If you’re a fan of nuts, you’ll know that there is no better way to go than the humble Pista tree. Packed full of vital vitamins and minerals, it’s a popular nut variety.
Plus, in the right climate conditions, you can even grow your very own pistachio tree at home. While you may need a little patience to start, it is so worth the wait. Here is everything you need to know to cultivate, care for and grow Pista trees.
Pista tree Growing Guide
This perennial nut tree has become more and more popular over recent years. Although slow-growing, this fruit-bearing tree produces some of the most sought after nuts in the industry.
Pistachio nuts are incredibly nutrient-rich and very low in calories. Pistachios are packed full of fibre, vitamins, unsaturated fats, antioxidants and phytosterols.
There are over 11 different species of Pistachio. However, we are most familiar with the Pistacia vera variety, used extensively in commercial and gardening applications.
The Pista tree prefers an arid climate, where most of the world’s commercial supplies come from regions like Afghanistan, Italy, Syria and Turkey. However, in recent years we’ve seen a commercial boom across certain American states.
While the pistachio tree may take a few years to begin growing a fruitful harvest, they live for over 150 years, making them very much worth the investment.
How to Grow Pistachio
When it comes to growing Pistachio, the climate is everything. They need the right balance between a hot and dry summer and a cold winter. They are ideal for USDA hardiness zones between 7 and 11.
What is also important to note is that the pista tree is not self-pollinating. So, in order to look forward to a potential harvest, you’re going to need more than one.
These trees can grow as much as 25 to 35 feet and have an equally long taproot system. This makes them unideal for containers growing past their 3rd or 4th growing cycle.
While you can start the growing process in a container, you will need to replant them outdoors once they’re 3 to 5 years old.
Arid conditions with infrequent rainfall are optimal for the pistachio tree. For a fruitful harvest, you’ll want summer temperatures that range around 100°F and winters that range around 10°F.
High humidity areas are often problematic and may result in a disease plagued growing cycle.
You’ll want to choose a spot for your trees with plenty of deep, sandy, loam soil. Your soil needs to be well-draining in order to protect the roots from potential disease.
When planting pistachio, it’s important to make sure you keep the right distance between your trees—allowing them enough freedom to grow but enough proximity to pollinate.
Two trees should be a minimum of 20 feet apart but no further than 50 feet.
When transplanting simply:
- Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball.
- Place the sapling tree inside the hole.
- Gently backfill, taking care not to disturb any of the roots.
- Gently pat down the soil and then water thoroughly.
Propagation of the pista tree is tricky, which is why many growers choose to buy sapling trees. This way, you can also guarantee that you have a male and female flowering tree which will cross-pollinate.
Should you want to take the risk, you can propagate your own pistachio tree by means of budding onto the rootstock. However, it’s not recommended and not always effective, especially if you’ve never grown Pistachio before.
Pistachio Tree Care Guide
A little bit of care and maintenance will be important throughout the growth cycle. You’ll need to focus mainly on pruning.
Although the pistachio tree doesn’t like a lot of water, it shouldn’t be deprived of water completely. Deep infrequent watering is best for optimal plant health and harvest.
Should you notice a yellowing of leaves, your tree is receiving too much water. If there is a lot of seasonal rainfall, avoid any additional water.
Pistachio trees need a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the soil. Regular soil testing will help you know exactly what’s missing.
Be sure to use a slow-release fertilizer and apply in the late winter or early spring.
For more efficient application, check out our Best Fertilizer Spreader Reviews for 2021.
Pruning will be the most important part of your pistachio care routine. For younger trees, you will want to seek out 3 to 5 major branches and completely cut back the rest.
Avoid having over-crowding or crossing branches as this will lead to stunted growth. In general, you’ll want to cut away any branches that cast shade over the main trunk. You will want to maintain an open-centre structure.
Major pruning should be carried out during mid-summer, with smaller pruning happening twice more in the year.
For the right pruner for the job, see our Best Tree Pruner Reviews for 2021.
It’s important to note that it will take a solid 5 to 7 years before you will be able to have a substantial harvest. Again, it will be worth the wait.
You’ll know your pistachios are ready for harvest around October. The hulls will begin to turn pink and yellow, and the outer husk will start to separate from the inner. You can then easily dislodge the nuts from the tree.
It is recommended to keep a tarp under the tree when harvesting to help you catch any nuts that fall of their own accord.
Pistachio Pests & Diseases
Diseases only arise when the soil becomes extremely water-logged. This will damage the root system and make your Pistachio more susceptible to an attack.
The most common Pistachio issue is Alternaria alternata (Alternaria Late Blight). This disease produces a range of harmful black spores across the length of the tree. Verticillium wilt is also often an issue, which will kill off your tree.
Other pests to look out for include the Twig Borer and Polyllids. These can luckily be treated with a general pesticide.
Final Pista Tree Tips & Tricks
- Take extreme care when working with the pistachio tree, and preferably, wear protective gear like gloves. The pista tree produces a strong irritant that can cause rashes and dermatitis.
- Mulching at the base of your pistachio tree will help protect the root system and prevent any invasive weeds.
- It’s essential to disinfect your garden tool in between trees to avoid the spread of any potential diseases.
- Keeping the base clear of fallen leaves and debris will also prevent any potential disease threats.
Thinking of growing some other nut trees? Here are a few of our favourite picks:
Wrapping Up Our Pista Tree Growing Guide
So, there you have it—everything you need to know to grow Pistachio at home. Before starting your growing journey, be sure to check whether your local climate will be suitable for the pista tree.