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7 Nut Trees That Crop Reliably in USDA Zone 6


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There’s nothing more fulfilling than walking through an orchard of majestic nut trees on a lovely breezy afternoon. Seeing your trees bear nuts that you can harvest for yourself and your loved ones makes the heart skip a beat!

Since you already know your USDA planting zone, it’s important that you measure your garden space to understand how much available space you have to plant your delicious nut trees.

USDA Zone 6 is a blessing for expert gardeners as well as those who’re just experimenting with their green thumb! With minimum temperatures ranging between 0°F and -10°F, Zone 6 is home to a wide variety of plant options you can grow.

Here are some of the best Zone 6 nut trees that you can plant today.

7 USDA Zone 6 Nut Trees to Plant Today

1. Chinese Chestnut Tree (Castanea mollissima)

Chinese Chestnut Tree
Image by Frederick County Forestry via Flickr

Beautifying landscapes and gardens around AR, KY, and parts of IL, the Chinese Chestnut Tree is a sight to behold in spring and summer. Native to China and possibly Korea, the Chinese Chestnut requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. This is also one of the best Zone 6 shade trees you can grow in your garden.

In the spring and summer, fragrant cream, gold, silver, or white flowers will dangle from the branches of this majestic tree. Then in the fall, delicious edible sweet nuts encased in spiny burs replace the flowers. With two or three nuts per bur, a mature Chinese Chestnut Tree that’s 15-20 years old produces anywhere between 50 and 100 pounds of nuts per season!

After you harvest for yourself and your loved ones, you’ll still have more that you can sell to make a decent profit. This tree is resistant but not immune to chestnut blight, a dangerous fungal bark disease that wiped out the native American Chestnut Tree a century ago. That said, it can fall prey to twig and stem cankers, leaf spots, and possibly even weevils.

Other Common Names: Chinese Chestnut

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall, 40-60 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring and summer. The fruit can be harvested in the fall.

2. American Hazelnut Filbert (Corylus americana)

Cultivated in the US since the 1700s, you’ll see this beauty adorning landscapes in and around GA, PA, and NY.

Although it’s categorized as a small tree, the American Hazelnut grows up to 18 feet high at maturity, and, in ideal conditions, each tree can produce approximately 25 pounds of nutrient-rich nuts for you to consume. They make great privacy trees if you’re looking to plant some around your garden.

Whether you roast them, dip them in chocolate, add them to your recipes or enjoy their raw, nothing can beat their rich, earthy and musty flavor with a sweet aftertaste.

In the spring and winter, you’ll see how the flowers change their colors – from green to burgundy and finally white – to pave the way for copper-colored husk-like bracts. The leaves start out green, but in the fall, they boast stunning sunset shades of orange, rose, burgundy, and yellow.

The American Hazelnut requires full sun (at least six hours daily), deep shade of less than two hours daily, and well-draining soils to thrive. The tree can fall prey to Eastern filbert blight, leaf spots, and crown gall. Also, keep an eye out for insects, birds, and small mammals that can damage your tree’s foliage and fruit.

Other Common Names: American Filbert, American Hazelnut, Hazelnut

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-18 ft tall, 10-12 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring and winter. The fruit displays in fall and can be harvested in summer.

3. Pawnee Pecan Tree (Carya illinoinensis ‘Pawnee’)

This hardy pecan tree is a cross between ‘Mohawk’ and ‘Starking Hardy Giant’ and originated from Brownwood, Texas, in 1963. Today it stands somewhat tall in landscapes around TX, PA, and MD.

Considering most pecan trees reach heights of up to 130 feet, a matured Pawnee stands 30 feet tall, giving gardeners an easier time harvesting the nuts. Compared to other nut trees, this tree produces larger nuts (in size) that you can harvest earlier in the season.

The Pawnee requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. You’ll also need approximately 50-60 feet of available space to grow this beauty in your garden. If you’re looking for Zone 6 drought-tolerant trees, you’ll fall in love with what Pawnee has to offer. That said, this tree is not self-fertile, which means you’ll need to plant another nut tree to encourage fruiting.

Pawnee’s fruits have a distinct sweet and buttery aftertaste with a mild floral or forest aroma. The outside of the nut is slightly bitter, but when you chew it, the sweet, fatty flesh overpowers the bitterness, leaving you craving for more! That said, nut trees have deep taproots, so don’t grow them too close to immovable structures or underground pipes.

Other Common Names: Pawnee Pecan

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall, 15-25 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring. The fruit displays and can be harvested in the fall.

4. Black Walnut Tree (Juglans nigra)

Black Walnut Tree
Image by DM via Flickr

Looking for an edible nut tree that turns yellow in the fall? The Black Walnut tree won’t disappoint you. Standing tall in parts of TX and UT, the Black Walnut tree turns heads for three reasons. The first is its electrifying yellow fall leaf color and the second is, of course, the sweet walnuts, and the third is the high-quality timber.

The Black Walnut requires full sun (at least six hours or more daily), partial shade (at least two to three hours), and loamy soils to thrive. This tree is self-fertile, which means you don’t have to plant other trees to encourage fruiting. However, to drastically increase your crop size, planting another tree would work wonders.

Mature walnut trees produce 50 – 80 pounds of nuts per year, but you’ll need at least 60+ feet of available space to plant one tree.

While this tree is fairly heat and drought-tolerant, it can fall prey to aphids, cankers, bacterial blight, root rot, shoot dieback, and caterpillars. In the fall, fallen walnuts can create a mess that needs to be cleaned up, especially if you have dogs. This is because accidentally ingesting moldy nuts can cause tremors and seizures in dogs.

Other Common Names: Black Walnut

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-90 ft tall, 50-75 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring. The fruit displays and can be harvested in the fall.

5. All-in-One Almond Tree (Prunus dulcis ‘All-In-One’)

A favorite among CA gardeners, the All-in-One Almond tree is a stunning Zone 6 flowering tree with the ability to harvest delicious nuts. It’s a self-fertile tree, which means it doesn’t need a pollinating partner to bear fruit. However, planting another tree will significantly increase your crop size!

In spring, beautiful white and pink flowers with bright yellow pistils, resembling those of apple trees, adorn the branches.

In the fall, the flowers pave the way for a bountiful harvest of delicious almonds that you can use in many ways! A mature almond tree produces over 20 pounds of nuts per season that you can roast, toast, ground, soak, and eat raw! As for the taste, depending on how you consume them, they can be slightly bitter, crunchy, earthy, and sweet.

The All-in-One Almond requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and well-draining loamy soils to thrive. Although they tolerate a wide range of soils, frequent neglect, standing water, and heavy clay soils can lead to root rot and bacterial infestation.

The tree can fall prey to leaf spots, powdery mildew, and cankers, among other problems. Also, keep an eye out for insects like aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, borers, and spider mites.

Other Common Names: All in One Almond, Almond Tree

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall, 8-10 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring. The fruit displays and can be harvested in the fall.

6. Carpathian English Walnut Tree (Juglans regia ‘Carpathian’)

Primarily grown for its incredible nut qualities, this is one of the most common nut trees planted in and around ID and PA orchards. Native to the Carpathian Mountains, the tree was brought to Europe through Persia, which is why it’s also known as the Persian walnut. The Carpathian walnut is not self-fertile, which means it requires a pollinating partner to bear fruit.

The tree requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive. It won’t tolerate soil salinity or standing water; therefore, always test your soil before watering this tree. The Carpathian walnut tree has deep taproots (between nine and 12 feet), so don’t plant it too close to immovable structures or underground pipelines. You’ll need to maintain at least 24 feet of space between two trees to get this tree to bear fruit.

This tree produces some of the most delicious nuts you can consume. The nuts, depending on how you consume them, have a sweet aftertaste, similar to the taste of butterscotch. A matured Carpathian English Walnut tree will produce anywhere between 50 and 80 pounds of walnuts per year in ideal conditions.

Other Common Names: Carpathian walnut, English walnut, Persian walnut

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall, 40-60 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in spring. The fruit displays and can be harvested in the fall.

7. Elliot Pecan Tree (Carya illinoinensis ‘Elliot’)

Adorning landscapes around TX, GA, and MD, the Elliot Pecan is one of the most popular nut trees in the USA. After being discovered as a sapling in American lumberman Henry Elliot’s yard, the tree quickly became a favorite for its delicious and crunchy nuts.

Packed with more oil than any other pecan, this tree’s pecan tastes buttery with a sweet aftertaste. The tree requires full sun (at least six hours daily) and moist, well-draining soils to thrive.

In the fall, the tree’s deep green leaves turn bright yellow, boasting copper and green fruits that you can harvest in the summer. Although the Elliot Pecan is drought-tolerant, it won’t take kindly to frequent neglect. This tree is not self-fertile, which means it requires a pollinating partner to bear fruits.

That said, you’ll need 24-60 feet of available space to plant this nut tree, so measure your space before you plant two cultivars in your garden. Although the Elliot Pecan is scab-resistant, it can fall prey to aphids, bugs, powdery mildew, fire blight, and leaf curl, among other issues. The tree will attract moths, beneficial garden insects, birds, and small mammals to your garden, so consider all this before planting your tree!

Other Common Names: Elliot Pecan

Growing Zones: 6-9

Average Size at Maturity: 70-100 ft tall, 60-75 ft wide

Fruiting/Flowering Season: This tree flowers in summer. The fruit displays in the fall and can be harvested in the summer.

Nutty, Crunchy, and Tasty

Although there are many more nut trees you can grow in your garden, these are just some of the best ones with a proven record. Apart from nut trees, you can even grow fruit trees in Zone 6. For example, apple trees, cold-hardy fig trees, or edible cherry trees are easy to grow and maintain.

If you know which nut tree you’d like to grow in your garden, it’s time to summon the measuring tape and understand the kind of soil you’re dealing with. Since most trees prefer well-draining soils, you’ll want to amend your soil after testing it and add nutrients for your trees to thrive.

Finally, remember most nut trees have deep taproots, so don’t plant them too close to buildings, other structures, pools, or underground pipes.

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