How Do I Care for an Avocado Tree?

Overview

If you're lucky enough to live in a warm climate where avocado trees thrive, you already know the advantages of having one of these trees in your yard. The shiny leaves stay green all year, and the rough-skinned fruit can be eaten in sandwiches, dips, omelets, salads and main dishes. Avocados contain monounsaturated fats which may help lower cholesterol. Avocado trees do best in tropical or semitropical climates where winter temperatures seldom fall below freezing.

Step 1

Water established avocado trees once a week during dry periods. The University of Florida Agricultural Extension Service recommends watering young trees (less than 3 years old) twice a week during periods where rain doesn't fall for more than five days.

Step 2

Mulch around the base of the avocado tree to help keep the soil from drying out and to control weeds. The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Department recommends using a course bark mulch, at least 6 inches deep, around the tree. Keep the mulch 6 to 8 inches away from the trunk of the tree to avoid trapping moisture around the trunk and fostering rot.

Step 3

Feed your avocado tree with a general fertilizer which contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. The University of Florida recommends three to four applications of fertilizer each year, from 1/4 to 1 lb. per application, depending on the size of the tree. If the fertilizer does not also contain zinc, a nutrient avocados need, you'll need to fertilize once a year with zinc, in the amounts recommended for trees on the fertilizer package.

Step 4

Prune trees after harvest to encourage lateral growth. Trim the tops to keep trees more compact and to keep upper growth from shading out lower limbs. Remove any dead or damaged branches as needed throughout the year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use weed and feed products on lawns under or near avocado trees; these products could kill the tree. Take care in pruning very tall trees. Some varieties can grow to 65 feet and must be pruned by professionals.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Mulch
  • General fertilizer
  • Zinc fertilizer
  • Pruning saw

References

  • University of Hawaii: Avocado
  • University of Florida: Avocado Growing
  • University of California: Avocado Information

Who Can Help

  • Avocado.org: Recipes
Keywords: avocado tree, growing avocados, avocado nutrients

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.