How to Care for Avocado Trees

by Teresa O'Connor

Ever wonder how to grow an avocado tree?


Native to southern Mexico, avocados (Persea americana) are subtropical trees that grow best in semi-humid climates in zones 9 to 11, with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avocado trees are ideal for California's coastal climate, where the weather stays moderate and doesn't get too hot in summer. Avocados become less productive in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Above is a Southern California garden where an avocado tree grows near a red Japanese maple just starting to leaf out for the spring. The avocado tree has lots of new flowers blooming for future harvests.

How to Plant Avocado Trees

Avocado trees grow best in full sun in a fine, sandy loam soil with excellent drainage. They won't tolerate heavy, clay soils well. Using Fiskars hand tools, you’ll be able to loosen soil, dig a shallow hole and plant your avocado tree with ease.

Step 1

Pick a spot for your avocado tree.
Make sure that tree will be protected from heavy winds which can cause fruit drop and defoliation.

Step 2

Dig a hole.
The hole should be as deep as the root ball and slightly wider on the sides, usually about 6 inches. The Fiskars garden hand tool set includes a transplanter with depth measurements to remove the guess work from planting your avocado tree.

Step 3

Plant the avocado tree.
Gently ease the tree into the hole, as the root ball is fragile. Cover the edges of the root ball with topsoil, but don’t over pack to soil.

Step 4

Water the avocado tree.
Thoroughly water the newly planted avocado tree.

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Tips for Healthy Avocado Trees

Tip 1
Fertilizing and Manures
Don't add manures when planting avocado trees. The high amounts of salt and ammonia can lead to root burn and tip burn on the leaves, according to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Some experts recommend not fertilizing avocado trees in the first year. After that, use a balanced citrus tree fertilizer, and follow manufacturer instructions. A Fiskars transfer shovel is a great option for transporting fertilizer in your garden.

Tip 2
Water deeply and regularly, but let the tree dry out slightly between watering. To conserve moisture, mulch trees with 3 or 4 inches of coarse wood chips. Always leave several inches between the mulch and tree trunk. Learn how to conserve rainwater for your gardening needs.

Tip 3
Avocado trees don't like to be overly pruned, especially when they are producing fruit. You can, however, remove dead branches at any time. Use a Fiskars pruner to prune your avocado tree for shape and to control its size. For taller avocado trees, try a Fiskars extendable pruner.

Tip 4
Incidentally, avocados don't ripen on the tree. Pick avocados at their mature sizes and while still firm. Then, let them ripen at room temperatures for a week or two, until the avocados become soft and ready to eat

Tip 5
Colder Climate Growing
Want to grow an avocado tree but live in a colder climate? Try growing a Wurz (Little Cado) avocado tree in a container, which can be moved indoors during the winter. Even this dwarf avocado tree will eventually grow about 10 feet tall, according to University of California Orange County Master Gardeners. So, it's probably only a temporary arrangement but worth a try. In colder weather, bring the tree inside and place in a south-facing window for plenty of light. When temperatures warm up, move the tree back outside.