How to Grow and Care for a Pistachio Tree

The pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) is a member of the Anacardiaceae family.  It is a bushy deciduous tree native to western Asia and Asia Minor, but now grows well in dry climates of Mediterranean Europe and in arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia (pistachio tree growing zone Australia).  The pistachio trees are both ornamental as well as productive. The tree grows to a height of 10 m (30 feet). The pistachio tree has oval-shaped leaves. if you have a bonsai pistachio tree, then you have to repot it every two or three years. 

Pistachio Tree
Pistachio Tree
In Australia, pistachios are grown in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and new South Whales.

Pistachios are low calories and high in protein, high on antioxidants, loaded with nutrients. So pistachio nuts are very good for controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

How To Grow Pistachio Tree

Difference Between Male and Female Pistachio Trees

  1. Pistachio trees are are either male or female trees, so both the trees are required to produce nuts. But how to tell if the pistachio tree is male or female?
  2. Male pistachio trees can be easily spotted by anyone, because they are normally higher and much more robust than the female trees. The female tree has loose, open branches about 6 to 8 inch long, while the male tree has tight, clustered branches about 2 to 3  inch long. 
  3. The pistachio roots are deeply rooted and they are non-aggressive, although the female Pistachio trees may be invasive if there is a male tree nearby.

Climate For Growing Pistachio Tree

To grow and bear fruit the pistachio tree requires very long, dry, hot summers (more than 600 hours >30°C) and very cold low humid winters, more than 1,000 hours chill hours below 7°C.

Soil For Pistachio Trees

Pistachio trees prefer a deep, free-draining nutrition rich soil. 

Position: Where to Plant Pistachios

Plant the tree where it receives full sun, preferably in a windy area to improve pollination.

How to Plant Pistachio Tree

  1. The tree is dormant in winter, which is the best time to plant it.
  2. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width of the pot and half fill the hole with free-draining nutrition rich soil. 
  3. Tap the pot from outside and carefully take out the plant from the pot. 
  4. Place the plant in the hole and then backfill. Firm down the soil to remove air pockets.
  5. Backfill the hole so that your pistachio can be planted at the same height as it was in the pot.
  6. Water the plant.

Watering Pistachio Plants

  1. Water once a week, more often in dry weather until the tree establishes in a few years.
  2. The established pistachio trees are an incredibly hardy plant due to a strong taproot so are they very drought- and wind-tolerant once established. However, For nut development, keep the soil moist to 1.2 m (4 feet) deep throughout the growing season.
  3. Water during flowering and nut development.

Fertilizer For Pistachio Tree

  1. Add decomposed manure and blood and bone meal in the soil.
  2. Apply a slow-release fertiliser in early spring and in autumn. 

Pistachio Tree Pruning

  1. How and when to Prune a pistachio tree
  2. Prune in winter while dormant.
  3. Remove the diseases and dry branches.
  4. Prune the overcrowding, rubbing or crossing branches for better air circulation.
  5. Remove the growth that appears from below the graft, that is from the rootstock.

Flowering, Pollination and Fruiting Pistachio Nuts 
Pistachio Nuts
Pistachio Nuts

  1. Pistachio trees are dioecious, they are either male or female trees, so both the trees are required for pollination. One male can pollinate up to 10-15 females. 
  2. The male flowers are necessary to provide the pollen to fertilize the female flowers. The nuts are grown on female pistachio trees.
  3. Pistachios flowers are pollinated by wind, so bees are not required for nut production.
  4. Pistachio trees start to bear fruit after about eight years of planting.
  5. Flowers are produced in mid-spring.
  6. The pistachio nuts develop in summer, harvest nuts in the end of summer. The ripe nuts change color from red to pink/yellow. 
  7. You can dry the nuts but can eat them fresh.
  8. Shells from salted pistachios can deter slugs and snails.

Diseases and Pests on Pistachio Tree

  1. Pistachios are prone to fungal attack. 
  2. Too much rain can create fungal problem. Do not water the foliage. 
  3. Spray a fungicide to the infected plant.

How to Propagate Pistachio

  1. Both male and female pistachios are propagated by bud-grafting onto a disease-resistant rootstock.
  2. Pistachio trees can be grown from pistachio seeds, but you need two separate trees,  one pistachio male tree and the other pistachio female tree (how to grow pistachio tree from seed).

Video on How to Grow a Pistachio Tree

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