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By Ellen Brown ***
Sharon Walters from St. Louis, MO
The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of avocado plant you're growing. There are three basic types of cultivars (races): West Indian, Guatemalan, and Mexican. All have slightly different moisture, humidity, and temperature requirements according to where they originate from. West Indian plants, for example, are best adapted to hot, humid conditions and are used to moist, high summer rainfall conditions of the West Indies. Like all avocado cultivars, they are extremely sensitive to drought and do not tolerate frost well. Guatemalan cultivars, on the other hand, don't need it as warm, will withstand a light frost, but prefer even more humidity than the other cultivars.
In general, use fertile, well-drained soil, with a pH between 6 and 7. Although they adapt to most soil types, avocados prefer a light, sandy/loamy soil. Once the roots are well-established, give plants a half-strength liquid fertilizer every three weeks during the summer and every 6 weeks in the winter. Keep this regime up for the first year and then you should be able to get by with fertilizing only 4 times a year.
Keep your plant's soil moist, but not wet. Use less water, but water often. The key is to provide good drainage. Every now and then, make sure you give it enough of a soak so that water drips out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. This will keep salts from building up in the soil.
Don't worry about your plant shedding older leaves, it's perfectly normal. To avoid growing a tall leggy avocado, make sure it gets plenty of bright light, cooler night time temps, and pinch it back for bushier growth once it reaches a height of 12 inches or so.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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