Buttery, rich avocados are a popular and delicious fruit. If you live in the right zone, you can grow avocados in your own yard and enjoy a bountiful supply of avocados for guacamole and avocado toast.
It’s true that you can grow an avocado tree from a seed and indoors. But the fastest way to an avocado harvest is to plant a tree outdoors. In areas where avocados grow, they can be low-maintenance, fast-growing trees with abundant fruit.
Avocado trees are native to Mexico and Central America and thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. The avocado trees sold at The Home Depot Garden Center are from Durling Nursery, the world’s leading producer of avocado trees. Durling has grown avocado trees since 1926 on its 300 hillside acres north of San Diego (USDA hardiness zone 10B).
When deciding to plant an avocado tree, choose a site in full sun and with well-draining soil. If soil compaction is a problem, you can plant an avocado tree in a raised bed.
The type of avocado tree you plant is important in order to get the most fruit. Avocado varieties are classified as A or B. “A” varieties start the day as female, then close and open as a male, and “B” varieties do the opposite. For maximum production, choose an “A” variety and a “B” variety. You can even plant them in the same hole and they will happily grow together. (You can get away with planting a single variety if there are neighboring avocado trees of a compatible variety.)
A Varieties: Hass, Gwen, Pinkerton, Reed
B Varieties: Bacon, Ferte, Zutano
Avocados like temperatures in range of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and moderate humidity. Most varieties are can handle temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live on the northern edge of the range for avocados, look for a variety like Zutano that can handle temperatures as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, be prepared for any cold snaps with frost blankets.
How to Plant an Avocado Tree:
- Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.
- Be gentle with roots. If tree is root-bound in its container, loosen the soil around the roots and trim the edges.
- Amend the soil with organic mulch like Kellogg’s Gromulch.
- Water frequently until established.
Avocado trees are resilient, low-maintenance plants. Be careful not to overwater; too much will cause root rot. Fertilize with a well-balanced citrus and avocado food like Vigoro. No pruning is required, unless there’s damage, or if you want to limit the size of the tree. A mature avocado tree can reach up to 30 feet.
Avocado trees are fast-growing and will double in size each year. Fruit stays on the tree for a year to ripen, so expect at least two years before you harvest avocados.
When it’s time to harvest, keep in mind that avocados do not ripen on the tree. Look for a pale to dark green color on fruit, pick and leave at room temperature for about 7 to 10 days to soften. You can speed up the process by placing the avocado in a paper bag for a few days. An avocado is ripe when it’s dark in color and yields slightly when gently pressed.
The Garden Center sells avocado trees in large containers. The 5 gallon planters are 2 ½ years old and 15 gallon planters are 4 ½ years old. Older trees, from 5 to 8 years old can be special ordered from the grower, just ask at select Garden Centers that carry avocado trees.