Growing Avocados

Author: Meera, June 19, 2013


Leathery skin, large seed, and creamy fruit characterizes a ripe avocado

Leathery skin, large seed, and creamy fruit characterizes a ripe avocado



My daughter, whose kitchen looks out over a side yard, asked me for an avocado tree. Her birthday was approaching so I suggested the tree be  my present to her. We had a thriving avocado years ago along the side yard of our family home. I suppose she missed that tree.



I had no idea that avocados do not necessarily thrive in Northern California. Some cultivars are hardier than others. They are a subtropical fruit tree and mature trees require roughly 150 gallons of water a week to survive (except in winter). They also need a lot of heat, good drainage, and little to no competition from other trees.



The avocado along the fence of our family home (the tree belonged to our neighbor) eventually became infested with termites. The tree was cut down to about two feet tall, treated, and it bounced back.



Avocado blooms benefit from honeybees cross-pollinating them

Avocado flowers appear in  200-300 terminal panicles of blooms that emerge  January through March


The tree I planted for my daughter made it through the East Bay winter here last year and it snowed, albeit just a dusting. So I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the tree is doing now. My daughter hopes for fruit this year or next. We’ll see.



Avocado trees need to be fed  throughout the year. They need nitrogen (but also phosphorus and potassium) in a balanced fertilizer like Scotts Turf Supreme. The trees are shallow rooted and like sandy loam soil. Clay soil like what we have here on the farmette must be amended with gypsum and compost.



Some avocados will need a pollinator; others like Stewart, the type of avocado I planted for my daughter, is self-fertile. If you keep bees or live near a beekeeper, the bees will do the pollinating for you. Otherwise you might need to hand pollinate using a small brush. For more information, see



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