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Growing Avocado Trees in Pots

The article gives details on how to grow an avocado tree in a pot that bears fruit. While it is always best to grow your avocado trees in ground, they will fruit in containers with the right care and attention to the specific needs of these tropical trees including pot size, soil mix, fertilizer, watering and pruning, as I am growing in a pot in Sydney, Australia.

Avocado Tree growing in a por
Avocado Tree

In this guide, you will find details on the essential steps to successfully grow an avocado tree in a container.

You may grow avocado tree from seed or pit or from a cutting (growing avocado from a cutting) buy a seedling from a garden shop.

Selecting the Right Container

Choosing the appropriate container is important for the growth of your avocado tree.

  1. The ideal container size is the one that matches to the size of the tree. If the tree is too small for the container, then the roots can rot due to the wet potting mix staying too long. If the container is too small for the tree, then the tree will need water very frequently and will ultimately its growth will stop.
  2. If the roots are circling the bottom, then they are ready for a larger pot, even if the entire pot does not look filled with roots.
  3. You can start with a smaller container. Then gradually repot the plant into a larger pot each year. Ultimately, end up with a container with a diameter of at least 24 inches (600mm) and a depth of 18 inches (450 mm) is recommended to provide enough space for the roots to develop. However, the larger the pot size, the bigger the plant and more fruit.
  4. The container material and shape does not matter, but it should have several drainage holes to provide oxygen to the roots and to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Avocado Varieties

There are various avocado varieties, but not all are suitable for container gardening, as avocados can grow up to 12 m tall. Dwarf or semi-dwarf avocado varieties are the best choices for growing in containers. These smaller varieties are more manageable in size with regular pruning in pots.

Which avocado variety is best to grow in a container? Select a precocious avocado variety, precocious means, it will start flowering and fruiting while the tree is still small. So you can get fruit from the tree in the pots. Precocious avocado varieties include GEM, Reed, Gwen, and Lamb.

Hass is not as precocious but can still fruit in a container. Other popular container-friendly varieties include Wurtz, Holiday, Bacon and Gwen.

Holiday is the smallest of the dwarf avocado varieties. Even though the tree is small, the fruit is large and of excellent quality.

For growing a fruiting avocado tree in a container, you may also consider planting a grafted avocado tree in the container.

Potting Mix and Soil Conditions

Avocado trees prefer well-draining slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 . Use a high-quality potting mix that contains a blend of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. To ensure that the soil is airy and loose to promote good drainage, add perlite, pumice or river sand. Also add lots of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure to enhance the soil's nutrition.

Sunlight Requirements

Grow your avocado tree outdoors in full sun. Avocado trees thrive in full sunlight, so choose a sunny location for your container.

Ensure that your avocado tree receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily and protect from strong winds. If you're growing the tree indoors, place it near a south-facing window or use grow lights.

Containers of dark color can get overheated in the sun and the roots facing the sun side of the pot can get burn. You may cover the pot with cloth or paint its side facing towards sun with white paint.

Protecting from Frost

Avocados are susceptible to frost. You can bring your potted avocado tree indoors during chilly nights to provide frost protection. Avocado trees are sensitive to temperatures below -1°C (30°F).



Watering Potted Avocado Tree

  1. Proper watering is critical for avocado trees. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
  2. Water deeply when the top one inch of the soil is dry.
  3. In hot summer days, you may water the tree daily. But in winter, the plant may need a deep watering only about once a month.
  4. Do not water too often to prevent root rot, but water deeply. Deep-watering will encourage deeper roots so the plant is more tolerant to drought and heat.
  5. When re-potting, if the potting mix at the bottom is soggy and the roots there are brown or black, then you have been watering too much and too often. They should be white or cream colored.
  6. Leaves and branches droop is the sign of under-watering and dry roots or mover-watering.

Fertilizer For Potted Avocado Tree

Avocado trees require regular feeding.

  1. Apply a fertilizer high in nitrogen such as blood and bone or chicken manure or NPK fertilizer 15:5:10 mix 2-3 times during the growing season from Spring to Summer to promote vegetative growth in the young trees up to 4 years old.
  2. Use a NPK fertilizer 13:2:14 mix during the growing season to the trees 4 years and older. Alternatively, you can feed a citrus fertilizer.
  3. Always sprinkle the fertilizer along the rim of the pot, mix in soil and water well.
  4. Boron in light doses is important during flowering and fruit set.

Pruning

Regular pruning is important to control the size and shape of the tree. Prune your avocado tree in late winter. Pinch back the tips of young branches to promote branching and a fuller canopy. Remove any dead or damaged branches.

Avocado Flowers and Fruiting

A potted avocado tree will bear fruit on its maturity. While a potted grafted avocado tree will bear fruit in 4-5 years, the seed grown avocado can take from 7 to 15 years to bear fruit in a pot.

An avocado tree growing in a pot can produce more than 50 fruits each year.

You do not need 2 avocado trees for fruits. Avocado trees are self-fertile, the flowers are able to pollinate each other so you only need one tree in order to produce fruit. However, planting a second avocado tree will help to boost fruiting.

The flowers are mostly pollinated by bees, but you can also hand pollinate the flowers.