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Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant

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Full length photo fo avocado tree.

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?

Please help.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By attys from East Lansing, MI


Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Kathy Klahn [3]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!


Here are questions related to Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant.

Question: Growing an Avocado Plant

My avocado plant although looking healthy, and about one foot tall, only gets two leaves growing at one time. These die and fall off and two more leaves will grow. I have it in a pot, indoors with plenty of light and water as instructed. Would pruning help?

By Mick C.

Most Recent Answer

By DickofYork07/21/2012

I have been trying to sprout one for years. Congratulations!

Question: Avocado Leaves Curling

I have two avocados in two of the same type pots, with the same soil, and the same watering schedule. I let them dry (about a week or so) and then deep water them till the water comes out of the bottom of the pots. The thing is one of them has it's leaves curling while the other one has healthy leaves.

The only difference between the two is that the one that's not healthy was grown from a pit that was not organic. I got the pit at Whole Foods, so I don't think they could do too much harm to them. The healthy one is organic and was also bought at Whole Foods.

By Andre

Question: Avocado Tree is Dying

Back side of leaf with tan spots.I started a seed to grow inside about 2 years ago, it grew fine for about 1yr and 2 months then I re-potted it into a bigger pot. It loved the new space it had and took off like crazy! It got plenty of sun for an indoor tree. Then I moved it. It's not getting anywhere close to the same amount of sun and I'm still watering as I always did. When the top is dry I water all the way through, I don't let it sit in water.

My tree is about 5-6 ft tall and has been pruned (4months ago before I moved it) and has lots of branches. It's now been about 4 weeks and I have lost almost half my leaves, they seem to be falling from the lowest working its way up. I come home to find a leaf sitting in the pot still green almost everyday. Some of the leaves fall off with the slightest touch, and when looked at in the light all the ones that have fallen have the same spotty look to them. I will have a picture to try and show you. I don't know what to do. I love this tree, and have taken good care of it. Please help me, tell me what you think it could be, or if you know what it is how to fix it.

Thank you

By Chris W.

Question: Avocado Plant Spindly and Leaves Dying

My avocado plant is about a foot tall with two long and skinny branches that are sticking out. There are a few dying leaves on the plant with some smaller leaves trying to grow. What is the problem and what should I do?

By Nina

Most Recent Answer

By Robyn Fed [388]06/06/2011

Make sure it is in a soil that drains well, the soil should be soft and not packed like clay.
Avocado trees do not like being touched or being in the wind. Move it if it is in a windy area. Shade of another tree is a good place to keep an avocado tree or near the North side of a building. Fertilize the avocado tree four times per year once it is 1 year old. Young trees should not be fed. Use a balanced fertilizer with an equal ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium. If you have an older tree that won't bear fruit, give it a nitrogenous fertilizer in late winter and early summer.

Soak the roots well when watering an avocado tree. Let it dry out between waterings. Depending on your climate, this may mean watering every day or once every few weeks. Cut off dead or diseased foliage and limbs. They could be spreading disease and preventing your avocado tree from bearing fruit. Use shears to cut where the unwanted wood meets healthy wood. Don't severely prune an avocado tree or it will kill it.

Here is a video on how to grow Avocado trees from seeds.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Leaves Dying on an Avacado Plant

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

A: Kimberlea,

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.

RE: Leaves Dying on an Avacado Plant

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)

By pipersgooseman

Archive: Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant

I am growing an avocado tree in my kitchen. All appeared to be going well, but in the last week and a half my plant hasn't been looking too healthy. The lower leaves are curling inwards, becoming almost crispy in texture and they are turning an extremely dark brown, seeming black before closer inspection. During this time my plant's condition has spread to nearly half of its leaves.

My kitchen is fairly cool in temperature and I have absolutely no idea in which region of the world this variety originates, or how to find out. I keep it in a sunny spot, but not in what I'd describe as direct sunlight. I water it regularly, just enough to keep the soil damp, a deep brown color. I re-potted my avocado tree about six weeks ago and it seemed to improve in health directly after that, growing very quickly once again, before this problem emerged.

Could you possibly give me any advice to help improve its health? I'm rather fond of my avocado tree, eccentric as that may appear. I'd at least like to give it a fighting chance at survival. Many thanks, in anticipation. Hardiness Zone: 9b C from England, UK

RE: Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant

Don't forget they are trees. Trees have trunks, not leaves at the bottom. Every one I have ever had has lost the bottom leaves eventually. (08/18/2008)

By Kaysee

RE: Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant

Right. The lower leaves will fall off because it is a tree, not a bush. My 20 year old avocado tree in the back yard puts out at least 35 bushels of leaves every year. A well established tree in Central California will survive a week of temps that go down in the 20's every night. Only the outside couple of feet will freeze. Prune them off and the tree will come back with a vengeance. I think we are in zone 9. (08/21/2008)

By Gorius

RE: Leaves Dying on an Avocado Plant

I have been having the same concern. I have noticed that the leaves at the top are growing well and the tree as a whole is very sturdy. My tree is still quite young, about 14 inches tall and three months old. I water it frequently and have it in a terra cotta 13 inch pot. After reading this, sounds like it is natural as long as the leaves aren't going yellow from over watering. (12/25/2008)

By Dani

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