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Chinese Pistache Tree
Chinese Pistache Tree  
QUESTION: We planted a Chinese Pistache tree nearly five years ago and it has had minimal growth. I've read that some can be tall and lanky during its adolescence, but we have one that is just plain short, although it has a few branches. I've included a picture to better see what I'm referring to.

Admittedly, the tree's leaves have come out with a little more vigor this year, but still short. My mother planted this same type of tree (both starts came from the same place) a bit before me, but hers is a good 12-15 feet and is very full.  FYI- we are located in north TX with have clay soil, good drainage where this is planted, and in full sun.

Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you,

ANSWER: I am hoping we can assume that most environmental issues are very similar between your tree and your mothers.  This being shade/sunlight, moisture, drainage, etc.  I am also assuming planting was similar, size of hole, depth, etc.  

Then what is left ?

Do you recall how much longer your mothers tree was planted?  

The first four to five years are critical, during which time your tree will need the most attention, and possible trimming or staking.  It will grow quite slowly.  However, once past this early transition period, you should expect to see the tree grow as much as perhaps three feet per year.

You said your mothers is 12-15 feet tall, how tall was it when transplanted?   How much has it grown over the past couple of years?   If it were planted as few as two or three years before yours, it could easily attain that height.

I am thinking your mothers may have been planted perhaps two or even three years befor yours, but am asking if you recall.  If that is a possible timeframe, and if all else is equal, I suspect you have nothing to worry about.  

By the way, an excellent choice of tree in your area.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response!!  To answer your questions, most environmental issues of my mom's tree is similar to mine with a few exceptions. Hers is also in the north Texas area, although she is in a 50+ year established neighborhood with a dense tree population (some being there years before the homes were built), which certainly could contribute to a more enriched soil. Our neighborhood Is 5+ years old on an old horse farm with several trees, but unfortunately many of them have been lost due to construction damage (we've lost (2)100 year old Pin Oaks since moving in...brought in multiple arborists to no avail. :-( ). my mother planted hers in an open spot in the yard, which receives a fair amount of sunlight, as where mine is full, unobstructed sunlight during the daytime.  In all fairness, hers was planted at least 2-3 years before mine, but when hers was the same age as mine, it was still much larger. My husband planted the tree when we moved in, and I don't think that he added good soil when it was planted and not sure of the size of the hole...all contributing factors, I'm sure. Is there some kind of fertilizer/root stimulator I could use to make the soil more nutrient for this tree?

Good news is that my mother had two more tree starters in containers on the side of her house (one Chineese Pistachio and another Pecan....all of these starters that we both planted came from my grandfather's land before he passed in 2005), these however have grown quite tall, but very lanky. They were in a heavily shaded part of her backyard. It was a bit difficult digging them up, as the roots had grown through the bottom of the containers.  More roots were lost on the Pecan than the CP, but we got them in the ground immediately, ensuring a good size hole (at least 2x) and filled with Miracle Grow garden soil for Trees and shrubs (trying o do it right this time :-), mixing a bit of the good soil with the clay soil we already have (a tip given to me last year when I planted my hydrangeas). Due to height and thin nature, we staked them about 8ft high.  The pecan looks pretty pathetic, losing much of its leaves already, but I'm optimistic that with a little TLC we'll get it going again. The CP looks a little sad, but feel certain it will prevail...i certainly expected some shock with the trees.

I'm glad to hear you think our little tree will make it through. I'll continue doing what I can to give it every chance possible, coupled with a little more patience!!  Thanks again for your advice!!

While many trees do not need fertilizer, and if they do it is usually an environmental related issue, there are some good ones available.

If we apply anything when planting, we use a product from Doggett.  I am not sure if you can find locally or not, and am not certain how small a package they sell it in, as we buy larger volumes.

We also use Myke, which will help with poor soil conditions as well.

If you are planting container plants, especially ones with bound roots, gently free the roots and try to move them into a more outward pattern.  For hole size when digging, a hole 2 to 2.5 times the size of root ball or container is recommended if possible.

Newly planted trees also need adequate water for at least the first year.

Also, ensure to not plant too deeply, roots should be just below surface.  Planting too deeply can suffocate a tree.  


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Robin Wells


Most of my experience is in urban forestry and landscape environment. Questions related to tree identification, tree diseases or insect related problems, soil related issues or soil science, pruning techniques or practices, pesticide related questions, fertilization of trees or shrubs, tree support systems (cabling or bracing), tree planting, tree watering needs or tree risk assessment/management, although insect related we also have a specific area dealing with the emerald ash borer.


30 years work in urban forestry. Bachelor degree in forestry. ISA Certified Arborist. ISA Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Consulting Arborist. Ontario licensed pesticide applicator.

ISA Intrenational ISA Ontario Ontario Commercial Arborist Association Tree Care Industry Association American Society of Consulting Arborists

Midland Mirror ( newspaper )

Bachelor degree in forestry. Many other post university seminars and courses in Aboriculture.

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Various commercial, residential, municipal, real estate and legal clients. Typically do not list the names.

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