Care Guide: Avocado 🥑

Learn How to Care for the Avocado

Avoca-DON’T Give Up Hope: Read these tips for growing avocado trees! 🥑

The Avocado (Persea americana) makes a fun and unique plant in or out of your home. You may already be familiar with some of the avocado’s best features: Tasty, low in calories, and rich in high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol).  Learning to care for avocado plants is an experience that will, ultimately, make your green thumb verdant as ever.

Avocado Plant Profile

Avocados are full of vitamins like potassium and Vitamins A, vitamins K, E, and B. Plus, they are a great source of healthy, cholesterol-free fats! Avocados weigh two pounds on average and can be sporadically picked from the tree throughout their long harvest season and set out to mature, saving you trips to the produce store for weeks at a time. Growth habits and care requirements vary slightly from variety to variety.  The Brogdon Avocado has an incredible cold tolerance, where other types need more protection.  Our Joey variety can be eaten like an apple, skin and all.  To keep the Monroe avocado fruit tree at its best, protect the tree from any unusual bouts of cold, allow it long days of sunbathing, and keep it in well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil. 

Plant Type: Avocados are tropical to sub-tropical fruit trees

Size, Form: 10-25 ft on average with pruning; Upright evergreen tree

Race: Avocado varieties are classified in three groups, known as the West Indian, Guatemalan and Mexican "races". West Indian avocados originated in the tropical lowland areas of southern Mexico and Central America whereas the Guatemalan and Mexican avocados originated in mid-altitude highlands in Guatemala and Mexico.

Bloom Season: Late Winter to Early Summer

Fruiting Season: Depends on the variety, but generally Summer through Fall

How to Grow Avocado: General Plant Care

Before you begin: Before any dramatic shifts in light and temperature, keep your new avocado tree shaded and hydrated for at least 10 days, before increasing climatic changes in small increments.  

Light: Full sun to partial shade year-round. For indoor plants, southern-facing windows will get the most sunlight. 

Soil: Well-drained, perlite or peat-based potting mix or similar.

Water: Water weekly until well established. No standing water! While some fruit trees will tolerate a bit of summer flooding, the avocado absolutely refuses.. Soil should not totally dry out between waterings about 1-2” down. Water and fertilize more often during growing seasons.

Fertilizing: Benefits from nitrogen-based fertilizer 3 times in the first year, before the winter.

Pruning: Prune after fruit matures, taking care not to cut off the following year’s flower buds.  Keep some leaves on the stem to encourage light absorption.

Pollination: Avocado fruit trees are self-fertile. Only one plant is needed to get fruit but additional plants will increase cross-pollination and fruiting.

Where to Grow Avocado Trees

Zone Hardiness: Grow Avocados outdoors in Zones 8-11 or protected indoors or in a greenhouse in any zone.

Temperature: Varies depending on the type of Avocado. Our Brogdon Avocado variety that we carry has been cold tolerant to temperatures in the low twenties, whereas some of the southern varieties can only tolerate down to 35.

Humidity: Avocado plants thrive under humid conditions, although preferences for each variety will vary. For example, the Guatemalan varieties like the Hass generally prefer less humidity, where the West Indian varieties like the ones we carry thrive in it.

Growing Your Own Avocados

Propagating store-bought avocados comes with a lot of mystery that can be simply thrilling. The success or failure of a DIY propagation of an avocado pit can be a make-or-break moment for new gardeners. Some venture on the DIY avocado plant journey of growing your own Avocado tree from seed simply for the home gardening experiment, while others hope to hack the supply chain by harvesting bounties of avocados at home. Truth is, we all want avocado toast for days.

You might have luck propagating the seed of your last guacamole victim, but it could take 8-10 years to see it produce edible fruit. We highly recommend cutting the wait time in your favor by caring for a tree that’s already established and/or grafted. All of our Avocado fruit trees are grafted and ready to produce.

Plant Clinic: Fixing Common Problems With Avocado Trees

Avocados are easygoing and do not require intense oversight for pests. 

Problem: Leaves are discolored or browning around the tips and edges. Wilting; Dry soil or potting mix.

Underlying Cause: Plant is under-watered, or high salt build up.

How to Fix: Ensure the plant is deeply watered and has proper drainage. To increase soil porosity, add bigger bits to the soil for more aeration and drainage.  You can do that with either perlite or coarse sand. 

Problem: Leaves are discolored or browning around the tips and edges. No wilting or soil issues.

Underlying Cause: Nitrogen deficiency.

How to Fix: Fertilize plant with nitrogen-based plant food.

Problem: Leaves are sagging, wavy, or dropping from the plant.

Underlying Cause: Soil is too dry, or not well-drained enough.

How to Fix: Water more often. Soil should not completely dry out between watering. Ensure the plant is deeply watered and has proper drainage. See above for tips on how to increase drainage.

Problem: Yellowing leaves, black stems, and wet potting mix or soil.

Underlying Cause: Plant is overwatered. Ensure soil drainage, and check roots for signs of rot.

How to Fix: Water more often. Soil should not completely dry out between watering. Ensure the plant is deeply watered and has proper drainage.  If there is root rot: Wash away affected soil, clip unhealthy roots with pruning scissors, and replant in fresh soil.

Problem: Leaves are drooping or curling, but still green

Underlying Cause: Over-watered if there are yellow leaves and dry topsoil, or under-watered if soil is dry through the roots. This may also be a sign of distress from temperature changes.

How to Fix: Ensure the plant is deeply watered and has proper drainage. Make gradual changes to temperature if possible. If the plant is outdoors, consider wrapping the plant for winter conditions. 

Precautions

Leaves should be kept out of reach for pets and kids. Generally non-toxic to cats and dogs, but toxic to horses according to the ASPCA. In the Southeastern United States, the laurel wilt pathogen threatens members of the Lauraceae family such as avocado trees, but this should generally not be a concern for personal plants.