How to Plant Pistachio Trees

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Pistachio Tree: Care & Growing Guide

If you are looking for an evergreen walnut to produce a tasty and crunchy snack packed with healthy vitamins and minerals, you might consider planting a pistachio tree. Pistacia vera requires very specific growing conditions, but if it meets your needs, you will have a bountiful harvest.

Pistachio trees grow in hot, arid climates that get plenty of sun, and the seedlings are best planted in late fall. Although they grow slowly (it can take at least five to seven years to produce substantial crops), the rewards of growing your own food far outweigh the effort and patience required.

These fruit trees can grow up to 30 meters tall, with main roots of the same length. Its flowers are not showy and lack petals. But what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in tasty nut production.

Botanical NamePistacia vera
Common NamePistachio tree
Plant TypeFruit
Mature Size25 to 30 feet tall
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeLight, well-draining, sandy, loamy
Soil pHNeutral to slightly alkaline
Bloom TimeSpring
Flower ColorReddish-brown buds
Hardiness Zones7 to 11
Native AreaCentral Asia
ToxicityToxic to horses

How to Plant Pistachio Trees

The pistacia vera is a dioecious variety of fruit trees. In simple terms, this means that they are not self-pollinated. A tree can have either male or female flowers, and you will need one of each if you really want to produce pistachios.

Strong spring and summer winds are crucial to a healthy pistachio crop. Pollen from male trees must be windy enough to pass from male to female flowers. Trees planted less than 50 feet apart can generally pollinate.

Pistachio Tree Care

Pistachio growing is not an option for everyone due to its specific climatic needs. The most important factor to consider is the temperature, humidity, and rainfall in your area.

Pistachio trees require very high temperatures during the day and do not appreciate a lot of moisture or moist soil. It grows best in sandy, well-drained, clay soils. Infrequent, deep watering is best.


Pistachio needs full sun and thrives in hot, arid climates.


Although the pistachio tree grows in almost all types of soil, it does best in light, sandy, clay soils that are well-drained. Moist, heavy soil is not an option for these trees. Due to its long main roots, it is important that the soil penetrates deeply.


Pistachio is very drought tolerant and prefers arid landscapes. However, don't let this fame think this gives you an excuse to deprive your pistachio of water. They still need a lot of water to produce a bountiful nut crop.

Your tree will appreciate infrequent and deep watering, allowing the water to saturate the soil. In summer, excess water is appreciated. Let the water drain off before watering again; Pistachios do not do well in soggy soil or in standing water.

For large gardens, many people use irrigation systems.

Temperature and humidity

These trees like the heat! Optimal temperatures for the pistachio tree are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While we love these warm temperatures, cooler temperatures (45 degrees Fahrenheit or below) are required for part of the year.

This drop in temperature causes dormancy, which is crucial to surviving the winter. However, pistachio trees do not tolerate frozen soil.

Unlike tropical plants that like high temperatures and humidity, pistachio does not like too much humidity. It thrives in hot, arid climates.


Before adding any fertilizers, it is important to know what may be missing from your soil by doing a soil test. If nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium is lacking, you can tailor fertilization to meet your tree's nutrient needs.

It is best to apply fertilizer in late winter to early spring to help produce a good crop.

Are Pistachio Trees Toxic?

Pistachio trees contain tannic and gallic acid and these are oxidative toxins that can cause blood disorders in horses if eaten in large enough doses. Horses have a particular susceptibility, so these trees should not be planted in or next to pastures to which horses have access.

Symptoms of Poisoning

Horses can experience a variety of symptoms including red urine, cramps, lethargy, weakness, coordination problems, and jaundice.


It typically takes five to seven years for a tree to produce nuts, usually in October.

When the pistachios are ready for harvest, the shell takes on a nice yellow-pink color and the epicarp (the outer shell of the nut) separates from the inner shell. When that happens, simply hit the branches to dislodge the nuts and collect your reward.

For an easy harvest, try placing a sheet or tarp under the tree before scooping out the nuts. After harvest, be sure to remove the epicarps within 24 hours for the best flavor and freshness.

How to Grow in Pots

These trees can be grown in containers for the first three to five years as seedlings. After that, they need to be planted in the garden to allow the tree to mature. This is crucial due to the long taproot of this species, which would stun with long-term receptor growth.


Like other nut trees, Pistacia vera is classified as a fruit tree. This makes pruning vital to get the best harvest of nuts.

When the tree is young, identify the branches to act as the main branches of the growing tree. It's best to choose ones that are evenly spaced around the trunk. Avoid branches that are direct across from each other.

After choosing the main branches, trim all the branches below the lowest main branch, which should be 24 to 32 inches above the ground. All other branches should be pruned approximately 4 to 6 inches long.

Pruning the pistachio in midsummer will help the tree branch and grow thicker. To encourage continued growth, you can prune your tree two to three times a year.

Propagating Pistachio Trees

Pistachio trees can be propagated by budding rootstocks in the fall. However, this can be difficult to achieve. Many people buy tree seedlings to ensure success.

Common Pests/Diseases

If your pistachio tree is kept in excessively humid conditions (whether by watering, spacing, or weather), this can lead to a disease called Alternaria Late Death (Alternaria alternata), where the black spores can turn into foliage lesions. Botrytis can also be a problem in wet springs, especially for male trees.

Verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae) can be particularly destructive and even kill trees. Planting resistant rootstocks can help ensure that this solves a problem that you will have to deal with.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Grow Pistachio Tree From Grocery Pistachios


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