4 Hardest Nuts To Grow (And How To Plant Them)

Almond in its tree

If you are looking to grow your own nuts at home, you may be wondering – which are the hardest nuts to grow? In this article we will dive into the hardest nuts to grow in your yard and how you can successfully have your own almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, etc. It’s easier than you think!

In general, the hardest nut trees to grow are almond trees, macadamia trees, Brazil nut trees, and walnut trees. Specifically, they all require typically warmer climates and well irrigated soils, with the exception of walnut trees which can generally grow anywhere throughout the United States.

So, if you want to learn more about just why these trees are the hardest nut trees to grow, keep on reading! We’re going to go over a step-by-step process for growing each tree as well.

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What’s The Difference Between Nuts vs. Seeds?

A seed is the embryonic stage of any plant. When the plant drops its seeds, the seeds can usually germinate and grow on their own. 

Like nuts, seeds have a protective casing, but this outer layer rarely prevents the seed from germinating when dropped. 

Nuts, in essence, are any seed encased in a hard shell that needs to be physically opened. This definition means it takes a bit more effort to get to the seed of a nut. 

The nut’s protective casing is its shell, but unlike most seeds, this casing prevents germination. This distinction is one of the major differences between nuts and seeds. 

To further compare them, nearly all nuts are seeds, but not all seeds are nuts.

Kinda nuts, right?

Most Common Seeds Defined As Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pine Nuts
  • Walnuts 

We call these nuts “tree nuts” as the name suggests, they grow on trees!

What Are The Toughest Nuts To Crack?

If you are a nut enthusiast, you might get a kick out of crashing, cracking, and crushing nutshells. Take it from us, some of the best nuts are hardest to access.

Let’s find out what nuts are the toughest to crack and how to crack them to begin the germination process.

Almond Shells Are Tough To Remove

Ripe almond nuts on the branches of almond tree in early autumn. Ripe almonds on the tree branches. Horizontal. Daylight.

Almonds can be especially tricky to shell. Not only are the shells thick and durable, but with high impact, tiny sharp shell bits can go flying!

If you choose to take the smashing route, be sure to wear protective goggles or glasses. 

Almonds can be unshelled using an easier method as well! 

You can soak whole almonds with the shell in water overnight. The next day, the shell will be easy to rub away with your hands. 

Macadamia Shells Are Hard To Crack

There are nutcrackers built specifically for tougher nuts to crack. If you can’t get your hands on a macadamia nut cracker, using a rock or hammer is the next best option. Just like when cracking any shelled nut, you will want to wear eye protection. 

Look for a white spot on the shell. This spot, called the micropyle, is the weak point. When striking, aim for this spot and you should be successful in cracking the macadamia nut.

Walnut Husks Are Hard To Remove

Walnuts stay in their shell while germinating. But when getting non-processed raw walnuts, you will most likely have to get past the husk of the nut.

A walnut husk is a tough fleshy casing that surrounds the nut. Be sure to wear gloves during removal. The husk produces a liquid substance that can heavily stain when touched.  

To soften husk, stir walnuts in a mixture of water for five to ten minutes. Then, dry walnuts with a towel before proceeding. 

Place dry walnuts on a level surface and take a hammer or rock to the husk at a sharp angle. Once the husk begins to tear open, you can peel it from the walnut using your gloved hands.

Another popular method for de-husking walnuts is to place the walnuts on your driveway and actually run over them with your car. The result will crack the husk of the walnut and leave you with the nut!

The 4 Hardest Nuts To Grow (With Growing Tips)

Now, we’re getting to the nut of it.

Kind of a bad pun right? Good.

Anyways, next, we’re going to talk about the hardest nut trees to actually grow by terms of difficulty. They require specific conditions and attentive care in most cases to make your nut growing journey, worthwhile.

Let’s get to it!

Why Almond Trees Are Hard To Grow (Growing Tips)

Close-up of a branch of an almond tree with green almonds against a blue sky

Almond trees grow best in a Mediterranean environment. So, if you aren’t in a mediterranean environment, you’d be better off skipping to the next one on this list. Keep their needs in mind if you plan on growing one!

You can grow almond trees in America if you live in central or southern California, parts of Arizona, parts of Texas, and inland Florida.

A quick fact, according to the University of California’s “The California Backyard Orchard”, almonds made for consumption in the United States actually come from California!

The items you will need for this project include raw almonds (no shell), paper towels, three to four 12 inch-deep growing pots, potting soil, and plenty of water. 

After using our preferred method of unshelling almonds, you should be ready to start the germination process.

Why Germinating Almonds Is Hard

To start this project using three to four almonds. Since there are so many variables of the germination process, starting with more almonds will better the chances of at least one succeeding. That’s only one part of the reason for difficulty.

Once you have the raw almonds out of their shells, you are going to soak the nuts in room-temperature water overnight.

After soaking the almonds, wrap them in several layers of paper towels. Spray the paper-wrapped nuts until the paper is very moist. Put the wrapped nuts into a sealed container and place the container in a refrigerator for thirty to sixty days. 

Yes, thirty to sixty days. It’s going to take a bit.

Check the moisture of the paper every week and add moisture if needed. It’s important to watch for mold at this stage as well. Once the almonds have split and grown a taproot, it will be time to transfer them into the soil!

How To Plant Almonds Into Pots (Medium)

After germination, seeds are placed in small growing pots with soil that helps the roots grow and the plant sprout. This soil is called the medium. The medium used for almond trees is plain potting soil. 

To start, you will fill your three to four growing pots with the moistened soil. Plant germinated nuts 1 inch deep with the split side up. Plant one nut per pot.

Place growing pots in a warm sunny area. Keep the medium moist by watering it weekly. You should see the plant sprout within two to three weeks. 

Transferring And Planting Almonds Into Ground Soil

Once the almond tree has sprouted and grown 18 inches in height, you will transfer the tree from the soil to the ground. Try to transfer during late winter or early spring.

You will want to choose a spot with full access to direct sunlight and plant the tree at the same depth you planted it in the medium. 

After initially planting the almond tree in the ground, you will water the area heavily. This first heavy watering is crucial to the success of your tree. 

You will then water the area normally once a week. You can also use a slow release watering system like the Greenscapes Tree Watering Bags. These slowly drain up to 20 gallons of water over 6 to 8 hours, allowing your tree to soak up as much water as it needs.

It can take a new almond tree five to twelve years to grow its own almonds. Full production takes ten to twelve years. An almond tree will produce almonds for up to twenty-five years!

Why Macadamia Trees Are Hard To Grow (Growing Tips)

Macadamia tree close up

If you want to grow a macadamia tree, you must live in a climate that hosts the proper growing conditions for them. These trees thrive in subtropical climates. 

In America, they can be grown in southern California, Florida and Hawaii. I wouldn’t recommend growing them indoors but – to each his own.

According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Macadamias should be positioned in areas with full sun with rich, deep, slightly acidic, and well drained soil. Macadamia trees require constant irrigation until they’re well established.

The items you will need for this project are raw macadamia nuts (no shell), three to four 12 inch-deep growing pots, peat moss, vermiculite, a heating mat, and plenty of water.

After removing the tough shell of this nut (using our favorite method above), you are ready to start the germination process!

How To Germinate Macadamia Nuts

Start by using three to four macadamia nuts. With the many variables of the germination process in mind, starting with more nuts will better the chances of at least one succeeding. 

Start by soaking your unshelled nuts in room temperature water for forty-eight hours. Drain old water and soak for another eight hours if taproot has yet to form. After taproot has formed, you can transfer the macadamia nuts to the medium.

How Plant Macadamia Nuts Into Pots (Medium)

Take your growing pots and fill them with a mixture of moist peat moss and moist vermiculite. This mixture will be your medium. 

After your nuts have been soaking for two days, you will plant them ¼ inch deep in your medium.

The nut should be on its side with its seam facing you when planted in the medium. Keeping your medium warm and moist is very important. 

Find a brightly lit spot for your heating mat and set the temperature to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. After setting up your heated space, place your growing pots on top of the mat. 

You will need to spray water on the medium daily to keep it moist. After three to six weeks, your nuts should grow a small sprout. 

Once your macadamia sprouts have grown to be 6 inches, you will then be able to transfer them from the medium to the ground!

Transferring And Planting Macadamias Into Ground Soil

The best spot to plant a macadamia tree is somewhere that has full sunlight exposure for most of the day and again, has well irrigated soil as well.

When you choose a planting location, dig up soil 3-4 feet deep and 3-4 feet across, but do not remove the soil. This method will loosen the soil for the macadamia sprout to grow its roots freely. 

Once the ground is ready, you will take your sprouts and plant them at the same depth you planted them in the medium. 

Keep the soil here moist at all times by watering the area daily until you see new growth from the sprout. After the macadamia tree has been in the ground for a year, you can begin fertilizing it however you see fit. 

If you are planting more than one macadamia tree, plant them approximately 20-25 feet apart. This allows enough space for the roots to grow towards each other without causing any damage.

New macadamia trees take four to five years to produce their own macadamia nuts. Full production takes twelve to thirteen years. Macadamia trees will produce macadamia nuts for up to forty years.

Why Brazil Nut Trees Are Hard To Grow (Growing Tips)

Raw organic brown baru nuts in a bowl

Brazil nut trees thrive in a tropical climate. If you are looking to grow one of these beautiful trees, be sure to take their growing conditions into consideration.

You can grow Brazil nut trees in America if you live in Florida or areas with a similar climate.

According to the University of Missouri’s Integrated Pest Management, each mature Brazil nut tree can produce up to 300 fruits each year, with each fruit itself weighing up to 5lbs.

Now, keep in mind that the nuts are INSIDE the fruit. Brazil nuts aren’t THAT huge. The nuts are encased in another shell inside the fruit as well.

The items you will need for this project include raw Brazil nuts (with shell), a large container, three to four large jars, potting soil, rubber bands, and a cheesecloth for each jar.

How To Germinate Brazil Nuts

Start this project using three to four Brazil nuts. Starting with more nuts will better the chances of at least one succeeding. This counteracts the many variables in the germination process.

Start by soaking the nuts in room temperature water for twenty-four hours in a large container. 

After the first soak, pour the old water out and rinse Brazil nuts before soaking them again for eight to ten hours more. Repeat this process until you see a taproot growing from the shell. 

Once you spot the taproot, you can separate and remove the shell. After all germinated nuts are out of their shell, you will plant them in the medium.

How Plant Brazil Nuts Into Pots (Medium)

You will take the three to four large jars and fill them three quarters full with moist potting soil. This will be your medium.

Plant your nuts 2-3 inches deep in the medium or just enough to cover the entire nut with soil. Water the medium moderately without making it soggy.

Once you plant your germinated nuts, cover the top of the jars with a cheesecloth and a rubber band to hold the cloth in place.

Place the jars in a room with low or indirect sunlight.

After your germinated seeds sprout, place the jars in a much sunnier location and remove the cheesecloth for three hours every day to ensure plenty of fresh air. Water the jars daily.

Once your sprouts have grown to be 8-12 inches tall, you can transplant them into the ground.

Transferring Brazil Nuts Into Ground Soil

Find a spot with full access to direct sunlight, and make sure the area has well-draining soil.

Plant your seedlings in the ground at the same depth you planted them in the medium. Water daily until you notice fresh growth. 

You may want to fertilize the area surrounding the seedling with food and garden compost. This will help recreate a Brazil nut tree’s natural environment.

New Brazil nut trees take four to five years to produce their own nuts. Full production can take up to thirty years. Brazil nut trees will produce nuts for over one hundred years. So… they’re worth the wait!

Why Walnut Trees Are Hard To Grow (Growing Tips)

Ripe walnut on tree

Depending on the species of walnut tree you plan to grow, they thrive in different climates. Be sure to find a species suited for your area before you plant. 

You can grow walnut trees nearly anywhere in America.

After using our method of removing the husk, you can begin the germination process.

The items you will need for this project include raw walnuts (with shell), a large container with a lid, three to four 12 inch growing pots, peat moss, river sand, potting soil, and plenty of water.

Learn the difference between black walnut trees and walnut trees in our post: 8 Differences Between Black Walnut Trees And Walnut Trees.

How To Germinate Walnuts

According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, walnuts need to be exposed to cold temperatures and moist conditions in order to germinate.

So, if they don’t germinate by following the steps below, you’ll know these walnuts won’t haven’t been properly exposed to the right conditions.

Start by soaking the whole nuts in water for forty-eight hours. Fill a container with moist river sand and peat moss. 

After the nuts have finished soaking, plant them 2-3 inches into the sand and moss mixture and close the container. Place this in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.

Add moisture around every week until the shell separates, and the nut sprouts a taproot. After growing a taproot, you can plant the nut in the medium.  

How Plant Walnuts Into Pots (Medium)

Fill the growing pots with moist river sand and potting soil. This will be your medium.

Plant germinated nuts 1-2 inches in soil or deep enough for the entire nut to be covered in soil. 

Keep growing pots at room temperature and place them in a window or a room with plenty of sunlight. Water daily to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

When the seedling sprouts and grows to be 6 inches tall, you can begin planting them in the ground!

Transferring Walnuts Into Ground Soil

When finding a spot to plant your walnut tree, look for locations near a stream, river, or pond. These trees prefer full sun and moist soil.

When planting your saplings in the ground, the depth should be the same as when you planted them in the medium. Just a few inches deep!

Note the plants in your growing area. Walnut tree roots produce juglone, which can negatively affect other plants growing nearby. 

Water the soil daily until your new growth sprouts.

If you’d like, you can read our full guide for how many walnuts grow on walnut trees here!

Enjoy Your Harvest!

Now that you know about the hardest nuts to grow and how to grow them, you are ready to grow your own nut tree. Enjoy your harvest and share with friends and family.

If you put in a little work now, these trees will reward you and your loved ones for years to come. Grab some nuts and get started.

Thank you for reading!

References

Hamilton, R. A., & Fukunaga, E. T. (1959). Growing macadamia nuts in Hawaii.

McGranahan, G., & Leslie, C. (1991). Walnuts (Juglans). Genetic Resources of Temperate Fruit and Nut Crops 290, 907-974.

Fulton, J., Norton, M., & Shilling, F. (2019). Water-indexed benefits and impacts of California almonds. Ecological indicators96, 711-717.

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