Rules for Trimming Avocado Trees

Avocados grow best in climates that have no frost or temperatures that dip below 32 degrees F on a regular basis. Commercial avocado groves exist in southern California, Florida, Hawaii and other southern regions. Avocado trees can grow quite large, but you can trim them to a manageable size to make harvesting easier and keep your tree looking tidy and compact. Unlike some other trees, the avocado does not suffer when you cut its uppermost branches.

Encourage Fruiting Branches

The more leaves an avocado tree has, and the amount of healthy wood that produces fruit determine how much fruit the tree will produce, so you want to encourage these traits. To accomplish this, the California Avocado Society advises tree owners to selectively remove the growing tips of branches when they are developing. This practice is called "preventive" pruning because it reduces the shock that more severe pruning can cause to the tree and it also results in higher fruit production by saving important foliage and branches that will produce fruit.

Top the Avocado Tree

You can trim off the top branches of an avocado tree without harming it, according to the California Avocado Society. When you trim your tree to reduce its height, follow up by keeping the vigorous new growth cut back on a regular, periodic basis. Make your cuts close to lateral branches, which will help to reduce additional sprouting of new branches.

Prune Mid-Summer to Avoid Regrowth

When you prune an avocado in early spring, the regrowth that occurs will be fast and hardy. If you wait until July or August, the amount of rapid regrowth will be less. Avoid pruning your avocado tree later in the summer into fall because fall frost can damage the new growth that occurs after you do your trimming.

Avoid Severe Pruning

The California Avocado Society advises avocado tree owners to avoid severe pruning of young trees because it will slow their growth and result in reduced fruit production due to the removal of foliage that produces the creamy fruit. Avocado trees need a large amount of foliage in order to produce well; the California Avocado Society recommends pruning your tree only when it is necessary and to avoid pruning.

Trim Low or Dead Branches

In order to walk or sit under your avocado tree, you can trim off low-hanging branches. However, avoid cutting off all the tree's large branches if you want to prevent the tree from sending out new growth higher up. It's a good practice with all trees to remove dead or diseased branches: with avocados, this practice helps to prevent a disease called Dothiorella rot, according to the California Avocado Society. They add that it is also a good practice to remove and dispose of any fallen branches from the area surrounding your tree.

Keywords: avocado care, tree pruning, trimming fruit

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi‘iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.