Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
April 25, 2013 - I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflower...
view the full question and answer

Native turkscap failing to thrive in Shiro TX
March 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Two years ago I transplanted several native (not cultivars) Drummond's turkscaps in the proximity of water oaks in the front yard. All get shade and some sun. They seemed to ...
view the full question and answer

Germination of golden dalea seeds
August 23, 2007 - I have collected some golden dalea seeds. I live west of Austin in caliche soil. How would one germinate these seeds? What time of year should I plant them? What kind of seed treatment? Should I scari...
view the full question and answer

Can Crataegus viridian be grown in Houston, TX?
June 21, 2015 - I am looking to plant Crataegus viridis (species or cultivar "Winter King") at a location in full sun in Houston. Many places I've found online say that it is hearty through Zone 9, but others have...
view the full question and answer

How can I propagate Magnolia trees? Airlayeringg, semi-hardwood cuttings, and seeds.
July 01, 2008 - Hi. My grandmother recently passed away. One of her most prized possessions was her magnolia tree. She absolutely loved that tree. I, along with other members of the family each want to take a pie...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.