Fertilizer for avocado trees

Avocado Tree Fertilizer: How To Fertilize Avocados

For those of you lucky enough to include an avocado tree in the garden landscape, my guess is that it is included because you want to sink your teeth into some of the silky delectable fruit. Fertilizing avocado trees, along with general care and proper planting, will give you the best chance of an abundant and healthy crop of fruit. The question is how to fertilize avocados?

Avocado Fertilizer Requirements

What are avocado fertilizer requirements? The feeding of avocado plants is determined by the soil composition. That is, we fertilize to make up for any nutritional deficiencies in the soil, not to directly feed the tree with its nutrient requirements. Avocados need nitrogen, first and foremost, and a little zinc. You can use a citrus tree fertilizer as an avocado fertilizer or go organic and use compost, coffee, fish emulsion, etc.

Avocados are hardy in USDA zones 9b to 11 and in those regions soil is generally sufficiently nutrient rich to support an avocado. That said, some avocado tree fertilizer is recommended since as the tree matures its nutritional needs change and the soil nutrient levels become reduced.

You can minimize feeding avocado plants by properly planting them. Proper planting and general care will set you up for a healthy tree that requires little additional care as it matures.

Avocados are shallow rooted trees with most of their feeder roots at the top 6 inches or so of soil. Because of this, they need to be planted in well aerated soil. Trees should be planted from in spring when soil temps have warmed and in an area protected from wind and frost. Also, keep your avocado away from any areas of lawn where competition for nitrogen may keep the tree from uptaking enough of that nutrient.

Using a soil test kit, check the soil. It should be at a pH of 7 or below. If the soil is alkaline, amend the soil with organic matter, like sphagnum moss. For each 2 ½ pounds of peat moss added to 1 square yard of soil, the soil pH lowers by one unit.

Select a full sun site and dig a hole as deep as the root ball and a little wider. Gently ease the tree into the hole. If the tree is root bound, loosen the soil and lightly clip the roots. Fill in with soil. Mulch around the tree with coarse yard mulch (redwood bark, cocoa bean husks, shredded tree bark) at the rate of 1/3 cubic yard per tree. Be sure to stay 6-8 inches away from the trunk of the tree.

Water the new tree in well. New trees can hold about 2 gallons of water at planting. Water 2-3 times a week depending upon the weather but allow the soil to dry out somewhat between watering. Wait for one full year before fertilizing an avocado tree.

Outside suitable growing zones, these plants can be grown indoors in containers.

How to Fertilize Avocados

Fertilizing new avocado trees should occur three times in the first year – once in spring, once in summer and again in fall. When the tree becomes dormant in late autumn, cease feeding. How much should you be feeding avocado plants? One tablespoon of nitrogen broadcast over the soil around the tree. Water the fertilizer in with a deep watering.

The process for fertilizing avocado trees changes as they mature since they have changing nutritional needs. Continue to apply nitrogen, but in the tree’s second year, increase the amount of nitrogen fertilizer to ¼ pound divided into three applications. In its third year, the tree will need ½ pound of nitrogen and so on. As the tree grows, increase the amount of nitrogen by ¼ pound for each year of life divided into three applications. There is no need to fertilize the tree any more than this; in fact, it might harm the tree.

If you had found that you had alkaline soil, the addition of peat moss will take some time to regulate the pH. So you will need to supplement with chelated iron. An iron deficiency should be patently obvious; the newest leaves will have green veins and yellow margins.

Overall, no special avocado tree fertilizer is needed. A general use home fertilizer should work just fine. If it doesn’t contain zinc, you may wish to feed the tree with some zinc once a year. Keep the feeding to a minimum. Keep an eye on your tree for any other signs of distress such as disease and/or pests and treat immediately. Follow all of the above and you’ll be making guacamole in no time.

Those living in the southern part of the state will have no problem growing avocados in Florida

Avocados grow best in warm climates. The southern and central parts of the state will have the best luck growing avocado trees. Those in north Florida will have to provide protection and choose cold-tolerant varieties. These can become large trees. Plant in an area with enough space, full sun, and well-draining soil. Avocados don’t mind Florida’s natural soil.

Avocados are tropical plants and prefer warm weather, rain and lots of sun. Most of Florida has plenty of this. There are a lot of varieties of avocados that we can grow here in Florida, your standard ‘hass’ avocado is just the tip of the iceberg.

Avocado Varieties That Will Grow In Florida

South Florida and parts of Central Florida will have no problem growing any of the avocado varieties. Those in north Florida and some parts of northern central Florida will have to be a little more picky about which ones they can grow.

If you live in north Florida you will have to pick cold-tolerant varieties.

There are a few different types of avocados. There are the Mexican, Guatemalan, West Indian, and Hybrid types.

Mexican avocados are what you think of when you think of hass avocados. Their skin is usually a deep green and have a lot of texture to them.

West Indian varieties are usually not very cold tolerant and they have brighter skin without much texture to them. The fruits themselves usually have a lower fat content and arent as creamy as Mexican avocados.

Guatemalan varieties make medium-sized fruits that usually have a decent texture to them and turn almost black when ripe.

Hybrid types are a mix of any of the previously mentioned varieties.

Planting Avocados In Florida

The best time to plant an avocado tree is in the early spring time.

Avocados can grow into large trees. With Florida’s climate, you can expect for your tree to grow from anywhere from 30-60 feet tall! The first thing that you need to decide is where you are going to plant your avocado tree.

You will need a site with plenty of space that is far enough away from the house and a place clear of power lines. You don’t want your tree growing up into them.

The spot will also need full sun and well-draining soil. Avocados actually don’t mind the natural soil that we have in Florida. But I always recommend at the very least adding compost and a nice thick layer of mulch to the ground.

When planting your tree, make sure that you dig a hole just as deep as the root ball but at least twice as wide. You wont to loosen up the soil around your planting area to make it easier for the roots to crawl around.

You don’t want any of the trunk to be buried in the dirt and you also want to make sure there is at least 6 inches of space between the trunk and your mulch.

Caring For Avocado Trees

There is a serious issue affecting commercial avocado farmers in Florida. That issue is laurel wilt. It’s a fungus that is transferred to the trees by beetles. There is no cure and once you see signs of the prblem the best thing you can do is remove the plant to help stop spreading.

Early signs of the issue are leaf wilting at the top of the tree and leaves begin to turn a maroon color. Leaves will soon drop after that.

The beetle that spreads laurel wilt needs to be controlled. I think the best way to assist your avocado tree is to plant a diverse garden around it. The more bugs you attract to the garden the better your chances are of having a predator to that beetle.

Plant a diverse garden to attract the good bugs.

You should fertilize your tree every 1-2 months for the first year of its life. After that, you should apply fertilizer 3-4 times per year.

A well-balanced fertilizer that also contains calcium and manganese will be perfect during growth phases. A basic Palm fertilizer is a good choice(Check price).

It’s also recommended that your tree gets sprayed 3-4 times during the spring and summer with a folair spray of zinc, manganese, and boron. Southern Ag Citrus spray(Check Price) hits all of those except boron.

Newly planted trees need to be watered at planting and then every other day for the first two weeks. After that, you can cut back to watering once to twice a week for the next couple of months.

When do Avocado Trees Bloom In Florida?

Avocados produce flower and fruit at different times depending on your variety. If you plant a few different varieties you could have avocados year-round.

November – December August – September
Choquette Russell
Hall Simmonds

This is the only info that I could find on the internet when it comes to flowering times for avocados, if you have one of the varieties mentioned above(that is not on the list), let me know when you notice flowers on your trees so we can add them to the list.

Avocado flowers are interesting. They actually open up twice in their life. The first time they open the flowers are functioning as a female flower, it closes and opens the next day as a male flower.

Avocado trees are self-pollinating and you don’t need another avocado tree in order to have fruit set.

There are also type A flowers and type B flowers. This refers to when the flowers are open and ready for pollination.

Type A flowers are open to pollination in the morning and drop their pollen in the afternoon. Type B flowers shed their pollen in the morning and are open to pollination in the afternoon.

Many commercial farms like to plant a mix of type A and type B trees in order to boost production.

Harvesting Avocados

If you’ve bought a grafted avocado tree from a nursery your tree will begin to produce fruit when it reaches 3-4 years of age.

Harvest times will depend on the variety of avocado you have chosen to grow.

Variety Time of Maturity
Bernicker Jul – Aug
Brazos Belle Oct – Nov
Brogdon Jul – Sep
Choquette Dec – Jan
Day Jul – Sep
Hall Nov – Feb
Lula Oct – Feb
Marcus Pumpkin Oct – Nov
Mexicola May – Jun
Monroe Dec – Feb
Pollack Jul – Sep
Rusell Jul – Aug
Simmonds Jun – Sep
Winter Mexican Oct

Avocados are picked before the fruit is ready to eat. The fruit will not ripen while it is on the tree. Pick avocados when they have reached a suitable size.

A fully mature fruit will ripen in 3-8 days after picking from the tree.

Pruning Avocado Trees

Pruning should be done as soon as possible after harvesting avocados. for later maturing varieties you should also wait until fear of any cold weather has left.

If you let your avocado grow wild this plant will grow into a very large tree. With yearly pruning, you can keep your tree to a manageable size.

During the first few years of its life pruning the ends of branches is a good idea to promote more branching on the inside of the canopy.

As your tree ages it’s a good idea to cut some of the upper branches back to the branch they grew out of. This doesn’t harm the avocado in any way and it actually promotes healthy new growth.

Can You Grow An Avocado From Seed?

Avocado trees planted from seed are not going to produce the same tree that they were. This is how we get so many different varieties. However, if you are planting from seed you can expect to wait a lot longer to get fruit than you would from a grafted tree.

It takes an avocado seed about 10-15 years to begin producing fruit.

If you do get the desire to start from a seed the easiest way to do it is the toothpick method.

By KVDP – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4395556

Simply keep an eye on the water level, making sure to keep the bottom of the seed fully submerged.

How To Grow An Avocado Tree In Florida

  • Choose Florida friendly varieties of avocado; Bermicker, Brogdon, Choquette, Day, Hall, Lula, Marcus Pumpkin, Mexicola, Monroe, Pollack, Russell, Simmonds, and Winter.
  • Those in north Florida should plant cold-tolerant varieties
  • The best time to plant is in the early springtime
  • Plant in full sun and well-draining soil
  • Laurel wilt is a big problem for avocado trees in Florida
  • Plant more than one variety to have fruit year-round

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The avocado is a shallow rooted tree (most of the feeder roots are in the top 6 inches of soil) which needs good aeration. They do well if mulched with a coarse yard mulch. A coarse yard mulch is one that is woody and in pieces about 2 inches in diameter. Redwood bark will work and maybe cocoa bean husks and shredded tree bark. Coarse yard mulch is available at some garden supply centers. Be sure it is COARSE, not fine, yard mulch – and disease-free to prevent introducing diseases to your tree (like root rot).

The current recommendation is to mulch with approximately 1/3 cubic yard per tree when planting. When applying the mulch, be sure to stay about 6-8 inches away from the trunk of the tree. They like the soil pH around 6 to 6.5. If you can, plant your tree in a spot protected from wind and frost. Also, avocado trees typically do not do well planted in lawns so try to plant your tree in a non-lawn area.

When to plant
Avocado trees like warm ground. Ideally, they should go into the ground from March through June. If they go in during the summer there is always the risk of sun damage because the trees can’t take up water very well when young.

How to plant
Select a site that has full sun. Dig a hole as deep as the current root ball and just as wide as the width plus a little extra so you can get your hands into the hole to plant it. Don’t drop the tree into the hole, the roots don’t like that, ease it into the hole. The avocado root system is very sensitive and great care should be taken not to disturb the root system when transplanting. If the tree is root bound, however, loosen up the soil around the edges and clip the roots that are going in circles.

Do not put gravel or anything else like planting media in the hole. The sooner the roots get out into the bulk soil, the better the tree will do. Planting mix creates a textural difference between the root ball and the bulk soil and causes water movement problems. If you have heavy, clay soil, elevate the tree on a mound to improve drainage. Make the mound 1 to 2 feet high and 3 to 5 feet around. Put down 20 pounds of gypsum spread around the base of the tree and mulch the area with 6 inches of woody mulch keeping the material about 6-8 inches away from the tree trunk.
Read more about planting avocado trees.
When watering the tree, it is best to soak the soil well, then allow it to dry out somewhat before watering again. Of course, like most plants, you don’t want the tree to get too dry!

The rule of thumb for mature trees is about 20 gallons of water a day during the irrigation season. Seedlings will require quite a bit less than that, of course.
At planting, the trees can hold about 2 gallons of water in their rooted volume. Depending on the weather, they might use 1 gallon of water a day along the coast. Typically the trees need to be watered 2-3 times a week. As the roots reach out into the bulk soil, more water can be applied and frequency of watering diminishes to about 1 time per week by the end of a year.

Check the soil before watering, to make sure it has dried somewhat. If the soil from around the roots can still hold the impression of the hand when squeezed, it still has enough water.
Read more about watering avocado trees.

The major nutrients that the avocado tree needs are Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium (N-P-K on the fertilizer package label) and Zinc (Zn). For young avocado trees the recommendation is 1/2 to 1 pound of actual Nitrogen per tree per year. You can spread it out over several applications as long as it totals 1/2 to 1 pound of Nitrogen. The other important nutrient for avocado trees is Zinc. A general use home fertilizer that is used for houseplants normally should work. You may wish to feed in some zinc once a year if the fertilizer you are using does not have zinc. Read the package label to be sure.
Read more about fertilizing avocado trees.
Avocado trees greatly benefit from mulches. Any organic material can be used, including the fallen leaf litter from the avocado tree. It is best not to rake the fallen leaves. They provide free mulch for the avocado roots which are fairly close to the surface. A thick layer of mulch can suppress some soil pathogens, including Phytophthora cinnamomi fungus which causes root rot.
Avocado Varieties
The climate zone you live in determines which avocado cultivars perform the best, when fruit should be harvested, and what pest and disease problems are more common. Avocados grow best where temperatures do not fall much below freezing, usually in coastal climates or inland where temperatures are moderate.

There are two types of avocado trees,Type A and Type B, defined by the time of day that the flowers are open and are available for pollination. Each flower opens as female either in the morning (Type A) or in the afternoon (Type B). It closes, then reopens on the second day as male, and then closes permanently. This pattern occurs reliably when the temperatures are ideal – above about 70 degrees day and night. When temperatures are below about 60 degrees, or if pollinators are not present when both male and female flowers are open, fruit set is poor.
While avocado trees do self-fertilize and produce fruit, yields should increase if both a Type A tree and a
Type B tree are planted to increase chances for successful pollination. Listed in the table below are recommended cultivars for planting in the home garden, with a general indication of maturity season.

Cultivar Type Mature
Duke A Sep-Oct Green
Fuerte B Nov-Mar Green
Gwen A Apr-Sep Green
Hass A Jan-Jul Black
Jim B Nov-Feb Green
Lamb Hass A May-Nov Black
Mexicola A Aug-Sep Purple
Pinkerton A Dec-Apr Green
Reed A May-Nov Green
SirPrize B Nov-Mar Black
Stewart A Oct-Dec Purple
Wurtz A May-Aug Green

Photographs of Varieties
For photos and descriptions of many different avocado varieties that grow in Southern California, take a look at the UC Avocado Varieties page.
When to expect fruit
You can expect your newly planted tree to produce fruit 3 to 4 years after planting.
However, if growing from seed, it can take anywhere from 5 to 13 years or more before the tree is mature enough to set fruit. When the tree does flower, expect a lot of flowers to fall from the tree without setting fruit. This is natural.
Growing in containers – “Little Cado” dwarf avocado tree

The Wurtz avocado tree, sometimes referred to as Little Cado, is the only true dwarf variety of avocado and will consistently produce good fruit from May to September. Compared to other avocado trees, which can grow up to 80 feet, a Wurtz avocado tree grows to about 10 feet. Due to its small size, the Wurtz avocado tree can be grown in a large container (such as a half wine barrel) and is a good option for smaller front and back yards. The Wurtz avocado is a hybrid created from the Mexican and Guatemalan avocado species, and produces abundant fruits within one to two years of planting if it is a grafted tree, grown in the right conditions and properly taken care of. This is the best Avocado variety for containers.

A Wurtz avocado tree will do well in mild-winter areas of California. Avocados like loose, rich, well-draining soil. Plant in a container that has drainage holes, in good quality potting soil. The soil may need to be sandy to accommodate the tree’s large roots and fast draining so that the roots do not succumb to root rot fungus. Avoid manure-based mixes, as these have a tendency to be too salty.

Dwarf varieties in containers need frequent watering, perhaps even daily during the summer months, to keep the soil lightly moist. While the Wurtz avocado tree can tolerate temperatures as low as 25 degrees F, it should be kept in a warm environment as much as possible with protection against strong winds and frost. A young tree, one that is less than 12 months old, requires shelter from direct summer sunlight or the stems and bark will burn. After a year or two, the tree will grow enough foliage to shade itself from the sun.

Fertilize with a well-balanced citrus food on a regular basis. Frequent pinching of young tree stems helps to keep the tree in the desired shape.

If the Wurtz avocado tree is cared for properly, it will start growing flowers for pollination sometime between January and March within one to two years of planting, if it is a grafted tree. A grafted tree is a tree grown from seedling tissue that has been mixed with the tissue of a producing tree. Purchasing a grafted Wurtz avocado tree from a nursery is the easiest way for the home gardener to have a fruit-bearing tree. A tree grown directly from a seed will not start producing fruit until it is 8 to 20 years old.

The Little Cado bears young. Once the flowers are pollinated, the Wurtz avocado tree bears fruit that ripens between May and September. The fruits are dark green and medium in size, ranging from 6 to 12 ounces. They have thin, shiny skin with small seeds. The fruits have been rated by growers as having a good and consistent flavor, with an oil content of 16 percent. Avocadoes will not ripen while still on the tree. Harvest when fruits are of mature size and still firm. They will ripen in one or two weeks at room temperature.

Cold tolerant avocados grow well in Melbourne, provided they have a warm sunny position with well-drained soil, a good layer of mulch over the soil and protection from frosts when they’re young. Once you’ve planted up your avocado, you have to feed it regularly to get it growing and eventually fruiting productively (within two to three years of planting for grafted varieties).

The best way to apply fertiliser is to sprinkle it by hand evenly underneath the tree’s drip-zone and a bit further out, as this where the trees feeder roots are. Don’t dig in the fertiliser or cultivate the soil around the roots as avocados have a shallow fibrous feeding root system close to the surface, with almost all feeder roots in the top 15-20cm of soil.

If you use mulch around the tree, which is highly recommended in the warmer seasons, apply the fertiliser under the mulch for best results. Just push the mulch aside, apply the fertiliser and then move the mulch back in place. After applying fertiliser, always remember to water it in.

Avocados have special feeding requirements, as young trees require small amounts of fertilisers regularly to grow well.
Year 1-2: Apply a fertiliser high in nitrogen such as chicken manure or blood & bone every 8 weeks or 2-3 times during the growing season from November to March to promote vegetative growth (leaves and branches).

Apply a very small amount of fertiliser to begin with, then use more fertiliser on the second application. If adding a third application of fertiliser around March, add a small amount only. A third light application of fertiliser in March is highly recommended as all fruit trees need a feed in the beginning of the autumn season.

Year 3 onwards: Fertilise as before but use a more balanced fertiliser instead that will supply the trees nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium needs.

You can continue to use chicken manure or blood & bone which supply nitrogen and phosphorus as long as you add potash (or supplement with seaweed extract which contains high potash levels).

Use approximately 3L of chicken manure and 20g of potash per tree per year. Don’t apply it all at once, use a portion each time you feed the tree as per previous instructions.

Other balanced fertilisers that are suitable for avocados include citrus fertiliser or a general purpose organic fertiliser.
Feeding your avocado regularly will allow the tree to achieve optimum growth and fruit productively as early as possible.

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Whether you call it persea americana, alligator pear, or love fruit, you are speaking about Avocado, one of the most delicious and most nutritious fruits there is. There are three races of Avocado in cultivation, Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian. Of these there are multiple hybrids, with Mexican and Guatemalan and their hybrids being the best adapated to handle Phoenix area winters. Mexican varieties are the hardiest and bear fruit with smoother, thinner shiny green skin. Guatemalan avocados need frost free climates and can be identified by their blackish, green, thick, bumpy rinds. West Indian fruit are the most frost sensitive and are identified by thin, smooth, greenish-yellow skin. If you took time to read the general care guide you know that there are challenges to growing sub-tropical fruits in non native locations. Though it would be very unlikely to ever see avocado production in our Arizona desert climate, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fruit producing avocado tree in your backyard if you choose.

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