Propagating Nut Trees

Overview

Nut trees are a favorite among growers as both landscaping trees and for the nut harvest. Propagating nut trees isn't as difficult as it sounds. While each nut tree has its own particular method of growing and harvesting, the basics of propagating nut trees include collecting the nuts, removing the husks and putting the nuts through a stratification process.

Step 1

Gather nuts from nut-bearing trees in your area in the fall. Pick the nuts directly from the trees, from the ground beneath the trees or place a blanket or tarp beneath nut trees to collect nuts that fall as you vigorously shake the tree branches.

Step 2

Crack open and remove the outer husks of the nuts. Use a nutcracker or a hammer, depending on the type of nut. The harder the nut, the stronger the required tool. Pecan husks generally break easily with a nutcracker, while walnuts require a hammer because they are larger and firmer. Discard the husks or put them in a compost bin.

Step 3

Place your nuts in a bucket of water for 24 hours. Remove any nuts that float, as these nuts are either hollow or unhealthy and not viable for planting.

Step 4

Remove your viable nuts from the water and spread them out in a single layer and allow them to air dry.

Step 5

Mix your dried nuts with sand and place the sand/nut mix in a small bucket or large, sealable freezer bag. Place your container in a refrigerator for 3 to 4 months. This process is known as stratification and simulates a winter season for the nuts.

Step 6

Locate a planting site that will meet the needs of the nuts you are working with, and plan to plant your nuts in the spring. Soil characteristics vary by type of nut tree, but most nut trees prosper in well-draining soil and a sunny location.

Step 7

Remove the seeds from the refrigerator in the spring for planting. General requirements for nut trees are to plant 2 to 3 nuts per hole at a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Planting holes should be spaced 20 to 25 feet apart. No soil amendments are necessary unless you have very moist soil. With very moist soil, add a bit of sand to the planting holes to help with drainage.

Step 8

Cover the planting sites with a thin layer of mulch or compost. Water the planting areas thoroughly and plan to water weekly during the growing season. Do not fertilize your nuts trees during their first growing season as this can burn the tree's roots. The compost or mulch mixture will add nutrients to the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Sheet or tarp (optional)
  • Nutcracker and/or hammer
  • Sand
  • Freezer bag
  • Shovel
  • Mulch

References

  • Propagating Pecan and Black Walnut
  • How to Propagate Fruit and Nuts

Who Can Help

  • Propagating Nut Trees
Keywords: nut trees, stratification, dried nuts

About this Author

Wendy Jackson is a writer/editor for print/online markets. She has been freelancing for over 15 years. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Front Porch Syndicate, as well as being picked up by health/education professionals and groups such as the American Chestnut Foundation. Jackson pursued an English major/psychology minor beginning at Pellissippi State.