How To Grow Avocado Trees

avocado-hass

How to Grow Avocado Trees

Here’s an update on from our post from 2016, where we planted out a rows of several grafted varieties of avocado trees. If you click here, you’ll see step by step how we planted them with great results.

2 years later, the trees are looking great. They’ve had 2 summers of beautiful growing weather, where they have stacked on a flip tonne of new growth. The first step to planting is to make sure your avocado tree is nice and protected and hardened off a bit from being in the nice, warm, climate controlled perfect environment >>> AKA  the greenhouse! When our avocados have flushed with foliage after grafting, we will let them grow out in our greenhouses and then pop them under shadecloth for 4-6 weeks, depending on the time of year. You could keep yours in a nice protected spot under the patio if you like, until the weather warms up for planting.  This helps the soft, beautiful new baby foliage acclimate to the slightly harsher environment of the shadecloth as well as growing a bit more. You might notice some brown tips or marginal burning on the lovely baby foliage. Don’t panic – your avocado tree loves to grow more beautiful leaves, so don’t worry a bit as long as you see new leaves growing -this is a normal part of the growing/hardening off process. If not, then you will have to figure out why it isn’t growing. It is usually a water issue (too much or not enough) or it needs fertiliser – or the soil isn’t at the correct parameters for the tree to uptake nutrient.

So here’s a little update on how to plant and avocado tree

Site Choice

You’ll want to choose a sunny spot with good drainage. They won’t tolerate the soil getting saturated at all – so no wet feet please! Ideally, the soil is mixed with compost (well aged) and if you’re in sandy type soil, add in a bit of clay to hold water and nutrients and also add rockdust as it is chokkas full of minerals. Plant up on a bit of a mound.

Protection 

Build a tent around your tree using star pickets or stakes, or whatever, and wrap shade cloth around it. This protect your tree’s trunk from getting sunburnt, which can seriously set back the tree, or even kill it entirely. As your tree grows, the canopy will protect the trunk. Leave the top uncovered.

Feed the tree

Aside from your beautiful soil that you have built, you will need to apply a good quality fertiliser. We use a 12 month slow release as well as multi-species microbial innoculant to kick-start the microbial growth that allows the trees to take up soil nutrient.  Check out the growth in 2 years in the pics below. Most of them started out as infant, newly grafted trees. There’s even been some fruit on our Reed and Hass trees.

Water

Avocados like a lot of water – they don’t like drying out at all and will quickly let you know that they are thirsty by wilting. Adding your clay and rockdust helps hold on to water.  Mulching also helps to prevent water loss – use the irregular shaped, large bush mulch for this. Make sure the soil is well draining – as saturated soil and avocado tree roots do not get along at all and you will lose your tree.

Observe

Observation and maintenance. We have seen the limits that avocado trees can be pushed to – and still survived. Often, if you’re having trouble, generally people start to notice when the tree really starts to struggle.  If the tree isn’t actively growing in the warm weather, you will have to nut out why and fix.  We have had success with trees on farms that were struggling due to limited water, and other issues and with the right care and maintenance, they have come good again .

 

grafted avocado tree Reed

reed avocado

 

These are Reed avocado trees. We have planted Hass , Fuerte, Sharwill ,Bacon, Wurtz, Pinkerton.

 

Here is another little piece we wrote about the varieties we grow. Whether you’re growing your avocado in Perth or Bunbury, or further South, with a little care and definitely a lot of observation and some maintenance,they should grow well for you.

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.

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.

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