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How to Force Avocado Trees to Fruit

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017
Avocado trees produce best in climate zone 9 and higher.

Avocados are a tasty treat for salads, sandwiches, guacamole and many other dishes. The mashed fruit is even good for the skin. Because the avocado is a tropical fruit, it produces best in climate zones 9 and higher and does especially well in southern regions, such as Florida, California, Hawaii and other tropical and subtropical areas. If you begin with a good grafted tree, its chances of producing fruit are improved over trees you start from seed. Pruning and fertilizing are also important when you are attempting to force your tree to produce fruit.

Purchase a grafted avocado tree at your nursery. Grafted avocado trees will begin producing fruit within two years of planting, whereas those started from the seed of an avocado can take 10 years or longer to produce, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers.

Provide the correct growing environment for your tree in order to force more fruiting. Avocado trees might not produce fruit if you attempt to grow them in regions where winter temperatures are too cold: temperatures below 25 degrees F can kill them. Plant your young grafted avocado tree in a sunny area where the soil drains quickly. Before you plant, mix one part organic compost with four parts topsoil in a planting hole at least twice as large as the tree’s root system. Water your tree when the soil begins to dry.

Prune your tree when it is young to encourage horizontal branches and force fruiting. According to Plant Amnesty, more fruit is produced on horizontal branches of all types of fruit trees than on branches that grow vertically. When you prune older trees, do not take off an excessive number of limbs and branches, but do prune to allow the maximum amount of light to reach the center of the tree, leaving as many horizontal branches as possible.

Fertilize your avocado tree three times a year in order to force fruiting. Use a balanced plant food, such as one having an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10. Apply fertilizer in March, June and August, according to Orchard Supply Hardware in California.

Feed producing older trees with a lower nitrogen or “blossom booster” fertilizer once each season, as soon as you notice flower buds forming, if you want to force fruiting. Special fertilizers are available that have smaller amounts of nitrogen, or none at all. Look for a low first number in the N-P-K ratio, such as 0-10-10 or 5-20-20.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Grafted tree
  • Correct growing conditions
  • Pruning saw
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Low nitrogen fertilizer

Tips

  • When you severely prune any fruit tree, the following year's harvest is typically small.
  • Different soils require different nutrients, so be sure to perform a soil test before you plant your tree. For example, the University of Hawaii states that soils in the Aloha State are often low in nitrogen and potassium. Therefore, they recommend a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-5-20 for mature Hawaii-grown avocado trees.
  • Fertilize young trees before they begin to produce fruit with a 10-30-10 fertilizer.
  • A ring of organic compost spread around the tree's drip line is an effective method for providing continuous nutrition to avocado trees.

Warning

  • The University of Hawaii warns not to over-fertilize avocado trees because this practice can cause leaf burn, root damage, leaf drop and possibly death.

About the Author

 

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs 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 and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.