Avocado Growing Guide
Crop Rotation Group
Fertile, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH.
No. Avocados are tropical trees with little tolerance for cold. They are hardy only to about -4°C (25°).
Feed in autumn by spreading rich compost or a high nitrogen organic fertiliser over the root zone of the tree.
Single Plants: 8.00m (26' 2") each way (minimum)
Rows: 8.00m (26' 2") with 8.00m (26' 2") row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
It can be fun to sprout and grow an avocado seed, but seedling avocados need more than six years of growing time in a warm, semi-tropical climate before they will produce a fruit. Purchased plants of better cultivars start fruiting three years after planting, and will bear fruits of a predictable size and colour, in a defined harvest period. Set out purchased plants in late winter or early spring, setting the plant so the root ball is 2 cm (1 inch) above the soil line. Planting avocados too deep encourages root rot diseases. Because avocados grow well in semi-desert climates, they often need supplemental water. Use a drip system that covers the root area of the tree, and water deeply overnight every seven to 10 days. Avocados are usually grown as single specimens. When multiple trees are planted, allow 6 m (20 feet) between plants. Dwarf avocado varieties mature to 3 m (10 feet) tall; standard varieties can grow to 9 m (30 feet) tall. Not recommended for growing in containers as avocados are stressed by crowded roots and prone to developing root rot diseases when grown in containers.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Native to Mexico, avocados make wonderful yard trees in climates where they grow well, such as the warmest parts of Florida and California, and some points in between. Trees can be pruned to control their size and make the fruits easier to pick. Ripening times vary widely with cultivar and can range from autumn to early summer. Mature avocado trees are prone to bearing heavily some years and others not at all. Avocados need little pruning beyond snipping out root suckers or awkward branches in spring, just as the plants finish flowering. Tall-growing varieties can be pruned to grow into broad, low-growing trees to make the fruits easier to reach.
Judging the ripeness of avocados takes practice, complicated by the way the fruits finish ripening after they are harvested. When you think fruits are ripe based on size and slightly dull appearance, clip a few with short stems attached, and place them in a paper bag at room temperature. Ripe avocados will start to soften in a week, while immature ones will shrivel. Avocados ripen over a long period, so check trees weekly for fruits that are ready to harvest.
Several root rot diseases affect avocados that are encouraged by wet conditions, so good drainage is important to the health of a tree. Painting trunks of young trees with a 50:50 mix of water and white latex paint can help prevent sunscald.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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