Pistachio: planting, growing, caring for and fruiting

The Pistachio tree is a shrub that belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae. Genre Pistacia has twelve species, all of which are slow growing. We mainly cultivate Pistacia vera as much for the beauty of its foliage as, of course, for being able to harvest its delicious almonds. It is more precisely the pistachios, very appreciated for their good nutty taste. They are also very interesting from a nutritional point of view and rank among the lowest-calorie nuts. Let’s see how to cultivate a Pistachio tree, a tree which – whatever the species – is rather adapted to the southernmost regions.

Plant a Pistachio tree

Before buying a Pistachio, it is interesting to know the main species and some of their specificities.

Some are at deciduous foliage. Others have a evergreen foliage as is the case with Pistachio lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus). Also called Mastic Tree, it produces fruits that turn red to black, edible but less tasty than pistachios from “Real” Pistachio (Pistacia vera) with deciduous foliage.

the Pistachio terebinth (Pistacia terebinthus) also has deciduous foliage that turns fiery red in autumn, and produces drupes Relatively sour edible, mainly used for the preparation of a condiment oil. Note that we extract from its bark an oleoresin which is none other than turpentine.

Once well rooted, the species Pistacia vera for example supports rather chilly temperatures, of the order of -15 ° C, and the Chinese pistachio (Pistacia chinensis), whose foliage is all red in autumn, has the reputation of being the most rustic of all since it tolerates up to -20 ° C. Its very aromatic deciduous foliage of a flamboyant red from October is extremely decorative, and its drupes turning from red to blue are a real treat for birds.

In any case, let us remember that the genre Pistacia has a dozen species and there are also cultivars.

The best time of year for to plant a Pistachio tree is located between September and November. This way, it has plenty of time to take root well before spring arrives. We advise to opt for a subject with bare roots rather than a plant in a container. Here’s how to do it.

  • One month in advance, dig a large enough planting hole,
  • Prepare the soil well, which involves removing weeds and plant debris, working it to loosen it and then mixing it with good manure,
  • On D-day, shorten the roots of the young Pistachio tree by 3 cm in order to refresh them,
  • Soak the plant beforehand in a praline (mixture of manure and good soil) for two good hours,
  • Then install the shrub in the center of the hole, taking care that its roots are not folded up,
  • Ask a tutor,
  • Recap the hole,
  • Tamp,
  • Water abundantly.

It is recommended to create a watering basin at the foot of the pistachio trees as soon as they are planted.

Growing a Pistachio Tree

Above all, it is necessary beware of biting jellies rampant in spring because they cause damage to flowering in all pistachio trees, whether they are a little chilly or not at all. If you live in a geographical area known for its very harsh winters, cultivation can be more delicate. It is a tree that tolerates the cold once it is adult and, a useful little point of detail, which cannot be grown above 500 meters in altitude.

A Pistachio tree needs Sun, of heat and a beautiful brightness. It is therefore much more suited to the South of France, where it is very easy to grow it, than to the North of the Loire or, even worse, to our mountainous regions. As for the preferred ground of Pistachio, it is ideally moderately calcareous, dry and perfectly drained. This tree therefore has its place in a Mediterranean garden.

Caring for the Pistachio

As long as it benefits from a suitable environment, Pistachio does not pose any particular difficulty.


Very resistant to drought, the Pistachio tree nevertheless needs regular watering throughout its growth during the summer, which also promotes the production of pistachios. The rest of the year, it is content with less frequent watering.


Pistachio trees don’t like to be pruned. These are trees that heal very badly. Their size must therefore be limited to the elimination of dead wood, diseased or too frail branches. At the same time, it makes it possible to retain a sufficiently dense branching. We therefore only carry out if necessary a very light size who should intervene between the beginning of January and at the latest the end of February.

If branches are badly oriented, of course we take the opportunity to get back into shape knowing that we must not intervene when pruning more than 12 or 13% of the crown of a Pistachio tree.

Parasites and diseases

Insensitive to pests and resistant to diseases, the Pistachio tree is hardly a problem for the gardener. At most, it can sometimes be affected by red spiders or aphids. Note that Terebinth Pistachio is more sensitive to gall caused by some aphid species (Baizongia pistaciae, Forda formicaria and Forda marginata). This disease causes leaf mutation. These turn into a sort of large receptacle about twenty centimeters long in which the parasite lays its eggs. It is then necessary to remove all affected parts and burn them.

Fruiting of Pistachio

Whatever Pistachio tree you want to plant, this tree produces very pretty fruits, grouped in clusters, and which take on beautiful colors throughout the ripening process, which increases the decorative advantage of this ornamental tree.

But make no mistake, a Pistachio tree grown alone will not produce fruit since it is a dioecious tree, that is, unisexual. It is therefore either male or female. It is absolutely essential to raise one male foot and two or three female feet to make fruiting possible. When buying seedlings in the nursery, therefore, do not hesitate to get good information from an advisor.

Pistachios arrive at maturity between September and November. Once harvested, they should have a period of drying one week before being consumed. But you have to be patient before tasting pistachios from the garden because, on average, a Pistachio tree only produces from 5 years of age.