Avocado trees do not need regular maintenance pruning, but benefit from occasional pruning to shape the tree and remove dead wood. Avocado trees grow to be 40 to 80 feet tall, so pruning may be desired to control the height as well. Light pruning can be done at any time, saving major pruning tasks for dormant winter months. Early bearing Florida avocados can be pruned shortly after fruiting. Severe pruning reduces fruit production temporarily. If too much foliage is removed, the tree may need whitewashing to protect newly exposed wood from the sun.
Prune an avocado tree to shape it and open it to the sun. Trim sparingly around the outside of the tree to avoid removing new wood that will bear next year's crop.
Remove dead and damaged branches, making the cut in healthy wood just above a vigorous sprout. Cut flush with the branch collar when removing the entire branch.
Cut the top back to 10 to 15 feet to make harvesting easier. Remove the tallest branches each winter to help control the height of the tree.
Mix equal parts of white latex paint with water and use as a white wash to protect newly exposed wood. Paint the trunk and branches after major pruning.
Wait until late spring to prune after a killing frost. Assess the damage when new growth appears and remove dead wood back to healthy buds.