Avocados have become even more popular in the past years, thanks to the many advocates of the health benefits of this fruit.
However, avocados can be very expensive, so some people choose to grow their own avocado tree. It may take years before you will literally see the fruits of your labour, but it will be worth it.
Basics of Avocado Tree
The avocado is a fruit tree from the family Lauraceae that originated from Central America.
The avocado tree grows to 66 feet (20 metres) high.
Its dark green leaves are about 5 to 10 inches (12 to 15 cm) long and are alternately arranged.
The avocado tree produces greenish-yellow tiny and inconspicuous flowers, about 3/16 to 3/8 inch (5 to 10 mm) wide.
The avocado fruit is pear-shaped and single-seeded and classified as a berry. The average length of avocado fruit is about 3 to 8 inches (7 to 20 cm).
There are more varieties of avocados available that have been cultivated to produce the most desirable fruit—larger and fleshier, and with thinner exocarp.
An avocado tree planted from seed could take from five years up to 15 years until it bears fruit.
If you want to see fruits sooner, choose to buy and plant a tree, which could fruit in about three to four years.
Avocado trees originally grow in tropical and subtropical climates, but many cultivars have been known to survive or thrive at temperatures as low as 20 °F (-6.5 °C).
Planting Your Avocado Tree
You have several choices to grow an avocado tree: from seed, from cuttings, or getting a fully-grown plant.
Plant your avocado tree where it can get lots of sun.
Growing avocado tree from seed
There are different options to grow an avocado from seed.
One option is to take the seed and allow it to dry for several days or weeks before planting. With this method, the seed is planted top end up. The top end of the seed is the pointier part.
Plant the seed only halfway into the soil, do not bury the whole seed. Water the seed generously and keep the soil moist until the seed sprouts.
Another method is by placing the seed with the bottom half of it in water and allowing for the root and seedling to grow before planting. You may need to wait two to six weeks before the roots start growing from the bottom of the pit.
Whichever method you choose to grow an avocado tree from seed, replant the seedling to a bigger container or directly in the ground.
Make sure to keep the top part of the seed, about an inch or so, above the ground.
Water the replanted seedling and keep the soil moist but not soggy until the avocado tree is established.
Growing avocado tree from cuttings
Get a cutting from a mature avocado tree in early spring. Cut at a 45-degree angle with a sharp impellent and gently wound the cut end with small nicks at the bark.
Place the cutting in a rich potting mix for a few weeks until roots have formed. You can gently tug on the cutting to check if it has put roots. If it does, you will feel a slight resistance.
Repot in a bigger container or plant directly on the ground. Water and keep the soil moist but not soggy until the avocado tree is established.
How to Take Care of Your Avocado Tree
Avocado trees love the sun. Make sure that your avocado tree gets at least six hours or more of full sun each day.
Young trees need to be kept at temperatures above 45 °F (7 °C).
This tree also likes moist soil, so make sure to keep the soil wet but not soggy. Water deeply once in a while.
To encourage bushier growth, pinch off some of its leaves.
During the first year, fertilise avocado trees three times—in spring, summer, and again in autumn. Do not fertilise in late autumn and beyond to avoid fertilising towards its dormant period.
After the first year, fertilise once a year in spring.
Do not fertilise avocado trees beyond the required time as it may suffer in winter.
You can prune your avocado tree to maintain its size, but it is not necessary for maintenance. All you need to do is prune dead leaves and branches.
Problems with Avocado Trees
Avocado trees are vulnerable to all kinds of diseases—viral, fungal, bacterial—from all parts to the leaves, stems, fruits, and roots. The worst avocado tree pests are the pyriform scale insect or Protopulvinaria pyriformis. This insect is known from South Africa, Australia, Italy, France, Israel, Spain, Florida, Cuba, and Peru.