Q: I want to plant an avocado tree in my backyard. What should I do first? — Kim M., Paso Robles
A: The best time to plant an avocado tree in a coastal climate is March through June. Since that window has now passed, take some time to do a little research to prepare for next spring’s planting.
Avocado trees can be tricky to grow. However, if you can master growing one, you will be rewarded with delicious, creamy fruit.
Avocado trees can grow in a variety of climates. However, fruit production for this subtropical plant is best when exposure to frost is minimal. Familiarize yourself with the different cultivars that are recommended for home gardens and choose one that is well suited to your climate zone.
Cultivars best suited for the garden produce a good quality fruit and have a manageable growth habit, which makes for a manageable harvest. Visit the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website for a description of avocado cultivars — http://www.ucavo.ucr.edu.
Once you’ve identified a desirable cultivar for your yard, visit a reputable nursery to place your order. Ordering early is absolutely recommended. It can take months to prepare your particular order, so call ahead and discuss your planting timeline with the nursery professionals. Your planning will pay off as your purchased tree will consist of a rootstock that has been professionally grafted with the fruiting cultivar you’ve chosen.
Once your order has been placed, take some time to determine the best place to plant. Avocado trees are susceptible to Phytophthora cinnamomi, the fungus that causes root rot. While the rootstock of your ordered tree will be more tolerant of this fungus, it will not be completely resistant.
Knowing the history of your soil will help guide your planting decisions. Choose a location with soil with a clean history and full sun.
Check back with the Master Gardeners next season, and we’ll look at how to protect and maintain your newly planted avocado tree.
NOTE: If you have too much to harvest or your produce will ripen while you are away on vacation, GleanSLO volunteers may be able to harvest your produce while you’re away. Call 235-1180 for more information.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org.