The pistachio is grown as much for its fruit as for its ornamental qualities, and depending on the species, its foliage is deciduous or evergreen.
In the Mediterranean region, it is difficult to obtain fruit, and it will be essentially decorative. It needs sun, well-drained and rather calcareous soil. Hardy, it is nevertheless reserved in the ground in mild climates.
Where to Plant It?
Originally from the Mediterranean basin or the Middle East, the Pistachios appreciate hot climates and tolerate drought. It is a relatively chilly tree, which prefers regions with mild winters. Some species, such as the pistachio mastic tree, are, however, capable of withstanding short frosts of around -12/-15°C once well established, in drained soil, and sheltered from the prevailing cold winds. Remember that north of the Loire, the pistachio tree has little chance of bearing fruit.
If the tree itself is not afraid of the cold, it is its flowering that risks being destroyed by late frosts. In the ground, it will therefore be reserved for Mediterranean climates, with dry and hot summers, the evergreen species being particularly adapted to summer heat and drought. And as it also supports the spray, we will adopt it without reservation by the sea.
Not very demanding in terms of soil and exposure; all soils are suitable for it. It is able to thrive in mediocre, poor, and stony, arid soil in a dry or slightly acidic climate, with a preference for draining and calcareous soils. Reserve a warm and bright location for it, although it also accepts partial shade.
The pistachio tree can be installed in dry gardens of Mediterranean inspiration, in a shrub bed, or in a free hedge in a mild climate because its fruiting is very decorative.
When to Plant It?
In regions with a mild climate, the pistachio tree is planted in early autumn, in September-October. In the limited hardiness zone, planting in the spring is preferred.
How to Plant?
The pistachios appreciate well-draining soils. Allow a distance of 7-10 m between two pistachio trees.
- Loosen the soil well.
- Soak the root ball for 1 hour in a bucket of water.
- Dig a large hole at least 30 cm deep in all directions.
- Spread pozzolan, river sand, or gravel at the bottom of the planting hole
- Install the shrub in the center of the hole with a stake.
- Hold the pistachio tree straight, then fill the hole with potting soil and sand mixed with the extracted soil without burying the collar.
- Tap with your foot
- Water copiously when planting
Maintenance, Pruning, and Care
Pistachios are easy to grow in privileged regions where frost does not rage either severely or for too long. Pistachios dread only cold winters, especially when they are young. Once well established, they will be more and more resistant to drought. However, even if the pistachio tree is a particularly drought-resistant tree, it needs to be watered regularly during its growth period, especially to produce pistachios. In summer, be vigilant the first 2-3 years after planting; water as soon as the soil is dry without ever soaking the soil.
In autumn, by scratching, add compost to the base of the shrub. Hoe the ground regularly with a claw to keep the foot clean.
Wrap the heads of young pistachio trees with a wintering veil the first few years before the onset of cold weather to help them get through the winter well.
The size is not very restrictive, and it allows us to maintain a beautiful silhouette, equalize it, and limit its size. Prune only when necessary. A light formatting pruning at the end of winter each year is enough to promote branching:
- Remove dead or bulky wood
- Prune tangled branches
- Cut branches that grow inward from the crown
Diseases and Possible Enemies
The pistachio tree has some known but rarely fatal pests. It can suffer from spider mite infestations. Spray in advance manure of nettle or a decoction of horsetail. The foliage sometimes presents galls due to the mite Eriophyes stefanii or the aphid Anopleura lentiscus, and they do not endanger the life of your pistachio tree.
It is possible to propagate the pistachio tree by seed, by semi-woody cuttings, or by grafting, a technique to be reserved for experienced or professional gardeners.
This technique is random.
- Harvest fresh seeds in winter from female plants
- Soak them for a few days in water at room temperature
- Sow in winter in a pot, outdoors in a good seedbed
- At the end of summer, take stems of about 15 cm
- Remove the leaves on the lower part of the branches
- Place the cuttings in a draining substrate consisting of a mixture of potting soil and sand kept moist
- Keep muffled
- When the cuttings are well rooted, transplant them into pots.
- Install in the ground the following spring.
Associate the Pistachio Tree with the Garden
The Pistachio tree is a good plant for a dry garden which will do well in Mediterranean gardens and those by the sea. It settles in evergreen or deciduous hedges, depending on the species, or in shrub beds. In a free hedge, it can be associated with Photinias, Eleagnus ebbingei, laurel tin, and deciduous spindle trees with superb autumnal colors. It can also sneak into a hedge with fairly rustic shrubs with a southern connotation, such as Buddleias and oleanders.
In a shrub bed, it will do well alongside Eucalyptus gunnii and Pittosporum. In mild climates, accompany it with Olearia, Nandina, grevilleas, escallonias or Choisya ternata.
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