Does Your Avocado Have an A Flower or a B Flower?

Avocado flowers

Does Your Avocado Have an A Flower or a B Flower?

June 13, 2022

Avocado flowers

Did you know, there are two kinds of avocado flowers?

Just when you think you've got all your fruit tree information down -- along comes a new twist. Avocado trees are divided into two camps by the kinds of flowers they have: A flowers and B flowers.

Does that sound like Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat? The avocado flowers act like cartoons too, with complicated openings and closings and sex changes. Mother Nature had a field day with this one!

Avocados are hermaphrodites (with "dichogamy" for a more botanical term).

Many plants are hermaphrodites, with male and female sexual organs, but avocados are unique because their sexual organs don't function at the same time.UC Davis calla avacado flowers "remarkable" for this trait. 

The sexual organs of avocado flowers are active at different times of day (dichogamy). "A flowers" are female (receptive to pollen) in the morning and male (shedding pollen) in the afternoon. "B flowers" are male (shedding pollen) in the morning and female (receptive to pollen) in the afternoon.

For the most part, avocado cultivars have only A flowers or only B flowers. Production is best with cross-pollination between two cultivars, one with A flowers and one with B flowers.

Most avocado plants produce more fruits as they age, regardless of whether they have another plant nearby for pollination. If you live in a suitable climate for avocados, there will probably be another avocado tree nearby. This tree will serve as a companion for your tree for a long time.

"A flower" avocados

  • Hass
  • Little
  • Mexicola
  • Stewart
  • Cado (has A flowers and B flowers)

"B flower" avocados

  • Bacon
  • Zutano
  • Cado (has A flowers and B flowers)

Best temperatures for avocado flowers

Avocado flowers open and close on a set schedule when the temperature is above 70F during the day and night. Day and nighttime temperatures become a factor for the avacado's decissions. If the temperature drops to 60F during bloom time they may not reproduce at all. A temperature of 65F, though, may confuse the flowers just enough that they gender bend and have both sets of sexual organs working simultaneously.

Avocado trees in containers

Little Cado is a dwarf avocado tree, maxing out at 8'-10' tall, and is your best bet for container growing. Prune it to keep it smaller if you wish. This is the variety with both A and B flowers so you can get fruit with just one tree. You need to protect Little Cado when the temperatures drop to freezing or below.

How to choose your avocado trees

Jump over here to find out which kinds of avocados will thrive in your area. Then choose a combo of A and B trees for your garden or farm. Watch our Growing Avocados video to find out how to plant, prune and harvest these versatile trees. Photo by Cayobo available under a Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0

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8 comments

Valerie, I have read that starting avocados from seed can take as long as 13 years to produce fruit. Also there is no way to know if you have a tree that produces A or B flowers. I have been told you don’t need one of each but that you need to make sure that there are plenty of pollinators around to pollinate your tree.

Suzanne

I have an avacado that’s 11yrs old and never produced any fruit, inground and started from seed.

Valerie lamb

Doris, are you growing your tree in the ground or in a pot? Have you done a soil test so you know the tree’s nutrient levels? I would suggest adding an avocado fertilizer to your tree.

Suzanne

I have had my Little Cado avocado tree now for at least 10 yrs. Never flowered, never produced a single flower or fruit. Very healthy though. A & B. Supposedly no pollination required. Zone 9 so no problems with weather. Puzzling.

doris de simas

Susan, you can plant our Legume Oat Mix #1 or #2. https://www.groworganic.com/products/legume-oat-mix-1-raw-lb?pos=5&_sid=b7a831c7d&ss=r

Suzanne

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