Where Can You Grow Chestnut Trees?


If you are interested in growing nut trees in your yard, then you may want to consider planting chestnut trees.  Chestnuts are delicious when roasted and they are attractive to local wildlife.

Even better, they can make a tidy profit at your local farmer’s market, due to high demand and low availability.  Still, you are probably wondering whether you can be successful in growing chestnut trees in your area.

So, where can you grow chestnut trees?  It is possible to grow most types of chestnut trees in USDA hardiness Zones 6 through 9 in the Eastern U.S., and possibly other areas.  Chestnut trees prefer full sunlight and well-draining soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5, so choose a good location and prepare your soil if necessary.  You also need to make sure that you plant a variety that is resistant to chestnut blight, or else you could lose all of your trees.

Of course, there are a few things you can do to prepare for planting chestnut trees that will increase their chances of survival.  First though, let’s start by going into more detail about exactly where you can grow chestnut trees.

Where Can You Grow Chestnut Trees?

In the United States, most chestnut trees are hardy in Zones 6 through 9.  Zones 6 through 9 includes a large part of the U.S., excluding perhaps the extreme northern and southern regions.

For more information, check out this Zone Hardiness Map from the USDA.

Chestnut trees can grow in USDA hardiness Zones 6 through 9 in the Eastern United States, and possibly other areas.

As long as your soil drains well and is somewhat acidic (pH of 4.5 to 6.5), you may be able to grow chestnut trees.  If you soil is clay, or if your land is low-lying, poor drainage may be a problem when growing chestnut trees.

At their peak, American chestnut trees existed as far north as Maine and Southern Ontario, and as far south as Mississippi.  Chestnut trees stretched from the Atlantic coast in the east all the way to the Appalachian Mountains and the Ohio Valley in the west.

For more information, check out this article on the American chestnut from Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) will make it difficult to grow any non-immune tree to maturity in most of the United States.  Chestnut blight was caused by an Asian bark fungus, and the disease destroyed billions of American chestnut trees between 1904 and 1930.

According to the Michigan State University Extension, “This important tree for food and lumber was decimated by a fungal blight that was introduced into the New York area on imported chestnut trees around 1904. The chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, quickly spread across the eastern half of the United States, killing more than three billion trees by the 1930s.”

Chestnut blight infects a chestnut tree and kills any part of the tree above the site of infection.  This means that even if the tree starts to grow back from the roots, it will eventually be infected by the blight again.

The solution is to plant chestnut trees that have the genes for resistance to chestnut blight.  This includes Chinese chestnut trees, along with hybrid chestnut tree varieties that have some of the genes from Chinese varieties that can resist the blight.

What Zones Do Chestnut Trees Grow In? (USDA Hardiness Zones for Chestnut Trees)

Most chestnut trees will grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9.  This means that they can withstand temperatures down to -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-20.6 degrees Celsius).

frost
Chestnut trees can withstand frost, and some varieties can withstand temperatures down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit or lower!

Chestnut trees may be able to withstand temperatures lower than this if they transition slowly.  However, remember that a sudden late spring frost or early fall frost can damage trees if they are not yet acclimated to colder temperatures.

There are some hybrid varieties of chestnut trees that are hardy in USDA Zone 5 (down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit).  Chinese chestnut trees are not hardy to Zone 5, but they can survive as far south as USDA Zone 10.

American chestnut trees are hardy to USDA Zone 3, down to -35 degrees Fahrenheit (-37.2 degrees Celsius).  However, their lack of resistance to chestnut blight means that the disease will likely kill them instead of the cold.

Here is a table showing some chestnut tree varieties, their Zone and temperature hardiness, their pollination requirements, their blight resistance, and their genetic origins.

Chestnut
Tree
Variety
Hardiness
Zone
PollinationBlight
Resistance
Genetic
Origin
American3 to 9
(-35 F)
Need two
varieties.
SusceptibleAmerican
Chinese6 to 10
(-5 F)
Self-pollinating,
but two varieties
improves yield.
ResistantChinese
(Allegheny)
Chinquapin
or Dwarf
Chestnut
7 to 9
(5 F)
Self-pollination
reported, but
plant two
varieties for
best results.
Partial
Resistance
Related to
American
but smaller.
Colossal5 to 9
(-10 F)
Needs a
seedling
chestnut
pollinator.
ResistantHybrid of
Chinese &
American
chestnuts
Dunstanup to 5
(-10 F)
Need at least
two Dunstan
trees for
pollination.
ResistantHybrid of
Chinese &
American
chestnuts
Revival5 to 9
(-10 F)
Needs a
seedling
chestnut
pollinator.
ResistantHybrid of
Chinese &
American
chestnuts

For more information on chestnut trees:

Are Chestnut Trees Self Pollinating?

According to the Nursery at TyTy in Georgia:

“Chestnut tree pollination requirement is variable, depending on the type of chestnut tree planted. Chinese Chestnut trees will produce Chestnuts from a single planted seedling tree, although some growers claim that the crop size of Chestnuts will increase if two trees are planted. Most growers of American Chestnut trees claims that two different trees should be planted to produce American Chestnuts. Hybrid Chestnut unions of American and Japanese Chestnuts require a pollinator of compatible pollen shedding viability, Hybrid Colossal chestnuts must be planted with a seedling Chestnut pollinator. Wildlife Chestnuts trees are self pollinating and will produce Chestnuts from a single tree.”

https://www.tytyga.com/Chinese-Chestnut-p/nutche-chinese.htm

In short, it is recommended that you grow at least two different varieties of chestnut trees together.  This will ensure adequate pollination and also increase the chances of producing more and better chestnuts.

What Kind Of Soil Do Chestnut Trees Like?

According to the Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, chestnut trees prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5.  This means that sandy soil is ideal for growing chestnut trees, since it drains very well.

This also means that you should avoid planting chestnut trees in heavy clay soil.  If clay soil is all you have available in your yard, then you will need to add some compost to improve the soil drainage.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.

Planting chestnut trees on a slight incline can also help to improve soil drainage.  For more information, check out my article on how to make your soil drain better.

Before planting chestnut trees, be sure to do a soil test to determine your soil pH.  If it is not in the proper range, you will need to make amendments.

If your soil is too acidic (low pH), then you will need to add lime (calcium carbonate) to increase the pH.

If your soil is too basic (high pH0, then you will need to add sulfur to lower the pH.

You should not add either of these soil amendments without doing a soil test first!  For more information, check out my article on how to do a soil test.

If you request a soil test from your local agricultural extension, let them know what you are trying to grow.  That way, they can make recommendations on what to add to your soil and how much to use.

How Long Does It Take For A Chestnut Tree To Bear Fruit?

According to Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, a chestnut tree will bear fruit 3 to 5 years after planting.

Stark Brothers agrees that chestnut trees will bear 3-5 year after planting.  However, their trees are 1-2 years old when they are shipped.  This means that the age when chestnut trees will bear fruit is 4-7 years.

chestnut tree
Chestnut trees bear fruit in 4 to 7 years.

Over time, chestnut trees will continue to increase in size as they mature, and chestnut yields will increase accordingly.

Chestnut trees will bear fruit every year once they are established.  Chestnut trees can live to be over 100 years old.

How Fast Do Chestnut Trees Grow?

Chinese chestnut trees can grow 1 to 2 feet per year, ultimately reaching a height of 40 to 60 feet tall at maturity.

American chestnut trees grow faster than Chinese chestnut trees, and can grow to heights of 50 to 100 feet tall.

When planting chestnut trees, the American Chestnut Foundation suggests an absolute minimum spacing of 10 feet between trees.  This accounts for their huge size as they grow older.

Chestnut Hill Tree Farm suggests that you leave 30 to 40 feet between trees.

Conclusion

By now, you have a much better idea of where you can grow chestnut trees.  You also know what type of soil they prefer, and how you can prepare your soil to grow chestnut trees.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions about chestnut trees, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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