Is it possible to grow macadamia nuts in Spain?

Macadamia nuts are tropical fruits

If you love plants, and even more so if you are a collector, there may be times when you want to grow exotic species to have a different garden and/or orchard that you don’t usually see around your home. This is something that happens for example with macadamia, a genus of evergreen trees that produce edible fruits similar to nuts, which is why they are known as macadamia nuts.

But, Is growing macadamia nuts in Spain viable? This is a question that, to answer correctly, one must first know in what conditions these trees live, and whether or not it is possible for them to live well in this country.


Where does macadamia come from?

Macadamia is a tropical tree

Image – Wikimedia/Forest & Kim Starr

the macadamias are shrubs or trees that live in Indonesia, New Caledonia, Australia and China. Depending on the species, twelve of which are accepted, they can reach a height of 2 to 20 meters. For example, the macadamia tetraphylla reaches 18 meters, while the Macadamia integrifolia remains within a maximum of 10 meters.

Its natural habitat is jungles and rainforests.. In these places, the rains are abundant and, moreover, the humidity of the air remains high. Likewise, we must take into account that we will only find them in those where the soil is rich in nutrients; that is to say, in these poor, eroded or over-exploited lands, it will not grow.

Can it be grown in Spain?

Although an advertisement indicates that Spain is a country with a Mediterranean climate… the truth is that it depends a lot on the region. Without going any further, in the lower part of the Canary Islands, an archipelago close to the equator, they enjoy milder temperatures than in the rest of the country, so they enjoy a subtropical climate. If we go to the Pyrenees, in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, the climate is mountainous, with dry summers and very cold winters, with heavy snowfalls.

In Madrid, the capital, it is said that there is a transition between the temperate-cold semi-arid climate and the Mediterranean climate. This means that it has characteristics of both, with an average annual temperature between 14 and 15ºC.

Technically, have a Mediterranean climate (at least, “official”) only all the provinces whose coasts are bathed by the said seasuch as the Balearic Archipelago, the entire eastern and southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula (except Huelva and part of Cadiz), as well as others such as eastern France, Greece or Italy .

Why am I telling all this and what does it have to do with macadamia? Because I have often seen that Spain seems to be sold as having a warm climate all year round, when the reality is that it very much depends on where you are. And if we talk about macadamia, it is a tropical plant, which needs high humidity and warm temperatures throughout the year, so can be very picky if grown in this country.

It’s more, it could only be cultivated without practically any problem in the low-lying areas of the Canary Islands and in certain points of the Andalusian coast. It could also be tried in other areas, such as in the south of Mallorca, but in these cases it would be necessary to have a greenhouse with heating or, failing that, a room in the house through which a lot of light outside.

Why are macadamia nuts so expensive in Spain?

Macadamia nuts are dried

Image – Flickr/Rae Allen

There are several reasons. The first of them, more than with the plant, has a lot to do with what we have been talking about now: the climate. If a plant is not comfortable in an area, whether it is too cold, too hot, too dry or too wet, its growth rate will slow down. This is the reason why, for example, coconut palms are not produced on a large scale in Spain, but olive trees are: coconut palms only live in humid tropical places, while olive trees are native to the Mediterranean.

But apart from that, the macadamia is a plant that takes a long time to bear fruit. We are talking about the fact that from the seed it will take about 5 years before you can eat macadamia nuts. The good thing is that there can be two harvests a year, weather permitting. But… they are usually harvested by hand, which makes the work more intense. And if they are also importbecause the price is even higher.

If nothing changes, the price per kilo of macadamia nuts will remain high, between 30 and 40 euros.

How to grow macadamia in Spain?

Since it is a tropical plant and also needs plenty of light and warm temperatures to survive, in addition to high air humidity, the ideal is to take advantage of spring and summer to have it outsideand put it indoors or in a greenhouse as soon as temperatures drop below 15°C.

Likewise, we can neglect neither the irrigation nor the subscriber: the first will serve to keep it hydrated; the second well nourished. For this reason, it must be watered several times a week as long as it is hot, and take advantage of these weeks to pay it with a fast-acting fertilizer, such as guano. But beware: follow the instructions on the packaging, otherwise you could end up without a plant.

The rest of the year, with cooler temperatures, macadamia nuts grow more slowly. To this we must add that the soil takes much longer to dry, so it needs much less watering. But as for the subscriber, you can continue to do this, not so much to grow it, but rather to keep its roots from the cold. However, the indicated dose will be reduced by half and will be poured once every 15 days until the return of spring.

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Is it good to spray water on plants?

If we talk about air humidity, if you live near the coast, you don’t have to worry about it. But if you are far away, we recommend that you spray its leaves with water every day.

So, it is possible that you can have a macadamia in Spain.

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