When Do You Plant An Avocado Tree

The sweet, buttery taste of an avocado is a firm favourite for many people around the world, so why not take the plunge and try your hand at growing your own avocado tree? Planting an avocado tree is a rewarding experience, although it is important to understand when and how to do it properly for maximum results. The following article will provide an in-depth guide to ensure you have the knowledge and confidence to get planting and watch your avocados grow.

Growing an avocado tree usually begins with purchasing a seed or a young sapling. Double check that the root is healthy, with no worms or pests, and that the tree is dormant. You can test this by gently squeezing the stem – a healthy sapling should be green and firm, while a poor-quality tree is weak and brittle. The tree should come with a list of care requirements, and make sure you follow them.

It is important to choose the right spot to plant an avocado tree in – they prefer moist soil and indirect to full sun. Soil should be light and well-draining, with a pH range of between 5.0–7.0. Make sure the soil is enriched with a good-quality compost to give the tree plenty of nutrients to start off with. Dig a hole that is twice the size of the roots and fill it with water. If the water is absorbed within 10 minutes, the soil drains well enough for the tree.

Planting the Avocado Tree

To plant the tree, place it in the centre of the hole, spreading out the roots and holding the tree upright. Fill the remaining space around the roots with soil, firm down lightly and water again. While the tree is young, water once a week, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. To check if the tree needs watering, stick your finger in the soil – if the soil is dry up to your first knuckle, the tree needs watering.[1] You can also protect the roots by creating a mound around the tree and using mulch such as straw, leaves or bark.

Fertilising and Pruning of the Tree

To promote strong and healthy growth, fertilise the tree every four months with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser to boost growth in winter and summer. In addition to keeping the tree well-watered and fertilised, a pruning session every six months is recommended to help the tree reach its full shape. Cut away dead and diseased branches, being careful not to collect too much foliage – avocado trees are prone to producing excess foliage, which can suffocate and weaken the tree.[2]

Protection and Harvest of the Avocado Tree

You will also need to protect your tree from potential pests like ants, snails, fruit and leaf eating caterpillars, and fungal diseases like anthracnose. Some of the best methods for pest control include heavy mulching, deep watering once a week, use of diatomaceous earth and neem oil spray, and physically removing and disposing of infested branches. When your tree is ready to be harvested, it should be ready in its second or third year. Avocados are ripe and ready to harvest when they are soft to the touch and dark in colour.[3]

Storing Avocados

When you harvest your avocados, you can store them in a paper bag, which will help them to ripen better. It is also important to monitor temperature and humidity levels closely, as too high of either will cause the fruit to become overripe and rot quickly. Check the avocados every few days and remove any that are rotten, overripe or have pests. To keep the fruit fresher for longer, store it in the refrigerator at 2°C–5°C or at room temperature.

Growing Avocado Trees in Containers

Growing an avocado tree in a container has its benefits – the tree is easy to move and there is less chance of pests, but it can also struggle in a limited space. When selecting the container, make sure it has ample drainage holes and a capacity of at least 10–15 gallons for a single tree. Fill the bottom of the container with gravel to create a place for water to drain and a raised potting soil,[4] it is also advisable to buy a good quality heavier soil as this will ensure better soil aeration, water retention and drainage. Be prepared to water it frequently, as pots hold less moisture than the ground. A container grown tree typically produces fruit slower and produces less than an in-ground avocado tree.

Grafting an Avocado Tree

Grafting involves attaching a young sapling to the main rootstock of another mature tree. This method can produce mature trees much quicker and also produces better quality fruit as the rootstock can influence the taste, texture, size and colour of the fruit.[5] To successfully graft an avocado tree, grafting wax, a knife and budding tape is required. Cut the rootstock in half and then cut a long, slightly pointed piece of avocado flesh called the ‘bud’ away from the stem, place this in the groove formed especially for it in the rootstock, and clamp it with budding tape.[6]

Propogating an Avocado Tree

Propogating an avocado tree can be done by taking a cutting from a mature, healthy avocado tree and replanting it in moist soil. This method gives you more control over the conditions your avocado tree grows in, however only a small percentage of the cuttings will be successful. Select a healthy piece of the main stem, make sure it’s straight and at least the length of your forearm. Remove the leaves and flowers and trim the top of the cutting leaving two node buds and a minimum of three leaves.[7] Plant the cutting into a pot of soil at least 4 inches deep. Water your cutting with tepid water and cover the pot with a plastic bag to create a mini-greenhouse effect. Place in a warm environment with indirect sunlight.

Pollination of the Avocado Tree

For much bigger harvests, it is important to understand pollination, as this is the key factor required for fruit formation. Avocado trees are either self-pollinating or require cross-pollination to produce fruit, although some varieties do not need hand-pollinated at all. Cross-pollinating involves the transfer of pollen from one tree to another, a natural process undertaken by insects and birds. Hand-pollinating is done by taking a dry cotton cloth and dabbing the male and female flowers with the cloth every afternoon over a two week period.[8] The female flowers are the ones that contain the pistil and should be pollinated first.

Pruning the Avocado Tree

Keeping your avocado tree in great condition by pruning correctly is essential in ensuring that it continues to grow strong and healthy. Regularly removing dead and weak branches will encourage the tree to produce new leaf buds, which in turn will help the tree gain its optimal shape. Pruning also involves removing any competing branches and suckers that are competing for light and nutrients. The best time to prune is in early summer, when the tree is prepared to heal quickly from its cuts. Make sure to sterilise your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol before use and keep the blades sharp so that cuts heal on clean lines.[9]

Harvesting and Storing the Avocados

When your tree is ready to harvest, it typically takes around 3-5 months before the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked. It’s important not to pick the fruits too soon as they will not be ready, and pick ones that are soft and dark in colour. You can store them in a paper bag to help them ripen better and monitor temperature and humidity levels in order to keep the fruit fresher for longer. If stored correctly, the fruits should last for up to two weeks.[10]

Gordon Wesson is an environmentalist and author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing for many years about topics related to trees, the environment, and sustainability. In particular, he is passionate about educating people on the importance of living in harmony with the environment and preserving natural spaces. He often speaks at conferences and events around the country to share his knowledge with others. His dedication to protecting our planet makes him one of the leading voices in his field today.

Leave a Comment