How to prune a baby avocado tree

Training young avocado trees - Greg Alder's Yard Posts: Southern California food gardening

The good news is that even if you don’t train your young avocado tree to the perfect shape, the tree can still ultimately be healthy, balanced, and fruitful. I should know. I’ve got a number of mature avocado trees that perform well but that I wish I had trained somewhat differently in their early years.

So this post is about how I go about forming the shapes of my new trees these days — an improved approach, I think — in order to achieve four main goals: the tree is able to stand without the aid of stakes, it can carry a fruit load, it won’t interfere with irrigation, and it retains the leaf litter it drops and shades its trunk and rootzone.

You would be justified, however, in training your own tree in other ways or additional ways. “Any suggestions made must be interpreted in the light of their own individual conditions, and not taken as set rules to be applied anywhere, regardless of conditions,” wrote Carter Barrett back in 1935 in his article for the California Avocado Association, “Training and Pruning Avocado Trees. ” I say the same about my suggestions today.

Standing without a stake

Getting a young avocado tree off the crutch of a stake within a year or two after planting primarily requires keeping its canopy balanced. If the tree grows a side branch that is fat at its base relative to the size of the leader/trunk (more than a third the size of the trunk can be considered fat), that branch should probably be checked or it will eventually make the canopy too large and heavy on its side, and the tree won’t be able to stand on its own without a stake.

In the past, I’ve left such vigorous side shoots unchecked on a young tree only to later have to cut them back drastically in order to get the tree to stand without stakes. I now prefer to consistently nip them back or remove them as soon as I spot them.

One young tree in my yard that has a vigorous side shoot is this Hass:

The strong side branch is up high on the left. You can see the tree still slightly leaning despite my continual pinching back of that branch.

Another tree with a vigorous side shoot is this Ettinger:

The young Ettinger has its strong side shoot on the lower left.Side shoot is about half as thick as the trunk.So I’ve been pinching its terminal leaves to keep it tame.Pinched. Tamed.

Allowing the tree to choose a new leader

There is an exception, however. If a vigorous side branch is aiming vertically, you might want to go with it and allow the branch to become the new leader/trunk of the tree. I’ve allowed this a number of times and it has worked out successfully in the long run. Sometimes it seems that the tree chooses this new branch as a leader and sends it an abundance of energy, and we would do well to listen to the tree rather than fight it, as insisting on the leader that we have chosen results in a slower growing tree overall. But it’s important that this new leader is naturally aiming close to vertical or else it can’t be managed.

Two-year-old Nabal avocado tree.Original leader has white paint. Vigorous, vertical shoot appeared to the right last year.So I tied it to the stake and let it take over.

Carrying a fruit load

Having a balanced canopy prior to fruitset is vital for a young tree because of how heavy the avocados become. If a tree is lopsided when it starts developing fruit (in the spring), then the fruit usually exacerbates this and causes the tree to lean and can threaten to topple it, especially if it’s on a slope or if it must deal with strong winds.

I made the mistake of allowing this Lamb tree to set fruit on an unbalanced canopy when it was young. And even though it was staked and never toppled, I have been working to correct the imbalance for the last five years and the trunk will always be crooked.

Also, do you care if the fruit develops while touching the ground? Such avocados become discolored on their bottom side, usually appearing light green or yellow where they touch the ground. It’s only a skin blemish so I personally don’t mind. But if you do, then you want to prevent this by incrementally removing low branches (branches below about knee height can be considered low). You might also need to shorten other low branches (that are still above knee height) because if they set fruit near their tips, that fruit can cause the branch to sag enough to land the fruit on the ground.

Retaining mulch and shading the trunk and rootzone

Yet my preference is not to just remove all low branches on an avocado tree at the time of planting because low branches are functional and useful, especially for the smallest trees. The more branches and leaves a tree has, the more energy it creates and the faster it can grow up to productive size. On a small avocado tree, say under eight feet tall or so, low branches perform this function about as well as high branches.

Also, low branches serve as protection and as a buffer. Especially helpful in windy areas, these low branches keep the leaf litter that begins to fall and collect under a tree from blowing away. And especially helpful in hot areas, low branches provide shade to the young tree’s trunk, which can easily sunburn. The roots also appreciate the shade, as they fry if the soil gets too hot. So my preference is to incrementally remove low branches as the tree grows taller.

Two-year-old Carmen tree that is ready to set a first crop this spring.I’ve removed a couple low branches whose fruit would develop on the mulch and that interfere with the sprinkler water.

Not interfering with irrigation

A convenience of watering an avocado tree with drip irrigation is that low branches don’t interfere. But if you use any type of sprinkler or sprayer, then over time you’ll want to remove some lower branches so they don’t block the distribution of the water.

If irrigating with a sprinkler or sprayer, it’s also ideal to train the young tree to a single trunk up to about knee height. If you let the tree form large branches below that level, they will probably interfere with your irrigation water. I’ve made the mistake of letting avocado trees branch into multiple trunks down low and — while it makes for a great climbing tree for the kids — it prevents me from placing my sprinklers wherever I want around the tree.

Reed tree with low, bifurcated trunk that limits sprinkler placement.

How and when to train

As a final note: I’ve found that by continually assessing the form a young avocado tree is taking, you can train it to a desirable shape by almost never needing to cut a branch. Just pinch the terminals of a vigorous side shoot. Or tie a new leader to the stake. Do it early in the life of the tree, and within a couple years the tree will likely be able to stand on its own, carry a crop of avocados, and face a strong Santa Ana — few, if any, tools having been required. 


Here I show some of the same avocado trees as above and talk about how I’ve trained them or wish I had trained them.

My post about pruning avocado trees in general is here.

You might also like to read my post about planting and staking an avocado tree.

All of my Yard Posts are listed HERE

Indoor Plant Care & Growing Guide

Growing avocados outdoors as productive fruit trees can be tricky, but growing them as houseplants is fun and easy, resulting in a seedling that will eventually turn into an attractive little specimen with glossy, oval leaves 4 to 8 inches long. True, it's unlikely your tree will ever bear fruit (unless you give it about 10 years), and even if it does, the fruit from the offspring most likely won't resemble the original.

But as an indoor plant, an avocado has plenty of merit as a decorative novelty that grows fast in its pot, potentially growing several feet in one year. Keep in mind that all parts of the avocado plant are toxic to animals.

Common Name Avocado
Botanical Name Persea americana
Family Lauraceae
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen fruit tree
Mature Size 30 to 60 ft. in the landscape; potted plants can be pruned to remain small
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type General-purpose potting soil
Soil pH 6.0 to 6.5, tolerates acidic or alkaline soil
Bloom Time Seasonal bloomer
Flower Color Greenish-yellow
Hardiness Zones 10-12 (USDA), any zone as a houseplant
Native Area Mexico
Toxicity Toxic to animals

Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Avocados as Houseplants

Avocado Plant Care

When avocado is grown as a houseplant, it is often grown from seed (the fruit pits) that can be sprouted in water or directly in potting soil.

Established plants will do best in sunny windows. Fertilize them regularly in spring and summer with a balanced granular fertilizer.

Avocados grown indoors are mostly novelty plants. If you want it to bear fruit and turn into the tree it really is, you'll have to move your avocado outside, but this may only work if you live in a warmer climate.

The Spruce / Fiona Campbell The Spruce / Fiona Campbell

The Spruce / Fiona Campbell


Like banana trees, avocado plants thrive in full sun. They will tolerate some shade, but potted indoor plants generally need the brightest spot you can find. If you're starting from a seed, the seed can be kept on a bright windowsill until roots form, and the first leaves emerge.


Give the plant water when the soil is dry to the touch. Avocado plants should be kept continuously moist, but never soggy, and adequate drainage is essential. Watch for leaf yellowing, which is a sign of too much water.


Avocado plants prefer warm growing seasons, but can take winter temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, when growth will slow.


A rich, fast-draining potting soil mix is ideal.


Indoor avocado houseplants have vastly different fertilizer needs than outdoor avocado trees. To keep your avocado houseplant's deep green leaves, fertilize it with a small amount of water-soluble food about every three months.

Types of Avocado Plants

Although there are about 1,000 varieties of avocado, the one most likely to find its way into your home is the Haas avocado, which is grown in tremendous quantities in California and throughout Latin America. These are small, pebbly avocados with high-fat content and delicious flesh. Larger, lighter green Florida avocados are also found in season. You'll find plenty of healthy pits inside any of these types of avocados that you can use to grow your plants.


The first serious trimming should occur when the plant is only 12 inches tall. At that time, cut it back to 6 inches and allow for new leaves and stems to form.

As it gets taller, pinch off new growth throughout the summer to force new branches to form, because avocado fruit develops on new growth. Keeping the new growth pinched off will also keep the plant bushy while controlling its size.

Propagating Avocado Plants

Avocado plants can be propagated in a number of ways., but it is usually done for avocado trees planted in the landscape. Professionals graft desirable avocado varieties onto disease-resistant root-stock to produce a healthy tree with the desired kind of fruit or preferred size.

They can also be propagated by air-layering: encouraging roots to grow by scarring a tree branch, wrapping the wounded area with a small amount of rooting medium, and allowing a bundle of roots to develop while the branch is still on the tree. Once a network of roots is developed, the branch is snipped off and planted in soil.

How to Grow Avocado Plants From Seed

Just like a papaya houseplant that quickly grows from an easily accessible seed, you can use the seed of an avocado plant to propagate a new plant. The seed of an avocado is the large brown pit. Here's how to grow your avocado houseplant:

  1. To sprout an avocado seed, insert three toothpicks into the seed and suspend it with the broad end down over a glass of water.
  2. Cover about an inch of the seed with water.
  3. Keep it in a warm place, but not in direct sunlight.
  4. The seed should sprout in two to six weeks. Let the young plant grow to 6 inches, then cut it back to 3 inches to encourage stronger root growth.
  5. When the roots have grown thick and the stem has new leaves again, plant in soil in a pot about 10 inches in diameter, leaving half the seed still exposed above the soil. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole.

Potting and Repotting Avocado Plants

Repot your avocado every spring when the plant begins to grow again. For the first few years, trimming your avocado is necessary to encourage a bushy plant. You can place the avocado outside during summer, and bring it inside before the first frost.


Bring your plants inside if it's going to be below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter's lack of humidity may cause your plant to lose leaves, but they will come back when the weather is warm.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Look for symptoms like leaf yellowing, which can indicate too much water or sluggish drainage. They may develop root rot in overly wet potting soil.

When grown outdoors, avocado trees are threatened by laurel wilt, caused by the Raffaelea lauricola fungus. It is transmitted by several different species of ambrosia beetle. Infected trees usually succumb within 4 to 8 weeks.

Common Problems With Avocado

The most common problem with the otherwise easy-to-grow avocado houseplant is excess salt in the soil. Keep an eye out for a white crust on the soil, which means there's an excess of salt build-up from the fertilizer. Flush the pot regularly.

How to Grow Lychee Trees

Watch Now: How to Prevent Oxidations on Avocado and Apples

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. The scoop on avocado and your pets. ASPCA.

  2. Problem Diagnosis For Avocado. UC Davis

How to care for avocados, planting features, watering, fertilizing, pruning

Posted by deneb | Comments: 3

Avocado is a tropical exotic fruit from the laurel family, which is gaining popularity all over the world every day. It is valued for its taste and numerous beneficial properties.

It was especially liked by adherents of a healthy lifestyle, and athletes due to its ability to break down cholesterol in the blood. Let's learn how to care for avocados and use tips on growing a healthy, fruitful tree. 9Ol000

Avocado - a tropical tree and houseplant

This plant is native to Central America. It is not surprising that Americans who had the opportunity to often eat it noticed that avocado has an exciting effect on a person, i.e. is an aphrodisiac.

The tree itself can reach 15 meters in height, the trunk is straight with many side branches. The leaves are broad and the stems are quite flexible. Therefore, when growing in a pot, three plants are often planted at once, and then they are intertwined in the form of a braid or various beautiful compositions are formed.

Alligator pear, American Perseus - other names for the plant.

Growing a tree and waiting for the fruits to appear is a rather difficult but interesting job for a grower, because it is a beautiful evergreen plant that is used to completely different climatic conditions. Therefore, before germinating the seed, you need to learn how to care for avocados at home.

Sprouting avocados

Be sure to take a very ripe fruit. It is quite easy to determine the ripeness: from both sides, press on the fruit with your palms, if it has restored its shape - feel free to take it, it will be ripe. You can take not fully ripe and put to ripen in a paper bag with apples, bananas or tomatoes.

Thanks to this trick, the fruit will ripen much faster.

There are two ways to germinate a bone.


The easiest way to do it: bury the stone with the wide side down to a shallow depth (about 2-3 cm) and, having provided favorable conditions for germination, wait for the sprout in a month.


An unusual way for us to germinate a seed in water. We wash and clean the bone itself and make 3 holes on it in a circle in the center, into which we then insert toothpicks. They will act as a stand. We lower the wide part of the bone into the water and constantly make sure that it is under water, and the upper one, on the contrary, does not get wet.

Or you can use a hydrogel. This is more convenient, because you do not need to monitor the water level with this material.

We are waiting for the first sprout and roots 3-5 cm long, this is the most optimal size for transplanting into a pot. We take a small flower pot with holes in the bottom and light, not heavy soil. Before planting the seed, loosen the ground well. When planting, we take into account the fact that most of the bone should be above the ground.

How to grow avocados at home


Being a photophilous plant, it does not like partial shade, but it also cannot stand the direct rays of the sun. The west side of an apartment or house is a great place to grow a fruit tree. How you care for an avocado in a pot is how the tree will bear fruit.


Always keep the same warm comfortable temperature. With any draft, a sharp temperature drop, the plant will shed its leaves and enter a state of "hibernation". 16-20 degrees is the optimal temperature.


Very fond of moisture and humid climate. With central heating, and especially in winter, the problem of a dry room can be dealt with by constant spraying, but not of the leaves, but only of the air next to the plant, or by filling the pan with wet expanded clay.

Watering is carried out on average 3 times a month, as it dries, allowing it to stand with a dried top layer for a couple of days. Abundant watering, and there the plant does not like more stagnant water.

Top dressing

During the period from the beginning of autumn to spring, no additional fertilizers or top dressings are required for the plant. And in other months, it is possible to add fertilizer for citrus fruits once every 1-2 months.


The plant stretches and grows very quickly, and therefore requires frequent repotting, at least once a year. Starting from 15 cm in height, the plant is transplanted into a larger pot. Avocado loves loose, light earth, with a neutral ph. The method of transplantation is transshipment, that is, the tree will be placed in a new container without violating the integrity of the earth coma at the roots.

Soil for transplanting can be bought in specialized stores, or you can make it yourself: mix coarse sand, humus and garden soil in equal proportions. Do not forget to put drainage at the bottom: pebbles, expanded clay or simple foam. In the summer, a tree can even be planted in the garden, some experts assure that fruiting will come much earlier this way.

Is pruning necessary?

Since the tree grows quickly, it is necessary to pinch it periodically, starting from the moment when the tree has at least 8 leaves. Initially, we do this only at the crown, so that side branches appear for a lush uniform crown, and then, as the branches grow, so do they.

Thin weak stems and branches are a sign of insufficient pinching, but the plant will not like excessive pinching, the tree may simply stop or slow down its growth. We prune the plant in early spring for fast and uniform growth.

Problems you may encounter

Growers often encounter diseases and pests while growing avocados. Powdery mildew is one of the most dangerous diseases.

You can get rid of the fungal disease by following the steps:

  • Replace the topsoil of the pot;
  • Placed in a brighter place;
  • Water less often;
  • Remove affected leaves;
  • Carry out therapeutic spraying with special preparations.

Dangerous pests: scale insects and spider mites. They get rid of them with numerous folk methods and preparations from flower shops.

Most Common Growing Problems

Dry Leaves

Remedy by increasing room humidity and proper regular watering.

Leaf fall

Occurs due to drafts and temperature changes. Establishing an optimal constant temperature will correct this problem as well.

Pale leaves are caused by lack of light. We are looking for a lighter place for the plant and add lighting.

Emergence of fruits

Approximately 3 years later, green-yellow flowers appear on the tree, and the first fruits should be expected in about 3-4 years, so that they appear many experts advise grafting the plant in early spring, or planting several trees at once not far from each other friend for cross-pollination.

Avocados do not ripen to full ripeness, so they must be removed and placed in paper bags.

When growing avocados at home, it must be remembered that the leaves and seeds of this tree contain a rather dangerous fungicidal toxin "Persin". It is quite dangerous for humans. May cause gastrointestinal disturbances or allergic reactions.

Handle the plant with gloves and keep a close eye on children and pets. Now you know how to care for avocados by growing them at home. Why is this tropical fruit so useful?

What are the benefits of avocados?

After a lot of hard work and harvest from your homemade tropical tree, you can enjoy these wonder fruits and their many benefits: therefore it is allowed even for diabetics;

  • Purifies the blood of excess cholesterol and prevents the formation of new cholesterol plaques in the vessels;
  • A large amount of vitamin E copes with the invasion of various viruses, which is especially in autumn and winter;
  • Reduces blood pressure, and with regular use it even normalizes it;
  • Restores the work of the heart - a large amount of potassium will help to become stress-resistant;
  • Normalizes hematopoiesis, blood circulation;
  • Improves memory;
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease;
  • Increases performance;
  • Increases immunity thanks to a large amount of vitamin C;
  • Excellent source of protein;
  • Works as a good aphrodisiac, especially in men;
  • Helps to restore strength after strenuous exercise.
  • In addition to a huge number of useful properties, avocados also have a pleasant oily taste and soft, plastic texture. They are used to prepare the famous guacamole sauce, added to salads and simply smeared on bread, loaf as a paste or butter.

    Tropical exotic plant avocado is not only a tasty and healthy fruit, but also a beautiful ornamental plant that you can grow yourself. We tried to acquaint you with information on how to do it correctly, quickly and without typical mistakes.

    We hope that our useful tips on how to care for avocados at home will help you cope with the task and prevent problems that may arise in the process of growing a plant.

    In conclusion, we invite you to watch a video about avocados:

    Avocado. Care and cultivation at home. How to Grow an Avocado from a Seed

    Avocado is an exotic evergreen plant. Many floriculture lovers know that it is not easy to grow avocados at home, much less wait for the harvest. Its fruits, unique in taste, could please more than one grower. But, unfortunately, avocados with fruits at home are rather an exception to the rule. Although they do not always plant an orange or persimmon seed, hoping for a quick result. You can wait more than one year, hope and at the same time enjoy a fruit bush or tree.

    With a strong desire, you can plant an avocado seed and patiently follow all the necessary rules for growing and caring. What if your dream comes true, and you wait at home for the harvest?

    1 How to grow avocado from a bone


    2.6 Transplanting an avocado

    2.7 Pruning

    3 Diseases, pests and other problems

    How to grow an avocado from a seed

    To grow this unusual overseas plant, you will definitely need a ripe avocado fruit. Only the seed of such a fruit has a great chance of sprouting. This process can be done in two ways:

    • The first way (closed) is simple and simple. The avocado seed should be stuck into the soil with its wide bottom side to a shallow depth (approximately 2 centimeters). When favorable conditions are created, it should germinate in about 30 days.
    • The second way (open) is interesting and even exotic.

    Before planting in the ground, the stone must be germinated in water in a suspended position. First, it must be thoroughly washed and cleaned. Then, approximately in the middle of the bone along the circle line, you need to carefully drill three or four holes, into which you then need to insert thin wooden sticks (for example, matches or toothpicks). They will act as a support when we lower the wide lower part of the bone into a container of water. These sticks, like clamps, will hold the bone at the required height. The main thing is to constantly monitor the amount of water in the tank. The bottom of the bone should always be in the water.

    Instead of water, special polymer granules (hydrogel) can be used to germinate an avocado seed. This polymer material can hold a large amount of water for a long time. In this method, it is very convenient, you do not need to monitor the level.

    Only 20-30 days will pass, and the first young roots will appear, and then a sprout. The stone will be ready for planting in the ground when the roots reach 4 centimeters in length.

    First you need a small flower pot with large holes. The earth doesn't have to be dense. It must be well loosened to ensure the necessary air and moisture exchange. The stone is planted in the soil so that two-thirds of its part is on the surface of the soil. There is no need to remove the shell on the bone.

    Avocado - growing and care at home

    Location and lighting

    Avocado is a light-loving plant, but partial shade is also suitable for it. It needs to be protected from direct sunlight. If your house or apartment has a room with west-facing windows, then such a window sill will be the perfect place for this fruit.


    Since the avocado is native to the tropics, it naturally likes warmth. In the event of a sharp drop in temperature or the slightest draft, the plant will begin to show its discontent - all the leaves will immediately fall off. Therefore, even in warm summer weather, it is undesirable to take it outside.

    And the room must also be kept at a constant temperature. In the warm season, high room temperature will be favorable for avocados, but in the cold winter, 20 degrees of heat will be enough for him.

    The plant also has a dormant period in winter. If in winter the temperature in the room drops to 12 degrees, then the avocado will immediately react - it will shed its leaves and switch to the “hibernation” mode. But with proper care and constant temperature balance, this cannot happen. This tropical plant is considered evergreen.

    Rules for watering

    Watering avocados at home should be regular and plentiful, but taking into account the temperature and season. Over watering can be harmful. In summer it is watered more often than in winter. After the top layer of soil has dried, it should take another couple of days before you start watering the plant. Immediately, only its upper part dries up, and inside the pot for about two more days, the moisture necessary for the avocado remains.


    Humidity is also of great importance. The air in the room is almost always dry, and this is very harmful for this plant. Daily spraying will help solve the problem. It is very important that during such water procedures only the air near the avocado is moistened, but not the plant itself. Even small droplets should not fall on its leaves.

    There is another way to moisten - this is a special tray for a pot with moistened claydite.

    Top dressing and fertilizing

    From September to March, the plant does not need top dressing. But the rest of the time, once a month, avocados need to be fed with fertilizer recommended for citrus fruits or any other complex top dressing.

    Transplanting an avocado

    In nature, avocados grow up to 20 meters in height. Although at home it will not reach such heights, it grows quite actively and requires frequent transplantation. Very soon the first small pot will be too small for him. As soon as the tree grows to 15 centimeters, it's time to transplant it into a large container. At a young age, avocados are transplanted every year, and in the future it can be once every three years.

    The land in which it grows is of great importance for the development and growth of a plant. Specifically, for avocados, any loose and light earth is needed, but not acidic. It would be good to add wood ash or dolomite flour to such soil.

    When transplanting a plant into a new pot, use the transfer method. Carefully move the tree along with the clod of earth.

    You can make your own avocado-friendly potting mix. To do this, you will need: peat (or humus), garden soil and coarse river sand. All components must be mixed in equal parts.


    This tropical plant at home may well become a decorative decoration of the room. True, this will require a little experience in floriculture. For example, you can grow several plants from avocado seeds and plant them all together in one flower pot. In the meantime, the plants are young and flexible, you can twist their stems together with a pigtail.

    In order for the plant not to stretch in height, but to acquire splendor in the form of side shoots, it must be pinched. This procedure can be carried out only when there are a sufficient number of leaves on the tree (at least eight). First, pinch the top of the plant, this contributes to the development of side branches. And after they are sufficiently formed and acquire their leaves, you can pinch them too.

    Pruning is carried out in early spring. It is necessary to improve the growth and development of the plant, as well as to form the crown you need. It can be completely different. It all depends on the imagination of the grower.

    Diseases, pests and other problems

    Avocado, like all indoor plants, is afraid of the same pests - scale insects and spider mites.

    Learn more