How to grow avocado trees
Avocados are tall, sun loving trees that produce bountiful crops of luscious, creamy-tasting fruits that are ideal chopped up in salads, spread onto sandwiches or made into guacamole.
The avocado is an evergreen tree that thrives is full sun and deep, rich, well-drained soil. It reaches heights of 23-59 feet(7-18m) tall and can spread almost that wide as well. Dwarf varieties are a little bit harder to find, but they are around. They provide the perfect solution for cooler climates, growing to about 13 feet (4m) tall. This makes them suitable to plant in large containers and move them around to the sunnier locations in the garden.
The Guatemalan and the Mexican are two main types of avocado available to the home gardener. The Mexican can be grown successfully in slightly cooler climates.
Although avocados can be grown from seed, for best results grow them from grafted cultivars that have been developed on rootstock from mature vigorous, disease-resistant trees. And though it is not absolutely necessary to cross-pollinate avocado trees to fruit, it can help increase the yield. Choose two cultivars that have similar or overlapping flowering times and plant them near each other to achieve optimum fruiting.
Choose your avocado plant
Purchase container grown avocados in spring and select a variety that is suited to your region’s humidity and winter low temperature. They thrive in temperatures between (15-30 degrees C) with a humidity of over 60 per cent. If grown in too cold a climate the trees are reluctant to flower meaning no fruit. Avoid large plants in small containers as they will most likely be pot-bound and will not grow well.
Dig the hole
Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly deeper than the plant’s root-ball in a sunny location. Mix lots of compost into the removed soil and roughen up the side and bottom of the hole to make it easier for the roots to settle in and take hold.
Make a soil mound
Build up a mound of soil in the bottom of the hole till it is 2-3 inches (5-8cm) high, so the base of the tree will be slightly above ground level after the soil settles in.
Remove the plant from the pot
To remove the avocado tree from its pot, tip the pot on its side. Gently press the sides of the pot and slide the plant out. If it is difficult to remove the plant, cut the pot rather than pulling too hard and damaging the plant. Untangle any roots that circle around the root-ball.
Set the tree in the hole
Set the tree on top of the mound and back-fill with the compost enriched soil. As you back-fill, gently firm the soil in place with a stick or with your fingers so no air pockets remain.
Water the tree slowly so the water seeps into the ground rather than running off. This will help settle the soil in the planting hole. Water the newly planted trees often, but those that are established, let the top 17-18 inches (45cm) of soil dry out first before giving them a good soaking.
Add a 3-6 inch (8-16cm) layer of organic mulch or wood chips around the base of the tree to help conserve soil moisture. Make sure the mulch does not intrude within 12 inches (30cm) of the trunk. Each spring top up with extra mulch.
In summer spread a slow-release fertilizer as far as the branches reach and apply enough at one time to last the entire season.