Potted avocado care

Is it possible to grow a potted avocado throughout its life? Well, theoretically not. Keep in mind that the pure species ( Persea americana ) is a tree that can be at least 8 meters high, and that also has a crown so wide that you can lie down next to its trunk and thus protect yourself from the sun for hours.

But be careful, it is not impossible: there is not only a smaller variety suitable for containers, but also, if you give them a series of care, you will be able to taste their fruits without problems. So let’s see how to care for a potted avocado .

How to care for the avocado in a pot?

Potted avocados have to be put in the sun

Image – Wikimedia / Bernard DUPONT

It is not an easy task, but it can be rewarding. And is that if you do not have a garden or orchard where you can plant it, and still you would love to have one, the first thing you should do is look for the dwarf variety of avocado, because grow a tree that can measure 8 meters or more in a container is much more complicated than caring for one that grows 2 or 3 meters.

So, you should know that this variety that reaches a smaller size is the Wurtz avocado , which is also called Little Cado. It is a hybrid of varieties from both Mexico and Guatemala that grows to a maximum of 3 meters. It produces fruits from May to September in the northern hemisphere. Of course, it is sensitive to frost so you will need to protect it if there is in your area.

The problem is that it is not well known yet. In fact, in Spain the most commercialized varieties are:

  • Bacon: it is a hybrid of Mexican and Guatemalan varieties that reaches 8-10 meters in height. Its fruit has a good flavor, but worse than that of the Hass. It is the most suitable for places where there are frosts down to -2ºC.
  • Hass: it is the most popular. Native to California, it can be up to 10 meters tall. Its fruit has a rough skin, but it is easily separated from the pulp. It resists weak and occasional frosts of up to -1.5ºC. 
  • Strong: it is another highly cultivated hybrid with good-tasting fruits, although it is sensitive to both low and high temperatures.
  • Zutano: very similar to Hass, but with the worst flavor pulp. Of course, it supports low temperatures better. It grows between 7 and 9 meters tall.

Anyway, whichever one you choose, make sure your specimen is grafted , as this way it will bear fruit without the need for you to have two plants.

Once you have your avocado, you will have to find the ideal pot.

What pot and substrate do I put in it?

The pot must be large enough for the avocado to grow for at least three years. Even if your intention is to keep it with a height of, for example, 3 meters, it is important that the container in which you have it is large, since only then will its trunk thicken, and only in this way will it be able to produce new branches. For this reason, if your tree is now in a 20-centimeter diameter pot, the ideal for it would be to plant it in another that is twice as wide and tall, and that has drainage holes at its base.

As a substrate it is advisable to use one that is already mixed , such as for an urban garden or even universal substrate. If you choose to make the mixture yourself, your avocado will do very well if you mix 60% black peat + 30% perlite + 10% worm humus.

Where to put the avocado: in sun or shade?

Once it is in a container, the second most important thing to do is place it in an area where it receives sunlight throughout the day . If on your terrace or patio that is not possible, but there is a lot of clarity during the day without the need to turn on any lamps, you can also have it there.

If the avocado were put in total shade, it would have many problems to develop normally. Its leaves would fade, and if it did bloom it would produce very few flowers.

How to water the avocado grown in a pot?

You have to water the potted avocado often

Watering the avocado will be moderate. It is a plant that does not withstand drought, and even less if it is in a pot, so you have to make sure that the substrate does not dry out, at least not completely. So do n’t hesitate to pour water until it comes out of the drainage holes 3-4 times a week during the warm season of the year . During autumn and winter, with the drop in temperatures that occurs in those seasons, you have to water less.

Use rainwater whenever possible, as it is the best that plants can receive. If you can’t, use soft water instead, which has very little lime and chlorine.

When to prune the potted avocado?

As it does not matter that it reaches a great height, pruning is one of the most important tasks that the potted avocado has to do. Therefore, you will have to prune it at the end of autumn if there are no frosts in your area, or in winter , following this step by step:

  1. Disinfect your pruning shears with water and dish soap, and dry them well when finished.
  2. Now, you have to count 4-6 pairs of leaves, and cut 2 or 3 from each branch. With this you will stimulate the production of branches closer to the trunk.
  3. In the event that there is a branch that intersects with another, and / or that is diseased or broken, you will have to remove it.
  4. Keep its crown rounded, by means of small pruning or pinching. It is important that there is not a branch that protrudes too much, nor others that are excessively short. To have a global vision, take a few steps away from it so you can see what it is missing and what to do.

How to pay it?

The nutrients in the substrate are soon lost, as the roots are concentrated in a very limited space, which is the one in the pot they occupy. For this reason, it must be paid in spring and summer from the first year , as this will ensure that you get everything you need.

Use fertilizers that are liquid, following the instructions on the container, because although it is natural it is so concentrated that, if it is used incorrectly, the roots would suffer damage.

Potted avocado transplant

The avocado, even if it is kept small by pruning, sooner or later it will need a larger pot and / or a new substrate. In fact, every 3, 4 or 5 years, depending on how fast it is growing, the ideal would be to transplant it.

It is done when the roots have occupied the space they had available, which usually coincides when they begin to appear through the drainage holes. At this point, the plant cannot grow any more, so it stagnates, stops its growth and if we do nothing it would end up weakening.

So, what you have to do when the time comes is :

  1. Prepare the new pot: fill it with new substrate almost halfway, taking into account that the avocado should not be too high but not too low with respect to the edge of the container.
  2. Afterwards, the tree was carefully extracted from the old pot.
  3. Next, it is introduced into the new container, and substrate is added.
  4. Finally, it is watered.

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