How to Grow a Macadamia Nut Tree in Australia

As macadamia trees originated in the tropics, they prefer well-drained soil that has been enriched with lots of organic matter such as compost and manure.

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If you want to grow your own macadamia nut tree, here’s everything you need to know.

It can be grown in most areas in Australia but will need extra frost protection in colder regions and is happiest in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

How to plant a macadamia nut tree

As macadamia trees originated in the tropics, this tree prefers well-drained soil that has been enriched with lots of organic matter such as compost and manure.

Therefore, before planting your tree, make sure that the soil is nice and open and full of organic goodness. 

Here’s how to plant your macadamia tree:

  • Dig a hole that is as deep as the pot that the tree is currently growing in.
  • Take the tree out of the pot and place it in the hole.
  • Backfill with soil and water well.
  • Apply a layer of low-phosphorus mulch around the base of the tree up to 1 metre from the trunk all the way round.

How to grow a macadamia tree

Macadamia trees I Wikimedia

Because macadamia trees are shallow-rooted, they require regular watering.

This is important while the tree is still young, especially in areas with hot, dry summers.

Once the tree is well-established, you should only have to water it once a week from spring through to autumn.

This is only required if your area hasn’t received any rainfall for the week.

As macadamia trees are Australian natives, they are sensitive to phosphorus. Therefore, select an organic fertiliser that is designed for natives and is low in phosphorus. This should be applied in early spring each year.

You can supplement this with regular applications of liquid fish emulsion or seaweed (e.g. Charlie Carp or Seasol) to help maintain the health of the soil and the tree itself.

It’s not necessary to prune macadamia trees unless you want to control their height or shape.

Growing macadamia from seed

Macadamia seeds I Melburnian I Wikimedia I CC BY 3.0

Macadamia trees can be propagated from seed or by grafting.

For home gardeners, growing from seed is the easiest if you don’t want to purchase an already grafted tree.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • It’s important to use fresh seed that has just fallen from the tree.
  • Use small pots and fill them with a good quality low-phosphorus potting mix.
  • Plant one seed per pot and water well.
  • Keep the pots in a warm spot until the small trees are around 30 cm tall.
  • Once the trees have reached this height, they can be planted in the ground in early spring.

Macadamia tree climate

Macadamia trees grow naturally in the tropics, however, with a little extra care, they can be grown in most parts of the country.

They are not frost-tolerant, so will need extra protection if you live in a cold climate area.

To protect young trees from frost, all you have to do is place a number of stakes around the tree and then wrap some hessian around them.

This needs to be done for a number of years until the tree is really well-established. 

Macadamia nuts harvesting

Macadamia nuts

There’s nothing easier than harvesting macadamia nuts. The nuts will fall to the ground when they’re mature and all you have to do is collect them.

Some growers like to place a tarp or something similar around the base of the tree to make it easier and to keep the nuts clean.

Harvesting time occurs between March and August.

FAQ

How long does a macadamia tree take to grow?

It can take around 10 to 15 years before a macadamia tree will reach full maturity. However, some trees will start producing nuts after around 5 years.

What does a macadamia tree look like?

Macadamia trees are large evergreen trees that have glossy leaves and tassel-like flowers in spring. They can grow to a maximum height of around 20 metres. However, most varieties that are grown in the home garden only grow to a height of around 2 to 4 metres. There are even dwarf varieties available that only grow as high as 1 to 2 metres.

How long does a macadamia tree take to grow?

It can take around 10 to 15 years before a macadamia tree will reach full maturity. However, some trees will start producing nuts after around 5 years.

How long does a macadamia tree take to fruit?

It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 years for a macadamia tree to start producing nuts.

How much does a macadamia tree produce?

This depends on the age and maturity of the tree. A 5-year-old tree can produce around 1 kg of nuts. This can increase to around 20 kg once the tree has reached the age of around 12 years.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture. She has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She also had the responsibility of a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.