Plants with nuts or cones make for interesting affects in a garden. These plants will have showy nuts and cones that appear during their growth cycle. Nuts and cones are part of a plant’s reproductive life cycle. Some nuts are edible, and make tasty treats for people and the wildlife that forage on them.
The pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is from the walnut family. It can get 180 feet tall with a 7-foot-wide trunk. Leaves are 12 to 20 inches long with a scent when bruised. Nuts are housed in the drupe (fruit that houses a single seed) that will split when ripe. Over 500 varieties of pecans have been named. Plant a pecan tree in full sun with water or rain 1 to 2 inches a week. Propagate via grafting. A pecan tree takes 15 to 20 years before it will begin nut production.
Northern Red Oak
The northern red oak (Quercus rubra) is from the beech family. It gets 60 to 80 feet tall with a 2- to 3-foot-wide trunk. Leaves are 5 to 9 inches long and turn red or orange in autumn. It will take 20 years for an oak to mature enough to produce acorns. Plant a northern red oak in full sun with regular watering. Propagate via acorns that take two to three months before germination. This tree can grow two feet a year when young.
The cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea) is from the coontie family. It is an evergreen perennial that is drought-tolerant. Leaves get 3 to 4 feet long, thick and leathery, with 5-inch-long leaflets. Cones break to show 1-inch red seeds. Plant a cardboard palm in bright sun or partial shade in well-drained sandy soil. Propagate via seed.
The oriental arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis) is from the cypress family. It is an evergreen, drought-tolerant conifer. It can get 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Leaves are tightly packed and overlapping. Cones are blue-green and 1-inch long, fleshy at first but maturing to a woody feel. Plant an oriental arborvitae in well-drained soils with full sun or partial shade. Propagate via seed.
The Norway spruce (Picea abies) is from the pine family. It is an evergreen tree that can get 80 to 150 feet tall with a 5-foot trunk and a 20-foot crown. Needs are grayish-green to bluish-green, and are under an inch. There is flaky reddish-brown bark. There are both male and female cones on the tree. Plant a Norway spruce in well-drained, moist and rich soil in full sun. Propagate via spring seed. Mature dwarf varieties can be grown from summer tip cuttings and by grafting.