Avocados grow mostly in tropical climates, but they can be grown in temperate and cool areas, too. Here’s how to grow avocado.
Avocados grow best in tropical and subtropical climates, but they will also grow in warm and cool areas too, provided there is protection from frost. Once established, mature trees will tolerate minor short periods of frost (as low as -4°C). Plant in full sun and protect from strong winds.
Plant avocado trees in well-drained soil, enriched with plenty of organic matter like Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. Avocados are susceptible to Phytophthora Root Rot (see What is root rot), so it’s important to ensure the soil is well-drained. Consider mounding the soil prior to planting to help water drain away quickly and reduce issues with root rot. If the soil is clay-based, dig in plenty of organic matter and gypsum at least 6-8 weeks before planting. Continue to improve the soil with these soil conditioners as the tree grows.
Avocados prefer soil to be slightly more on the acidic side, with a pH of 5.5 (see The importance of soil pH). Check your soil pH first and if needed, adjust with Yates Soil Acidifier Liquid Sulfur.
If planting in pots, use a quality well-draining potting mix, like Yates Premium Potting Mix.
When buds start to form, feed weekly with Yates Thrive Liquid Citrus Plant Food. This is high in potassium and will encourage more prolific flowering and abundant fruit. If you prefer an organic-based option or you don’t want to feed as regularly, try Yates Thrive Natural Citrus & Fruit Organic Based Pelletised Plant Food. Apply every 6-8 weeks.
Water regularly throughout the year, especially when flowering and fruiting. Take care not to overwater though, as this can lead to issues with root rot.
To harvest, look for slightly shrivelled fruit with a dull appearance. If unsure, pick a couple and allow to ripen indoors at room temperature. If mature, it will ripen within 7-14 days without shrivelling, have a creamy texture and delicious flavour. After this time, the avocados on the tree should be ready to harvest.
Pests and diseases
Avocados are susceptible to a range of pests and fungal diseases.
Once fruiting has finished, lightly prune back branches to remove any dead or dying twigs and branches to help maintain an open vase shape. If needed, a major prune can be carried out in autumn or winter. If growing in a pot, you can cut back one major limb to help it remain compact.
Nourish the soil after pruning by spreading Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser around the base of the tree. Water in well.
Avocados can grow between 10-12 m tall, so are best suited to growing in medium to large gardens. To grow avocados in pots, look for dwarf cultivars, like Dwarf Wurtz, Dwarf Lamb Hass or Dwarf Pinkerton. They typically grow to half the size of a full-sized tree or can be kept more compact with regular pruning.
Avocados can be grown from seed, but they can take up to 10 years to produce fruit, if you’re lucky. Also, it’s not guaranteed they will fruit well, and the quality of the fruit may be poor. So, it’s best to plant grafted varieties, as they will produce fruit in a shorter amount of time. However, planting an avocado seed can be a fun project and they also make great indoor plants.
Here’s how to grow an avocado seed in water: