Avocados are delicious. They’re also great for your health, and they make a really nice addition to any meal. If you have a garden or yard, then it’s likely that you want to grow some avocados of your own. These trees are notoriously challenging to grow when young. Lucky for you, with some care and attention, you will be harvesting avocados in no time! Here are 6 tips for how to successfully grow an avocado tree and watch it produce fruit for years to come:
1. Choose a Location
Plenty of Sunlight
Avocado trees need a lot of light to be able to grow and produce fruit. It’s best if they have at least six hours of sun per day, but eight is even better. Choose the spot for your avocado tree carefully! Remember that the avocado tree is a sensitive plant and will need protection in its first weeks and months.
If you don’t live in an area with enough sunlight year round (for example, if it’s too shady or dim) then consider planting avocado trees near a deciduous tree that allows sunlight during the less sunny months while providing a little shade when there are leaves on its branches.
Sheltered from Wind
It’s best if avocado trees are planted outside in a sheltered spot where they will be protected from strong winds but still exposed enough to get sunlight. If you have a grower nearby who sells avocado trees already grown for planting (and not just seeds), ask him or her about what kind of environment their plants enjoy most – this way you’ll know exactly how much care these particular plants need so they grow into healthy specimens that produce tons of fruit.
2. Plant the Avocado Tree in Good Soil
Don’t plant it in heavy clay or very sandy soil. Avocado roots struggle with soil that stays too wet, or which doesn’t retain any moisture.
Add gypsum to improve drainage if necessary for heavy soil, or compost mixed with garden loam (or topsoil) if too sandy.
Preparing the Hole for Planting
Dig a hole that’s twice as wide as the root ball, but not deeper than the original height. Your avocado plant will suffer from being planted in a hole that’s too deep.
Score the soil on the sides of the hole using fingers or a hand rake so the roots don’t get pot-bound.
Planting your Tree
Lower your plant into the soil, and avoid pulling or holding the on the stem. Avocado trees have fairly brittle wood, and you don’t want to damage the stem or branches.
Don’t add any fertilizer to a newly planted avocado tree. Wait until you see some growth before you fertilize with a balanced fertilizer.
Apply at least three to four inches of wood-chip mulch (at least 3 inches) around the base of the tree to conserve moisture, control weeds and help regulate soil temperature
Water your tree deeply (a slow, long watering) so the roots make solid contact with the soil around them.
3. Protect Avocados from Sunburn
Whitewash Your Tree
A young avocado tree should be whitewashed to protect it from sunburn. Avocados are an especially sensitive tree, and they take so long to fruit. You spend the time to get the soil ready to plant, choose your avocado trees, plant your tree, protect the root ball, and then you wait for it to fruit. Now imagine your beautiful avocado trees burn in the harsh sun.
Whitewashing the trunk can help prevent sunburn in two ways: first, by shading the bark and second, by discouraging any boring insects that may attack.
To effectively protect your avocado tree’s sensitive bark, you can apply a high-quality interior latex white paint.
For an organic option, we exclusively use and recommend using an organic option like IV Organics 3-in-1 Plant Guard.
This is a green way to protect your avocado trees from pests, fungi and diseases while also reducing the risk of sunburn to your plant.
If you absolutely don’t want to paint your avocado tree with whitewash or use organic pest control products, we recommend you plant your trees in an area that receives some shade during the hottest part of the day. An option is to plant your avocado trees under another plant or close by a building so the tree bark can stay cool.
You can also utilize something like shade cloth to reduce the amount of time your avocado tree are exposed to hot sun. This will protect your avocado plants from the sun, while still letting your tree receive some sunlight as a reduced intensity.
Read more in depth on TBG about sun protection.
Another option would be to plant avocado trees in a container, meaning the pot will go on your porch or patio. We advocate for planting in the ground, as a pot isn’t an ideal way to grow avocados. Avocados can grow to 40-90 feet when planted in the soil, producing hundreds of fruit. It’s possible to grow avocado trees in a container, though there are some drawbacks.
Container planting limits the roots, is more sensitive to changes in soil, and requires you cut it back so the canopy doesn’t overwhelm the roots in the pot. A container will require well draining potting soil, as avocados don’t like their roots wet.
We recognize that planting in the soil isn’t an option for everyone’s avocados. Planting avocados in a container gives renters an option to grow this tree and experience its delicious fruit, even if less than ideal.
4. Water your Avocado Tree Regularly
Avocado trees require more water than most other trees because they originate from a tropical climate. That said, you should avoid overwatering your tree to prevent roots to rot and other problems.
The best way is to water deeply as infrequently as possible – this will help the soil retain moisture more effectively without keeping its “feet” wet than watering it just once per day or so. A good rule of thumb is that if there’s any dry dirt beneath the surface of your soil after an irrigation session, then you didn’t give it enough water. If all the soil has been moistened but not soggy by irrigation session, then your avocado tree was watered sufficiently. Of course, using an inexpensive water meter probe is the most objective measure of your soil’s moisture content.
Let The Soil Dry a Little
Avocado trees like to dry out in between watering, so the best time to water them is when it’s actually needed. A good rule of thumb for how often this would be is every five days during hot summer months and once every couple weeks during winter months. Of course your climate will determine how long you should wait to water.
5. Keep your avocado tree pruned to keep it from growing too tall or wide
The size of the avocado tree is going to depend on how tall it grows, so the best thing you can do for your plant is to keep it at a manageable size. By pruning your avocado tree regularly, you have the ability to control its growth and make sure that it doesn’t get too wide or grow too high.
If an avocado tree does grow taller than 25 feet, this will mean you will have difficulty reaching the fruit, even with a pole mounted picking basket.
Unlike other fruit trees, avocado trees do best by allowing the low branches to grow, which protects the root system from summer temperatures and sunlight.
To prune off a tall branch or to thin out low branching, use loppers for cutting through large limbs that may be too thick to cut with hand shears. With smaller branches and shoots that have grown into other parts of your tree, use hand shears so as not to damage the plant tissue when making cuts.
Like with any fruit tree, you will prune your avocado trees to remove any dead, diseased, damaged or crowded branches from their stems with clippers or shears.
Avoid removing healthy shoots that form new growth at the tips of branches as this may hinder future flowering and fruiting.
BONUS: Growing Avocado Trees From Seed
Although this article focuses on growing an avocado tree already growing as a potted plant, you can also grow avocado from seed. Growing avocado trees from seed or pit is a fun, easy and rewarding way to start your avocado tree garden. The first thing you need for seed starting is; an avocado seed! Just save the pit from an avocado fruit, and you’ll have what you need. And don’t worry if it’s not fresh – the avocado seed is pretty hardy so they last quite awhile before going bad.
Keep the seed in its brown skin and store it in a cool, dry place.
Once the seed is fully dried out and hard, you can suspend it over a glass of water with toothpicks pointy side up. The water should be at room temperature with the bottom 1/4 of the pit submerged.
Changing out the water every day or two and keep your avocado seed suspended over the glass of water until it starts sprouting roots from its base. After a few weeks, you should also begin to see a stem begin to spout from the top of the pit.
Once you see this happen, remove the toothpicks, and gently plant your avocado pit into potting soil a couple inches with only about an inch showing. The stem will continue to grow from the mostly buried pit.
Keep your avocado tree moist by watering it regularly and watch the inches turn into feet!
If you have a garden, or are considering planting one this year, consider adding an avocado tree to your landscape. Avocado trees can be grown in most warm climates and need basic care for the first few years of their life.
The tips we’ve provided should help with getting started on growing these beautiful trees – but if you still have questions about how best to grow avocados, don’t hesitate to contact us! We love answering gardening questions and want nothing more than for our readers to succeed in bringing nature into their lives through sustainable practices like fruit-bearing plants that provide healthy food sources. Enjoy your new avocado tree!