Avocado Trees Losing Leaves?

February 1, 2014

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?Avocado with dying leaves.

Avocado tree without leaves.

By Lorelei N.


August 2, 20159 found this helpful
Best Answer

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!


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October 8, 2017

I have grown my avocado tree from a seed and never pruned it. As new leaves sprout the existing leaves fall off.


I still keep the tree indoors. What could I do to prevent the the leaves falling off. Thank you.


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October 17, 20170 found this helpful
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Brown or dropping leaves can be caused by a number of things so you may have to try several suggestions to find a true solution.

  • Have you repotted your plant recently? Sometimes the shock of repotting will cause this to happen. If that is the reason, it will take a little while to recover.
  • What type of soil do you have in your pot? Avocado trees need a loose soil so regular soil is not recommended as it will be too heavy/thick. You may have to repot in a lighter soil.
  • If you are using regular tap water you may have a salt buildup that will need to be removed. Take your plant outside (if possible) and run water through the plant for several minutes and maybe even a second time to remove any remaining salt.
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  • If you are using a water softener then you may have to do the same thing but with unfiltered outside water.
  • For future watering, try to use distilled water or boiled and cooled water.
  • Use one-half recommended fertilizer but on a regular basis.
  • Prune your plant (check YouTube videos).
  • If you feel your tree has been over-watered, you may have to remove it from the pot and clean roots (gently) and replace in new soil.
  • For Light requirements you may have to move your plant to different areas of your house at different times of the year.
  • This is also true for temperature and humidity requirements.

Here is a link to a site that has a lot of information about growing avocado trees indoors. Check all the links on each side for more information.

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December 15, 2017

I have an avocado tree that I bought when it was about a foot tall. It is now about three feet tall. It is dropping fresh green leaves. I can send pictures, if you want. I bought it in March and it had been doing very well. The lady at Terra greenhouses said not to expect fruit this year, so I'm not, but I am very concerned about it dropping it's fresh green leaves.Avocado Tree Dropping Leaves - tree with missing leaves


Any thoughts or suggestions?

Avocado Tree Dropping Leaves


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December 24, 20172 found this helpful
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Hello !
I see you get snow in the winter, that means real winter. It also means that the lady at Terra Greenhouses is a big liar if she told you that your avocado has a good chance to have fruits one day. I think that your avocado is just having a big shock due to the change of season, less daylight, heating on in your house which means higher temperature and dry air. It is a situation the plant can't adapt to as an avocado is a tree made to live outdoors where shorter daylight goes together with colder temperature. My advice would be to keep it away from heaters, lightly spray it with water at room temperature once a week and no fertilizer, it is winter it is not the time for a tree to grow and any season of the year water it only if when you press hard the tips of your fingers on the soil no bits of soil stay stuck to your skin and that's all.


Sometimes whether the leaves which are falling are at the top of the plant or close to the foot tells you if the plant is overwatered or not. When it lacks water it is the leaves at the top that fall first and when it is overwatered it is the leaves close to the foot that fall first but this trick doesn't work always. Give the tree a rest and you will see when spring comes how it is doing. In case your avocado isn't doing well do not buy a new one just grow a new one from a seed you will have the same result without spending any money. Hope this helps.

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September 25, 2018

I have an avocado plant that I've been growing indoors for the past 5 years. She's over 3 ft tall! She has been growing strong and grew a branch this summer. I was so proud and happy! For the past couple of weeks I noticed she wasn't looking too well, her branch was wilting/turning black and she lost all her leaves so I cut her back thinking that was the problem. From where I cut the stalk, it's turning brown and is shriveling up. Over the summer I went on vacation twice and used a self watering globe so she would be okay when I was gone (I went away in July and August). I kept the self watering globe in the pot until I noticed she wasn't looking too good and removed it. Then I noticed she was losing leaves and the branch was wilting and turning a blackish color. I went back to how I used to water her in the past.

The second change was I added crushed egg shells to the soil because a coworker said they were great fertilizer and to give it a try. I removed the shells from the soil as well. So those were the only two changes she experienced over the summer, the self watering globe and egg shells. She sits in front of a window so I know she's getting great sunlight. I always check the soil to make sure I wasn't over/under watering her. I checked my plant/apartment and I have no bugs flying around the plant or my studio. Did I kill my baby? Does anyone know what can be the problem and how I can save her? The picture below is from June when she was growing strong. What can I do to get her back to looking this healthy? I'm really upset. Please give me some advice on what I can to to help her. =(

Potted Avocado Tree Losing Leaves and Turning Black - healthy plant


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September 25, 20181 found this helpful

You could have an insect problem or fungus problem. You also could have too wet or too dry soil. Since you check the soil often, I suspect insects.

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June 13, 2019

I have around an 8 foot/2.4 meter avocado tree, which has been grown indoors in Colorado. The bottom leaves are turning brown and falling off slowly, but the top is growing well. The tree was grown from a seed from an avocado purchased at a market. It has only received fertilizer once, and it was planted, after roots formed from the seed, around 3 years ago. The soil is a good mixture with no rocks or pebbles on the bottom of the planter.Potted Avocado Tree Loosing its Leaves - tall avocado tree


The tree was subjected to cold air for 8 hours last fall and has never been as healthy as it once was. The sliding glass door was left open near the tree.

I have so many questions! Should I try to re-pot it? What would you recommend for fertilizing and how often for such a tall tree? Is it normal for bottom leaves to fall off for a taller tree?

Many thanks!


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June 13, 20190 found this helpful
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I would fertilize at least once a month. It should recover well. Keep cutting off spent foliage.

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January 20, 2019

I have an avocado tree that is about 5-6 yrs old. It has occasionally dropped leaves, but they have always grown back. However, since it has become winter, the avocado will grow some leaves, and then a few days-weeks later they will shrivel up and fall off.

The ones that grow back appear to be mostly on the top of the tree. Also, one of the branches furthest from the window has started to turn brown/black (photo down below) Will my plant die? How can I fix this?

Avocado Tree Losing Leaves
Avocado Tree Losing Leaves - potted avocado tree
Avocado Tree Losing Leaves
Avocado Tree Losing Leaves
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August 16, 2018

Recently there was a heatwave where I live. My avocado tree, without my knowledge, was sunburned. All of the leaves turned brown and crunchy so I decided to pluck them off. I left a few that still seemed to be healthy and were green however most of them got knocked off in the wind when I was carrying it outside. Now my avocado tree of only 6 months has three leaves remaining. Leaves on Avocado Tree Sunburned


I am concerned that with this minimal amount of leaves my plant will not be obtaining enough sunlight for its vital functions. Currently, it is in a place where it receives sunlight all day that is at a good level. It has some tiny new buds on the top, but they also seem a bit burned, there are also buds where the burned leaves where (both visible, hopefully, in the pictures). Will my tree be OK? I'd hate for it to die as I've grown it from nothing.

Many thanks.

Leaves on Avocado Tree Sunburned


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August 16, 20181 found this helpful

Poor tree! They do sunburn just like humans.

You didn't say where you are located, but calling your local agriculture college or home extension office can get you some good solutions that work best in your area to help the tree make a full recovery, but more importantly for prevention of future burns.


A family member from California has tried painting the tree trunk with white paint (hers was much thicker than yours and it was an outside plant)......but that may be different than what is recommended for your area. Every area is different, so best to the expert for your climate.

If you put your town name and the phase home extension services into Google, it should come up near the top. Most have a .org at the end.

Good luck! PS, you sound like me with the deep love for your plant! If there is a prayer for plants, I will say one for it!!

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August 16, 20181 found this helpful

Your tree will recover. I would invest in some shade cloth to protect it from future heat waves

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August 16, 20180 found this helpful

You can see the leaves are starting to grow at the top of the plant again. Normally avocado trees need to be outdoors in order to grow properly. After your tree has reached the hight it is now, it really should be planted in the ground and not kept in a small pot.


The tree needs a place to grow the roots.

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August 17, 20180 found this helpful

To help your young avocado tree along, remove it from the south or southwest area to diminish intensity of the sun. Like your own skin, an avocado is sensitive to sunburning too. If you had a sunburn, you would not expose yourself to direct sun's heat because the burning sensation is intensified.

Yes, you can paint a tree using half water and half acrylic white paint and put it on all the areas where leaves have fallen. This will help protect it more from getting sunburned further. However, the avocado tree would have been planted outdoors exposed to the sun. I don't know if you would do this to such a young plant as your own.


Do not over water as the tree won't be needing an abundance of water due to lack of leaves, but do keep it sheltered from sun until you see it improving. Good Luck.

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August 20, 20180 found this helpful

Looks and sounds like your tree is going to be okay but I'm not sure you should still have it in full direct sunlight.

If you do not have a way to make a sunscreen to stop the harsh sunlight you might try placing a thin sheet over the plant during the hottest part of the day. This has worked for me with some of my really tender plants as we have had some very hot days in Florida this year. I have even watered the plant (wet the sheet) and my plants have survived even 105 degrees.

If you plan to leave your tree in a container then here is a link that has a lot of information about growing your tree.

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July 8, 2020

I've been growing this plant from seed for almost a year, at one point it had two or three leaves which eventually fell off. I brought the plant outside for more heat and sunlight and I think the seed burnt.

I just want to know if there's any hope for this little guy or if I should just give up

Avocado Tree Lost Its Leaves? - leafless avocado tree in pot
Avocado Tree Lost Its Leaves?
Avocado Tree Lost Its Leaves?
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October 21, 2019

My avocado tree is a year and some change old. He's been really healthy; I've transplanted him before, and even moved across states with him. I have him in soil that doesn't retain too much water, since I know they can easily get root rot, and I water him about every two days or so and it's been working. But all of a sudden he's dropping a massive amount of leaves! Avocado Tree Losing Leaves - distressed tree, droopy leaves and brown leaves


I give him sunlight when I relax on my patio, and I even talk to him. I love my tree very much and I don't know why the sudden change. Do I need to put him in a bigger pot? Does he need better soil? I'd be devastated if he dies, please help. (The two photos show him now and before.)

Avocado Tree Losing Leaves - prior appearance
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February 21, 2019

What causes the buds to drop from a healthy indoor grown avocado tree. The tree is about 4 1/2 feet tall. Two other trees don't seem to have the same problem.

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