How to Plant Your Avocado Tree

grafted avocado tree Reed

You’ve just got your hands on an avocado tree. It’s still a baby and just like a baby, it doesn’t like being left out in the cold, wind or sun. It’s been in a nice cozy spot inside a hothouse or greenhouse, where it has been protected from the winter and summer extreme temps.

Protecting your avocado tree

Your new avocado tree needs to adjust to its new environment at your place and to do this, it’s best if you provide a little protection by building a little tent around it. The great thing about Avocado trees, is that they can quickly put on good amounts of new growth through the warmer months of the year, and in the Southwest of Western Australia, we have loads of sunshine for them to grow. Just give them the best possible start to their life. Read more here on the varieties we’re grafting

Here’s how we planted our avo trees

Site choice

This is quite important. It is absolutely essential for your Avocado tree to be planted in free draining soil. Avocados will not tolerate wet feet – ie saturated soil. Check to see if water drains out of the planting mix. If not, you’ll need to mound up your spot or ideally choose a spot that’s on a slope. We have very free draining soil (sand) and still made a small mound .

Planting Mix

The soil around here is sandy with no nutrient or organic matter, so we added clay, rock dust and compost to improve the soil for our avocado tree.    Read more about gardening in sandy soil here  if you’ve got sandy type soil like us. The compost that we use is beautiful, and well aged. Well aged compost is full of beneficial bacteria that feed your trees.  (no fresh manures! No chook manures or densified chook pellets) Fresh manures can tend to hold too much water and become anaerobic if they’re not broken down. This is just awful for your avocado tree.

If you’re in areas with poor drainage, an avocado tree will not tolerate water logged soil, even for a couple of days.

Avocados can develop root rot caused by the soil borne pathogen ‘phytopthera cinnamomi’ which thrive in wet conditions.   Avocado trees have small, fine fibrous, shallow feeder roots,that require a lot of oxygen. They must be kept moist at all times, but not saturated. If your soil needs better drainage, plant it on a hillside, if accessible, or mound it up. Lucky for many of us on the coast, the sandy soil is very free draining. So we’re half way there. To keep those feeder roots moist, add to your existing sandy soil, organic matter, rock dust and clay to hold water in around the root zone. These soil amendments are important as the biological activity associated with them helps to control any pathogenic microbes. Add Mulch to help to keep moisture in this soil planting mix.

Soil planting mix for avocados

Fertiliser – We used a slow release fertiliser 12-14month slow release fertilizer with added mycorrihizae to kickstart microflora in the soil. A small handful (which is 2 capfuls of the fertlizer that we use here – you can’t find this product at the big box stores – we can mix you up a tub if you like)

Slow release fertiliser handful

Planting

Don’t disturb the roots – Avocados have small, feeder roots that don’t like to be disturbed at all. If these get damaged, you’ll lessen your trees ability to take up nutrient and water

Avocado Tree Planting

Make a small well around the plant base to capture water

Planted Avocado Make a well

 

 

 

 

 

Mulch – While avocados need free draining soil, the soil must be kept moist. Avocados have shallow feeder roots that can dry out quickly. We used a larger pieced, irregular shaped bush mulch (the kind of mulch produced from tree loppers) rather than finer, sawdusty types as these can wick water out of the soil rather than keep moisture in.

Mulch your avocados to keep soil moist

 

 

 

 

 

Protect your tree

Avocados don’t like the wind, frost and cold weather or direct sun on the trunk and this is especially important while they are young. You can make a tent out of shadecloth to protect trees from these elements.

If planting out in cold weather, make a mini hothouse – These were planted out at the end of September, so the weather was still quite cool. With the use of plastic bags, the avocados trees were kept  nice and toasty warm and also to maintain the humidity. To stop the avos from overheating, cut a hole in the bag. Important Remove bag immediately when temps are 20 degrees or over to stop the tree from overheating and burning – this can kill the tree. You’ll need to monitor plastic bags carefully at this time of year (sept/oct) 

covering Avocado

 

 

 

 

 

Cut a hole in the bag  for air circulation, to keep cool and so tree canopy can grow through

Avocado plastic bag - a mini hothouse

 

 

 

 

 

Shade cloth Tent

Use 3 or 4 star pickets or stakes. Wrap shade cloth around them to create a tent. We used cable ties to fasten shade cloth.  This will keep the sun and the wind off and will also protect from frost. Your tree canopy will grow up and out over the shade cloth shading the trunks from the sun.  This can take a few years of growth before you can remove the shade cloth tent.

Avocado trees planted

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water – Water in well. Check – that retic is working and water is actually wetting the planting mix –as obvious as this sounds, this is very important to check that your soil is not hydrophobic. Using the planting mix as written above will help to remedy this.

Monitor your young tree everyday after first planting – you may need to increase water during the Spring and Summer months.

So tell us, how are your avocado trees going? For those who have acquired their avocado trees from us, got any pics you’d like to share with us? We love to see progress!

Check out which varieties we’re growing here, plus more avo info 

avocado Tree Planting

Update September 2018

Approx 2 years later this is what we have! They’ve grown a lot and we’ve even pruned them several times to get cuttings throughout the year. They love the warm months of the year and this is when they are actively putting on a stack of new growth.

grafted avocado tree Reed

 

Update August 2019

The trees are nearly 3 years since planted and are loaded with fruit. We have been picking Hass and Fuerte to ripen up and eat. We lost some fruit as they fell of the tree due to storms, but there’s still plenty there. We have also consistently pruned the trees all last year for cutting material. Last week, we pruned some top branches off to encourage more sunlight and to keep the tree at a manageable height . This also encourage lots more lower branches for more avocados – Here’s a litte video of an impromptu pruning  

 

 

Hass avocado tree
2.5 year tree – pruned back for cuttings.

 

 

 

bacon avocado

The trees are loaded with fruit and we have been picking Hass and Fuerte, waiting a week to ripen up ready to eat.

Avocado Trees For Your Backyard

Avocado Tree Hass

*For avocado varieties currently available go here >> avocado trees we grow

 


We have a good climate to grow avocados down here in Bunbury, Perth and the rest of the southwest. Avocados are in demand and there are many orchards in WA from up north Carnarvon way, down south to Manjimup and Pemberton – even as far as Albany. And there’s certainly a good supply of avocados in the markets but as you probably know, they can get a bit pricey, and they’re good, but just not a good as freshly picked off the tree – which is a good reason to want to grow your own supply of fresh avocados.

We get enquiries every day about avocados.   Avocado tree production is always at the top of the to do list.  So which tree is for you? Here’s a rundown on the Avocado trees we’re producing here. Right now we have waiting lists for avocados, we’re working hard to fill in commercial farm orders and usually have some available year round. Mostly Hass, but we will do the following whenever the opportunity presents itself – usually depending on when we can get cuttings (scion wood)

 

Farm Growers >>  Please contact us for availability of stock Give us a call or send an email for further information on availability as things change all the time.

Continue reading for planting information.

For info on how we planted out our avocado trees, go here

Hass (A)– most grown commercial variety because it transports so well. It turns black when ripe. Matures in April -August. Taste is really nice. Rich, nutty type taste. Everyone seems happy with Hass and is our most sought after Avocado for the backyard. However…there are other Avocados out there that are so yummy and flavoursome, and worth a try.

Pinkerton (A) – A smaller, dwarf Avocado tree. Fruit is similar to Hass, but with a smaller seed and a longer neck, ready to pick in winter time. Tree has a smaller spreading habit, is a consistent cropper and is also cold tolerant.

Fuerte (B)– a great cold tolerant variety which is also grown commercially as a pollinator to Hass. Fuerte is the most creamy, buttery avocado with a relatively small seed and a good amount of flesh. The tree itself grows quite tall.

Bacon (B)–  Fruit is green and thin skinned. Good pollinator for A types.  Fruit matures April-June. The tree itself is a spreading type of tree to about 4m. Gets to 10m if left unpruned.

Wurtz (A) A smaller, dwarf avocado tree with a spread out fruiting period – Jul-Dec.  Fruit is dark green, medium sized.

Reed (A)– a large round fruit with firm flesh, ready to pick around November- December. Really tasty and we look forward to when Reeds are in season.

Growing from Seed You can grow Avocados from seed easily enough and they do grow into a nice tree.

 We’ve got 2 that popped up in the vegie patch, most likely from Hass seeds that were turfed into the compost. They are really growing strong, and have tolerated several cold and windy winters and hot, summers without any protective shade-cloth structure. These guys are survivors, so we’re letting them stay for now – to see what kind of fruit they produce, but they’ll take a lot longer to fruit than a known, grafted variety – even up to 10 or so years or more –  and when they do finally fruit, there’s no guarantee that the fruit will be of a good size or eating quality.  The benefit of Grafted Avos are that they start producing after a few years in the ground and you’re getting a known fruit variety that you can look forward to.

By the way- getting an avocado seed to germinate is quite easy. Plant your seed in a pot and you’ll get a seedling in no time! Strangely enough, the internet seems to favour a method that involves toothpicks, and a glass of water – which sounds like fun thing to do on the kitchen sink, but not really necessary.

avocado treeAvocados make such a nice tree with their spreading branches – just waiting for a kid to climb

Choose a Spot

Avocados are subtropical, originating from Mexico and  Central America.  Despite these subtropical origins, they do grow quite well here down South, in Bunbury, Perth and there are commercial Avocado orchards all the way down Manjimup and Pemberton way.  What you want to do is recreate the micro climate from which they orginate,  as much as you can, which means choosing a warm protected spot, away from wind, frost, and direct sun with plenty of water.

Mature avocado trees like to be out in full sun, although judging by the leaf size, which is quite large, they look to have evolved to grow up from a shady, dappled light situation toward the sunlight.  You’ll need to protect your young trees from the sun as they can get sunburnt which can damage the young tree irreparably or cause the tree to struggle. You can paint the trunk with a waterbased white household paint to protect, or  plant out with a shade structure to protect from the frost and wind as well. There are cold tolerant varieties like Fuerte or Bacon, but most varieties will work, provided you give them a good start in life.

Drainage and Soil Planting Mix

Drainage is essential to an avocado tree.  They will not tolerate water logged soil, even for a couple of days. Avocados can develop root rot caused by the soil borne pathogen ‘phytopthera cinnamomi’ which is caused by wet conditions.   As they have small, shallow feeder roots, they must be kept moist, but not saturated. If your soil needs better drainage, plant it on a hillside, if accessible, or mound it up. Lucky for many of us on the coast, the sandy soil is very free draining. So we’re half way there. To keep those feeder roots moist, add to your existing sandy soil, organic matter, rock dust and clay to hold water as well as nutrient in around the root zone. These soil amendments are important as the biological activity associated with them helps to control these pathogenic microbes.  Mulch is essential to keep moisture in. Chose large, irregular shaped mulch material – which helps to keep water in the soil.  Avoid the finer, sawdusty type mulch. It actually tends to wick moisture out of the soil.

 Fun Fact Ahuacatl is how the Aztecs pronounced Avocado. It translates to testicles - from how the fruit hangs from the tree.

Planting Your Avocado

The Avocados we produce are grafted onto a seedling rootstock.  They’ll need a bit of attention and care. We recommend waiting until the weather warms up to plant out into the garden. Mid to Late Spring is good. We have a long period of warm weather to get them growing before our short winters. Until then, you can repot it if you like, being very careful not to disturb the roots and keep it in a warm spot, maybe in your patio area, where it receives shaded light and is protected from the wind.

Another Fun Fact  The Tree has origins from the time of Megafauna - who ate the large fruits as a tasty snack - and went on their way, dispersing the seed as they went! Which worked to the advantage of the Avocado - until these Mega fauna disappeared. Seems Avocados have had a lot of human intervention, since then to get them to this point in cultivation.

Food and Water

You’ll get good growth if your tree is consistently watered – work on getting a good planting mix as above so that the tree doesn’t dry out.  Especially on hot, windy days. To the planting mix suggested above, we use a controlled release fertliliser, given in the warmer months when the tree is actively growing.

Pollination – will you need two?

Avocados can be self pollinating – but – you’ll  always increase your yield if you have both an A and B variety. Here’s the rundown on Avo flowers – which seems to be kind of complicated at first glance, but hang in there.

When an avocado tree blooms, it produces a flower that is both male and female. That is, the flower has male bits that produce pollen, and female bits that receive the pollen – which then goes onto to become an avocado for you to eat.

Each flower lasts for about 2 days. When the flower opens, it opens as a female for a few hours, waiting to accept pollen from a male flower. It then closes….then opens again later as a male flower.

*Type As open as a female in the morning and male in the arvo of the second day.

*Type Bs open as female in the arvo on the first day and male in the morning of the second day

In cooler temps this pattern can vary, with flowers staying open for longer, allowing for greater chances of pollination, or not opening at all. There are many variables in temps in our Southwest region. Also consider that the Avocado tree produces lots of flowers at one time, their 2 day cycle can start at varying times, which can allow for overlap of open male and female flowers. It may be a good idea to increase your chances of pollen transfer by growing plants that attract insects like bees as well as flies and other insects .

So, yes your avocado can be self-pollinating and you can try growing one, and you’ll most likely get a good amount of fruit. You will though, like all other fruit, always increase your avocado yield if you have a pollinizer.

Good luck with your avos!

For info on how we planted out our Avocado Trees, have a read here

avocado orchard tree

 

Fruit Tree Pollination

bees on citrus blossom

If you want your fruit trees to bear fruit, pollination needs to take place – which leads to fertilisation (mixing of male and female pollen to create new seeds)

Some fruit trees are self fertile, that is, they produce flowers that can be pollinated by their own pollen – like Citrus varieties, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, which means you only need to plant one tree and it’ll produce lots of fruit. Other fruit trees, like Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherries, Avocados and some Nuts generally need another variety to cross pollinate with.

Fertilisation is mostly achieved though sexual reproduction, and is pretty much the same as us humans.  Basically, male genetic information  needs to mix with female genetic information to produce offspring. (the new seeds) The difference between us and plants is in the transfer of that information –  Plants can’t move around, so they employ  other creatures (and even the wind) to get their genetic information transferred – mostly bees, birds and other insects (and even some small animals!) – where they attract these creatures using their colour, scent and nectar.

 

Busy Bees pollinating peach tree blossoms – early spring in the nursery

Once fertilisation has taken place, a seed with it’s own unique genetic material is produced, which is a mixture of both parent plants. The seed is what you’ve been spitting out as you devour the yummy fruity flesh that grows around the seed/s. The characteristics of the fruit (colour, size, flavour) remain the same year after year and is not changed by pollination.  If after spitting out those seeds, a tree grows,  it would differ from the parent tree from which it originated. It might grow into a healthy, lovely tree, but the fruit may be different in many ways – like small in size, with a sour flavour for example.    There are exceptions to this – Polyembryonic seeds, like the Mango , where you can get a seed grown tree that is identical to the mother, therefore producing the same fruit. ( look this up, it’s fascinating!)

Grafted Fruit

But – we’re here for the fruit, which brings us to grafting.  If your fruit trees are grafted, you know you’re getting a cultivated, known, tasty fruit variety. Grafting basically means taking living plant tissue via a cutting from a known variety of plant or tree  and attaching it to another plant of the same variety, usually one that has been grown from seed , or cloned – known as the rootstock. This new variety takes over from the rootstock and you’re left with a lovely tree that bears good quality and size fruit. Grafted fruit trees also are quicker to bear fruit than those grown from seed.

baby-peachBaby Peaches forming after fertilisation

What about Seedless Fruit?

Seedless fruit can be sterile, forming with little or no seeds and without fertilisation (known as parthenocarpy) Seedless citrus like some lime and navel orange varieties are produced this way.   Other fruits like grapes that are seedless are produced through fertilisation, where the seeds die off, leaving the flesh to grow. (stenospermocarpy). As seeds contain natural growth hormones, commercial growers spray fruit with growth hormones onto their seedless varieties to achieve large fruit sizes.

Successful Fertilisation – Increase your chances of success

The bees  and  birds and other insects pretty much know what to do when it comes to pollination. Our job is to help facillitate this in our backyard orchard. This means, maximising the chances that your trees will cross pollinate. You can do this a couple of ways.

1. Plant trees close to each other – no more than 10 metres apart so that the bees don’t have to travel so far.

2. Provide other flowering plants to encourage bee activity in the vicinity of your trees.  We’ve seen here at the nursery that bees love lavender and rosemary, and also citrus trees –  which  all have long flowering periods. Grevilleas and other native shrubs are usually laden with bees. – This can also backfire – if your bees prefer these to your fruit trees! but we’re working on the assumption that lots of bees in your area are better than no bees, so recommend planting bee attracting plants.  I’m guessing that bees are also opportunistic – last year, we had a beekeeper put a hive on our property as it was in close proximity to a national forest area with native bushland –  where he wanted them to travel to so he could then harvest the honey. Great plan, but the bees didn’t think so – they found blossoms and flowers that were closer to their hive and stuck around here at the nursery! Also, bear in mind that many plants are pollinated by a mix of other insects as well. So having plenty of biodiversity in your garden by using a mixture of plants will encourage these guys in.

3. Make sure you’ve got the correct pollinizers. The main considerations for choosing the correct pollinizers –

a) Flower overlap –  all involved tree varieties need to be flowering for pollination to actually occur. Flowering times can be influenced by the weather, eg – wind blowing off the blossoms, flowering earlier or later due to temperatures.

b) Pollinizers need to differ genetically for fertilisation  eg – a Pink Lady Apple is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Lady Williams Apple (these are the parents). They’re too closely related and not really suitable.

c) Plant more varieties to increase your chances. Even if trees are self fertile, or semi self fertile, you’ll get a better yield with more varieties.

 

Pollination chart for Apples, Pears and Plums that we mostly stock in the nursery.

 

Apples

Granny Smith is a good universal pollinator as it has a long flowering period that can overlap with others.  Ornamental Crab Apples are good all rounders too and are often used in orchards.

Variety Granny Smith Pink Lady Red Delicious Gala Fuji Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Pink Lady
Red Delicious
Gala
Fuji
Golden Delicious

European Pears

Ornamental pears like Manchurian or Caleryana type pears can help pollinate fruiting pears.

 

Variety Williams/Bartlett Buerre bosc Red Sensation Packham’s Triumph Josephine Winter Nellis
Williams /Bartlett
Buerre Bosc
Red Sensation
Packham’s Triumph
Josephine
Winter Nellis

 Plums

Santa rosa is a good universal pollinator

Variety Santa Rosa Mariposa Ruby Blood Satsuma Teagan Blue Black Amber Plumcott
Santa Rosa
Mariposa
Ruby Blood
Satsuma
Teagan Blue
Black Amber
Plumcott

 

Fruit Trees for Small Gardens

If you have limited Space in your garden and require two trees for cross pollination, consider planting your two varieties in the same hole. This has a natural dwarfing effect as well as providing pollination partners.   We usually have some double grafted varieties in stock as well for this purpose. Or perhaps try to graft another variety onto your existing variety. You’ll need to find suitable budwood for your variety.   You can also keep many fruit trees dwarf by pruning. Many have shallow roots like citrus, apple and plums and even avocados.  Another great option is to espalier. We see many commercial orchards down this way using this technique to grow their fruit, almost like on a vine.   If you’re really stuck for space, and want to squeeze more fruit trees into your garden, we also have dwarf fruit trees available, which are great for pots or planted in the ground.

Would love to hear about your experiences.  We’ve got a long list of fruit trees to cultivate and so much more to learn – our Nashi and Plum trees need a pollinator, I really want some heritage Apples and want one of each Citrus varieties! Plus, there’s an Avocado hedge to establish.

Plums Ripening on the Tree   *Update Dec 2014 – check out all the Plums ripening up on the tree! The flowers were pollinated this year – Previously, we’d only got about 6 plums.