How to Take Care of an Avocado Tree
Harvesting fruit from an avocado tree takes time and requires proper planting and caring for the tree as it grows. When planted in the right climate and soil, avocado trees need only a little care to grow to maturity and produce fruit.
How to Care for Avocado Trees
A growing avocado plant needs:
- Watering. Water the tree deeply at least two times per month during warm weather and more often if you see signs of brown or wilting leaves. Do not let the soil dry-out completely between watering. In dry winters, water once a month.
- Fertilizing. Avocado trees need yearly fertilizing with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer which also provides phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. Blood meal or composted manure are good sources for these nutrients. Apply one pound of nitrogen on each mature tree yearly during the growing season.
- Mulch. Place a 3 inch deep layer of shredded bark or peat moss in a 3 foot circle around the base of the tree for preventing weeds and minimizing evaporation of water.
- Pruning. Avocado trees do not need much pruning. Only prune-out dead and crossing branches or cut the tree to limit size. Prune when the tree is producing fruit, or shortly after, in order to avoid cutting out fruiting branches.
How to Plant Avocado Trees
Avocado trees grow well in USDA climate zones 9 to 11. Plant the tree in well-drained, loamy soil. If your soil is clay, dig a hole 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide and fill it with loamy soil with a pH of 7 or slightly below before planting. Space avocado trees 30 feet apart unless you plan on pruning them to keep them small.
The branches of avocado trees can be damaged in windy conditions. Plant avocado trees where they are protected from wind and where they receive full sun.
Avocado Tree Growth Habits
Avocado trees are native to subtropical regions and probably first developed in Southern Mexico. Because of their origins, avocado trees only grow successfully when they do not encounter freezing temperatures and when they are planted in well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil.
If you live in a climate with freezing winter weather, you may still be able to grow an avocado tree in a greenhouse or an indoor container as a houseplant. However, in these conditions, avocado trees usually do not produce fruit.
Mature avocado trees are large . Grown outdoors, an avocado tree can reach up to 40 feet high and spread up to 30 feet wide. Fruit production takes between four and fifteen years from planting.