What you're learning
- Quick Facts About the Macadamia Nut Tree
- Macadamia Tree Defined
- Types of Macadamia Trees
- Macadamia Cultivars and Other Varieties
- Best Time and Place to Grow Macadamia Nuts
- Growing and Planting Macadamia Nuts
- How to Plant Macadamia Seeds?
- How to Plant the Saplings?
- How to Care for your Macadamia Tree?
- How to Harvest?
- Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are you interested in growing macadamia nuts in your garden? Then you will be in for a treat as the macadamia nut tree is one of the tastiest and healthiest plants you can ever grow at home.
It has nutrients that your body can easily absorb and is very decorative. This article explains more about the macadamia nut tree and how to grow it.
Quick Facts About the Macadamia Nut Tree
- Scientific name: Macadamia integrifolia
- Common name/s: Queensland nut, Hawaii nut, bush nut, Macadamia
- Sunlight requirement: Full sun; can also withstand partial sun in extremely hot climates
- Harvesting period: September to April
- Soil: Rich, loamy, and fertile; slightly acidic
- Water: Consistent watering – Give more water to young trees.
- Fertilizer: Balanced fertilizer with a bit lower nitrogen level applied two times every year
Macadamia Tree Defined
Macadamias can be defined as an evergreen tree with a dark green foliage that looks the same as the holly leaves. One nice thing about the macadamia nut tree is that it can give you high yields composed of fleshy and great-looking nuts.
Macadamia nuts tree is a native of Australia. It came from Australia but you can now see it being planted and cultivated in different parts of the world – Florida, the US, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. As for its commercial production, the location is in Hawaii as the country provides the perfect environment for its growth.
They are also recognized for being among those self-pollinating trees but note that growing at least one of these trees can provide you with a large harvest. It is also possible to anticipate an increase in the harvest if you work on attracting pollinators to come to your garden.
Growing macadamia nut trees with a healthy companion plant will allow you to enjoy a huge harvest of 50 lbs. of nuts annually. You can also find self-harvesting macadamia nut varieties with nuts capable of falling to the ground once ripe.
Some varieties are those that you have to pull from the macadamia nuts tree once ready. One more thing about macadamia nuts that you must be aware of before cultivating one is that they can grow large. You can expect the mature trees’ height to reach 40 feet.
Types of Macadamia Trees
When planning to grow macadamia nuts on your own, you must learn about their different types. It has three types capable of producing edible nuts.
A native plant to Queensland, Australia, Macadamia integrifolia boasts of flowers that range from white to pink. It can also produce fruit that is kind of rounded and woody. It also has long leaves featuring toothed margins.
Another native plant to Australia, the Macadamia ternifolia is easy to distinguish as it is a multi-stemmed and smaller tree capable of growing a max of 26 feet. The tree features pink flowers and petals around six to eight and one-half mm long. You will also find its leaves noticeable as they tend to be pale from below while also being dull from above.
This type is kind of small but it is still known for being tough. You can often find the macadamia tetraphylla in rainforests as well as along creeks and borders that have highly fertile soil.
Macadamia Cultivars and Other Varieties
Aside from its three basic types, take note that macadamia also has several other varieties and cultivars. The most popular macadamia nut cultivars and varieties that you should be aware of are the following:
This cultivar is a hybrid of macadamia tetraphylla and integrifolia. It has several nice and distinctive features, including its bright pink blooms visible on long racemes that also feature vibrant leaves in a reddish hue.
Another thing that you will notice in Beaumont is its clusters that resemble grapes. While these nuts cannot drop once ripe, you can still expect the cultivar to produce easy-to-crack ripe nuts.
This cultivar is another hybrid of integrifolia and tetraphylla. It can be classified as a spreading macadamia tree, which is the reason why it is also capable of producing a high yield.
Note, though, that it has nuts that do not have as much flavor as the other cultivars. It also has thick shells.
This particular cultivar is famous for its rich flavor. It also guarantees a healthy yield of the crops and promotes ease when it comes to pollinating Beaumont.
As a South African native plant, you will notice the sweet flavor of the Nelmac II. The fact that it is sweet is one of the reasons why a lot of people enjoy even its uncooked seeds.
This macadamia genus or variety is famous for being cold-resistant. One thing that makes it so good to have in any garden is that it tends to begin its production even when it is still young, around five years. You can already expect it to have high yields at that time.
Best Time and Place to Grow Macadamia Nuts
There is a high chance for macadamia seeds to thrive well if you plant them indoors starting from the late fall season up to the early winter. Such seasons are the perfect time to grow macadamia nuts tree as they will receive sufficient time for germination before the spring.
Older macadamia nut trees are capable of withstanding excess heat and cold but those that are still too young are prone to leaf scorch or frost damage so be careful. You can also plant young transplants during the spring season. However, ensure that it also happens once the last frost is over.
As for the perfect planting location, the best one is an area that gets full sunlight the entire year while still having sufficient protection from the intense and harsh wind. Yes, mature macadamia is an effective windbreak, but they are still flowering plants prone to damage due to high winds, so give them proper protection.
For macadamias you intend to grow in containers, make sure that you provide sufficient space so they will experience healthy root development. Also, ensure to use a pot with a size that corresponds to the tree’s height and age, so it will grow healthily.
Growing and Planting Macadamia Nuts
Your macadamia nuts can be expected to thrive in zones ranging from 9 to 11. The nuts like full sunlight, but you can also expect them to handle a bit of shade with a smaller harvest or yield.
Growing macadamia nuts also require you to understand that the ideal daytime temperature for them is approximately 77 degrees F. Be extra careful when growing macadamia trees in frost-prone areas as temperatures lower than 21 degrees F may cause severe damage to the tree or worse, kill it.
Grow macadamia in soil with pH levels of around 5.5 to 6.5, too. Note that these trees prefer soil that is a bit acidic. Ensure to provide fertile soil, too, so there should be plenty of compost and well-rotted manure before you plant the seeds.
Moreover, you must ensure that you are using well-draining and loamy soil. It is also crucial to note that there is a high possibility of enjoying better results if you plant from grafted trees, specifically the ones you get in a nursery. Note, though, that you can also grow macadamia from cuttings, seeds, and through propagation using air layering.
How to Plant Macadamia Seeds?
You can plant macadamia nuts from seeds, though there may also be unpredictable results. You may have to wait up to 10 years to see results. Still, it is worth it since you will enjoy delicious yield if you are indeed successful.
Here’s how you can plant macadamia from seeds:
- Soak the entire nut with its shell on it in water. Do it overnight.
- Prepare the seed starting mix then plant the nut in there. Ensure that its bud end sticks up when planted on the mix.
- Cover it then water adequately. The soil should be moist enough. Once you already provide it with a slightly moist soil, put it in an area that is warm and receives indirect sunlight.
- Wait for the seed to germinate. When that happens, keep it warm then water it adequately until the germinated seedling is already large enough that you can handle it. This is the perfect time to replant the seed to the ground or in a larger pot.
When planting macadamia from seeds, make sure that you have enough patience. It may take longer for the germinating nuts and for the plant to begin growing.
How to Plant the Saplings?
You can also plant the saplings – the grafted macadamia tree variety. It is a good idea as it can provide amazing results and the fastest harvest. Here’s how you can make that happen:
- Dig a hole. It should be two times the root ball’s size. You should then lower the plant and put it in place.
- Get high-quality soil and fill the hole around it. Tamp it down.
- During the first year, it is important to stake the macadamia tree. This should keep it protected from harsh and strong winds. You can also use the stake as protection from deer in case it is a problem in your location.
In case you are planning to plant not just one macadamia tree but more, ensure that you do so by giving each one sufficient space. A wise guideline is to plant each macadamia tree around twenty feet apart. If planting the tree in rows, ensure that each row is around 36 feet apart.
How to Care for your Macadamia Tree?
Once you have successfully planted your macadamia tree, it is time to give it proper care and attention. That way, you can enjoy its yield based on your initial expectations. Here are the areas to focus on when caring for your macadamia.
Sun and Temperature
The macadamia tree can be expected to thrive well when exposed to full sun conditions. For locations with scorching hot summer, you can give your tree partial shade but ensure that it receives sufficient morning sunlight.
As for the best growing temperature for the macadamia, you should focus on giving it around 65 to 85 degrees F. Ensure the plant is not exposed to temperatures over 95 degrees all the time as it may only lessen the harvest. It may cause your plant to get stressed with the heat.
Temperature below 45 degrees should also be avoided as it may only cause suffering to your plants. If the temperature in your area gets to that, protect the plant by using a commercial tree bag or a blanket to wrap its trunk.
Humidity and Water
Another thing that you have to provide for your macadamia nuts is regular and consistent irrigation. This is extremely vital during the plant’s developmental stage or cycle. Upon noticing the nuts starting to form, provide it with sufficient water so it will bear fruit and produce flavorful and plump nuts.
You also need to provide macadamia water during the late spring and summer. Watering the tree regularly should help give the plant enough moisture to continue creating foliage.
The best time to water your macadamia plant is early in the day. During its first two years, provide it with enough water, around a 5-gallon bucket. Water the root area slowly every two days or so. You can also apply a soaker or drip irrigation, but you have to be one hundred percent sure that it receives even and consistent moisture.
For your macadamia nut tree to grow and thrive well, ensure that you use deep, well-drained, and loamy soil. The well-drained soils should also be a bit acidic. They can grow in other soils but the result will be less vigorous, especially if you grow it in soil with too much natural soil as it may affect the tree’s growth.
Mulching should also form part of caring for your macadamia tree, which is the key to preventing moisture loss. It also prevents weeds from competing with the plant’s nourishment from the soil.
You can use macadamia shells during mulching. Just put them in a layer that is around three to four inches deep. Do not put it against the trunk directly. A couple of inches of gap should surround the trunk for protection.
Classified as a slow-growing plant, it is safe to say that the tree does not demand too much when it comes to the use of fertilizer. It would thrive well with a fish emulsion or citrus mix with less than 1 percent nitrogen. Apply this two times annually.
You can also use a fruit tree formula but ensure that it has the correct range of nitrogen. Alternatively, you can apply aged compost or manure. It can replace one yearly dose of fertilizer.
As for the best time to apply fertilizer, it should be during the early spring, the time when there is new growth. You can also apply the fertilizer again in the middle of summer. Avoid fertilizing during the winter or fall season.
Part of caring for your macadamia nuts also involves regular pruning. This is an important process as this is what you will do to get rid of dead and unhealthy branches and those that grow inwards.
It will also sort of trim the tree, which is good for airflow and when it comes to preventing macadamia root rot. Aside from helping you prevent root rot, pruning is also necessary to maintain your preferred height for the tree and retain its nice shape.
You can prune your macadamia nut tree anytime you want. The ideal time to do the pruning is around May or June after you have done the harvest. For pruning, you can use sterile loppers or pruning shears.
How to Harvest?
The harvesting period is usually around late fall to early spring, as this is the time when the nuts will begin to drop. Some cultivars may require nudging the nuts using a produce basket so they will fall. Be extra careful when shaking the tree, though, as it may also result in the falling of unripe nuts.
During the harvest period, picking up mature tree nuts every day will already give you a bountiful harvest. Put a tarp below the tree to capture the fallen nuts. You may also just pick up the nuts from the ground as soon as they fall. The macadamia nut’s weight during harvest can reach around 30 to 50 lbs. for a tree around 10 years old.
One sign that the nuts will already be on their way toward falling to the ground is when the exterior husks surrounding the shell become dry and brown. In this case, you need to remove the outer husk and leave the shell and nut.
Store them in a dry area so they will dry completely. They should be away from the sun for around two to three weeks, too. After you air dry them, you can put the nuts in your oven or dehydrator.
Store them there for at least twelve hours with occasional stirring to ensure that they won’t get cooked. After fully drying the nuts this way, you will notice the hard shells cracking, which indicates that it is already the perfect time for nutmeat extraction.
Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
It is also crucial to monitor the condition of your macadamia trees, so you can immediately check for the presence of pests and diseases that may hamper their growth. In this case, a few of the pests and diseases that often invade macadamia nuts are:
Thrips are small pests that may invade the macadamia’s flower-bedecked racemes. The problem with thrips invasion is that they tend to feast on the saps, reducing your harvest. Thrips also tend to thrive and feed on the plant’s husks. You may want to apply horticultural oil to the affected plants to deal with them.
These sap-sucking insects tend to accumulate on your macadamia’s stems. If you notice some scale insects in your macadamia tree, you just have to trim off the leaves affected by them. You can also slow them down or minimize them with horticultural oil.
Some mites may invade your plant’s husks. The problem with mites is that they are prone to eating these husks, causing the in husk nuts to be open and exposed to the risks and dangers of the environment.
Broad mites also risk feeding on the plant’s flowers, which may only lessen the nut. Like the other pests and insects mentioned a while ago, you can also use horticultural oil to lessen mites.
Macadamia nut borer
This particular invader to your plant refers to a moth larva, which can seriously damage nuts that are still too young. The reason is that young and immature nuts still do not have any hard shells on them.
The macadamia nut borer can seriously damage the fruit and foliage as these are the plants of the plant they munch on. Get rid of this larva by applying bacillus thurigiensis.
Another pest that commonly invades macadamia nuts is the stink bug. This stink bug appears as flat and winged insects that look like beetles. One sign of their presence is when you notice yellowing parts of your plant or if there is chewed foliage.
A great solution for eliminating stink bugs is to apply neem oil right after you notice their presence. Alternatively, you may use horticultural oil on the infested plants.
There is also a fungal disease called anthracnose, which can cause damage to the nuts and leaves in humid places. If your macadamia is infested by anthracnose, you can spray the foliage for treatment.
It is also advisable to use a liquid copper fungicide to create nut pods. In case the fungal disease only affects a small number of leaves, light pruning will already help remove it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are macadamia nuts easy to grow?
Yes. The macadamia nut is known for being easy to grow. You can expect it to grow and flourish well whether you grow it in a tropical climate or a Mediterranean climate.
You just have to make sure that it receives adequate water and compost during its first few years. With that, you will be able to enjoy growing macadamia nuts and its ability to give you several pounds of nuts every season for several years.
How long does it take for macadamia trees to bear nuts?
On average, you would have to wait around seven to ten years for your macadamia nut tree to produce or bear fruits. It is also not that easy to harvest as you will have to do it by hand, but it is worth it because of how unique and delicious these nuts are.
What climate do macadamia nuts grow best?
Macadamia nuts are versatile in that they can survive various climates, ranging from tropical climates to subtropical climates. You can also often find them in tropical and temperate regions and semi-arid and arid ones.
Is macadamia nuts farming profitable?
Yes. Macadamia nut farming is now known for being a lucrative or profitable venture. You can now find a lot of success among growers who enjoy a huge profit from growing these nut trees.
While it takes quite some time to grow macadamia nuts, especially if they come from seeds, the entire process can still give you an incredible experience. This is true if you are an enthusiastic gardener longing to have your macadamia nut trees at home.
You will also enjoy the ability of healthy macadamia to produce nuts effortlessly for up to forty years. This will let you enjoy macadamia nut consumption for a long time.
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