Growing an Avocado Tree

I have an avocado tree that was 4 ft high when I got it and growing well. I did not realize at the time that I needed to cut it back and it was 6 ft tall before I realized the the top was bushy, but the stalk was not growing. Since then I have pinched it back, it has a lot of new growth at the top, but the now 8 ft tree still has a stalk no thicker than an inch or so. Should I cut it down to the bottom completely? Or should I let it go and keep pinching back the new growth? I am at a loss. All of the info I can find says to pinch it back, but I haven't been able to find out how to correct this.

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March 15, 20160 found this helpful

I have never cut mine back. Its well over 6' and doing fine. Mine is also in the ground not in a pot. It might be root bound.

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November 20, 20160 found this helpful

My avocado tree is about 120cm high and no branches. What should i do to devep branches?
Thanks a lot

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December 10, 20160 found this helpful

Hi, from what I've read, avocado's branch naturally and a lot! So I wouldn't worry about it. Let it grow and wait and see.
More often people have issues with too much branching rather than not enough.
Make sure you have it in the ground though. You might have a similar issue to the primary question in this thread.

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March 24, 20170 found this helpful

reduce it to half it`s size

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September 6, 20170 found this helpful

Hi, I am now currantly trying to grow my own avocado tree from the seed , the stem grew 2,5 cm with four leaves. The stem turned brown and the leaves fell off. I have cut the dead leaves off . Can I expect it to regrow again.


Kind Regards
Liesl Grobler ( Australia Queensland)

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March 17, 20190 found this helpful

Gorgeous tree. I have an avocado plant too, I'm chicken to put a plant outside, afraid it will die. Now I see your picture so decide to keep it inside. Smile

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May 5, 20160 found this helpful

That tree has to go in the ground for the stalk to thicken. The root doesnt have enough room to grow first of all. Second, dont cut anymore of the top, allow it to grow in.

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February 25, 20171 found this helpful

I have grown several avodado plants, and have a lot of funny stories related to successes and failures. My elderly Italian relatives all had green thumbs and grew all kind of fruit trees from seed. They didn't have any kind of experience with most of the trees they were growing; none of these plants were native to Italy. Still, the old folks who I observed as a child had some real talent and a peculiar facination with tropical and citrus plants.


With that background in mind, I assumed that growing an avocado would be easy, or that I might have inherited some natural instincts giving me success in this area. Alas, if only that were the case! I think that speaking Italian to the plants may be in some way beneficial, but that doesn't help me much since I never learned the language.

To the point, however, it seems that it is always a good idea to pinch indoor plants back so that they don't get "leggy". Basically, in order to have a nice, thick stem or trunk, plants and trees have to grow tall slowly. From the look of your plant, it looks like it got very leggy, and you supported it with some trellice stakes so it could support its weight as it grew leaves.

Judging from the size of the plant, it looks like the little guy is about 3 years old or so, and that's actually a pretty good accomplishment in itself. It also looks like the plant is growing out of a pretty small pot, and is probably getting a little root bound by now.


Although I have my avocado growing in a rather giant pot, I did make the same mistake of letting the plant get leggy and support it with stakes. I recently pruned it back to help correct this, but probalby have more to do. By not pinching my plant back, I got the same results you did. I grew and avocado with an assymetric canopy atop a rather vine-like trunk.

Unfortunately, the solution for this is probably a hard one to handle because it comes with risk to the plant as well as your own emotional connection to the little guy. Judging by the obvious care you put into staking the plant, it appears you are rather attached to it and want it to thrive.

If you want the plant to really flourish, however, I think you need to do more than supporting the plant. You will need to go big or go home and make two potentially hazarddous interventions for the sake of the plant overall.


The first intervention is to repot the plant into a new and larger pot with some good fertilizer. Everyone will tell you to expect your plant to loose his leaves and get angry for a while when you do this, but I have had some good luck with root bound plants by simply cutting the old pot away or breaking and not disrupting the roots at all. Just put the root ball right into another pot and pack new, fertilized dirt around it. Soak it liberally when you do this to help the roots settle and give the plant a much needed drink. Give the plant a few weeks and I expect he'll loose a few leaves, be a little crabby, and then look fine again.

What seems to be happening when a plant goes into transplant shock, whether mild or severe, is that repotting triggers a cahnge in a plant's priorities. The root bound plant can't do much with its roots, so it focuses on making a lot of leaves to make a bunch of energy. When you repot the plant, it puts a whole lot of metabolic octane into shooting out new roots and stretching its legs, so to speak. After a little adjusting, the plant goes back to putting its energy into normal trunk and leaf growth.


You can stop here and go no further. you can continue to trellice the tree, and he'll probably grow for a few more years. If you want to really make the little guy flourish you will need to do a second, more drastic, intervention - or shall I say surgery. you need to cut the plant down to about half it's height, or cut it down and graft it.

Just cutting the plant takes a little faith in Mother Nature because while plants, including trees are in their infancy and childhood, you can chop them down or pinch them and they will just start new growth. Cut down a mature tree, and you might have a new shoot that grows off the side or from the base of the tree, but chances are that the tree with just die. It's kind of rolling the dice.

Just to give you a little confidence, however, I have observed that Leggy, vine-ish plants are survivors. they are fighting for life, and I think that gives them an advantage over a typical, mature plant, but that's my own humble opinion.

If you are nervous that the plant will just die and not develop new shoots and leaves, you can try a really effective method for grafting the plant that might be a little less risky and also provide some cool results by maintaining some leafy branches. This is also a lot more fun.

It sounds complicated, but it's not. The process of grafting is really simple and you just cut the top of your plant off at an angle where it has leaves. Next make a cut in the "trunk" of the tree further down and get rid of the middle portion of the plant. cut this angle to match the angle you used to cut the top off the plant. Press the ends together and wrap them with cecil twine or grafting tape you can buy at a hardware store or online. If you use cecil twine, you need to put plastic over the graft when you are done and tie the plastic above and below the joint so that it doesn't dry out.

Whether using twine with plastic or grafting tape, some people like to hold the pieces together and paint the joint with grafting compound, wax, or pruning sealer, then use the twine or grafting tape to hold it together and maintain moisture. I think that this is probably best.

The grafting compound, pruning sealer, or wax all do the same thing. they seal the joint so the cortex of the stem doesn't dry out. All these supplies are "dirt" cheap. Pruning sealer is a few dollars, grafting tape is no more than a dollar. Wax is free if you have a candle on hand that you don't mind melting a small chunk of. You probably have cecil twine sitting in a drawer somewhere.

To be even more creative, you can cut both leaf bearing branches (These are called scions, by the way) and graft both of them to the same trunk. With any luck, the main trunk and both branches will survive and start to flourish. Don't worry if the leaves fall off. If the trunk/branches stay green, they will eventually start budding again.

Make sure that you support the graft by supporting the plant above the graft with a trelice steak just like you did for your current plant. At this point, though, don't let it grow taller untill it gets wider and continue to pinch new buds off the top of the plant until it can support itself. This could take a long time - like over a year. Who cares how long it takes, however. the plant will look fine and be an interesting conversation topic.

At the risk of getting WAY too long winded, there is one final option that I have never tried but have been interested in for a while. It is to use cloning gel to create new roots high up on the plant. All you do is make a slice in the plant just below the scion. Now wrap the cut area in rockwool and soak it with cloning gel (online for about $7 or twice that at a nursery). Cover this with a plastic bag and tie it above and below the cut to prevent it from drying out. When you see roots growing out of the rockwool, cut the stem below the new roots and simply plant the new roots with the attached scion in new soil. Voila! New roots from your old plant. With any luck, you can cut the rest of your old plant down to about two feet, water it and that one will come back as well. Now you have an avacado for you and one for a friend.

I hope that helps. If you end up doing it, I'd love to see a photo of the results. I'm going to graft my plant when it leafs out a little more this summer. I will also clone a branch just to experiment. I do a lot of growing in a greenhouse and prefer to do this kind of stuff there where there is plenty of sun. It looks like your window also gets a good amount of sun, so you may not have to wait until summer to have both warmth and sun.

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