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How to Grow Avocados: A Growing Guide

Acclimating your New Tree

Avocado Tree

When your avocado tree arrives, remove the plastic (for keeping the soil in place for shipping). Do not put your tree into full sun immediately, it has been grown in a greenhouse and must be acclimated slowly to prevent shock.

For about 2 weeks, keep the tree in a location that gets indirect light or an area that gets only about 2 hours of direct sun (morning is best). After the acclimation period is over, plant your avocado in a spot that gets at least 8 hours of direct sun.

Cultural Requirements

For successful fruit production the trees should be grown in the ground with well drained soil, in sunny, wind- free locations. Do not plant a new avocado tree in a space where an old tree died as there may be disease in the soil. If you have heavy clay soil try planting your avocado tree in a 12–18” tall raised bed. Most trees will grow to a full size of 25 feet +, therefore site selection is very important.

Planting & Growing

Avocados have a very sensitive root system and all care should be taken when removing the plant from the pot. The planting hole should be three times the width of the root system and the same depth. If your soil is heavy clay, amend the soil with compost and you can plant in a raised bed at least 12” tall by 6’ wide. Plant no deeper than the soil level in the pot. Do not mound up soil around the trunk of the tree. Cut the pot on opposite sides to peel back the container from the root and soil mass. Do not disturb the roots in any way!

Water

avocados hanging on tree

In containers, avocados need consistent and frequent watering. Avocados in the ground prefer infrequent, deep root watering. Do not overhead water your avocados. It is best to allow trees to dry out somewhat before you apply water again. This can help prevent root rot. A soil moisture meter can be a helpful tool for determining when your tree needs water. To help retain soil moisture and improve soil quality, apply a 3–4” layer of mulch in spring and fall, under the canopy of the tree. Keep mulch at least 6” away from the trunk of the tree.

Cultivars

Cultivars of avocados have two different life cycles of flowers, “Type A flowers” and “Type B flowers.”

“A Type flowers” are receptive to pollen in the morning and shed pollen the following afternoon.

“B Type flowers” are receptive to pollen in the afternoon, and shed pollen the following morning.

Consequently from a technical standpoint, production is best with cross-pollination between two cultivars, one with Type A flowers and one with Type B flowers. However, it is not necessary to have both types to produce fruit.

Fertilize

Ripe avocados on tree

Avocado trees should be fertilized on a regular basis. Fertilize using well balanced citrus or avocado food. You can also use composted manure, blood meal, fish emulsion, alfalfa meal or worm castings. Do not disturb the roots when adding fertilizers. Avocado trees that have been fertilized year-round are more cold tolerant.

Frost Protection

Use frost protection such as Agribon if a freeze is forecast. Christmas lights or landscape lights can be added underneath the blanket for more frost protection. This is more critical for young trees than mature trees. Controlling the size of the tree for the home gardener is important in maintaining a reasonable shape to make frost protection possible.

Summer Heat

Protect trees, especially young ones, from extreme sun and heat during the summer. When temperatures are forecast over 90°F, you should suspend shade cloth (30-45%) above the tree to help cool it and prevent sunburn.

Pruning

Avocados can be maintained to any size with pinching and pruning. Frequent pinching of young trees is a good method to shape the tree, rather than heavy pruning. Prune to shape and control size on larger trees. Avocado trees can be susceptible to sunburn on the trunks of newly pruned trees so you can whitewash with interior white latex paint, diluted 50-50 with water, during periods of high summer heat and intense sunshine.

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