The avocado is a tree originating in the Americas which is likely native to the highland regions of south-central Mexico to Guatemala. The scientific name of avocado is Persea americana and it is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado, is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed. They’re also known as alligator pears or butter fruit.
Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating, and are often propagated through grafting to maintain predictable fruit quality and quantity.Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries, with Mexico as the leading producer of avocados in 2019, supplying 32% of the world total.
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15 - 60 feet
5 - 35 feet
5.0 - 7.0
Growth Nutrition of Avocado Tree
Two of the most important nutrients for avocado trees are nitrogen and zinc. Nitrogen is used by plants mainly for growth; it promotes healthy development, which is critical to fruit-bearing trees. Zinc helps with fruit development. Avocado trees need zinc year-round, but especially during fruit production.
Types of Avocado Trees
All avocado trees stem from three main varieties: Mexican, West Indian, and Guatemalan. Within these categories, there are several avocado varieties available.
Hass: One of the most popular avocado varieties, the Hass avocado is often found in grocery stores. It is a hybrid of Guatemalan and Mexican avocado varieties. This is a type A tree that produces thick, bumpy-skinned, rich, and creamy fruits. It is more sensitive to heat than other varieties. Hass avocado trees are known to produce a reasonably sized yield when grown on their own.
Lula: A seedling reportedly grown from a 'Taft' avocado planted in Miami on the property of George Cellon, it is named after Cellon's wife, Lula. It was likely a cross between Mexican and Guatemalan types. 'Lula' was recognized for its flavor and high oil content and propagated commercially in Florida.
Choquette: A seedling from Miami, Florida. 'Choquette' bore large fruit of good eating quality in large quantities and had good disease resistance, and thus became a major cultivar. Today 'Choquette' is widely propagated in south Florida both for commercial growing and for home growing.
Fuerte: Also a widely known avocado type, the Fuerte avocado is a type B tree often grown with Hass avocados. This variety is also a hybrid between Guatemalan and Mexican varieties. These trees produce large, oval-shaped fruits with relatively smooth, thin skin that peels away easily. The fruits have less oil content than Hass avocados. These trees are also more sensitive to heat, making them a good fit for the northern borders of the avocado's growing zones.
Pinkerton: This type A, Guatemalan tree is popular for its smaller size and large fruit yield. It produces oblong fruits with flesh similar to the Hass avocado—rich and creamy. These trees require a type B avocado tree to produce a significant fruit yield.
Planting Avocado Tree
It is best to plant avocado trees outdoors in the spring. This allows the tree ample time to become established before cooler, winter temperatures arrive. This is especially important in the northern areas of the avocado tree’s hardiness zones. Choose a planting location that provides ample room for these tall trees to grow. Plant them at least 10 feet away from structures and allow for at least 30 feet in between each avocado tree, if you’re planting more than one.
Keep in mind that the root system of avocado trees is quite sensitive, so try not to unnecessarily disturb the roots during the planting process. Dig a hole that is wider than the root structure. The depth of the hole should generally match the height of the root ball, since planting the tree too deep or too shallow can cause problems.
The trees are vulnerable to high winds so very young, soft, and immature trees may benefit from support. Choosing a planting location that offers wind protection will help keep your tree upright and healthy. Just be sure the your tree receives plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil. If soil conditions are less than ideal, amend the soil with sand or another well-draining substrate before planting. Avocado trees can also be grown in a container, though this will eventually stunt their growth.
Avocado Tree Care
Like most tropical plants, the avocado tree thrives on a lot of sunshine. Plant this tree in a location where it can receive at least 8 hours of sunlight every day. These trees can tolerate partial shade, but grow best and produce more fruits when kept in full sun.
Avocado trees prefer rich, loamy, and well-draining soil. It is important that the soil is aerated and does not hold onto excess water, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. A soil pH that is acidic to neutral, between 5 and 7, is ideal. These trees are sensitive to alkaline soil.
Adding a layer of mulch around the tree can help the soil retain the right amount of moisture and will offer protection to the avocado tree's shallow root system. Be sure to keep the mulch about 6 inches away from the base of the trunk to avoid suffocating the roots or causing collar rot.
Avocado trees benefit from infrequent, deep watering. This encourages deeper, stronger root growth. Wait until the soil begins to dry out, then water deeply. During the summer months when temperatures are hot and conditions may be dry, the avocado tree will require more frequent watering. Young trees also require more frequent watering as the tree establishes. Mature trees should receive around 2 inches of water per week.
Temperature and Humidity
These famous fruit trees can only be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, limiting them to tropical and subtropical climates, unless you decide to grow an avocado tree indoors. They are frost-sensitive and grow best in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fertilizing an avocado tree during the growing months will help encourage healthy growth and fruit production. Start in the late winter to early spring and feed until the fall, depending on the specific instructions included with your chosen fertilizer. Nitrogen is important for this tree, so be sure the fertilizer you choose has high amounts of nitrogen. Fertilizers specifically designed for avocado or citrus trees work well.
Pollinating an avocado tree can be a bit tricky. These trees have what are called ‘perfect’ flowers, which means each flower has both female and male parts. However, avocado tree flowers open their female and male parts at separate times, making self-pollination possible but not always as fruitful. For optimum pollination, it is ideal to have two avocado trees.
Avocado trees are considered either type A or type B. Type A trees open their female parts in the morning of the first day and their male parts in the afternoon of the second day. Type B trees open their female parts in the afternoon of the first day and their male parts in the morning of the second day. These different times make cross-pollination possible between the two types. When choosing which trees to plant, be sure you have both type A and type B for the best results.
Harvesting homegrown avocados is satisfying since a good amount of time and patience goes into growing these creamy fruits. For nursery-bought trees, you can expect to see fruit in three to four years. For avocados started from seed, it may take five to 13 years before fruits appear.
When fruits appear, wait until the avocado grows to its mature size. The fruits do not ripen on the tree, so avocados are picked as soon as they are full size. Bring the avocados indoors and let them rest on a counter until ripe. Give the avocado a gentle squeeze to test for softness. Once the flesh is soft but not squishy, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Common pests that may bother an avocado tree include mites, caterpillars, borers, lace bugs, and thrips. Diseases include root rot, fruit rot, sun blotch, and cankers. Be alert to the presence of these pests or early signs of disease. Prompt action is the best way to remedy any developing problems before they threaten the health of your avocado tree.
Benefits of Avocado
A healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious food can help prevent and reverse disease. Avocados are a healthy food you can add. The vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats you get from avocados help prevent disease and keep your body in good working order. Avocados may help ward off:
Cancer: The folate you get from avocados may lower your risk of certain cancers, such as prostate and colon cancer. Nutrients in avocados may also treat cancer.
Arthritis and osteoporosis: Studies on oil extracts from avocados show they can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. The vitamin K in avocados boosts your bone health by slowing down bone loss and warding off osteoporosis.
Depression: Research shows a link between depression and low levels of folate. Folate helps block the buildup of a substance called homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine slows down the flow of nutrients to your brain and ramps up depression. The high levels of folate in avocados may help keep depression symptoms at bay.
Inflammation: Chronic inflammation can kick off many diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis. The vitamin E in avocados lowers inflammation in your body.
The nutrients in avocados can also help maintain healthy:
Digestion: Avocados are packed with fiber. They’re especially high in insoluble fiber, which is the kind that helps move waste through your body. Fiber keeps you regular and can prevent constipation.
Blood pressure: Avocados are rich in potassium. Potassium helps level out your blood pressure by lowering sodium levels in your blood and easing tension in your blood vessel walls.
Heart: Most of the healthy fat in avocado is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. This heart-healthy fat helps lower cardiovascular inflammation. Avocados also have a nutrient called beta-sitosterol, the plant version of cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol helps lower your cholesterol levels.
Vision: Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants in avocados that are good for your eyes. They help protect the tissues in your eyes from UV light damage and help prevent both cataracts and macular degeneration.
Pregnancy: You need at least 400 micrograms of folate a day during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects in your baby’s brain and spine. One avocado gives you around 41% of that.
Avocados are used in desserts and dessert drinks.
Avocado is usually consumed fresh as a fruit or as an ingredient in salads or savory dishes.
It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast, served with spices.
It is used as a puree-like sauce with chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs; and in slices for celery or lettuce salads.
The leaves of Mexican avocados are used in some cuisines as a spice, with a flavor somewhat reminiscent of anise.
The oil from the fruit is also used as a medicine and for cooking, or moisturizing the skin or hair.
The fruit, leaves, and seeds are sometimes used to make medicine.