Pecan trees (Carya illinoensis) are deciduous trees native to the floodplains of Mississippi. They grow well in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. In Florida, a few pecan cultivators have been known to grow from the extreme north all the way south to Miami. Like most trees, it is best to avoid planting pecan trees in the hot summer months; instead, plant pecan trees in the spring before new growth or in the fall after harvesting.
Calculate how many pecan trees you want to buy. You actually need only one tree, because each pecan tree has both male and female flowers; however it is best if you plant more than one tree of different cultivators to increase pollination and therefore pecan yields. Multiple trees are ideally planted about 60 feet apart to allow enough space for mature pecan trees, although most pecan growers space them about 30 to 40 feet apart to maximize their space while the trees are young. The pecan trees should be thinned out later as they mature.
Decide on the cultivators you want to plant. According to the University of Florida, only three of the hundreds of pecan tree cultivators are highly recommended in Florida. The Cape Fear and Moreland varieties grow large nuts that equal about 55 to 58 nuts per pound. The Elliot variety has smaller nuts, with about 82 nuts per pound.
Purchase your pecan trees from a reputable local nursery or online. At a local nursery, such as the Wally Gator Nursery in Trenton, choose trees that appear to be healthy and free from disease, including “pecan scab,” a common disease in Florida. Look for fungus growing on the tree, especially on the new shoots. If you are purchasing your trees online, such as from TyTy nursery, review the return policy or warranty (if any) prior to purchasing just in case you receive an unhealthy tree.