Home Page
CONTACT US
Hours and Directions
 ONLINE STORE
What We Sell
WHAT'S NEW
Fruits of Warm Climates
High Density Planting
Online Catalog
Books
About Our Nursery
Internet Links/Sources
Mission Statement
FAQ
Does It Grow In Arizona?
Growing Sub-Tropicals
FROST PROTECTION
FREEZE DAMAGE CARE!!
Growing Avocados
Growing Bamboo
Growing Bananas
Growing Citrus Trees
Growing Dragon Fruit
Growing Guavas
Growing Loquats
Growing Mangos
Growing Papayas
Growing Passion Fruit
Growing Plumeria
Growing Figs
Nursery Policy
Welcome
Summer Planting
Site Map
Hardiness Lookup Tool
Email Me

How Not To Kill Your Avocado Tree
Like Us
INTRODUCTION
LOCATION AND PLANTING
WATERING
CARE AND FROST PROTECTION
FERTILIZING
SOIL/WATERING
WINDS
SUN AND HEAT
LEARN




Like Us



Back to Top

INTRODUCTION

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.

Back to Top

LOCATION AND PLANTING

Location is one of the most important considerations in successfully growing an avocado tree. Avocado trees do not have bark to protect themselves from the intense sun and must be planted undershade. Natively the tree would grow under the shade of the parent plant and as it matures it would eventually break through the upper canopy. If it weren't for the high summer heat you could get by with white washing the trunk as you do with citrus however that alone is not an option in the Arizona desert.

Some ideas that have been successful, have been planting on the north side of the house or under the shade of another larger tree in your yard. Absence of these options would be to erect a shade structure, this can be as simple as 4 landscape poles with some shade cloth draped over the top and the west side. Once the tree develops enough foliage and good root structure, (approximately 2-3 years) it will shade its self, so any shading should only be temporary, either by the ability for the plant to grow to the sun or something that can be removed. Once established, you avocado tree will need sun in order to flower and fruit

Once a location has been selected you are ready to dig the hole and plant. Avocados like fast draining organic soil. Lossen or dig the hole 2-3 times as wide as the container but no deeper than the root ball. If your soil is very hard and compacted it would be beneficial to lossen the soil at the bottom of the hole with a pick or suitable garden tool but do not dig deeper than the root ball. Best would be if planted a few inches above the surrounding soil level. Fill the hole about half full with water and let drain. This is a good test for drainage but will also provide the plant with a water storage it can use later. Next cut away the bottom of the nursery container and place the plant in the hole, carefully cut up along the side of the pot and remove it. Mix the removed soil at a rate of 50/50 with compost and sand, now backfill the hole and water well.  With the remaining soil build a  berm around the plant at least 4" high and fill with water. Once that has drained apply a layer of compost of again at least 4" deep around the plant but about a foot away from the trunk of the tree
Though not a problem in the desert, root rot is a major cause of avocado death in California. The condition develops with the combination of cool winter temperatures and the corresponding rainy season. Because of this many orchards and home owners plant their avocados on raised mounds. If you have very poor draining soil this may also be an option for you as well. To accomplish this only dig a hole about 1/4 - 1/2 as deep as the pot and then build soil up around the root ball. The end result would be small pitchers mound. This method of planting has proved very successful in controlling root rot in avocado production.



Back to Top

WATERING

Your avocado should be watered on a grass schedule during the spring, summer and fall. Like citrus, avocados like to dry out a bit between watering. During the winter cool months careful attention to watering is crucial. Avocados do not like cold damp soil and can easily develope root rot, so if we have a normal wet winter you probably do not have to water much during December and January. If you have a berm around your avocado tree, you should remove it during the winter months to avoid rain water accumulating.

Back to Top

CARE AND FROST PROTECTION

Avocados do not neet pruning except where you need to control spread or height. Pruning should be done before flower set and flush of new growth.
Depending on how old your avocado tree is and what variety, you may need to provide frost protection. Mexicola avocados are hardy to 18f, where as other vareties begain to experience damage at 32f. Any newly planted tree, (with in the last 12 months) should be protected from frost. After the first year, depending on variety be prepared with a winter frost protection plan in place,


Back to Top

FERTILIZING

We don't recommend fertilizing young and newly planted trees for at least the first year. Once the tree is established you can use any balanced citrus fertilizer on a yearly basis, just follow the directions on the label. Keep in mind, the rule of thumb with commercial fertilizers is less is more, so be conservative. Or if you are into organics like me you can use compost, coffee grounds, fish emulsion, etc. There are great suggestions in Dave Owens book, Extreme Gardening: How To Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts. The book can be purchased direct from our site,

Back to Top

SOIL/WATERING

Avocados need well drained soil, as the plant will not tolerate wet soggy soil, this is also important in the winter time when the ground is cold as well. Though do not take this advise to mean that the tree is drought tolerant as in our desert heat and arid conditions would mean almost certain death of the plant if it does not receive regular deep watering especially as temperatures reach well above 100f degrees in the summer. Avocados are very sensitive to salt burn, and with the high concentration of salt in our water and combination of heavy clay soil it is important to remember to water slow and deep. You can achieve this by using drip emitters of no more that 1/4-1/2 gallon per hour and let it run for several hours each time you water. If you don't use a drip system you can achieve the same results by turning on your hose to just a trickle and leaving it on the plant for a few hours, thus allowing the water to penetrate deep so the roots can get to it. Avocados need well drained soil, as the plant will not tolerate wet soggy soil, this is also important in the winter time when the ground is cold as well. Though do not take this advise to mean that the tree is drought tolerant as in our desert heat and arid conditions would mean almost certain death of the plant if it does not receive regular deep watering especially as temperatures reach well above 100f degrees in the summer. Avocados are very sensitive to salt burn, and with the high concentration of salt in our water and combination of heavy clay soil it is important to remember to water slow and deep. You can achieve this by using drip emitters of no more that 1/4-1/2 gallon per hour and let it run for several hours each time you water. If you don't use a drip system you can achieve the same results by turning on your hose to just a trickle and leaving it on the plant for a few hours, thus allowing the water to penetrate deep so the roots can get to it.

Back to Top

WINDS

Protection from the hot dry winds if possible is a good idea, also is the placement of misters during flower set and during the hotter dryer months.

Back to Top

SUN AND HEAT

Avocado trees prefer full sun but need protection from the western sun during the first years until they develope a stong deep root structure and dense foliage to protect the sensitive bark. We recommend either painting any exposed bark with diluted water based paint or planting the tree on the east side of your house so it only receives morning sun. I built a 8 foot shade structure for my avocados with openings that the plant can eventually grow through. Most avocado varieties can grow to be very tall trees, so protection and shading is only a temporary requirement as in time they will reach for the sky and eventually be to tall to cover even if you wanted to.

Back to Top

LEARN

Here are some additional links to articles about growing avocados.

Avocados: Arizona rare fruit growers

How to plant an avocado tree, by Julie Frink


Back to Top


 

|Home Page| |CONTACT US| |Hours and Directions| | ONLINE STORE| |What We Sell| |WHAT'S NEW| |Fruits of Warm Climates| |High Density Planting| |Online Catalog| |Books| |About Our Nursery| |Internet Links/Sources| |Mission Statement| |FAQ| |Does It Grow In Arizona?| |Growing Sub-Tropicals| |FROST PROTECTION| |FREEZE DAMAGE CARE!!| |Growing Avocados| |Growing Bamboo| |Growing Bananas| |Growing Citrus Trees| |Growing Dragon Fruit| |Growing Guavas| |Growing Loquats| |Growing Mangos| |Growing Papayas| |Growing Passion Fruit| |Growing Plumeria| |Growing Figs| |Nursery Policy | |Welcome| |Summer Planting| |Site Map| |Hardiness Lookup Tool|