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How to Grow Carya–Hickory

Leaves of Carya
Leaves of Carya illinoinensis

Trees of the genus Carya which include hickory and pecan trees are fast-growing deciduous trees. They grow from 60 to 100 feet (18-30m) tall and live for more than 100 years.

Carya trees have slender, upright gray trunks with rounded to conical crowns. Most have deep and wide-spreading roots. They are well suited for large lawns, park-like locations, and woodlands. Hickories and pecan attract wildlife.

Leaves are large and pinnately compound. Flowers are slender catkins that develop in spring along with the leaves.

Shagbark Hickory Tree - Carya ovata
Shagbark Hickory Tree – Carya ovata

Get to Know Carya–Hickory

  • Plant type: Deciduous tree
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 8
  • Hardiness: Cold-winter hardy
  • Height and width: 80 to 100 feet (25-30m) tall and 50 to 70 feet (15-20m) wide
  • Foliage: Pinnate, divided feathery leaves, many leaflets
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous greenish-yellow catkin flowers followed by nuts enclosed in husks
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Trees are too large for smaller yards
  • Common name: Hickory, pecan
  • Botanical name: Carya
  • Family name: Juglandaceae
  • Origin: North and Central America and Asia

Where to Plant Carya–Hickory

  • Plant hickory and pecan in full sun.
  • Plant in humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Trees develop deep taproots and should be planted while young and not moved later.
  • Carya trees may live up to 100 years.
Flowers of a pecan tree , Carya illinoinensis
Flowers of a pecan tree , Carya illinoinensis

When to Plant Carya–Hickory

  • Set container-grown Carya trees in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and Spacing Carya–Hickory

  • Space Carya 50 to 70 feet (15-20m) apart depending on the variety.

How to Water and Feed Carya–Hickory

  • Carya needs regular watering.
  • Fertilize trees with an all-purpose fertilizer in spring.
  • Prune Carya in late winter before spring growth begins; prune out dead, diseased, and crossing branches.
Shagbark Hickory Tree - Carya ovata
Shagbark Hickory Tree – Carya ovata

Carya—Hickory Care

  • Mulch around Carya to keep weeds down and conserve soil moisture.

Carya—Hickory Pests and Diseases

  • Carya is prone to a wide variety of fungal leaf spots including blight.
  • Powdery mildew, crown gall, and catkin blight can occur.

Carya—Hickory Propagation

  • Sow seed where you want the tree to grow.
  • If the seed is started in a seedbed, it should be transplanted to the permanent location as soon as possible; Carya does not like transplanting.
  • Cultivars can be grafted in winter.

Carya Hickory Varieties to Grow

  • Carya cordiformis, swamp hickory: Broadly columnar tree grows to 80 feet tall and 50 feet wide; mid-green pinnate leaves.
  • C. glabra, hognut hickory: Spreading tree with furrowed gray bark; grows to 80 feet tall and 70 feet wide; mid-green leaves turn yellow in autumn.
  • C. illinoensis, pecan: Grown for nuts but can also be grown as an ornamental; grows to 70 feet tall and wide; foliage similar to English walnuts, narrow leaflets; prune to shape; needs well-drained soil.
  • C. ovata, shagbark hickory: Grows 60 to 100 feet tall; has shaggy gray bark; bears sweet hard-shelled nuts; autumn foliage is yellow and brown.

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