Q: We have an avocado plant started from seed, which is really shooting up. It has nice large leaves on it but the lower leaves keep turning, curling and dying off. No problem with new ones sprouting but why are the lower leaves turning? It is about 20-24" tall. Do we need to bring it in for the winter? What do I need to do to keep it alive thru the winter?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
Kimberlea from OK
Avocados lose their leaves for many reasons. Too much water and not enough sunlight can cause leaves to turn yellow and lower leaves to drop. If your plant continues to sprout new growth, I wouldn't worry. Avocados are also self-thinning. They naturally shed a large number of leaves during periods of rapid growth-especially older leaves. In nature, the leaf litter naturally composts beneath the tree, adding organic nutrients to the soil. If your avocado is getting tall and leggy, you can pinch back the stem a bit to encourage it to branch out. The most important element is to provide it with enough light.
As for keeping avocados outdoors during Oklahoma winters, it won't work. You'll need to bring your in. Avocados are sub-tropical plants native to southern Mexico. They need semi-humid climates and temperatures between 60°F-80°F. You can grow yours in a container and move it inside during cold weather. The cooler temperatures will signal a rest period for the plant. During this time place the plant in your coolest room with bright light (not in direct light) and reduce feeding and watering until you can return it to the outdoors.
I have one that was started several months ago and it's 5ft tall now. Mine will drop the lower leaves also and they are the same as yours it seems. I keep mine in the patio room on the west side of our house. They will need a lot of light and be sure and don't over water it during the winter months. Keep it from the draft, such as the furnace. You may need to buy a small stake to keep it standing straight until the trunk gets thick enough to support it's own weight. Good luck and I'm sure you will enjoy it. (10/07/2005)
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