Avocados, otherwise known as the "alligator pear" because of the skin's rough texture, is an evergreen tree that is native to Mesoamerica. It has the ability to grow in many environments, ranging from central Mexico up to northwest Columbia. The avocado tree can reach up to 60 feet even though they are shallow rooted with poor water intake.
Dozens of avocado varieties exist, but these are all set into three different categories based on quality, size and appearance: West Indian, Guatemalan and Mexican. The most popular avocado in the United States is the Hass avocado, which has large production in California.
For young avocado plants, bright indirect sunlight is ideal. If the sun is too bright it will burn the plants. Keep young plants at temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are growing young avocados indoors, mist them with a spray bottle a couple of times a day to keep the plant hydrated.
Pruning the Avocado Plant
When you prune avocado plants, spring is the best season to do so. To keep your avocado plant bushy, pinch the tip of the top when it is about 12 inches tall. Continue to do this every 12 inches until it reaches about three feet tall. Although this will make the avocado tree grow more slowly, it will ensure sturdy, thick side branches and a solid structure.
Common Avocado Problems
You may run into problems while growing avocado plants. It's important to recognize the most common problems the plants have so you can fix them. If your avocado plant leaves are yellowing and dropping, it is overwatered or not getting enough sun. Reduce the amount of watering an provide more direct sunlight each day.
If the leaves are browning around the edges, it may because there isn't enough humidity in the air. Spritz more with a spray bottle to fix this, or add a tray of water and small rocks next to the plant to increase the humidity content in the air around it. You can trim off the brown area if the plant starts to improve.
Avocado plants need to be fertilized to reach their optimum potential and health. The trees basic needs are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with a little zinc. Per year, provide one to two tsp. of fertilizer to the tree. Follow the directions carefully on the type of fertilizer you purchase, as application procedures may vary.