It’s National Avocado Day! Celebrate by planting an avocado tree at a customer property! While locations in frost zones are restricted to featuring these tropical trees in containers, sites where temperatures rarely drop to freezing–such as the southernmost regions of Florida, Texas, Arizona or California–may find these trees a beneficial and attractive addition to the landscape. After all, clients who haven’t indulged the toothpick- in-the-pit-trick have probably at least gobbled up guacamole! So how do you plant and care for avocado trees?
According to information from the Pennington Seed Inc. website, plant avocados in the spring so the tree becomes established well before cooler winter months arrive. Choose a site with full sun and excellent drainage, protected from winds and frost. Allow plenty of room for the tree’s mature size, since they can grow 40 feet tall or more in the ground. Avocados have shallow roots, so plant them at, or slightly higher than, the level they grew at in their pot and avoid planting too deep.
Once established, avocados are simple to maintain, states the Pennington Seed site. Their large, leathery, green leaves and attractive form make them beautiful landscape trees, even when they’re fruitless. Water the entire area beneath the tree’s canopy deeply and thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. Most avocado roots stay in the top six inches of soil, which can dry out quickly. Newly planted trees may need water two to three times per week their first year, while mature avocado trees need water equal to about two inches of rainfall or irrigation each week during summer.
As to fertilizer, avocados do best with plant foods designed specifically for avocados and citrus, notes the Pennington Seed website. These prefer fertilizers with higher amounts of nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium. That means that the first number in the N-P-K ratio on your fertilizer label should be higher than the other two. Pennington UltraGreen Citrus & Avocado Plant Food 10-5-5 provides avocados with an ideal blend of primary nutrients plus added micronutrients, including zinc and iron, which are especially important to avocado health and growth. This premium fertilizer starts feeding immediately, then continues feeding your tree for up to four months.
As a final note, keep in mind that one essential for avocado growing success is patience. Plant a tree, and customers may wait three to four years for fruit. But the result is tasty and nutritious!