Growing trees in a container is always tricky, especially if the tree is large. Nut trees like the pecan tree are great for your garden, but can a pecan tree be grown in a container or pot if you do not have the space to plant it in the ground?
Pecan trees are not suitable for growing in a container. The trees grow too large to be limited to a container, and there must be more than one tree for the trees to produce fruit. Pecan trees can be started in containers but must be planted in the ground for the tree to thrive.
Who doesn’t love pecan pie, right? While it may sound like a great idea to own a private supply of pecan nuts from your pecan tree grown in a container, this is not a practical idea. You are unlikely to sustain the growth of the pecan nut tree in a container to the point that it will produce nuts.
Can A Pecan Tree Be Grown In A Container?
Pecan trees are large trees, part of the Hickory tree family. The pecan trees are native to the southern region of the USA and northern parts of Mexico.
The fruit of the pecan tree, which incidentally is not a true nut, is favored by humans and animals as a food source. The pecan nut was regarded as a delicacy by native and colonial Americans, and the tree began to be cultivated as a crop in the 1880s
Pecan trees are large trees that can grow to between 66 feet and 131 feet tall, or 20m to 40m tall. The spread of the pecan tree is equally large and can be between 40 feet and 75 feet or 12m to 23m.
The girth of the trunk of a pecan tree can reach a diameter of over 6 feet or 2m in diameter, making this tree too large for most containers.
If you are considering growing pecan trees, you will need at least two trees from different cultivars to achieve a yield of nuts from the trees. A pecan tree requires cross-pollination from a different tree to produce a crop.
So don’t plan on only planting one pecan tree if you are planting it with the idea of harvesting pecans from it!
Pecan trees take a long time to produce a harvest, anywhere from between 4 and 12 years, depending on the cultivar.
The size of the pecan tree, the space required for the root system, and the requirement for more than one tree to produce a crop of pecans means that this tree is not suitable for growing in a container.
When Can I Grow A Pecan Tree In A Container?
Many pecan tree suppliers offer pecan trees in two forms; a bare-root form or a container-grown tree.
Bare-root pecan trees are cheaper to buy, are delivered with the roots exposed, and must be planted immediately. Bare-root-supplied trees are young and relatively fragile trees, meaning the tree may not survive if planted incorrectly.
If the pecan tree has been started in a container, the tree is usually older and more established when the supplier sells it and more likely to survive being transplanted. Container-grown pecan trees are typically more expensive because it is older and more likely to survive.
Advantages Of Starting A Pecan Tree In A Container
There are several advantages to starting pecan trees in containers. The young pecan trees can be moved around to locations more suitable for their growth, the trees can be monitored to prevent disease, and they can be protected from insects and animals that may eat the young tree.
Container trees can be grown for longer before being sold since the trees are easier to transport in a container. Bare-root pecan trees are sold at a younger age because their large, delicate tap roots can be damaged if they are dug up when the tree is older and has deeper roots.
The greatest advantage of container-grown pecan trees is that the trees do not need to be dug up for transport once they have been sold.
Even though there are advantages to growing a pecan tree in a container, it should not be kept in the container for the duration of its life.
When Should A Pecan Tree Be Removed From A Container?
Pecan trees should be removed from their container and transplanted to a suitable location in the ground. The large size of pecan trees means that they will outgrow most practical-sized containers and need to be planted in the ground once they reach a certain size.
Pecan seeds are typically started in square containers 4 inches by 4 inches and 14-inches deep. These tall containers give the young tree space to grow the long tap root typical of pecan trees.
Open-bottom containers are usually used to grow pecan trees so that the tap root is visible when it reaches the bottom of the growing container.
The pecan tree should be transplanted into the ground once the tap root is visible at the bottom of the container. Container-grown pecan trees are usually sold by suppliers when they have reached this stage and should be planted directly in the ground within a few days of purchasing the tree.
What Happens If I Grow A Pecan Tree In A Container?
The pecan tree is a large tree with a deep root system to support the height and girth of the tree. The taproot of the pecan tree is a long root, and it is relatively delicate. If the taproot does not have sufficient space, it can become damaged, which will be detrimental to the tree.
When a pecan tree is confined to a container, the tap root is restricted and begins to grow in a spiral at the bottom of the container. The taproot on the pecan tree grows faster than the tree’s trunk above ground, which means the taproot is generally longer than the tree’s height.
Consequently, the tree may still look small in the container, but the taproot could already have reached the bottom of the container.
When the taproot begins to spiral in the container, the root can be damaged or restrict the drainage at the bottom of the container, causing water-logging. If the taproot becomes damaged or suffers root rot, the tree dies.
What Is The Best Place To Grow A Pecan Tree?
Pecan trees thrive best when planted directly in the ground and planted near other pecan trees. The pecan trees should be planted with a spacing of at least 30 feet between trees to provide for the root system and the width of the adult trees.
Pecan trees should not be planted close to buildings since their roots can infiltrate and compromise foundations, causing walls to crack. Pecan trees should not be planted within 20 feet of building foundations.
Pecan trees prefer full sun and deep, well-drained soils. Clay soils are not good for pecans as the roots are susceptible to rot, which will kill the tree quickly
Even though pecan trees are not suitable for growing in a container, they are still a good addition to your food garden if you have the space.
You will need at least two trees for cross-pollination to ensure a good crop of pecans, and you may have to wait between 4 and 12 years for your first good harvest.