How to prune avocado trees?

How to make your indoor avocado branch out (aka ‘breaking apical dominance’)

@AvokaatoFollow May 28, 2017 · 3 min read

If you have tried growing an avocado tree in your home and you live in a cold Nordic climate, chances are you have only experienced the first two of these tree things:

— molding and wilting
— a long single stem with a toupee of leaves
— actual branches

Growing trees indoors in cold places is notoriously difficult and life isn’t easy for plants that need plenty of sunlight and a fair amount of soil. If you have an avocado plant with a small pot, it will sprout and grow until it has exhausted its pit’s supplies. In places where it’s dark half of the year, this also means the plant is trying to reach for more light and grow as high as possible . Once the plant is too high however, you either have to put it in a larger pot or it will dwindle down because it can’t make water reach its canopy efficiently anymore.

But repoting the tree isn’t your only option for growing a beautiful plant. You can also trim it to get a more ‘bushy’ plant. However, trimming a plant that only has leaves on at its top can be the end of it. Or if your seedling has shed its stem leaves during winter, you might not be able to trim it at all without losing it. And you will definitely kill a sapling that has lost all its leaves.

A sapling that was dying after the winter and had lost all of its leaves. New growth along the stem after trimming away two thirds of the stem. This one was luckier than others.

The physiological mechanism that inhibits lateral (branch) growth in many plant species is called apical dominance and is driven by auxin hormones. Basically, the cells that are actively diving and producing new leaves at the top of the plant release the auxins which prevent any lateral growth along the stem below. This ensure the plant grows towards the source of light in its environment. By cutting the actively growing parts of the plant (the shoot apical meristems in this case) during trimming we call of the apical dominance of the tip and shoot parts of the plants and allow branches to grow from side meristems along the stem. But trimming young avocado saplings also has the inconvenience that while several new buds might appears, one usually quickly establishes a new apical dominance and hinders the growth of the others.

Avoid trimming while the plant is actually putting out new leaves — wait for Autumn / Winter.

So what’s the alternative to trimming in order to remove the apical dominance? Simply bend the plant to make its top parts lower than a portion of its stem. Sounds confusing? I thought so. I made a drawing.

Bend the stem of the plant by placing a weight hanging from a string tight to the top parts. New buds will form at the top of the arc formed by the stem within one week. You might also see new buds burgeoning all the way to the bottom of the stem.

That’s it! This solution is deceptively simple (although you are going to need some space to achieve this) and it allows you to leverage the liveliness of the other leaves which will re adapt to the new configuration and realign with the light source and gravity.

In the past avocados were rarely pruned. In fact, if the trees got very big, growers would stump them down to 3-4 feet and then let them regrow. This would often be a disaster, since the trees rapidly grew to stupendous sizes again. They also might regrow then suddenly collapse, because all that regrowth was coming at the expense of energy being sent to the roots. If the roots were compromised by root rot, they would then not have the energy to fend off the disease. So by bringing the canopy into balance with a sick root system that was continuing to die and was not being fed by a big canopy, the root death would accelerate and when the canopy and root system became imbalanced again, the whole canopy would collapse and the tree would die.

Also, this wild regrowth was wild and hard to manage. The adage of “prune avocado trees cautiously” was heard round the avocado community and as a result many growers would not do anything. The trees growing larger and larger and larger with the fruiting canopy going higher and higher and higher and picking costs and liability going up. Tree thinning was practiced, where every other tree would be removed so that light could penetrate into the orchard, encouraging more fruit production and slowing tree growth. But they would still grow and another thinning would be needed. The original commercial ‘Hass’ orchard in Carpinteria started out in 1954 with 140 trees and 40 years later was down to 17 trees and was still productive, but they were monsters that were finally felled by root rot.

Many commercial avocados are now routinely pruned to keep the trees short, so that harvesting costs and other tree maintenance expenses are reduced. Also more light shines into the trees, so that more fruit is borne on the lower branches. Light or minor pruning can be done any time of year to correct imbalances or limb breakages. However, major or heavy pruning should only be done in the early part of the year from January through April. Avocados flower and bear fruit at stem terminals, so if you give the tree and buzz cut (heading cuts), all the flower terminals will be cut off and there will be no flowering the following year. It also leads to an explosion of water sprouts that result from bud break up and down the branch because the terminal bud which control the buds lower down have been removed. Naphthalene acetic acid (TreeHold) painted on the cut end can be used to restrict some of this wild bud break.

Whenever possible, thinning cuts should be made, where the branch is removed back to a subtending branch. This results in much less wild growth. Also when there are buds that start growing into water sprouts, they can be nipped back to force lateral growth. These laterals will then slow down the growth of the sprout and the side terminal buds will also be able to grow and transition of flower buds later.

Work in Carol Lovatt’s lab at UCR has shown that terminal buds need a certain maturity to flower and the transition from a vegetative bud to a flowering bud occurs sometime in late summer/early fall. If pruning is done in July, there is not enough time for the new buds to mature by August and there will be no flowers from that branch the following spring. New vegetative buds formed on growth from spring will often have enough maturation time to make the transition to flower buds, resulting in flowering the next spring.

Again, light pruning can be done at any time of the year, but removing terminals is removing potential fruiting wood. Therefore, if heavy pruning is needed, it is best to remove one branch at a time. To reduce the height of a tree, cut out the tallest branch one year, the next tallest branch the following year, and so on until the tree is down to the height required. The process may take three to four years. By reducing the height over several years, the tree is put under less stress, less disease is likely to occur and fruit production is not drastically reduced. Pruning the sides of the tree should be done in the same way. Prune off a side branch that most impinges on a neighboring tree one year, then the next worst offender in the second year, and over the years continue this process until there is light all around the tree.

If pruning creates major open areas in the tree to sun-light where there once was shade, the exposed branches should be painted with white latex paint diluted with water so that it can be sprayed on. It needs to be white enough that it can reflect sunlight and avoid heat damage that can cause sunburn. Sunburn can utterly destroy all the work that has been done.

If the trees are really monsters, the only real alternative is to bring the whole tree down. But not stumping, rather scaffolding where much of the structure is maintained. This is where the tree is brought down to as high a height as is convenient and safe. By cutting the tree to a height of 8 feet or so, there is not so much rank regrowth because a greater portion of the tree is retained. Also many times there are leafy branches that remain that will flower and fruit and slow the wild regrowth. Water sprouts that form should be headed back to force lateral growth that encourages stems that will flower, which will also slow the wild regrowth.

And one last warning. Do not. Do not. Do not. Got it? Prune sick trees. If the roots are compromised, the regrowth is going to be hard on the roots. Get the trees perked up with one of the phophite products so that they are ready to go through this process. You may have to wait a couple years to start the pruning process until the trees are in shape for the rigors.

Image: Don’t make cuts like this.

Is it too late to cut back my avocado plant? – Knowledgebase Question

If you are growing your avocado plant from seed, the usual treatment is to allow it to reach 18-24″ in height, then to pinch out the growing tip so the plant will branch out. So, it sounds as though your plant is at just about the right size to encourage branching. With your fingernails, or with a small pair of scissors, snip off the growing tip of the main stem. This will encourage branching at the point where you cut the growing tip out and may also encourage the development of new shoots directly below the leaves you now have on the trunk. Browning leaves are not a result of not pruning but a symptom of some environmental or cultural problem. Overwatering can cause browning leaf tips, as can using water treated with chlorine or fluoride. Try using bottled water if your tap water has these chemicals. Browning leaf tips can also becaused by over-heated air (especially in the wintertime when our furnaces are working overtime). Counteract this by misting your plant or by placing a tray of water near your plant. As the water evaporates it will increase the humidity around the plant. Best wishes with your avocado tree!

There aren’t so many people out there who don’t love avocados, and that vast number includes those who live in the city without gardens. It also includes people who live in places that can reach subzero temperatures. Should these conditions stop you from growing your own avocado trees? Absolutely not! You just need to be a little clever about it.

The price of avocados, like many other foods, just keeps on creeping up. As there’s no chance of us dropping these delicious, nutritious fruits from our diet, it makes sense to bite the bullet and grow our own. Fortunately, that’s a relatively easy task and can be done inside or outside the home, dependent on the avocado variety and your location.

Sub-zero temperatures? Challenge accepted

The avocado growing challenge comes when you’re living in a region that gets sub-zero winters. Your poor avocado tree can’t withstand those temperatures any more than you could without your ultra-warm winter clothes. Your tree is going to need a little more TLC too during the wintertime if it is to keep offering up its mouthwatering fruits.

As the avocado tree originated in South Central Mexico, its natural environment is a warm one; so that’s what it needs in order to flourish. After being a dietary staple in the Americas for thousands of years, by 1750 the avocado was so popular that it found its way to Indonesia; by 1833 it was in Florida, in 1908 Israel, and by the late 1800s it was even part of the Australian diet.

One thing these countries have in common is climate; although some may see temperature dips in the winter months, avocado trees can still thrive with the right care. If you live somewhere like New York, for example, you’ll have the benefit of warmer temperatures for your tree during the summer months. But when the winter comes around, you’ll need to bring it indoors.

Plan ahead with the right type of avocado tree

With this in mind, you’ll need to plan ahead by seeding the right type of avocado. There are literally hundreds of different types of avocado, but if you care about its survival, you’ll need to weigh up the variables of your location and choose your tree type wisely.

Sometimes even an overnight cold snap is enough to damage your avocado trees. This is especially the case for young or unprotected trees. If your tree is going to spend a lot of time – or all its time – growing outside, take measures to avoid frost damage by picking a type that can handle the cold better, and sufficiently enclose it (or bring it indoors) when the temperatures drop. Which option you choose depends on the drop in temperature and cold-hardiness of the avocado type you’ve got.

Some withstand cold better than others…

There are three main avocado types: Mexican avocados (Persea americana var. drymifolia), Guatemalan avocados (Persea nubigena var. guatemalensis) and West Indian (Persea americana var. americana). Of the three, Mexican and Guatemalan avocados are the best at tolerating the cold. If your region is subject to yearly freezes, however light, the Mexican avocado would be a prudent choice.

Varieties such as Mexicola, Topa Topa, and the unusually named Bacon avocado may handle a temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The second contenders are the Guatemalan varieties, such as Rincon, Nabal and MacArthur, which should withstand 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Most other varieties will be damaged by temperatures under 30 degrees.

Protecting outdoor avocado trees

If cold temperatures are on the way, it’s necessary to take measures to protect your trees. If you have young trees, you can construct a frame around them and cover the frames with heavy blankets that will break the wind and retain some warmth.

For older trees, you can drape incandescent outdoor lights (such as those you’d put on a Christmas tree) around them to generate some heat. If a freeze is coming, it would be smart to harvest the current yield so as not to lose it.

Worst-case scenario, the damage may happen despite your efforts. It could still be possible to save your tree with sufficient watering through the cold period. This can stop the frost from drying it out, and blooms that dropped in the cold weather may grow back. Don’t prune off damaged branches until you’re sure the coldest weather has passed.

Looking after your avocado tree indoors

If you’re in a colder climate, it is smart to plant your avocado tree in a pot. This way you can move it around for maximum exposure to more favorable temperatures. If you have to bring your avocado tree indoors, it will have a better chance of survival and a worthy yield.

Avocado trees make great houseplants; they also improve the air quality inside the home, they’re pleasant to look at and it’s fun to watch them flower, anticipating the yield! It’s still much more sensible to keep your trees outside when temperatures allow, otherwise they may not flower. As soon as the warmer temperatures come around, move your avocado trees outside into the direct sunlight.

Choose dwarf varieties for indoor growth

If you think you may need to care for your avocado indoors at any point, we recommend dwarf varieties like the Guatemalan Holiday, or Wertz, a hybrid variety from California. Holiday avocado trees tend to be smaller than Wertz trees. You can also consider a small variety like the Guatemalan Gwen avocados. Find out more about these avocado types here.

Any of these trees make a good choice, as you can maintain them inside the home for many years to come. You will need to pay extra attention to your avocado tree when it’s inside. For a start, this means using a grow bag that matches the rooting size. Grow bags are a good alternative to standard pots because they allow more oxygen to reach the roots.

You should ensure your tree is positioned where it will soak up the most sunlight (i.e. on the sill of a large window). You’ll need to carefully select nutrients and monitor the pH of your tree, and you should take care to prune it properly. Trimming a tree to half the size once it’s around a foot tall should yield a round and full tree.

Pollinating and grafting encourage a successful yield

As it takes more effort for an avocado tree to produce fruit indoors, you can help the process along by pollinating and grafting. Some trees do self-pollinate, including the Gwen, Holiday and Wertz varieties; but you’re likely to get an even better yield by assisting the process. This is called cross-pollinating.

Cross-pollinating

Avocado trees have both male and female productive organs. The plant will often give many flowers – between two hundred and three hundred clusters – but you’re likely to get only 3 fruit from these. Avocado flowers come in two types: A and B.

The types refer to the times when the male (stamen) and female parts (pistol) of the plant open up, and you’re able to pollinate. Type A female flowers are most receptive to pollen in the morning. But male flowers shed their pollen in the afternoons. Conversely, type B flowers do the opposite. The male flowers shed the pollen in the morning, and the female flowers open in the afternoons.

That’s why it makes sense to cross-pollinate with the two different tree types; fertilization is much more likely this way. It makes sense to have access to both types if you wish to encourage your fruit yield. Type A trees include Gwen, Pinkerton and Hass. Type B includes Fuerte, Bacon and Zutano.

As is the case with humans, the fertilized ovary produces the baby, or fruit. Although avocado trees love sunlight, a cool night will help the flowers to bloom. While your plants are outdoors, keep them twenty to thirty feet apart to increase the chances of fertilization.

Grafting

Indoor growing is often more successful if you graft your avocado trees. If you’re going to graft, it is a good idea to take an avocado tree that has previously born flowers and use this as the donor.

On the tree receiving the graft (known as the rootstock), you can use a chisel to make a downward facing cut on the trunk, no more than halfway down it. Peel back the bark and insert the scion (young, green and sturdy branch) you cut from the donor tree, including the bud.

Next, you’ll need to wrap the union with budding rubber and secure it with grafting tape. Make sure that no water is able to enter the cut, or it may rot. Bud unions will take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months to heal, dependent on the season.

Water intake should be monitored all year around

Sunlight and water are the most important factors for your avocado tree, as is the case for most plants. You should be careful not to under or over-water it, or it will die. If the leaves are yellow, it’s had too much water.

If they have brown, crispy edges, it needs a drink. Make sure the soil hasn’t become hard and dry; this is another indicator that your tree needs watering.

If you’ve never seeded an avocado before, it’s fun to watch it grow. Our time lapse video will give you an insight into how simple it is to grow your own tree with AvoSeedo, our innovative and durable tool. It’s never been easier! If you need any advice on growing your own avocado trees, feel free to look around our informative site or message us for advice.

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How To Prune An Avocado

If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the years teaching pruning, it’s that when I start to talk about old wood, new wood, two year old wood – your mind squeezes shut with fear. So I’m hoping that you’ll hang with me here while I talk about new wood and how it influences how you prune your Avocado.

Avocados fruit on their new wood. The fresh green stuff that sprouted during summer. The bits the fruits are hanging from. Once its flowered and fruited, it’ll never fruit again. It will however carry on growing – the branch reaching out a bit further each year. As the fruitful bits are always on the ends, it doesn’t take long for them to get annoyingly out of reach.

The solution to those far away Avocado’s is simple. Be bold, and each season remove one or two branches at their point of origin, or where they join another branch low down on the tree. The Avocado reacts to this by shooting out fresh new growths at the cut site – the next lot of fruits are now reachable! Huzza!

This is renewal pruning. Off with the old, to grow the new. Oh to be a tree.

Apart from reach-ability, compact Avocados are way easier to foliar spray (how they love seaweed!), and much easier to protect from wind (which they hate).

Excerpt From “Pruning Fruit Trees: A Beginners Guide“

No matter what fruit tree you prune, they all begin the same way – with a ponder. Follow that with the removal of the dead, damaged, crossing and diseased wood. Unless stated, stick to the golden rules: prune on a dry day, think first, and prune no more than a quarter.

Avocado

Avocados can produce alot of fruit on a small tree. Happiness = feet on the ground for all orchard tasks! Avocado trees are super easy to prune. Their wood is soft and there is very little science to muddle your way through.

An annual prune makes for a quick, easy job. Leave the prunings as mulch around the bottom of the tree.

Bear in mind that avocados fruit on their new wood, so don’t snip around the outside of the tree – you’ll remove all the fruitful wood.

Timing

Prune your avocado as soon after harvest as possible.

Height And Width

Use thinning cuts to reduce the height and width to your chosen limits. Within your comfortable reach is a good guide – leave the ladders to the roofers! In a two for one deal those thinning cuts also open the tree for light anf airflow. Focus on removing the dominant, vertical shoots. Avocados respond with a strong regrowth , so don’t be shy!

Fresh new shoots low down on the tree make for easy times ahead – fruitful wood, within our grasp.

Remove low branches to keep the fruits up out of the grass.

Before Pruning

After pruning. The branches that are too high, too low and too wide have been thinned out.

6 Tips on How to Prune an Avocado Tree 

Avocados are, despite what anyone may say, a tricky plant to grow. They are certainly worth it. The healthy and delicious fruit seems to render any effort required to obtain it more than rewarding. Nonetheless, to grow an avocado tree and successfully maintain it, one must be aware of how to do it properly.

Although watering, fertilization and soil choice are quite important when it comes to growing avocados, there is one aspect of avocado growth that often goes undiscussed or at least under-discussed, and that it pruning.

Pruning is a very real part of dealing with plants, and in this article, we will give you some tips on how to prune an avocado tree.

Without further ado, let us get started:

Table of Contents

#1 – Do not over-prune

This is one of the main mistakes you can make with your avocado trees. Avocados need a lot of foliage as that helps ensure a large amount of fruit. Therefore, you should not prune your avocado tree a lot. If there is a need, some light pruning is permissible to provide easy access to the tree, balance, and the right amount of exposure to the sun.

Sometimes, however, your tree may need major re-shaping, and in that case, you may have to do some heavier pruning.

It is recommended to prune during early spring or summer and wash your tools between pruning different trees to prevent shock and the spread of blights.

#2 Know the right equipment to use

Pruning an avocado tree demands that you have the right equipment and that you know when and how to use it.

For example, if you are cutting branches that are less than 1 inch in diameter, then hand pruners will do the job. Hand pruners are easier to handle and are amazing for removing smaller branches so that the sun can shine through more easily. (note: There are also specialty hand pruners made specifically for avocado trees, which have rounded tips which prevents them from damaging any of the fruit.)

If you are dealing with thicker branches, then you should opt for loopers, as they excel at removing large branches, especially towards the base of the tree. Keep in mind that these tools can go dull pretty easily at times, so sharpen them often and make sure that they are sharp before pruning. When pruning, take care to make your major cuts clean and in line with the natural contour of the trunk.

Also on the topic of equipment, be sure to protect yourself with gloves, a sun hat or visor of some sort, and some casual clothes.

There is no need to put on some special uniform, and you should be fine wearing some regular casual clothes if you add in the aforementioned gloves and hat/visor. If you are going to be wearing a T-shirt, it is still recommended that it be a long-sleeved one for better protection. Also, put on some old jeans and some sneakers and you should be ready to boot. Just make sure you are using clothes that you will not mind getting dirty.

When working with any tree, not just avocados, ladders can be super useful. Be sure, however, to use a tall, sturdy, and secure ladder that has a firm base. If you need extra stability, have someone hold it at the base. Ladders are essential when it comes to pruning newly-planted trees because they have shallow root systems that cannot balance out the accelerated growth of the top of the tree.

Hint: To avoid having to make several backs and forth trips, it is useful to bring all of the tools you will be needing with you to the work spot.

#3 – Know how to take care of your equipment

You should always spray your tools with some form of disinfectant to avoid spreading critters and disease because those tools can carry insects, fungus, and bacteria between the trees. Spraying them with diluted bleach or alcohol works well.

#4 – Know when to prune heavily

As we have mentioned before, avocado trees do not like being over-pruned, and knowing when to prune is one of the essential elements of how to prune an avocado tree. As such, you should prune them heavily only during spring or early summer as this helps avoid shock. Cutting them during the fall or winter weather may expose the tree to cold temperatures or even frost. Best times are the first few weeks of spring or summer.

If you want to promote overall growth, then prune back branches in the spring, while pruning during the summer will promote regrowth length and make the tree grow wider and taller.

#5 – Be aware of the general principles when it comes to avocado pruning

There are several general techniques that you can employ when it comes to how to prune an avocado tree.

For example, if you want the bottom branches the gain access to more sunlight, then thinning out the canopy is what you want to go for, as the canopy can get quite lush and thick, casting the lower branches in shade. Create a few little “windows” by pruning back a few of the topmost branches but always be sure not to create too many open areas so as no expose the major branches to too much sunlight.

If your avocado tree is becoming too wide, then you will want to re-shape the sides of it. This is especially essential if the tree’s branches start tangling with another or if they are blocking you from mowing or irrigating. Be careful not to over-prune.

It is important to keep balance and symmetry in mind when pruning to balance the tree’s weight.

Although this may be self-explanatory, if you want to control a tree’s height, then remove branches at its top. Remove only 1 major branch per summer starting with the tallest. This kind of pruning is of special importance for newly-planted trees as the roots are not yet strong enough to support extra height.

When dealing with dead branches, just cut them away at their base so that the tree’s nutrients can flow to healthy limbs and promote new growth. Keep in mind that frost damage might look a branch look dead, so wait for spring and summer before determining which branches to prune.

Do not fertilize your avocado tree after heavy pruning as the latter will naturally trigger more foliage. Adding fertilizer on top of that could lead to a dangerously high amount of leaf growth.

If your tree needs rejuvenation pruning, then consider cutting it back to its main trunk. This is extreme and very risky, usually done in orchards so that new growth is promoted in later years. After this, your trees should grow back after approximately three years. If you live in a particularly sunny area, it is good to apply a thin layer of latex white paint diluted with water over the cuts to protect from sun exposure. This type of pruning is not recommended for beginners as it can permanently damage or kill your tree.

#6 – Use preventive pruning year-round

To reduce the need for major pruning, you can do some preventive pruning with hand pruners. Cut off any growing tips in areas where you do not want them. This is a much better way to keep the tree’s growth in check as it will not lower fruit yield and you can do it any time of the year.

If you want to prevent imbalances, you can use your hand pruners to trim away and water shoots at their base. These leafy shoots grow vertically in the bark and pruning helps keep the tree’s growth controlled and natural.

Cut branches at their base to fix small limb breakages. Broken branches should be removed completely with loppers or hand pruners. This helps redirect nutrients to the rest of the tree and encourages branch growth.

You can control wild growth with thinning cuts. Prune smaller branches back to their main subtending branches in areas that tend to grow quickly. This helps keep the tree’s growth in check and prevents wild growth in the future.

If you happen to see any wild branches starting to form, it is much easier to cut them while they are still small. Do not wait until they have grown as that will only complicate the process and might damage the tree.

Conclusion

When it comes to how to prune an avocado tree, there are a few guiding principles that you should keep in mind. Avocados do not like being over-pruned. They are fragile trees and major pruning should only be done during spring and summer and great care should be taken not to damage the tree. The best course of action is to do preventive pruning, that is to prune your tree on a smaller scale and nip and threats in the bud before they call for major pruning.

Just remember to keep your equipment clean, sharp, and safe, and take care not to damage your trees. You should be fine.

What is the recommended avocado tree height? 

Avocados can sometimes seem more like nature’s magic trick than actual fruit. They are delicious while still being nutritious, and are such an easy addition to one’s diet which seems to bring seemingly nothing but benefits. Let’s dive in and see the what is the recommended avocado tree height!

Unfortunately, avocados do not fall from the sky. They do, however, grow on trees—avocado trees. As such, if you are someone interested in growing them, it is important to know the basics of what a healthy avocado tree looks and acts like.

This article aims to tackle exactly that. Whether you are someone looking to grow avocado trees yourself or are simply curious, it will look at the question of height, and more specifically will talk about the recommended avocado tree height. That way, you can know what to look for and avoid when growing your avocado, or if you are simply looking for a way to criticize that neighbor of yours who you are sure has been growing their avocados all wrong this whole time.

With that all said, let us get into the article and learn some new things about the recommended avocado tree height.

Table of Contents

The Many Types of Avocado

The thing to keep in mind with avocado tree height is that it varies between all the different types of avocado out there. The type of avocado you will find in your or nearby garden will vary according to several things. These include stuff such as whether or not the tree is being grown outside or inside (as inside there is only usually space for dwarf varieties), what sort of climate is present, and where on the World the avocado growing site is located.

Avocado Tree (Credits to The Tree Center)

When it comes to dwarf vs. standard varieties, Guatemalan, West Indian, and Mexican are the primary representatives of the latter, while the only true dwarf variety avocado is the Wurtz avocado, reaching a height of only 10 feet (making it ideal for indoor growth).

The type of avocado tree depends on the type of flower they have. Avocados are generally divided into two groups – an A and B type. Type A flower avocado trees are male (shedding pollen) in the afternoon and female (receptive to pollen) in the morning. Type B flower avocado trees function the other way around. “A flower” avocados are Mexicola, Stewart, and Hass, while “B flower” avocados are Bacon and Zutano. Little cado, or formally Wurtz, has variations with both A flowers and B flowers.

While all of the standard variety avocado trees vary in terms of texture, maturity rate, and fruit size, generally speaking, their average height will reach between 30 and 40 feet, and 15 to 20 feet in width. But do not let this be a necessary cap, as some trees can grow to be 80 feet fall. It all varies from tree to tree.

Shape

Another factor related to the size that is also worth considering is the shape. When it comes to the shape of an avocado tree, its canopy is usually regular, smooth, and fairly symmetrical. Its leaves and branches fill in the crown in a uniform fashion. The members of species also look quite similar to each other. Younger and middle-ages avocado trees will grow in a more pyramid-like shape, getting progressively more rounded as they age.

Pruning

Another thing that you should keep in mind when considering to grow an avocado tree is that they do not like being over-pruned (except for cutting off dead branches), so, if you are thinking that you can just cut off some branches if the tree gets too big, you might want to consider planting something else instead.

The age of your tree also determines its shape. Younger and middle-aged trees grow in a somewhat pyramidal shape, whilst mature trees progressively get more round.

This is why it is very important to consider the space you have available if you are planning to grow anything, including avocados, but also to get acquainted with the plant you are growing – specifically, when it comes to avocado trees, to know which type you are getting, what height the tree can achieve, what shape, and how much space and care that kind of a tree will require.

Growth Rate

The growth rate is also an important element to consider when we are thinking about the avocado tree height.

On average, avocados have quite the fast growth rate, which can be both good and bad depending on how you look at it. They can grow two or more feet in a single growing season, and will probably hit maturity in approximately twenty years, give or take.

Climate is an incredibly important contributor to either the growth or decay of avocado trees, and if exposed to freezing temperatures avocados may die to the ground. If they manage to survive this, then they will rebound with the same quick growth rate. On this note, mature trees are better at tolerating colder weather than younger ones, though this difference is only a few degrees Fahrenheit.

How Do I Ensure Healthy Growth?

Now you are probably asking yourself: how does a person ensure that their tree will reach the recommended avocado tree height?

The good news is that that is something you need not worry about. Avocados will naturally grow to their usual height, provided of course that you take good care of them. This implies watering them properly, growing them in the proper climate, not over-pruning or over-fertilizing, and generally caring for them as they mature and bear fruit.

Note that Avocados are tropical fruits, meaning that they thrive in hot, well-lit places. The tolerance of cold weather depends on the type of avocado tree. Type A flower avocado trees are more tolerant of cold weather than type B flower trees are.

Regardless, your avocado tree will need full sunlight exposure for most of the day for it to grow at a standard pace, as cold climates may cause the tree to freeze and break down. Luckily, this usually happens top-down, but if you are planning on having taller avocado trees – this may serve as a problem, as you can’t re-grow them faster the second time than you did the first.

The implication of them as tropical fruit, however, does not imply that they like too much humidity, especially in the soil. Improve the drainage of your avocado site with compost and gypsum. The reason why avocados don’t like watery soil is that their roots aren’t complex, on the other hand, this can cause them to dry out and dehydrate faster, so balance the humidity out. Another trick for good drainage is considering planting on a mound or slope. As for the soil, a neutral pH is good, but slightly acidic won’t do any harm, either, so aim for 5.5 to 7.

As mentioned before, an average avocado tree height will range between 20 and 30 feet, so leaving enough room for them to grow (both horizontally and vertically) is also essential.

Another grouping of avocado trees can be done by their spreading: large spreading, medium spreading and small erect. If you are getting large spreading avocado trees, note that they won’t thrive or produce much fruit if you cramp them together like sardines.

Wurtz, also known as little cado, is the only type of avocado tree that may be grown in a pot, the rest will need to be planted directly into the ground. This is why Wurtz is a good option for people who live in a climate that is prone to variation or weather changes – you can just simply move your avocado tree along with its pot to a more suitable area (or temporary shelter it).

Avocados grown in pots/containers will also be limited in their height by the size of the container itself and pruning. The growth of the avocado tree begins in winter to early spring. Mature plants still grow two inches or more yearly on the strong, upright branches by the end of the summer months.

However, if you are thinking about growing other types of avocado tree that reach a height that is up to 65 feet, consider topping your tree, because having too-tall of a tree may be unpractical – the tree may bend, and thus not flower properly, but in case it does not – picking fruit will be hard.
Another thing to remember about avocado trees is when you should plant them after you buy them.

Avocado trees that do not fall into the dwarf category should initially be planted into a 24-inch pot and nurtured to its full potential of life in a container – which is 6 to 8 feet in height with a trunk caliber of 1 to 2 inches. After reaching this size, the avocado tree starts producing fruit and may be planted into the ground. If you buy a very young avocado tree, it may not thrive on its own if you place it into the soil in your garden right away. Note that it may take a few years for young grafted plants to reach the recommended size.

Recap and Final Thoughts

Overall, the thing to remember is that avocados are not enormous trees that will reach up towards the skies. They are quick-growing, smaller trees, which mature after some twenty years. Avocado tree height varies slightly from variety to variety but generally speaking, they will reach 30 and 40 feet (although they can reach up to 80). They have a fairly symmetrical shape and are generally quite beautiful trees.

Also, because they do not grow very tall, they can strike one as having quite a wide appearance, which makes them rather silly looking, and, thus, a great decoration and addition to your home and/or garden.

The thing to remember with avocado trees is that each one is different and has its unique characteristics. Just because one tree does not fall in these broad generalizations does not mean there is something wrong with it. On that note, always be ready for surprises and know that nothing in nature is set in stone, which is exactly why you will have to be ready for anything that happens along the way – be it providing more space for your avocado tree to grow in height, improving the drainage of your soil, or improving the humidity.

Growing avocado trees requires patience and devotion, but any avocado lovers out there will agree that it’s worth the small hassle for the reward – fresh, home-grown avocado.

Whether you are growing your own avocados or simply wish to educate yourself on this topic, we hope this answers some of your questions about the recommended avocado tree height.

There are many varieties of avocado trees available for purchase at your local nursery here in California. Here on this page I will detail every variety you will be able to locate (and some you probably can’t) and tell you everything I have learned about the tree AND the fruit that tree produces. You see, it’s very easy to locate information on the fruit of these particular trees but much, much harder to locate info on the trees, particularly pictures of what they look like when they’re mature! That much will be an ongoing project. But for now I can tell you about their characteristics:

Variety Tree Size Pattern Height Width Hardiness Type Notes
Bacon medium upright 20′ 23 B
Ettinger medium upright 21 B
Fuerte large spreading 36′ 20′ 30 B *
Gwen dwarf upright 12′ 10′ 30 A **
Hass medium spreading 26′ 20′ 32 A *
Holiday dwarf compact 12′ 10′ 30 A **
Jim Bacon medium upright 24 B **
Kona Sharwil medium spreading 30 B
Lamb-Hass medium upright 22′ 16′ 30 A **
Little Cado dwarf weeping 12′ 8′ 25 A
Mexicola medium spreading 18 A
Mexicola Grande large spreading 18 A
Pinkerton medium spreading 30 A **
Reed medium upright 16′ 13′ 30 A
Sir Prize medium upright 26′ 16′ 28 B
Stewart dwarf spreading 18 A
Zutano large upright 20′ 20′ 26 B **
* Alternate bearing
** Heavy producer

Most avocado trees are self-pollinating here in California, however you will ABSOLUTELY get more fruit if you have at least one tree of each type in your home orchard. Every avocado tree has flowers that are perfect–that is, they are both male and female. The difference is that the A type trees have flowers that will open as females in the morning one day, close in the afternoon, then open the next afternoon as male and then close in the evening. The B type trees are reversed, in that they open as male in the morning and female the next afternoon. So you can see that on any given morning, the A tree will have female flowers open and the B tree will have male flowers open. In the afternoon they swap. Once a flower completes this two day process and it hasn’t been pollinated, it will wither and fall of the tree, usually within 1-3 days.

Now you can see why it’s important to have both tree types! But it’s not absolutely necessary. This is because here in California our climate is a little bit colder than the tree’s native climate and this causes some of the flowers to sometimes delay their openings for a few hours, such that you will eventually have one tree with both kinds of flowers open at the same time. Some trees are better at self-pollinating than others–particularly Reed. If I only had the room for one tree, I would probably pick the Reed for this reason and because it’s one of the best tasting varieties out there.

But if you’re going the more traditional route and planting a Hass, it’s important to note that Bacon and Zutano are the two best pollinators for Hass. They flower regularly and heavily every year, but unfortunately they aren’t the tastiest varieties to grow. They have a lower oil content at their peak of ripeness and taste a bit more watery than what you might be used to. The benefit is that they ripen during the winter months when Hass is done, so having one of them wouldn’t be a complete waste. Of course, if you have the room, the Fuerte is one of the best tasting B type trees, but it’s alternate bearing. Before I explain that, let me give you a second table of info about the taste of the fruit from all of these trees:

Variety Fruit Quality Fruit Size Ripening Period Color
Bacon fair 10-12oz Oct-Feb green
Ettinger good 10-20oz Feb-Jun green
Fuerte excellent 10-12oz Nov-Jun green
Gwen excellent 6-15oz Apr-Oct green
Hass excellent 10-12oz Feb-Aug black
Holiday excellent 18-24oz Sep-Dec green
Jim Bacon good 8-10oz Oct-Jan green
Kona Sharwil excellent 8-16oz Feb-Nov green
Lamb-Hass excellent 10-16oz Jun-Dec black
Little Cado good 10-20oz May-Sep green
Mexicola good 4-8oz Aug-Oct black
Mexicola Grande good 6-10oz Aug-Oct black
Pinkerton excellent 14-16oz Nov-Apr green
Reed excellent 12-18oz July-Sep green
Sir Prize excellent 10-20oz Nov-Mar black
Stewart excellent 4-8oz Aug-Oct black
Zutano good 11-14oz Jan-Feb green

So these are pretty much all the varieties of avocado trees you would be able to purchase commercially from a retail store/nursery like Home Depot, Lowe’s, The Do-It-Center, Orchard Supply Hardware, or Armstrong Nurseries, usually 5 gallon size for about $25-$35. You can even get trees at Costco starting in February for about $18! However I have rarely found 15 gallon sized trees at any of these places. These stores don’t grow the trees themselves–they are retailers for the major nurseries that produce trees for both the large scale growers and the retailers. These major nurseries are La Verne (by far the biggest) in Piru, Durling in Fallbrook, Fourwinds Growers in Winters, C & M Nursery in Nipomo, and probably a few others that I don’t know about because I haven’t been to every retail nursery out there.

Of course Brokaw Nursery in Ventura is the largest producer of trees for the commercial growers (the orchards that supply the supermarkets with fruit). They produce trees on special rootstocks that are root rot resistant. Unfortunately, they don’t sell to the retail stores or individual buyers. But don’t get too fixated on getting a tree with that special root stock. You won’t need it for your backyard. Only the orchard growers need those trees because they are constantly pulling out old trees that have succumbed to disease and planting new ones, so they need those better rootstocks.

There are other nurseries that supply trees to the commercial growers who DO also sell to you, the home buyer, and they are not only the best deal but they are the places were you can find a good stock of 15 gallon sized trees. Most of these nurseries are down in Fallbrook which is the self-proclaimed avocado capital of California. Maddock Ranch is where I bought my two 15 gallon trees (and they were nice enough to give us wholesale pricing!), Atkins, Clausen, Evergreen, and J & J Growers Nursery are some of the best places to go. There is a boutique nursery up in Santa Cruz that sells primarily to the home buyer online. They’re called Epicenter and most of their varieties you won’t find on this page or anywhere else.

Good luck with your selection!

Sources:
CRFG Orange County – Julie Fink
When to Pick Avocados – UC Ventura Cooperative Extension
La Verne Nursery

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