Awesome Avocado

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 - 3:29pm

I got tired of paying supermarket prices for avacados and decided to research growing my own avocado tree. Avocados are very nutritious, full of healthy unsaturated oils - and oils and fats are hard to grow at home unless you grow nut trees. They have more potassium than bananas, too. Sadly, for outdoor growth you need a climate without frost, so most are not right for here in SC (our winters routinely see low temperatures of -6.6C or 23 F.  I might try an Ettinger if I can find the space in the yard - they can tolerate 4 hours at 21 F). Still, those of you who live in warmer climes might be interested in my research: the rest of us might want to try growing one indoors.

Outdoor tree: First chooose your variety. The tree you buy from a nursery will be grafted.

Then, you need a spot with full sun. And as with any landscaping tree,  you need to allow enough space for the fully-grown tree. Bear in mind that some varieties of avocado tree can grow as high as 80 ft. tall, but at least they are self-polinating so you only need one tree.

The big tree in the middle is an avocado. They get even bigger.

It seems avocados like slightly acidic soil; they prefer a pH of 6 to 6.5. The young tree roots are very fragile so plant the rootball carefully in a ball of soft compost. The don't like a lot of wind, either.

Avocado trees require frequent, deep watering to bear optimally, particularly in spring, summer, and fall. This is a factor if your water is expensive or scarce. Watering will depend on rainfall: soak the roots at least once every two weeks, up to daily during droughts. The tree needs fertilizer, too; I suppose you could emulate Squanto and bury a few small fish at the base; otherwise add small amounts of NPK fertilizer with zinc frequently  for young trees and occasionally for mature ones.

Indoor tree: Avocados can be grown from pits indoors, but those rarely produce fruit - that's why the outdoor trees are grafted.  In order to have an avocado tree that defineitely will produce fruit, you can buy a grafted tree from a reputable nursery: Still, if you want to try to grow from seed, take the pit from a ripe, unrefrigerated avocado.  Stab the pit  with three or four tooth picks, per the illustration, and place the pit in a jar or vase with some tepid water - I'd let such water sit for a day to get any chlorine treatment out, or use untreated well water. The avocado pit should split open in four to six weeks and yield roots and a sprout. If there is no change six weeks, the avocado pit should be thrown out. Force yourself to eat another yummy avacado, and try again.

Got a viable one? Once the stem grows a few inches, place it in a pot with soil.  Water it every few days. It will get big, so be ready to repot your avocado as needed. Fertilize per the instructions for outdoor trees, but sparingly. You're gonna have to  keep trimming it down to a six or seven foot bonzai tree, and wait up to TEN YEARS to see if you get fruit but you get a pretty houseplant while you want-and-see. . . .

Yeah, I recommend you go with a grafted dwarf avacado from a nursery. I like the Holiday avocado tree, a dwarf that gets no bigger than 10 to12-ft high and can be trimmed smaller. It bears August to January. I also like the Little Cado Dwarf Avocado which grows 8 to 10 ft. high and can be moved more easily. This variety fruits all summer, May to September. Note: I've read reports that the Don Gillogly dwarf is not a reliable preformer.

Indoor avocados require a steady moisture supply, so watering indoor trees can be tricky, especially when they are young. Over-watering and/or lack of proper drainage can cause root rot. Buds may drop due to not enough watering. So soak the well drained pot, and then let it get slighly dry before watering again. Note: The best mulch for avocado trees is their leaves: they may inhibit root fungus development.

Buds may also drop due to stressed or diseased roots, or to lack of mineral nutrient availability. Avocado trees are heavy feeders and growers say it's a good idea to apply a fertilizer specially formulated for "citrus and avocado trees" which you can find at most nurseries. After using such fertilizers, they say burnt tips of leaves are not unusual and are not necessarily a cause for alarm since fertilizer salts, as they move up through the tree, tend to move into leaf tips and margins. I rather suspect Squanto had the right idea. Some fish meal and compost tea are not going to burn the leaves. Anyone here have experience using natural fertilizers on avocados?

For further reading:

1 Comment

Poet's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1893
Hass Avocado In A Jewel Box

While there are many varieties of avocado, most are not as delicious as the Hass avocado, which has a creamy taste from a tree that produces year-round.

All Hass avocadoes come from trees that originated as seedlings/graftings descended from an original mother tree (died in 2002) in southern Los Angeles County, California. Though you can buy them today in a store, one for $1 (and sometimes up to two for $1)...  What's interesting is that when they were first sold on the market in the 1930s, they were so rare and delicious that they sold for $1 even then! (Imagine that: 35 avocadoes for a 1-ounce gold coin.) It could very well be a valuable crop.

If there is a reason to build a greenhouse for the long-haul, then avocados are one darn delicious and healthy reason.

As to what kind of greenhouse may be best to survive over time? I suspect the best idea is glass, with a roof. Like this, but much smaller:


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