Pruning an Avocado Plant

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Keeping the height of a potted avocado tree under control requires careful pruning to increase fullness and reduce overall height. This is a page about pruning an avocado plant.


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February 8, 2010


I have grown an avocado seed and it is 2 years old and approximately 9 feet tall. I have had it outside and need to bring it in for the winter, but it is too tall for the ceiling. Can I cut it back or should I just leave it alone?




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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May 25, 2011

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.

By Sandra


May 26, 20111 found this helpful
Best Answer

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!

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October 27, 2018

After reading the advice from many online sites to cut the stem of my avocado in half after it reached 8 inches, the top part of the remaining stem died and a new stem sprouted from the side.

Why did this happen, will it be OK? In future should I not cut the stem back down?

Many thanks.


October 27, 20180 found this helpful

This is fine. I wouldn't worry at all.

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October 27, 20180 found this helpful

It is a challenge to grow avacado from seed. The side growth is normal, the dying top could have happened even if you didn't prune because these are fragile and temperamental.


Keep loving it and taking good care and it hopefully it will come back and keep growing.

When I used to grow them as a kid, I never pruned them, but I also knew Pittsburgh isn't avacado central so I just loved them for as long as I could keep them going.


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October 27, 20180 found this helpful

That is good, atleast there are new ones grew.

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October 27, 20180 found this helpful

That's fine, you are lucky that it grew another stem. It is very hard to grow an Avocado tree. I personally never did cut my stem when it reached 8 inches, I just let it grow on its own . Cutting the stem is usually to try and make it bush out. I find leaving it alone it will eventually grow other stems out of the initial stem . Why don't you just go ahead and do another Avocado pit and see what happens if you leave it alone.


Good Luck !!

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December 14, 2018

My first avocado I pruned down once it reached 8 inches and it ended up dying at the top and sprouting a side stem. I posted it on here and took the advice and tried it differently with a second seed.

It grew really fast and rocketed up! It is already as tall as the first. But because I didn't cut it, it has become long and spindly. There were shoots coming off the side which I thought would grow out, but they died instead and now it is a single stem with 2 leaves at the top. I have since pinched out the top shoot rather than cutting, but don't think it will now grow out side branches. Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks! :)


December 14, 20180 found this helpful

You can fertilize it and cut it back a bit.

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December 14, 20180 found this helpful

Aww...I remember your first plant from October.

It may be time to call in the big guns, the official Avocado website has a contact me section:

Wishing you happy growing!!! Post back with the progress of your new plant baby!

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July 29, 2010

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


February 11, 20160 found this helpful

Pinch the newer growth at the top of your tree.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 29, 2010

After reading another post about avocado plants, specifically how and when to properly prune them, I am in need of suggestions too. My first avocado plant is now almost 7'3 inches tall and living in Michigan in my apartment that has 8' ceilings.

It is still winter here, but "Avogadro" knows spring is coming. There is new growth on all three branches as well as significant growth on the top. How do I prune this guy back or is it too late?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By M.B. from Ann Arbor, MI

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September 26, 2006


I have an indoor avocado plant that is about 5 feet tall. The leaves are only on the top 12 inches. Can I trim it down to about 2 feet and still have it leaf out?

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.


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