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Smashed, smeared, or spooned straight from the fruit, Avocados (Persea americana) have a place in everyone’s breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. So, it makes sense to grow a tree or two in your backyard. But how long does it take to fruit? Grafted trees bought from the nursery can take up to 4-5 years to bear fruit, but if you choose to grow an avocado from seed, it can take up to 10 years! The most popular Avocado in supermarkets is Hass, but by growing your own, you can choose from a few other delicious varieties.


Avocados grow mostly in tropical and subtropical climates, but they can be grown in sheltered temperate climates and protected cool areas too. Check the plant tag and choose the right variety for your location. 'Bacon' is cold tolerant while 'Wurtz' performs better in warmer areas. Different Avocado varieties have different flowering habits and are categorised into two groups: A and B. To maximise pollination, it's best to grow both an A and B type. Type A varieties include 'Haas', 'Pinkerton', 'Reed', 'Rincon' and 'Wurtz'. Type B varieties include 'Bacon', 'Edranol' and 'Fuerte'.

Location

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.

Soil

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.

Avocados prefer a moist (but well-drained soil) soil. Check to see if your soil is water-repellent/hydrophobic (see How to Test for Water-Repellent/Hydrophobic Soil) and apply a soil wetter - such as Yates Waterwise Soil Wetter Concentrate - if necessary.

If planting in pots, use a quality well-draining potting mix, like Yates Premium Potting Mix.

 

Fertiliser

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

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.

Harvest

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.

  • Fruit Fly can lay their eggs under the skin of young fruit and eventually, maggots hatch and ruin the fruit, causing it rot and prematurely drop. Protect your trees early in the season by spraying the foliage (not the developing fruit) with Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control. You can also paint the premixed solution onto timber boards and hang them around the garden to help attract and kill fruit fly. Repeat weekly or sooner if there has been rain.
  • Anthracnose and Cercospora Leaf Spot are common fungal diseases of Avocados. Help prevent these diseases by treating with Yates Liquid Copper Fungicide. It’s important to spray early in the season, every 4 weeks from the end of flowering to harvest. If conditions are wet, repeat every 14 days.
  • Phytophthora Root Rot occurs usually as a result of over-watering and/or poor-draining soil. If left untreated, it can spread and reduce the overall health and vigour of the tree. Treat Phytophthora root rot with Yates Anti Rot Phosacid Systemic Fungicide. Treat at first sign of the disease or use as a preventative spray when conditions are favourable.

Maintenance

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.

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How to Grow Avocado in a Garden

  1. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Enrich the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well. Mound the soil to improve drainage, if necessary.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the shrub from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill, gently firming down. Water in well. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like sugarcane or pea straw, keeping it away from the trunk.
  4. Feed with a complete fertiliser, such as Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser in spring and autumn. TIP: For an added nutrient boost, feed with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food weekly during the flowering season.
  5. As the tree grows, increase the amount of fertiliser each year to cater for its needs. Ensure the tree receives plenty of water during the hottest months of the year. Give a deep watering once a week in preference to shallow watering every other day.
  6. To harvest, look for slightly shrivelled fruit with a dull appearance. If unsure, pick a couple and allow to ripen indoors. If it ripens within 7-14 days, they’re ready to pick!
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Avocado

How to Grow Avocado in a Pot

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.

  1. Choose a pot at least 600 mm wide and deep (a half wine barrel is ideal). Position in full sun and protect from strong winds. 
  2. Fill pot with quality mix, such as Yates Premium Potting Mix. Remove shrub from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill, gently firming down. Water well.
  4. Feed with a complete fertiliser, such as Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser in spring and autumn. TIP: For an added nutrient boost, feed with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food weekly during the flowering season.
  5. To harvest, look for slightly shrivelled fruit with a dull appearance. If unsure, pick a couple and allow to ripen indoors. If it ripens within 7-14 days, they’re ready to pick!

How to Grow an Avocado Seed

Smashed avo on toast, creamy guacamole, hummus and salads are just some of the delicious ways to enjoy Avocado. Avocados are packed with nutrients, beneficial fats and antioxidants too, so there's lots of wonderful reasons to include this tasty fruit in your diet. 

You can grow an Avocado from seed, though they can take up to 10 years to fruit, and fruiting is not guaranteed. However the process is fascinating to watch and fun to do, especially with kids

How to Grow an Avocado Seed in Water:

  1. Remove the seed from the Avocado, taking care not to cut or damage it. Remove any flesh and run under water to help clean off any excess.
  2. Peel the brown seed coating from the seed. This can take a bit of time, so be patient.
  3. Moisten a paper towel and wrap the naked seed in the towel. Place inside a plastic bag and seal to help retain humidity. Store in a cool, dry spot for 7-14 days.
  4. After this time, check the seed after this time to see if a root has formed. If it hasn’t, place it back into storage and check again in a few days. If a root has formed, then it’s ready to be transferred.
  5. Place the seed on top of a glass jar (or similar) filled with water. Allow the root to sit in the water, but keep the moisture away from the seed, otherwise this can cause the seed to rot. Look for a jar with an opening smaller than the size of the seed so it can just rest on top, or fashion a cone holder out of cardboard or plastic to help the seed sit above the water.
  6. Position in a bright spot out of direct sunlight and top up the water as needed. A stem will eventually grow from the top of the seed.
  7. Cut the stem back when it's approximately 15-20 cm tall, removing about half the stem. This will help stimulate strong healthy growth.
  8. Leave it growing in the jar of water or once the small plant reaches 25-30 cm, you can plant the avocado seed in soil. See How to Grow Avocado in a Garden or How to Grow Avocado in a Pot. If growing in a pot, use a smaller pot to begin with, approximately 20-30 cm, and transplant once the tree becomes too big.

 

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Avocado Growing Tips

  • Avocado pollination: European honeybees can pollinate Avocado flowers, however blow flies, hoverflies and lady beetles, are other important pollinators. Filling your garden with lots of flowers that attract a wide range of beneficial insects will help give you more fruit.

  • Check the planting label and choose the right Avocado for your location – ‘Bacon’ is cold tolerant, while ‘Wurtz’ performs better in warmer areas.
  • Avocado varieties have different flowering habits, so they’re catergorised into two groups: A and B.
    - Type A: ‘Hass’, ‘Pinkerton’, ‘Reed’, ‘Rincon’ and ‘Wurtz’.
    - Type B: ‘Bacon’, ‘Edranol’ and ‘Fuerte’.
  • While Avocados can be self-pollinating, they will fruit better if cross-pollinated with a different type. For example, ‘Hass’ (Type A) and ‘Bacon’ (Type B).
  • If your Avocado flowers well, but doesn’t form any fruit, it could be due to a lack of pollinators or cool temperatures during flowering.

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