Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) are nut-producing trees that are usually grown from seed. Growing 70 to 100 feet tall with a 55-foot spread, pecan trees grow best in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9, where winter temperatures rarely drop to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer regions, pecan trees and seeds are planted outdoors during December, January or February. In colder regions, pecan seeds are started indoors and transplanted out after the last freeze. Although pecan trees grow readily from seeds, the pecan seeds do require a fair amount of special preparation in order to get them to germinate.
Dry the pecan seeds immediately after they’re harvested in the fall. Place the seeds in a dry place with bright light for at least one week.
Place the dried pecan seeds in a polyethylene bag and a handful of slightly moistened sand, peat moss or vermiculite. Place the bag into a refrigerator at 36 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit to stratify them, or give them a cold treatment, and store the seeds in the refrigerator until late February.
Remove the pecan tree seeds from the refrigerator in late February and remove them from the poly bag. Place the seeds into a mesh bag and submerge the bag into a bowl filled with room-temperature water. Keep the pecan seeds in the water for three or four days, replacing the water at least once each day.
Select a site that’s in full sun. Prepare the planting site for the pecan tree seeds by removing all weeds or other debris from the soil using a hoe and garden rake. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches using a pitchfork, and then mix into the soil some well-rotted, aged manure.
Plant the pecan tree seeds about 1 inch deep into the soil. You can plant a group of three or four pecan seeds, and then thin them down to one strongest seedling if multiple seeds germinate and sprout.
Water the pecan seeds lightly and evenly each day, moistening the soil to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches until the seeds germinate. After the pecan tree seedlings emerge, water them two or three times per week to supplement rainfall and ensure that they receive about 2 inches of water each week.