From pecan pie to spiced nuts, pecan trees have provided the staple ingredient in many Southern desserts. Virginia hosts impressive pecan groves, and is an ideal growing location for small- or large-scale pecan farms. The best time to plant pecan trees in Virginia is in late February or March, to give them enough time to put out roots before spring. This will speed up growth when spring does roll around and give your trees a head start.
Locate an area with at least eight hours of daily sunlight and well-draining soil to plant your young pecan tree. Virginia Tech recommends a minimum of 50 feet between each pecan tree.
Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, large sticks and rocks. Soils with a pH above 6, like much of Virginia's clay, need lime amendments to help alkalize the soil. Follow directions on label carefully when applying lime so as not to over-amend. Once soil pH is between 5.5-6, dig a hole as deep as the container and twice as wide.
Place the young tree in the center of the hole and spread the roots out without bending them. Backfill the hole with original soil until the tap root is covered with 2-3 inches of dirt. In coastal Virginia, be sure the water table is below the root zone during the growing season or trees will not mature well.
Firmly stamp on the soil around the base of the tree to eliminate any air pockets.
Spread a 2-3 inch layer of coarse mulch along the base of the tree, leaving a 6-12 inch radius of space around the trunk. If planting in heavy clay soils such as "Virginia Clay," mulch should be no more than 1 inch thick.
Water the tree immediately after planting with 2-3 gallons of water. Continue to fully saturate the roots once a week during its first two years of growth. Once fully established, pecan trees only need watering during periods of inadequate rainfall, usually in the Virginian summers.