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Avocado Question

Avocado Question

I bought a 5 gallon Mexicola Avocado from Fremont Regan, 2 months ago, it was giving new shoots, and all leaves are green and healthy. I planted in ground at warm partial sun location, with native ( clayey ) and potting soil mix. Within a week, the leaves went brown on its tip. I checked the water, it did not seem to be too wet or dry. I did put in some citrus / avocado fertiliser when planting.

The phenomenon did not stop, and even the new shoots are going brown tip. And eventually fell off. The browned leaves was so dried at the tips that when folded together, it crumbles.

I digged it out of the ground, and put in 15 gallon pot, with the same soil hoping to control the watering better.

But that did not help either.

The tree still gives new shoots, fewer of them. But it is almost going bare, after most leaves go brown and fell off.

What do you think I am doing wrong ? Or is this a normal behaviour for Avocado - to shed its leaves? But the tree look real sick to me :(

Thanks. Nancy.

The following thread was started by Nancy on July 26, 2005 at 8:47 am PST

Do you have a water softener?


Avocados are very sensitive to salts. They will get saltburn very easily. What you are describing is salt burn, which can happen because you use a water softener, or if you fertlize too much.

Since you're having so many problems, it might make sense to get someone knowledgable from the CRFG or from this community to come and visit your garden. There's got to be some common denominator causing all these problems you are having.


The above followup was added by Axel on July 26, 2005 at 9:34 am PST.

Craziest thing

Thats one thing about avocadoes....
At first, when you transplant them they need to get activley growing right away. If they languish due to salt burn or even over watering... it is very hard to jumpstart them back into healthy growth.
I have a 2 year old Mexicola that I first put into a bad location with to much water. I later transplanted it to better location.... It hasn't put out more than 2 leaves in 2 years.
My guess that it has root damage.

The above followup was added by Jeff on July 26, 2005 at 10:04 am PST.

Avocado Salt Burn

Hi Axel,

I dont have water softener, and I will stop the fertiliser for now.

I guess, I just have to wait it out and keep the deep irrigation going, now I transplanted it to a 15 gallon pot. Hoping it will live after the salt burn.

Do you think it is easier to grow Avocado out of the pot? They seem to have very specific water and salts needs. Not to mention invading roots, can choke up neighboring plants when I have a very very small yard.

I dont think I can afford to hire an expert to look at my gardening problems, but i am learning along the way, which is all part of the fun.


The above followup was added by Nancy on July 26, 2005 at 10:06 am PST.

Avocado in pot

Hi Axel , Jeff

I am thinking if I growing the Avocado off the the pot from the nursery, then I should have minimum problem. I just called Fourwind Fremont, and ordered a 15 gallon Avocado. Can I just leave it in the pot and get fruit ... happily ever after? I dont need it to grow to 20 feet? even 7 to 8 feet with fruit I will be happy. Will this work? This way I should not have salt burn, because it is from the nursery.

They have Hass, Mexicola, Stewart, Zutano in 15 gallon.

They did mention large pots are not popular, I guess most people can grow successfully from 5 gallon. Well there are exceptions I guess.


The above followup was added by Nancy on July 26, 2005 at 10:14 am PST.

Not good in pots


Avocados don't grow well in pots. And getting a 15 gallon plant is actually not an advantage. A 5 gallon plant in the ground will outdo a 15 gallon plant in the ground within 1-2 years.

You just need to keep trying. I just planted 7 or 8 avocados. I use organic fertilizer and gypsum. I grow them in sandy loam on a hillside.

Sounds to me like you have clay soil that's causing you most of your grief. So, what I recommend you do is:

1) Plant on mounds, e.g. the base of the trunk where the soil starts should be about 1 to 2 feet above the ground level.

2) Use gypsum, sand, and lots of organic soil amendement in the hole, make sure the organic soil amendement doesn't have any peat moss in it. The hole should be 3 times the size of the plant you're planting.

3) Use slow, 1 gallon/hour drip irrigation or slow soaker hoses to water the plants on mounds. That's the only way you can get water to stay in the mound. You can't water with a hose because the water will just run off the mound and your plant will dry out.

4) Use 5 gallon plants, and stay away from 15 gallon plants. You won't gain anything from the 15 gallon plants.

5) Use organic fertilizer, and preferably don't use pre-mixed fertlizers. Most soils in the Bay Area have plenty of phosphorus, so you don't need to add it. Stick with fish emulsion and blood meal, and use compost and mulch to provide micro-nutrients. You can also use foliar sprays like VF-11 or kelp meal. Don't use foliar sprays on avocados. Don't fertilize macademias or ice cream bean, they grow better without fertilizer.

This will work for any subtropical, including citrus, cherimoyas, white sapotes, and cherimoyas. With loquats, don't use Gypsum, but use everything else.

I can't speak for the others here, but if I am in that area, I would visit for free, and I am pretty certain the rest of folks on this board would do the same to help you.


The above followup was added by Axel on July 26, 2005 at 11:00 am PST.

Nancy: Do you have any plants that are doing real well.

I say that because it could rule out water as the problem. How about house plants. If you have some thriving plants, then soil is likely your problem. Have you or your neighbors used weed killers, soil sterilizers, or some types of chemicals to control weeds?

The above followup was added by don on July 26, 2005 at 12:06 am PST.

Weed killers

Hi Axel,

Thanks for the tips and the offer. Let me try it out first. I just went to Home Depot to look for gymsum, sand, organic soil. I guess those are not used by the common ers ( amateur gardener like myself ), I could not find them. So I just bought the Miracle Growth for Trees and Shrub, I guess that's like a cocktail mix, good for trees.

I will replant my Avocado in ground and see what happen.

Hi Don,

Do my neighbors use weedkillers? Good question.

I do not know. But for this case I doubt it is the cause.

In the same area that I have a salt burn Avocado, that I planted a Moorpark Apricot, Feijoa, Shinseki Asian Pear. They are all doing very well - fruited after one year.

But you do bring up a point, my loquat problem, which the loquat seemed to have been poisoned, backs to the other neighbor whom seem to control the weed on their side. And the Fuyu Persimmon planted next to it, does not seem too happy either.

As you can tell, I have very small garden, where I tried to fit a lot of trees. One day, when I can afford it, I will buy acres of land for my own orchard ... one day.

The above followup was added by Nancy on July 26, 2005 at 1:19 pm PST.


Sounds to me like a bad case of climate change. Was this avacado groing in sun or shade when you bought it from the nursery?

I have bought 2 new 5 gallon avacados this season and both dropped lots of leaves when move from the containers they came in. I think this is somewhat normal and another factor is time of year. It seems that even my "mexicola grande" that is in the ground drops its leaves in the spring. This plant does have fruit on it now for the first time (approx. 3 years in ground from 5 gallon).
I wouldn't water them much at all when first transplanted. And wait till you see some growth before you start fertilizing.

If you have clay soil, sand is a NO NO! You will end up with Bricks. I know it is against many recommendations but I ammend my clay soil with composted steer manure and peat moss. And, all my plants are doing great. More on the manure than moss though.

As to pots. Check out the variety "little cado". I just finally bought one this season and it had blooms all over it when I got it (in a 5 gallon). I will keep everyone posted as to the winter hardiness. I think it should give fruit next season. It is in a 24" pot now. Approx. 15 true gallons of soil. My mix in the pots is 1 part Coconut Fiber, 1 part Perlite, 1/2 part Organic Compost + some Organic Acid loving plant fertilizer 4-2-6.


The above followup was added by Mike on July 27, 2005 at 10:01 pm PST.


Here's a couple week old shot of my potted avacados and other things.

The above followup was added by Mike on July 27, 2005 at 10:09 pm PST.

Source of Avocado

Hi Mike,

Great pics! Your trees are looking very healthy and happy where they are. The pots are very nice looking pots, I wonder how expensive they are and where you bought them. The standard black plastic costed me $10 at HD!

You have a point , the location changes might make a difference.

The Mexicola that I had a problem I got from Fremont Regan. It is a la Verne Mexicola. I am in the East Bay, Fremont area, so maybe the environment is a little different from down south where La Verne is located.

I have just got another Hass 5 gallon, from Fourwind Fremont. So the climate is very much the same. I do not dare to plant in ground or transplant yet. The last time I planted in ground the Mexicola, it was like a death curse for the tree. I have since transplanted it in 15 gallon pot. But the leaves still shed to almost bare. It is not only tip browning. Some leaves have brown spots with leaves browning.

I am very careful with my Hass this time. Read more info before I decide what's the best approach to get it to live.

I also bought a Brown Turkey Fig from Evergreen Nursery ( Monrovia )

But in my limited backyard space, height was the key to sunlight, so I paid more for the Fig at a nursery. Do you know how tall your tree can get? most I see at HD are like 2 to 3 feet.

The above followup was added by Nancy on July 28, 2005 at 8:59 am PST.


Nancy, all I know about the fig is that it is the "Improved Brown Turkey" grown b Dave Wilson Nursery. See link below.

The pots I have are from Walmart. They are the super light foam/plastic material. $25 a piece. A bit expensive but they look nice, are pretty good size, are light, and won't shatter like a clay pot. I drill my own drain holes in the bottom of them.

If I were planning on putting an avacado in the ground I would do it ASAP when I brought it home in the 5 gallon. Ammend very well and plant high on a mound for good drainage.
The sooner you get the roots established in the soil the better.

My two avacado's in pots are experimental and will probably never touch garden soil with their roots.

Speaking of avacados, check this one out. This is a 1 year old seedling I grew from a seed from a Haas avavado!


The above followup was added by Mike on July 28, 2005 at 9:24 am PST.

Avocado Seedling


Wow ... your seedling is big and healthy! And I am paying $18 for an Avocado tree?

I am tending towards putting in pot, as I have more control over the watering. At least until the tree gets bigger, then I will transplant again. I will go and check out Walmart's pot. It seems a much better deal than the black pot I have.

The above followup was added by Nancy on July 28, 2005 at 9:39 am PST.

Watering pots

Nancy, the only watering control advantage I see to growing in a pot is that you can completely withhold it if you want.

You need to use LOTS of perlite if you want a pot to drain well. Or bark etc.

I find that I don't water my plants in pots as often as I do those in the ground. Only once every 2-3 days. And then water heavy - till it runs out of the bottom of the pot. Plants in the ground get hit with micro-sprayers daily.

Your $18 trees are grafted and should give better fruit consistency than a seedling.

I paid $29 for my Little Cado - when you gotta have it, you gotta have it!! lol


The above followup was added by Mike on July 28, 2005 at 10:19 am PST.


My plants in the ground get 3 drip sessions per week. They thrive. Some plants have already reached their own water, and I don't even water them at all.

In contrast, my pots require almost daily watering, otherwise the potted plants look like crap.

I have to start watering pots within a week of no rain once we're past April. In contrast, plants in the ground require water starting right around the 4th of July.

I'm working towards minimizing potted plants, it's too expensive water wise.

Something is fishy here. Mike, how do you do it?


The above followup was added by Axel on July 28, 2005 at 3:27 pm PST.


Axel, the only thing fishy was the fish emulsion I used on my potted plants last week! lol

From my experience, with all the hydroponic growing and all - For me, when a pot is watered too frequently you end up with a bunch of rotten muck at the bottom of the pot. I think it has to do with the fact that plastic pots do not allow the soil to breath well at all on the sides or bottom.

I have thought of making my own pots out of mesh screen over a frame of some sort. That would provide great airation.

I have some pics of interest that I will post in a few when I get to the other computer.


The above followup was added by Mike on July 28, 2005 at 8:19 pm PST.

please post pics

Mike, that would be great if you can post pics. I'd love to reduce my water bill when it comes to potted plants.


The above followup was added by Axel on July 28, 2005 at 9:22 pm PST.

Potted Plants

Axel, the avacados, dwarf citrus, and fig in the pic above only get watered 2-3 times a week here in Antioch. We have been 100+ for the past few weeks. Probably about equal to what Jeff (modesto) has for temps.
The above plants are watered the old fashioned way - by hand with a water wand. That is my few minutes of relaxation a couple days a weeks before I leave for work in the morning. Along with a general walk around to check progress of bananas and other things.

I find that a daily watering is a sure way to get problems with bananas in pots. Root rot for sure in my experience. I can't imagine you watering potted plants that much as cool as you are compared to us.

Are the plants you are dealing with completely root bound and filling the pots or is there a bit of soil room left? Even the seedling avacado I posted above in it's undersized 5 gallon bucket can go at least 2 days in this weather with no signs of wilting.

For pots, I am 100% SOLD on using Coir Fiber. I like a mix as follows:
1 part Coir Fiber
1 part Perlite
1/2 part Compost
I have been using an organic compost just because it is what is available where I go to get my coir. I also like to add a cup or 2 of fertilizer into the mix at planting time. Most recently I used a 4-2-6 Acid Plant organic mix.

Below - this is what the root system looks like on a banana grown in the above mix. LOTS of nice WHITE roots. White is Healthy in my experience.

One other benefit of the coir is that it does not have the rewetting problem that peat has. Where water doesn't want to soak into the peat very well once it has dried out.

My thoughts anyways,

The above followup was added by Mike on July 28, 2005 at 10:37 pm PST.

Nancy, not sure if it was covered, but Avocados do not come true from seed too often

It can take an avocado tree decades to fruit and then might not be all that good eating,if it every fruits at all. So it is sort of like playing the lottery or getting struck by lighting, as far as the experts keep saying.

But I do run into a lot of people who have been successful and have lovely trees bearing great tasting fruit and did not have to wait 20 plus years to find out, if they lived in a area it could be planted in the ground.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone9 on July 29, 2005 at 6:49 am PST.

Addressing the fig problem of getting too large

Most fig trees do get really large. I am taking BlackJack genetically dwarf figs and grafting other varieties onto it and hope that works for me.

There are a really small slow growing fig I became aware of recently, but don't exactly remember its name; something Negra I believe, a very small fig tree with very sweet figs. Seems like we had post on this before here at one time, or it was on the CRFG Query circuit.

Mike, I have a couple figs I started from cuttings a fellow local CRFG member gave me, which I have lost contact with. He told me they were Blackjack fig, but the leaf shape is no the same as mine.

From your pic of the Brown Turkey Fig, I think that might be what he gave me, if it was truly a dwarf fig he that he gave me.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone9 on July 29, 2005 at 6:58 am PST.


David, I don't know much about figs but I can tell you that this Improves Brown Turkey is a grafted tree.

Looks like Dave Wilson lists the Black Jack as a "naturally semi-dwarf tree". They also had the Black Mission when I bought mine.
Amazingly I found it at the new Home Depot in Brentwood. I have never seen Dave Wilson plants in a Home Depot before.

Do you have any banana blooms out David?

The above followup was added by Mike on July 29, 2005 at 7:13 am PST.

Grafted Avacados

David, I am personally kind of wondering if the whole thing about avacados needing to be gradted is a bunch of B.S. That is why I have a few seedlings growing just to see for myself.
I could see grafting to abtain some certain characteristic such as dwarfing, etc., but I find it impossible to believe that they will not flower and fruit on their own. I shal see. lol


The above followup was added by Mike on July 29, 2005 at 7:18 am PST.

Avacado fruit dropping

Have an old avacado tree that is dropping it's young fruit they are about 3" long and look healthy enough...but are dropping off at an alarming rate. It is a Bacon, at least 20 years old and has always given a good crop. Any suggestions as to what I can do? Too much or too little watering?

The above followup was added by Cherie on July 29, 2005 at 3:18 pm PST.

Mike, Avocado seedlings

I have only limited experience finding Avocado seedlings, but I have found some!, I know of TWO old trees that don't have fruit (ever) but I've found plenty more that have commercial quality fruit, I have not seen one that has bad fruit, yet : )

The above followup was added by Jason on July 29, 2005 at 11:11 pm PST.

Mike, avocados and banana blooms

I hear that avocados do not generally come true or produce good fruit or produce fruit early from seed. But find people who have trees that are from seed and producing good fruit at a early age.

It is the general knowledge of most CRFG experts that avocados do on generally produce good fruit and do not produce it when young, you might have to wait 20 years to know.

It is may observation that avocados in general do not produce good or early, but that it does happen far more then the experts lead us to believe it does.

I have chatted with a lot of guys from Texas and etc down that way along the Gulf States and they have discovered a lot of seedlings producing good fruit and it did not take 20 years.

I have to think too, that when they say it does not produce good fruit, it is by their standards. Often when you have a seedling and tree ripen the fruit, it will taste better and be better then the green pic fruit you get in the markets.

Also you have to realize that fruit is graded as much or more in how well it stores and packs then how well it tastes.

Then too, Bacon and many Mexican varieties are looked down upon as being fair or just barely ok. Yet when I have eaten them, I find them just as good as Hass or etc. They just have different qualities and taste.

So when you start a seed it is most likely not good, but you have a good chance as well to have a winner. I think your chances are getter then the lottery, not worse or the same.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone9 on July 31, 2005 at 7:08 pm PST.


avocado woes

I too have a major avocado problem and have found some major help here:

still , have to figure out what to do with my tree. Just moved into a place and there is a great old avocado tree. I saw some dead branches and didn't know any better and had a tree trimmer come out there are cankers on the trunk, white stuff coming out, no new growth and mushrooms by the base of trunk, but the tree was in bad shape I guess before the trimmers came. I had 3 certified arborists come out (live in Southern Cal) and all 3 said something different! One said don't water for the rest of the summer, the other said water every ohter day for 2 weeks then every 3 days. ..the next one said water every month...$750 dollars later, I am studying the internet and hoping to save this tree. I will post photos tomorrow, as I still am not sure what is going on as I dont' know the history of th tree.
It is very distressing, am trying my best to save this tree an it's not working!
Any links as to what fertilizer, when etc. and if the tree is under major stres what to do? There is cement over some of the roots. I am taking in up and find dead dry red roots. Am pulling up the grass around it an leaving as mulch as there was just some grass and no mulch. I don't even know if I should feed or aerate at this time. ..anyhow it's a big help to see what you are all writing about!
thanks for any input you can give...

The above followup was added by kirsten on July 31, 2005 at 9:35 pm PST.

The above followup was added by kirsten on July 31, 2005 at 9:47 pm PST.

Avo problems

Thanks Kirsten for the web site source.,It is very helpful. Still didn't directly anwer my falling fruit issue but I guess it could be a number of things. Good luck with saving your tree. Avocados are so worth the effort and a big one has such a nice canopy of shade too.

The above followup was added by Cherie on August 01, 2005 at 1:55 pm PST.

Have you tried Tea Tree OIl, I control Peach Leaf Curl with it.

Though for a large tree, not sure how much it would take or if it would even work. But the stuff is anti fungal, bacterial and maybe viral, but not sure about the viral.

I find that many plants and trees often have a large package of good things which protect them from things flowing in their sap; and hardy tropicals seem to have even more then the average it seems.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone9 on August 01, 2005 at 5:13 pm PST.

Avocado fruit fall

I have had fruit drop problems on Mexicola Grande and especially Bacon. My soil is almost pure sand and during hot spells typical here for at least 6 months of year, avocado fruits would drop in large numbers. I realized from posts on this site that I was not watering as frequently as I should be. Sure enough this was the problem and I have not had any problems since. It is also possible ,as you say, that you could have too much water caused by poor drianage. All I know for sure is the soil should be somewhat moist all the time.

The above followup was added by william in Merced co. on August 01, 2005 at 7:44 pm PST.

Avocado seedlings

I wish more people would grow seedlings ,not just of avocados but other fruits as well. Just think of all the cultivars that may have been lost.

The above followup was added by William in Merced co. on August 01, 2005 at 7:57 pm PST.

William some of the CRFG members, myself included do start plants from seeds

I do plant research by planting seeds, but it is a slow process and being most of us don't have any sizable pieces of land we are limited in what we can do at one time.

Mainly I plant seeds and expose mine to Valley cold and heat, those two things kill many of not most of the hardy tropical plants or other things I play around with.

I would love to have even an acre to plant experimental plants, find hardiness and good edible quality.


The above followup was added by DavidLJ48, Waterford CA, zone9 on August 02, 2005 at 10:11 pm PST.

Avacado watering

Thanks for the info , I think I have sandy soil too and it has been very hot here in Chino, so tossed the dice and watered more. I think that did the trick have had only a few avacados drop since. I also noticed I have some good sized new crop up in the high canopy of the tree. So I feel better.

The above followup was added by Cherie on August 20, 2005 at 7:31 pm PST.

growing avacado indoors

is the climate in north florida (zone 8) too cold in the winter to grow avacado outside?
I have a seed from a black growing in a green house. can I plant it outside? Or should I just lerave it where it is?

The above followup was added by doris on September 27, 2005 at 12:49 am PST.

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