En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - October 23, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Planting pecan trees in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What's the protocol for planting pecan trees in the Austin area? What do you have to do to get them to grow and how long does it take? Can you plant just one?


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center native plant database actually has a Plant Protocol for the pecan tree.

From our webpage on Carya illinoinensis (pecan), we took this information:

"Susceptible to galls, twig girdlers, aphids, borers, weevils, pecan scab, tent caterpillars, and webworms. Slow-growing. Difficult to transplant because of a large taproot."

Pecan trees often suffer from zinc deficiency and require lots of nitrogen fertilizer. In Austin soils, pecan trees should probably be sprayed with zinc sulfate every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and early summer. 

Pecans are pollinated by the wind and both male and female flowers are on the same tree; therefore, you need only plant one tree. They occur naturally along larger streams and rivers in Texas and are cultivated throughout much of the Southern U.S. Since you probably are not planning to grow your Austin pecan along a large river, you should know that they require 1 to 2 inches a week of rain during the growing season, so you need irrigation. 

The pecan is a slow-growing tree that takes 15 to 20 years before it starts bearing and requires a frost-free period of 6 to 9 months for its fruit to mature. Best production occurs on trees 75 to 225 years old. 

Pecan cultivars usually are grafted onto seedlings of vigorous strains grown specifically for the purpose. Most nurseries sell pecan trees that have 2-3 year old roots and one year old scions. The little trees have long taproots and are more difficult to transplant successfully than most other fruit or nut trees.

So, yes, you can grow a single pecan in the Austin area. Are you sure you want to? How long were you planning to live? If you have to wait 75 years for a pecan pie, it might not be worth it. 

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis




More Propagation Questions

Propagating Magnolia grandiflora from Murfreesboro TN
August 03, 2011 - There are several Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia) that have been planted in my neighborhood in middle Tennessee by a landscaping company, and now that they all appear to be producing seeds, ...
view the full question and answer

Cultural requirements for Heliotropium angiospermum in Florida
April 10, 2006 - What are the cultural requirements for Heliotropium angiospermum?
view the full question and answer

Why is my Horstail falling over in Austin?
October 14, 2010 - I have a Horsetail plant. It was doing great but now, for the last few months, its not growing straight! Its falling over. Why?
view the full question and answer

Cold hardiness of Liatris bulbs
October 05, 2009 - I live in Lexington KY - This spring I planted Liatris or Blazing Stars. Should I take up the bulbs and replant in spring or leave them in the ground?
view the full question and answer

Growing Magnolia from Seed in Dallas
October 20, 2010 - I recently visited the property that had once been my grandmother's. Lots of memories. The house burned down years ago, but the magnolia tree that she loved still stood. I gathered several dried seed...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center