How to graft a mature avocado tree

Graft Avocado Trees: How To Grow Avocados Faster

We love growing our own avocado trees. We can have avocados any time we want, and with the help of the Avoseedo, rooting a tree from an avocado pit is as easy as it gets. However, the one downside to growing an avocado tree from a pit is that avocado trees take years to mature. If you want your avocado tree to produce fruit faster, you can graft avocado trees.

Problems With Growing An Avocado Tree

The 7 to 10 years it takes for an avocado tree to mature aren’t our only problems, unfortunately. When we root an avocado pit we bought at the grocery store, we are likely rooting a hybrid. This fact means that the avocados we produce on our homegrown tree will have a different genetic code than the one we ate. It could be no problem at all, or it could mean we spend years tending an avocado tree that never produces fruit, or worse, produces inedible fruit.

We don’t want to spend nearly a decade watering, pruning, and fertilizing an avocado tree that we never get to enjoy. If you want to make sure you enjoy the superfruits of your labor, there is an alternative. Instead of growing your avocado tree naturally, you can “topwork,” or graft, your avocado tree.

What Is Topworking?

Topworking is the process of grafting a branch from a mature avocado tree onto your young, homegrown tree. This process cuts down the number of years it takes your tree to start producing avocados and also ensures that the fruits you grow will be just as delicious as those on the mature tree that donated the branch.

How To Graft Your Avocado Tree

Once your homegrown avocado tree has reached a height of about 3 feet, it is ready to receive a grafted branch. This process is best undertaken in the spring when the bark slips easiest off the inner tree.

1. Sterilize Your Tools

Dip your cutting tools in rubbing alcohol or any other sterilizer and allow them to air dry. You do not want to introduce any bacteria into your graft accidentally.

Select Your Graft Branch

Find a healthy avocado tree that produces reliable edible fruit. Select a branch from this tree that is “budwood,” or a branch that is producing buds. The best buds are towards the end of branches between ¼ inch and 1 inch in diameter.

3. Cut Healthy Branches

Once you identify healthy budwood, use your sterilized cutting tool to cut 6-inch lengths of healthy branch tips. Then make sure each cutting contains several buds on it. Take 6 to 8 cuttings and wrap them in damp paper towels to keep them fresh. Lay them in a bowl of ice to keep them cool.

4. Prepare Your Graft Site

On your growing avocado tree, called the “rootstock,” locate sites for your grafts. These locations should be on a branch approximately 12 inches from the trunk. Make a T-shaped cut in each place. Make the long side of the T about an inch long and parallel to the branch. Then make the short side cut approximately ⅓ of the way through the branch. Take care not to damage your rootstock branch. Finally, use your knife to pry bark away from where the 2 cuts meet.

5. Remove a Bud From the Budwood

Select a healthy bud from the budwood and cut it off along with bark and cambium. When making your cut, you must keep the bud connected to bark and cambium underneath. The cambium is the green layer found just beneath the bark.

6. Graft the Bud

Once you successfully remove your bud, it’s time to graft! Take your removed bud and bring it to the graft site on your rootstock. Place the long end of the budwood into the long side of the T cut. The bud should sit in the intersection of your T cut on the rootstock. Last, ensure the cambium layers of the bud and the rootstock are touching; this is essential for a successful graft. 

7. Secure Your Graft

Once you place your graft, it’s time to make sure it stays there. Wrap the budded graft above and below the bud. Specialized grafting tape is ideal for this task, but rubber bands can work too. Make sure you do not wrap the bud. Next, repeat steps 4-6 with all the buds collected from the mature tree, placing them on different branches of your rootstock. 

8. Remove the Grafting Tape

After 3 or 4 weeks, your grafts will have healed, and the buds will be attached to your avocado tree. With a successful graft, now the buds will begin to open, and this is when you should remove the grafting tape or rubber bands. As the new branches grow, they will produce avocados.

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How to Graft an Avocado Tree

There’s no fruit quite like the avocado. It’s a delicious, nutritious fruit that has made its way into many fantastic recipes. If you’re reading this article, there’s a chance that you want to grow your own avocado tree.

An example of bark grafting an avocado tree.

You may have heard or read that the best way to go about this is by raising a grafted tree. You may know that grafting an avocado tree is essentially a process by which one avocado tree is cloned by taking off a piece and reattaching it to another tree where it may continue its growth. What you don’t know is how to graft an avocado tree.

At Minneopa Orchards, we’re here to help. The following article will walk you through the process of grafting an avocado tree. Hopefully, it will also answer some questions you may have and set you up for success in grafting avocado trees.

The Lingo of Grafting Avocado Trees

If you’re considering grafting an avocado tree yourself, there are some terms that you will encounter. To help you understand not only this article, but any reputable source that speaks on the subject of grafting, here are some useful definitions.

The rootstock is the portion of the plant that is growing from the soil. It is the main, lower part of the stem, or trunk, onto which the scion is grafted.

The scion is the portion of the plant, such as a bud or a shoot, that is separated from the plant on which it was originally growing and is then attached (through grafting) to the rootstock.

A cultivar denotes a particular variety of a plant that has been developed through selective breeding. For instance, while a Granny Smith and a Honeycrisp are both apples, and are taxonomically the same species (malus domestica), they are different cultivars. As is the case with apples, you can see and taste the difference between avocado cultivars.

The cambium is the layer of plant tissue just below the skin/bark of a plant. It is the layer between the xylem and phloem of vascular plants and it is responsible for producing new cells and secondary growth.

Why Graft an Avocado Tree?

If you grow an avocado from a seed, it could take over a decade to produce fruit or it may never produce fruit at all. If it does eventually produce fruit, the avocados could be sparse, small, sour tasting, or otherwise unappealing. You never know what kind of avocado you’re going to get until it appears. This is because it’s a completely new creation. It’s an unpredictable amalgamation of its parents’ genetic profiles. Because of this, a planted avocado seed may not ultimately produce the same avocado cultivar from which it came.

From the straightforward growing process, you could get perfectly fine fruit. In theory, you could end up with a superior fruit. Unfortunately, this outcome is not only unlikely, but the wait alone would be too long to justify for most people.

If you know how to graft an avocado tree, however, you have a reliable method of producing a consistent bounty of quality fruit within a couple of years of the initial graft. In fact, grafting gives you a lot of control. Both the rootstock and the scion can be selected to nearly guarantee that your tree will have particular traits.

For instance, as a tree’s height is mostly determined by the rootstock, you could select a Wurtz avocado tree as the rootstock, thus ensuring your tree does not grow unmanageably tall. Meanwhile, your scion could be from the Hass avocado tree so that the fruit your tree produces is the same as what you’re used to buying from the grocery store.

(If you want to get really fancy with your grafting project, here’s a video about grafting a Type A and a Type B avocado onto the same rootstock to increase fruit yield and and provide two delicious kinds of fruit to enjoy.)

In short, if you’re growing an avocado tree and want the fruit to be of consistent quantity and quality, and be ready in a shorter amount of time, then growing a grafted tree is the way to go.

Preparing to Graft an Avocado Tree

To maximize your chances of being successful with your avocado tree grafting, you want to do your homework.

Get Your Timing Right

The best time of year for grafting an avocado tree is in the spring. During this time of year, your avocado tree undergoes rapid growth. However, this is assuming that the avocado trees from which you select scion wood are following a normative developmental schedule. If they begin developing flower and leaf buds earlier in the year, you can begin grafting then.

Whip and tongue grafting method.

Helpful Tools

Some tools you’ll find useful are:

  • A good pair of pruning shears
  • Some grafting tape
  • A utility knife or boxcutter
  • A mild, plant-safe antiseptic for your tools (to clean them before you get started)

Step-By-Step Beginner’s Guide On How to Graft an Avocado Tree

To make your avocado tree grafting process as easy as possible, the following guide is segmented into four simple steps.

Step 1: Prepping the Rootstock

Be sure to prune away any signs of growth on the trunk of the rootstock. While you can allow that part of the plant to grow if you so wish, remember, that portion of the tree will have none of the benefits of the grafted part of the tree. Not only will any natural growth there be taking up useful space, but it will also compete with the graft for water and nutrients.

Step 2: Choosing A Scion

Select a branch from the desired variety of avocado tree to be the scion. The ideal branch will have lots of new buds on it, have a healthy green color, and have roughly the same diameter as the rootstock. Snip it from the avocado tree. It’s best for the length of the branch that you intend on using as a scion to be about 6-8 inches. Remove the leaves and leaf stems from the scion wood, but be careful not to damage the flower or the leaf buds.

Step 3: Making Your Cuts

Next, you need to make your cuts. There are different ways to do this, but here we will cover what is perhaps the simplest way. Take your knife and slice the base of the scion into a triangular wedge shape. This entails cutting the scion on opposite sides. Do not add additional cuts on the sides perpendicular to the original cuts.

The wedge should be about an inch or an inch and a half long, starting at the top with the same thickness as the rest of the scion, and come to a point at the bottom. Make the cuts on both sides as even as possible.

The cut into the rootstock is much simpler. Make a single cut straight down the center of the top of the rootstock, that is, at the point where you are going to attach the scion. The depth of the cut should be about the same as the length of the wedge on the scion.

Step 4: Taping it Up

Insert the wedge of the scion into the cut on the rootstock. The exposed cambium of both the scion and the rootstock should be flush with one another. You don’t want any gaps or pockets. It should be a snug fit. Ideally, the rootstock would hold the scion in place if you were to remove your hand.

Then, holding it in place, use your grafting tape to wrap it up. The tape should cover the entire graft. Use as many layers as necessary to hold it firmly in place.

Next, use the grafting tape to wrap the rest of the scion. The purpose of this is to cover the buds and prevent them from losing excessive moisture. The buds should come through the tape as they grow on their own. Just be careful not to damage them as you wrap the tape.

After that, you’re all done. The waiting begins.

Additional Tips for Grafting an Avocado Tree

After the graft is set, consider using a fungicide such as a neem oil or a copper fungicide to further help protect the plant from disease. It’s an additional, but optional, thing you can do to maximize your grafted avocado tree’s chance of success.

Also, young avocado trees are susceptible to sunburn, so try to keep your tree from prolonged exposure to intense UV radiation on those hot, sunny days.

There are a few simple ways to do this. If you’re growing your tree in a planter, you can periodically move it to a shadier spot. As the avocado is native to tropical forests, it’ll also do fine if you decide to grow it in the partial shade of another tree. Otherwise, perhaps consider using a shade cloth to protect your young grafted avocado tree.

One thing to bear in mind is making sure the avocado varieties that you select for grafting are compatible. This video shows what can happen if you graft avocados with different growth schedules.

There’s a lot that’s shared between the grafting processes of different fruit trees. This article on how to graft an apple tree can provide you with even more information on tree grafting.

Get What You Want By Grafting an Avocado Tree

By learning how to graft an avocado tree, you can produce the exact avocado fruit you want, in good quality and quantity, in a relatively short amount of time.

A cleft graft on an avocado tree.

Here at Minneopa Orchards, we have a lot to say about avocados. In fact, we have a wealth of information that you can access on our Avocado Trees page. Here you will find all of our content on everything related to avocados, such as profiles of varieties plus growing and care guides.

How to grow an avocado from the seed at home

Avocado is highly valued not only for its taste, but also for its composition rich in useful elements. So, each ripe fruit contains a large amount of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids necessary for the health of the body. That is why many amateur gardeners have repeatedly tried to grow avocados in their gardens, but all to no avail. This tropical plant is too demanding for certain conditions. However, if everything is too difficult in the open field, then at home on the windowsill it is quite possible to get a positive result. You can order avocados, succulents or flowers in Kyiv online without leaving your home or office. Previously, we have already considered what the benefits of elderberry flowers are, and now we propose to understand the features of growing avocados from the stone at home.

We buy avocado fruit in the store

Such an exotic fruit as avocado can be found in any supermarket and in any season of the year. Of course, growing this fruit plant at home is very different from growing in the native habitat of the species. It is better to learn about all the subtleties in advance, so that later you do not have to be disappointed.

The avocado is an evergreen native to hot climates that produces pear-shaped fruits with a large seed inside. The leaves of the tree are wide and dense, and the stems are elastic and curly. Most often, three trees are planted in a pot so that their branches subsequently intertwine into a beautiful composition. Such a planting will be a wonderful decoration of the interior and fill the house with harmony. Also, if you want to make a bouquet of vegetables and fruits with your own hands, avocados will definitely take their rightful place in it.

So, in order to get such a composition, and maybe valuable fruits, go to the store and buy a ripe avocado. How do you know that the fetus has reached maturity? Press down on opposite sides and release. If the avocado has returned to its original shape, it can be taken. However, even a green avocado will ripen at your place in a few days (especially if you put it in a basket with apples or bananas).

Sprouting the pit of the avocado

Remove the skin from the avocado and remove the pit. You need to plant it on the same day, then the probability of germination will be guaranteed. There are three methods for planting a bone:

  1. An unpeeled stone is planted in the soil (⅓ should stick out from above). Watering - once a week.
  2. Make 3 holes in the bone with matches or toothpicks (the holes should be about three millimeters deep) and put it in a glass of water. In this case, the areas with punctures should not remain at the top, i.e. dry.
  3. Peel the pit and place in a glass of water, leaving ⅓ to the top. Keep in mind that a pre-cleaned bone will germinate faster. In addition, it will be more convenient for you to monitor the formation of roots and stems.

It is better to plant a large bone - they have more strength for growth. As for water, ideally it should be purified, but it can also be settled. Temperature - room temperature. Many people recommend throwing a few tablets of activated charcoal into the water so that germination is faster. In general, with or without additives, the stone can sprout in one week, and in two or three months, depending on the season. Spring is considered the most favorable season.

Planting a stone in the ground

A signal that it is time to place the avocado stone in a pot with soil will be a sprout that has reached a length of about 3 cm. Choose loose soil for the pot - the stone should “breathe”. Also, in order to avoid rotting processes, moisture stagnation should not be allowed - for this it is necessary to organize high-quality drainage (about 2 cm high). The pot for the stone itself can be compact, anyway, after a year it will need to be transplanted. The stone should be ⅓ sticking out of the substrate. For watering avocados, it is better to take purified water.

Place the seedling pot on the sunny side of the apartment. In order for the avocado to develop better, it can be fed with mineral fertilizers. If the sprout has become too long (this happens due to lack of light), then it needs to be cut a little. Watering avocados should be moderate. If the soil is moistened by 5 centimeters from the top, this is enough.

As mentioned earlier, a couple of avocado seeds can be planted in one vessel to create decorative weaving from their sprouts. The main thing is not to tighten the sprouts very tight.

Avocado blossom will please about three years of age. The inflorescences of the plant are small yellow flowers. If you want the tree to start producing fruit, you must plan ahead and plant a few seedlings so that they can cross-pollinate. It will be a big plus if in the summer you can take the pot with the plant to the garden plot and put it on a sunny lawn shaded by trees.

Avocado growing conditions

Avocado, like all plants, needs proper care. And even more so in an unnatural habitat for him. Since the avocado is an inhabitant of the tropics, the plant feels great during the warm periods of the year. But in the cold, problems begin. Further about everything in order.

Place for avocados

The best place for a pot of avocados is a window sill that faces west. The plant loves when a lot of light hits it, however, the light should be diffused. In principle, an avocado will thrive in the shade, but you don't want a weak growing flower with faded leaves, do you?

Required air temperature

Avocados will do well at room temperature. But sudden changes in temperature and drafts must be avoided, otherwise the leaves will begin to fall off. Many people try to bring avocados to the veranda or loggia in the summer, thinking that an exotic friend will be happy with the warmth and sun. But it's not. Outside the apartment, you will not be able to keep track of the changing ambient temperature. In the cold season of the year, the temperature should not fall below 20°C. There is an opinion among scientists that an avocado will be guaranteed to bear fruit if it is immersed in hibernation (i.e., gradually reduce the room temperature to 12 ° C). But in practice, this is not easy to implement, especially at home.

Required air humidity

This evergreen plant is accustomed to tropical humidity, and dry air is detrimental to it. Thus, regular spraying is vital for avocados, but care must be taken that drops do not fall on the tree - this can provoke “wounds” on the leaves. Humidify the air around the pot, or place moist moss in a saucer on the windowsill next to it.

Caring for avocados

Caring for this exotic representative of the flora is a set of actions familiar to gardeners, but with some specifics.

Watering avocados

Watering avocados should be regular and generous, but not too much. To understand whether it is time to water the plant or not, you can by the state of the topsoil. Did you see that the substrate dried up? Wait another two or three days and you can start watering. The soil will just have time to dry completely and there will be no waterlogging.

Feeding avocados

Feeding avocados is not necessary during the cold season. But from the beginning of spring until September, the plant can be fertilized with a wide range of organic additives. If you have a top dressing for citrus fruits, you can use it too.

Transplanting avocados

The first year of avocado life is characterized by rather rapid growth. Transplantation will be necessary when the length of the sprout is approximately 15 centimeters. Young avocados (up to 4 years old) need to be replanted every year in the spring. And an adult tree - about once every three years. Pay attention to the soil for the plant. Avocado loves loose and airy soil of low acidity. Transplant using the transshipment method: carefully transfer the plant without clearing the roots of the soil clod.

Pruning avocado

Avocado tree with dense glossy leaves can become a worthy interior decoration. But a little knowledge in the field of floriculture will not hurt. By its nature, the avocado sprout stretches in height. In order for the plant to be not elongated, but fluffy, like a tree crown, young shoots must be cut. But pinching the tops should be done only when there are already at least a dozen leaves on the trunk. Lateral branches will develop faster if the top of the avocado is cut in time. When enough leaves grow on the side, you can cut them too.

Avocado pinching takes place at the beginning of March. Tweezing is needed not only to ensure that the tree has a fluffy crown, but also to comprehensively improve the development of the plant. What shape the crown of your avocado tree will be depends only on your wishes and preferences.

Diseases, pests and other problems

The main pests that most often affect avocados are spider mites and scale insects. These insects have been widely studied, and, in principle, all houseplants in pots suffer from them. The tick eats the leaves of the plant, and is also a carrier of various diseases that other inhabitants of your windowsills can suffer from. A scale insect sucks all the juices from plants. To combat these parasites, it is best to use insecticides, which are sold in specialized stores.

Growing avocados can cause other problems as well. For example, the dried ends of the leaves. This can happen if you do not follow the rules for watering and moistening the plant. The leaves may also begin to fall off. Most often, this trouble occurs if the apartment is too cool or the plant falls under a draft. And, if you notice that the avocado leaves have become dull, then the tree has little light. Move the pot to the sunny side or pick up a good LED lamp if it's winter.

Planting avocados outdoors

Once your avocado tree is about 40-45 centimeters tall, it can be transplanted outdoors in your garden. So that the new habitat does not become stressful for the plant, follow the following simple rules:

  • Give the avocados a period of gradual adjustment to fresh air. To do this, you can take out a pot with a plant on the veranda for half a year (but only in the warm season of the year).
  • Avocado can survive the cold winter only if you build a polycarbonate greenhouse for it and regularly hill it up.
  • If you initially had a desire to grow a tree on the site, then buy avocados of the first race (Mexican). This variety is the most cold-resistant and can easily withstand temperatures as low as -5°C.
  • With the help of grafting, you can grow different varieties of fruits on one tree

    Even with only one tree in the garden, you can grow on it a wide variety of varieties of apples, pears, plums ... But for this you need to graft. Not to himself, of course, but to a tree.

    Grafting can help the gardener solve many problems. Firstly, grow several different varieties of fruits on the same tree at once. Branches grafted onto another tree will bear the same fruit as the parent tree. Secondly, it is possible to create breeds resistant to frost. And besides, it's just a fascinating, creative process. After all, a tree on which both quince, and mountain ash, and pears, and apples grow at the same time will be an adornment of any garden.

    I am not afraid of vaccinations

    What you need to know when deciding to take up garden grafting:

    the grafted plant is called a graft; the one on which they are grafted is a stock;

    the whole variety of grafting methods can be divided into two groups: budding (grafting with a bud, dormant or germinating) and grafting with cuttings;

    The time for inoculation is chosen depending on the method. Budding, for example, is carried out during the period of active sap flow - in the first half of August - near apple and pear trees, and in late July - early August - near plums.

    In the spring they are grafted with cuttings. We will tell about it.

    Grafting cuttings (graft) are best taken from the south side of the tree crown and from the branches of the middle tier. Their optimal thickness is half or two-thirds of a pencil.

    The scion should have 2-3 buds. The lower cut is made oblique, and the upper one above the kidneys is straight. The length of the oblique cut on the handle and the grafted branch is 3-4 cm. It is better to do it in one go, then the grafted parts are pressed against each other more tightly. Try to keep the cutting and the branch where it is grafted to be the same thickness. This will allow them to combine the so-called cambium as accurately as possible (a thin layer of wood under the bark, along which the juices move). If the cambium is poorly docked, the cutting simply does not have enough juice to survive. The junction is tightly wrapped with tape, and the upper cut of the handle is covered with garden pitch.

    For the formation of fruits, the location of the cuttings on the branches of the tree is of great importance. Cuttings grafted near the base of a branch or bough do not form fruit wood. Therefore, it is desirable that the first grafted stalk be at least 45 cm from the trunk or base of a large bough.

    Usually after 15-20 days green shoots form on the grafted branches. When one of them reaches 3-4 centimeters, you can remove the electrical tape (or other strapping) from the junction. If growth appears on the stock below the grafting site, it must be removed. Otherwise, the scion cuttings will dry out.

    The survival rate of correctly made vaccinations is quite high - 84-100%. And, as a rule, in the third year, the accustomed branches already bear fruit.


    Eight rules for successful grafting:

    1 Young healthy trees are selected for grafting. Apple trees - not older than 15 years, pears - up to 20-25 years, plums - up to 10-12 years. The younger the trees, the more successful the grafting is.

    2 Late cultivars should not be grafted onto early ripening cultivars. It is correct to regraft winter varieties with winter, autumn and summer ones; autumn - autumn and summer; summer - summer.

    3 Variety compatibility must be considered. For example, a Chinese woman cannot be grafted onto an ordinary antonovka, but melba, saffron pepin and some other varieties are well compatible with it.

    4 Before grafting a fruit tree, make a sanitary and rejuvenating pruning - remove dry and broken branches, as well as excess branches going inside the crown.

    5 The cutting diameter of the grafted branches should not exceed 8-10 cm in diameter. Overgrowing branches inside the crown are left. Skeletal branches are grafted at a distance of 50-100 cm from the trunk, depending on the age of the tree and the thickness of the branches.

    6 The buds on the cutting to be grafted must be dormant. Cuttings cut in advance, before grafting, should be completely immersed in water for 2-3 hours, and then put their lower end into the water for a day, updating the cut.

    7 Grafted trees must be watered regularly, otherwise the sap flow in the crown may end early and the grafts will not take root well.

    8 In order for the grafted branch to bear fruit faster, it is important to choose the right length of the cutting: for apple and pear, it should have 6-8 buds.


    What and what can be grafted on

    Cherry plum is the strongest and most fertile stock for all stone fruits, except for cherries and sweet cherries.

    Plums (especially semi-wild ones) are not as good as cherry plums, but are also suitable for all the mentioned stone fruits.

    Apple tree - well accepts apple and pear trees, and cuttings can be grafted under the bark even at the end of summer.

    Pear accepts an apple tree with difficulty, but its pear relatives of other varieties - very easily.

    Learn more