize pecan trees by adding 1 1/2 lbs. of high nitrogen fertilizer (21-0-0) per 1 inch of trunk diameter around the drip line or under the outer canopy in February and again in May. Do not fertilize the first year as the pecan tree is getting established because high nitrogen fertilizer can burn newly formed roots.
Spray pecan trees to control pests according to a spraying schedule established by your local county extension office. Every local county extension office in Texas has information about pest control.