Avocado trees whether grown from seed or purchased from a nursery will need to proper care to thrive. This is a guide about caring for an avocado tree.
Here are questions related to Caring for an Avocado Tree.
My avocado tree started growing brown on the leaves. How would I check if it's root bound?
By DeBushe 03/18/2013
The only way I know of to check if a plant is root bound is to pull the whole thing out of the pot and look.
Avocado trees are just that, trees. They prefer to be in the ground. I had one in my back yard (California coastal valley) that was about 30 feet tall and put out hundreds of avocadoes.
The older leaves do turn brown, dry up and fall off. This is natural.
I currently have 5 avocado trees no taller than 1 foot. It seems, no matter how hard I try I can't keep them alive past 1 year. The leaves have fallen off all 5 plants. I only water them every 10-14 days. As we speak the soil is comfortably moist. It's so aggravating because I literally can grow anything. Perhaps I'm paying them too much attention?
By Lorelei N.
I can't really tell much from the pictures, but I have a few suggestions. I've had a lot of luck growing avocados indoors in Canada and I'm pretty familiar with some of the problems that you can run into with these plants (e.g., root damage, sciarid flies). Although I can't quite tell what the problem is from the pictures, I have a few suggestions that might help.
First, you should no plant multiple avocado plants together in the same pot. Avocado tree roots like to spread out and do not deal well with crowding. If planted together in the same pot, the plants can strangle one another (untangling them when this happens is horrible, trust me). Planting them together in the same pot can also mean that any diseases are easily transferred between the plants. The pot can also become root bound extremely quickly with multiple plants, meaning that the plants will stop getting adequate water and nutrients in a matter of months. For example, if you put two avocado trees in a pot that is the ideal size for one plant, the pot become root bound in half the time (i.e., 6 months instead of 12); the smaller the pot (or the less soil in the pot) the bigger a problem this becomes. It is best to put each seedling in its own pot that is fill 9/10 with fertilizer.
Second, you need to put the plants in a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight. If the plants don't get enough sunlight, they won't be able to produce enough nutrients to support their leaves (extra fertilizer will not fix this, either). A lack of sunlight can cause the leaves to yellow, then brown and fall off. If you live in a basement or anywhere that doesn't get at least 6 hours of sunlight in the spring and summer, the avocado trees won't last long.
Third, if your plants are on the ground floor directly adjacent to the window, you will eventually end up with sciarid flies. These flies look like fruit flies, but they have black, vein-less wings and kind of aimlessly flutter around the pots. If you can't catch one to examine to check if it is a sciarid fly, breathe on them. Sciarid flies are attracted to carbon dioxide and will fly all around your face when you exhale. The adult flies will munch on any dead leaves that are in the pot and will lay eggs in moist soil. The larvae are what you really need to worry about: after hatching, sciarid larvae eat the roots of the plant. These larvae can be devastating for seedlings. The easiest way to protect against them is to put up sticky fly traps and apple cider vinegar traps to kill the adults, and put a 1-2 inch layer of pebbles in the last 1/10 of your pot. If the adults can't reach the soil, then they can't lay their eggs, and then the larvae can't destroy your plants' roots.
Fourth, avocado trees require a more nitrogen rich fertilizer than most plants. The nitrogen helps support growth. Most fertilizer bags will have three numbers on the front to indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. Well-balanced potting soil for indoor plants (considered safe to use on a variety of houseplants) typically has about .2% nitrogen, which is extremely low for an avocado tree. Avocado trees will require something closer to 6% nitrogen to really thrive. Adding fertilizer to your potting soil every month or so can help give your plants the nitrogen they need.
Fifth, avocado trees like fast draining soil; they like it when the soil is moist, but they don't want to be in a puddle. There are a lot of people who suggest putting gravel at the bottom of pots, but DO NOT DO THIS. Avocado tree roots grow down as well as out, and they will seek out areas in the pot that have the most moisture (i.e., the bottom of the pot). In addition to limiting the amount of space the roots have to grow, if you put gravel at the bottom, the roots will very likely wrap themselves around the rocks, making it more likely that you will damage the plant when re-potting. Having drainage holes at the bottom of the pot is fine for draining excess water.
Finally, sometimes you just get a bad seed. Last year I sprouted five avocado trees. One of the sprouts, no matter what I did, would grow a few leaves and then lose them a couple weeks later. It ended up dying after about a year. The other four trees, however, that were grown in identical conditions, are all fine (one of them is more than 4 feet tall). For whatever reason, every now and then you'll get a seed that just doesn't take.
I hope this helps!
I have a mature 10 ft 8 yr old avocado tree and the leaves are turning yellow and the 30+ fruit on the tree are red skinned, but turn brown when picked and stored. It's close to another avocado tree which has the normal dark green leaves. It receives normal fertilizer annually. We are 200 meters from sea. Other avocado trees nearby in the settlement are normal. Is my tree dying or can it be saved? Thanks for any help.
By Allan M
By judy 04/05/2012
Beware fertilizing avocado trees too often. In So Cali they grow perfectly fine with very little...sometimes no fertilizer.
I recently planted a 5yr old avocado tree that was beginning to flower. I (thought) I did everything I was supposed when planting, including fresh soil and deep watering, but since I planted the tree all the leaves have died and turned brown, but the branches are still green. It has been about three weeks since planting. I have sprinklers set to twice a week, but if am wondering if it is not getting enough water from them. I have deep watered only twice since planting. The tree sits on the north east end of my yard and gets plenty of sun after about 10am. Does it sound like the tree can recover? If so, what do I need to do?
By Shawn H.
By brenda lambert10/26/2014
My tree is 3 feet tall & in a pot and turning brown, should I plant it. Should the seed be visible when I plant it? How cold is to cold for it?
My avocado tree has leaves that are turning brown. There is very little new growth. Please help.
By Joyce C
By April 04/09/2012
Is your plant inside or outside? If potted, have you checked to make sure it isn't root bound?
I read your answer in ASK, but I do not have leaves or branches on my avocado plant only 1 high stem w/leaves. Can I cut the top back or the leaves further down, or just let it keep growing taller w/o branching out? This is all new to me, please help.
Don't cut the top as that will stunt the upward growth of the plant. You can prune off the lower leaves, and that might encourage it to grow more upwards, and then hopefully start to branch. If you prune the lower leaves/branches it forces the plant to put more energy into the stuff on top.
Hope this helps!
Please help me I am in desperate need of assistance. I live in East Lansing, Michigan and have been growing an indoor Avocado plant since this summer. Everything seemed to be going very well until recently.
Firstly, let me say that I do not know the type of seed nor have I ever pruned my tree (I don't know how to or if I should). Right now, my plant is a little taller than 1 foot. It is pretty straight up (spindly) and gets a good amount of sunlight.
Here is the problem: recently, I have noticed that almost all of the leaves have fallen off. There are still a few leaves at the top and there even appears to be new leaves sprouting from the very top. Some of the larger leaves literally fell off at the slightest touch. Is this simply a natural phase my plant is going through or are there any measures I should be taking to improve my plant's health.
I would be really upset if it died and would really appreciate any help you can provide. I do not give it plant food, but I do have it planted in potting soil containing time release plant food. How often should I completely change all the soil and how do I do that without damaging the tree?
So, in sum, why is my plant so ugly (for lack of a better word)? why are all the leaves falling off? What kind of soil and/or plant food would you recommend? Should I change the soil? If so, how do I do it? And finally, should I prune it? If so, how do I do it?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By attys from East Lansing, MI
By Kathy Klahn 10/02/2009
I think you may have over watered it. If that is the case it probably will not make it, sorry. I would not feed it either we have never fed ours and we have about 30 trees(my hubby just can;t throw those seeds away!). Let it dry out a little between watering, then water completely till it runs out the bottom, but do not let it sit in water.
I usually cut mine back at about a foot high down to 6" or so. Avocados do not like to be repotted, that is why they suggest to first pot it in a fairly large pot. Remember It is really easy to start a new one if yours does not make it and fairly inexpensive. Think guacamole, yum. Just google starting avocado trees and you will get lots of help.
Hope this helps, good luck!
My 3 year old avocado's new leaves are browning.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
Jamie from Hampton, VA
By LuvMyGingerKids 02/25/2008
Contact your local nursery -- they'll have the answer! =D
I have a 9 year old avocado tree and every year when the tree blooms, all the leaves turn brown and fall off and all the buds dry up, turn brown, and fall off. The branches are always green and as everything browns and falls off there is new growth, leaves and branches and such. Only once did it bear a few avocados. I believe there were 8 of them though only two made it to full maturity. The raccoons may have gotten the rest. The tree is a dwarf tree that we bought at a nursery and planted in our backyard. We have no idea why this happens and it does not make much sense to us because the tree continues to look healthy and grow. We have tried different fertilizers and nothing seems to help. It's about 12ft tall now.
By Alison H.
Our avocado tree is dropping its fruit too early. They are small, milky once ripened, and tasteless. We have watered, but not fertilized her for a few years. Help?
My avo-tree is now seven years old and is bearing fruit for the second year, why is it loosing so many brown leaves during springtime?
My tree is 15 feet high. I planted him from a seed. He had for the first time after 6 years 40 avocados, 2nd time 70, 3d time 90. This year I don't know yet, but he loses a lot of brown leafs. Did I water him too much? Please let me know what I have to do. Thanks.
By Ruth S.
I have no idea how old the male tree is, but it is well over 30 feet. I live in Orlando Florida and the tree gets plenty of water and sunlight. It has been very healthy till about 3 weeks ago. Now the leaves are turning brown. We did have a frost in January and some cold weeks with temps around 45 for lows, but other than that nothing has changed. My female is still green and very healthy. What can I do for the male?
By Teri H. from Orlando, FL
I have a tree which is ten year old. It is not flowering. So I assume it is not old enough for flowering. Is there anything to do for that, like pruning or something else? My place is a hilly region with a tropical climate.
By P Thomas from Trichur, Kerala, India
I have a 5 ft tree in a pot. It has branches growing about 8 inches above the soil. It looks like where it was grafted. Are these suckers and what is the best way to get rid of them?
My avocado tree is about 12 years old. It's planted in the ground, in Orlando. Each branch is turning brown and looks like the tree is slowly dying. It gets adequate water and fertilizer. I am not sure why it's dying. Is the root rotten?
By Sabrina b
Can you tell me if I need to feed my avocado? It is about 15 inches; high, also the leaves are drooping, but are very green.
Why would a 7 month old avocado plant's leaves turn dark brown and fall off? Then new leaves come on and do the same. It's in a 5 gal. bucket with good drainage. What am I doing wrong?
i have grown an avocado plant from the stone in the fruit. Once I planted it, it grew really quickly for some time, and then just stopped. I moved it into a better sun position and it grew some more. It's still in the same spot, but it hasn't visibly grown for months now, not even sprouting new leaves. It still looks healthy. Its presently about a foot tall. Its an indoor plant, also. What's going on? Do I have a plant that's afraid to grow or something? =)
My tree is about three years old and is flowering right now, but is losing leaves from the top down. I have not watered much during the wet months. Is this normal?
By Conor from Los Angeles, CA
Should I cut back my avocado? It's 2 feet tall with 9 leaves on the very top, but none anywhere else. The ones further down on the stem don't grow at all and just fall off. Should I cut it back to 6 or 8 inches and hope for the best?
By Mary Ann D
I have a 40+ year old avocado tree. It has always done very well, but this year the avocados are smaller than usual and seemed to have stop growing. The tree looks fine. I tried to pick one to see if it would ripen, but no luck.
By Billie O
I am growing an avocado plant. We had regular soil in the pot, but then we bought Miracle Gro soil and distributed it in 7 avocado plants. Then we read the bad side of using the Miracle Grow; it said not for potting. Will it affect the avocado plant in any way?
I have grown an avocado tree. I would like to know what people mean by pinching back so as to get a rounder fuller tree. Do I pinch the top off the tree or just the leaves?
Hardiness Zone: 4a
By Martha from Dexter, NY
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Hardiness Zone: 8b
Janell from Aloha Oregon
Avocados are self thinning and if not pruned regularly, they can grow tall and spindly as house plants. If your plant is still losing leaves, too much water or not enough sun are the two most common culprits. I've never grown an avocado plant, but theoretically, pruning a mature avocado plant should encourage branches to sprout from below the cut. This should create a stronger, bushier, more compact plant. If you don't want to cut back the main stem, partially cut back a few branches higher up to encourage new growth further down the trunk. Keep in mind that by cutting back main branches, you will stimulate growth all over and can expect to see several new stems emerge below the cuts. You may want to let these emerging stems grow out a bit and then periodically pinch or prune some of them back in order to reshape your plant. Avoid pruning in late summer or early fall.
This is a tough one, as I would hate to see anything slow down a 9 ft. tall avocado tree. I'm not sure how a 9 ft. tall avocado will respond to being pruned. Is it tall and spindly or have you pruned it back before to encourage branching from below? I'm going to assume since it has grown so tall in just two years time that you may have never pruned it before. If you have a fair number of strong, leafy side branches I wouldn't worry about cutting it back far enough to fit it indoors.
If the plant consists primarily of one stem, you might want to let the top bend at the ceiling and cut a few of the side branches back to try to encourage more branching. If new branches start to emerge, you can safely cut back the top. You don't say what zone you're in, but if you live in 9b or above you probably won't have to keep it indoors long enough to worry about causing a permanent change in its appearance. As long as there are enough leaves left on the plant to maintain food production and the plant is in good overall health, I wouldn't worry too much about cutting it back. Clearly you have a knack for growing avocado plants. If something should happen to this one as a result of you cutting it back, you might consider keeping any future plants to ceiling height with regular pruning.
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The idea is to keep the plant warm, but not in darkness. It gets it's health from the leaves, so they will be the final determination if you are able to save the plant. Whatever you do, use caution that you do not set up a fire hazard for yourself and the plant.
It takes several years before it will produce fruit, I understand, but I'd encourage you to use Sea Kelp, if it were mine, for this season. It should keep it healthy throughout the year. If you know of anyone who'd let you borrow a space in their greenhouse, that would be the ideal.
I sort of believe that unless there are branches and leaves well below the 6 foot height, you might actually kill the tree by cutting it back since you may also bring it inside, which causes plants to suffer some degree of shock. (I have so little sunlight that I know I'd kill one. )
If it's pot is really deep, perhaps you could gain a foot and a little more by transplanting gently to a less deep pot, and lightly trim it's roots, "very gently" with scissors?
If no one has a greenhouse, look for a friend with a higher ceiling, although I have visions of the plant getting scorched by the heat that rises naturally to the ceiling.
This is a tough call for you, having raised it from seed, as I once did as a young girl, then somehow did something wrong and lost it years ago. Most likely I forgot to water it back then.
As I say this, there is one more possibility that sounds strange, but might work. Is the plant flexible enough to try bending it over towards an east or south window, just for the winter? (We get many months of growing season here in Texas, so it might not work if your season is short there). I thought I'd help you exhaust all options. I'm not an expert, only gardened inside/out for best of 35 years and also lived in Hawaii for three years, a plant's paradise. God bless you in your efforts. (09/28/2006)
If you wish to own a tree that bears fruit go to Home Depot and for the low price of $23.95 buy a Hass avocado. These trees will usually bear fruit within a year. The trees are about 2 years old and will start fruit soon enough. Your trees do not fruit, because they are not grafted from the the original parent plants. So to answer all questions, feel free to cut and shape your tree as much as you want. (07/29/2009)