How to Grow an Avocado Tree
The avocado has been having a moment for a while now, although with its ubiquitous presence on menus and in grocery stores across the country, the popularity of the avocado is looking less like a moment, and more like an era. We can't help but wish that they were even more accessible—just imagine being able to pluck ripe avocados from trees in your own backyard! That's one reason why everyone seems to want to plant their own avocado trees lately. With that in mind, we've compiled some helpful tips and tricks for how to grow your own avocado trees. Read on for Avocado Care 101.
The avocado is an evergreen tree in the Lauraceae family. It's native to Mexico and Central and South America, and it produces a delicious, tropical fruit that's used in a wide variety preparations and cooking styles. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "Three races of avocado (Persea Americana) are grown, and numerous hybrids among them exist. In Florida, the Mexican (the hardiest, often surviving to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) is grown in the colder parts of central Florida, while the Guatemalan (hardy to 21-25 degrees Fahrenheit) and the West Indian (the most tropical type, often perishing in temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit) and their hybrids are cultivated southward." When picking an avocado tree to plant, be sure to choose a selection resistant to scab disease, which can be an issue for avocado trees grown in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.
Avocado Growing Season
Most avocado tree species are at their peak between August and November, but depending on the variety, avocado growing seasons vary slightly. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "Plants bloom in late winter, and pollination is complex. Most types will produce some fruit if grown alone, but production is heavier when two or more selections are planted. Fruit ripens from summer into winter."
Planting an Avocado Tree
Once you've chosen a tree to plant, you'll want to create an environment that will help the planting thrive. The New Southern Living Garden Book says, "When planting an avocado tree in the landscape, consider that most selections will eventually grow quite large (to 40 ft.), produce dense shade, and shed leaves all year. Growth is quite rapid, but plants may be shaped by pinching terminal shoots. Avocado takes well to container culture, and selections in marginal climates can be moved to a protected location during cold spells." Aside from Florida, gardeners can grow avocados in South Texas from Mexican race seedlings, while those in warmer coastal regions can grow more cold-hardy selections such as 'Brazos Belle', 'Joey', 'Lila', 'Pancho', and 'Winter Mexican'. Check your local garden center or cooperative extension service for avocado selections that will work for your location.
Avocado Tree Care
After they're planted and established, you'll want to give your avocado trees appropriate care. When planted, avocado trees require full sun and regular water. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "All avocado trees require good drainage; constantly wet soil encourages fatal root rot. Tree is shallow rooted; do not cultivate deeply. In the absence of rainfall, irrigate lightly and frequently enough to keep soil moist but not wet." When creating this environment, a mulch can be helpful, and you can enlist the help of the tree's own fallen leaves to make a suitable mulch at the base of the tree.
Happy planting! If you're curious about how to make the most of your avocados, check out 5 Things Avocado Fans Need to Know and The One Trick to Know When Picking Out Avocados. Also be sure to bookmark some of our favorite avocado recipes, including 15 Easy Ways to Use Avocado for Your Next Meal or Party.
Will you be planting avocado trees in your garden this year? Let us know what plans you're developing for your garden in the seasons to come.