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
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 .
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.
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)
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
Make a small well around the plant base to capture water
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.
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)
Cut a hole in the bag for air circulation, to keep cool and so tree canopy can grow through
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.
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!
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.
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
The trees are loaded with fruit and we have been picking Hass and Fuerte, waiting a week to ripen up ready to eat.