Monday, April 5th, 2010...12:00 am

Caring for Avocado Trees

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the avocado tree next door by emdot

TheGardenLady received this question from Greg from Vientiane, Laos.

I am living in Vientiane, in Laos and we have a well established avocado tree in the front yard. This January, it began it’s typical loss of 30% of leaves, but now it is going into massive over-production of fruit. Small fruits are dropping off the tree every day and the leaves seem constantly droopy. It is watered regularly and has been fertilised. Should some of the excess fruit be pruned off the tree?

We are in the dry season in Laos with almost no rain for almost five months. Temperatures are generally in the early to mid 30′s (celsius) but lately they have climbed and a typical day will peak at about 38 – 40 degrees. Please indicate if you need more information. I’ve only been at the house for one year so I don’t know much and the seasons and growing in Laos are very different from New Zealand.

Dear Greg, How exciting to learn that TheGardenLady.org has a reader in Laos.

Avocado trees are not really grown in the part of the states where TheGardenLady lives other than as an indoor decorative plant. So to answer your question, I went to one of the main Avocado growing regions in the US to get some answers for you and to give you some resources for future questions.

I contacted the Master Gardeners of San Diego in California and spoke to someone who had raised avocados. The San Diego area has had drought situations, so in that case there is a similarity with your locale.

Avocado Tree by joeysplanting

Avocados seem to have few problems. One major concern is growing the avocados during the drought season. You must be sure that when you water you give your avocado enough but not too much water. Avocado trees want to be watered 1, no more than 2, times a week and the water must penetrate the soil 3 to 4 feet deep. The root of the tree does not want to sit in water. Shallow water can be as bad as too much water.  It is best to use a soaker hose to really soak the ground. If you can dig down in the soil or if there is some device to determine how deep in the soil the water is penetrating, that would be helpful. Also you should leave the avocado leaves as they naturally drop off the tree to make a natural mulch for the avocado tree. This natural mulch will help preserve moisture and will provide fertilizer. Remove any fruit that drops and compost it elsewhere- though it takes a long time for the seed to compost.

You do not have to remove excess fruit. The tree will selectively do it on its own.

Do not fertilize the tree in the heat and drought. You can resume fertilizing in cooler weather with a 12 to 15% Nitrogen fertilizer. They said to get a fertilizer that is 15-15-15.

Now if this proper watering does not stop the leaves from drooping, the other major problem of avocado trees is a root rot. You would have to have the soil and root tested to see if this is the problem with your tree. I would imagine that there are agricultural schools where this could be done. If this turns out to be your problem, contact the MGs of San Diego to see what they recommend. The Garden Lady is hopeful that this is not your problem.

If you have any other questions on the avocado tree you can email your questions to the Master Gardeners of San Diego directly by going on their website or you can read about caring for your avocado tree on the University of California at Davis website where they have good information about raising avocado trees.

I hope this has been helpful. Please send us photos of your avocado tree in Laos.

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1 Comment

  • I live in Greece and I’ve grown an avocado tree from a seed. It is growing in a pot, it has thorns (I didn’t know they did) and it is growing tall as a signal stem. I read somewhere that if it grows too tall to fast, it will bend and die. What should I do to help it become a tree with branches?

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