Home & Garden

How to plant and nurture an avocado tree

Avocado fruit keep well on the tree and do not ripen until after they are picked.
Avocado fruit keep well on the tree and do not ripen until after they are picked. Photo Courtesy

Q: I am interested in growing an avocado tree. What should I be aware of before I plant? — Aedan G.

A: The first step to planting anything is to make sure it is well-suited to your specific climate. Your climate zone and microclimate will determine which plants will grow well in your garden.

The avocado tree originated in the tropical climates of South America and may not be well-suited to some cool coastal climates. If possible, purchase your tree in the spring, after the last chance of frost, to give your tree a good head start.

The avocado tree requires delicate treatment during planting. Make sure the hole is as deep as the root ball and twice the diameter. Once planted, the tree ball should rest about 1 inch above the surrounding ground to prevent excess moisture from reaching the trunk. Irrigate your new tree immediately after planting.

Botanically, the avocado flower is unique. Each flower has a female portion that opens for a few hours on one day. On the second day, the flower sheds pollen and acts as a male flower.

Honeybees transfer pollen from male-stage flowers to female-stage flowers. Pollination activities and fruit set are improved when more than one tree is planted within close proximity.

Pollination is highly dependent on temperature. Temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for flow ering. Lower temperatures, even in the 60-degree range, significantly lower fruit set, while sudden hot spells may cause fruit drop.

The avocado’s smooth, creamy and subtle taste continues to rise in popularity as a culinary treat.

The avocado packs a nutritional wallop, as well. It is known for its cholesterol fighting monounsaturated fats and its high vitamin and mineral content.

For more information on planting and maintaining avocados, visit The University of California’s Backyard California Orchard, ucanr.org/sites/home_orchard.

Join the UCCE Master Gardeners at the “Lawns to Food” Demonstration Garden at Centennial Park, 600 Nickerson Drive, Paso Robles, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday for a free summer pruning workshop. Methods to prune fruit bearing trees, shrubs and vines will be demonstrated.