Should I prune my avocado tree?

Avocado tree ready for pruning.

Avocado tree ready for pruning.

Yes.  You should.  I have never had a successful tree past 24″ if I didn’t cut back the tree to encourage multiple branches and a thicker stem.  However, I wouldn’t do it now (in the spring, when buds are forming and new growth is happening).  You may be tempted now, but don’t do it.  Put it on your calendar for the late summer or early fall, or whenever you can really see that the growth has slowed.  I pruned this tree in July.  (I tend to see the most growth on my avocado trees from March – June.)  If there is a compelling reason to do it now, such as the plant is dying, or it’s very tall, but very weak and thin, then use your judgement.

Start with a clean, sharp pruner.  I use a Felco Model2.  Not exactly cheap, but it does a great job.  I’ve had mine for 10+ years now, and it’s still going strong.

Getting ready to prune the avocado tree.

Getting ready to prune the avocado tree.

Prune the tree in such a way to leave many leaves, but prune enough above a leaf so that there are budding areas around the stem.

Leave some leaves on the plant, and cut far enough above a leaf stem so you're not too close to the budding areas between the leaf stem and the main stem.

Leave some leaves on the plant, and cut far enough above a leaf stem so you’re not too close to the budding areas between the leaf stem and the main stem.

Post pruning

This is what the tree looked like post-pruning.


New growth, new branches.

In a few weeks, you should see healthy new branches developing!

I really should have put this post out in the late summer, but I just couldn’t wait.  My big guy, Xavier, is in bloom, and I got my mind on my ‘cados and my ‘cados on my mind! (Xavier is not the plant in the pictures above, and as beautiful as his blooms are, I haven’t seen signs of a fruit yet — he is around 5 or so years old, I think.)  Due to a recent move, I got rid of a lot of plants (gave away or composted/otherwise disposed of, depending on the health of the plant, but I just pruned a few feet off Xavier to help him through the move), but Xavier is a true keeper!

Spring 2013 avocado blooms!

Xavier in bloom!

More blooms to come!

More blooms to come!

ALSO SEE:  How to grow an avocado tree from seed and How do you grow a mango tree

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14 Responses to Should I prune my avocado tree?

  1. […] of interest: Should I prune my avocado tree?   How do you grow a mango […]

  2. aimzilla says:

    Thank you so much for this! While I still have not successfully grown my own avocado from seed, I have another plant that could really benefit from this advice. Plus, a good reminder to keep my eyes pealed for the perfect already split seed!

  3. Shauntel says:

    I have a question for you! I have an avocado plant that we’ve grown from the seed and it is getting really tall. Do we have to prune it or can we just let it grow? I don’t think we will ever put it outside for fear of it dying in Utah or wherever we move but I do want it to produce avocados. Any suggestions would be great! Also I have it in a long pyramid like pot hoping the pot can help support the branches is that ok or is a smaller pot recommended?

    • Alison Syntk says:

      Hi Shauntel. I think you should prune your tree, as I mentioned in the article. If you don’t, it probably will remain thin with few leaves, due to not too many branches. And, my avocado trees go through a major leaf shedding phase at least once a year, so you want to have a lot of leaves to keep it going through those major shedding parts. But hey, if your tree is really tall and looks healthy and strong, you can try just leaving it alone! I can’t imagine the type of pot that you are talking about – a pot that can support the branches? I am confused. Avocado trees aren’t crazy about being root bound, so I would not recommend a smaller pot. However, if your tree dirt stays wet more than three or four, you might be over watering, or you might have it in too big of a pot. If the dirt dries out in 3 days or less, your pot is probably the right size.

  4. Roberta says:

    Avocado: how old/tall before blooming/fruit?

    • Alison Syntk says:

      Hi Roberta. I didn’t start getting blooms until my avocado tree was about 4 or 5 years old I think, and it was definitely more than six feet tall. I don’t know if height has so much to do with it, though. I think it would be much more dependent upon age.

  5. Cris says:

    Olease can you let me know what manure to use for avocado plants/tree, which is available in indian market.
    Your reply by email much appreciated. Many thanks
    Cris Am from Goa India

  6. Evelyn says:

    We have an avocado tree that is about 8 feet tall. We have never pruned it. It is just one long stalk with leaves. Can we start pruning it? How far do we cut it back?

    • Alison Syntk says:

      I’m not an expert, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I have pruned my tree back to half its height when it was more than 8 feet tall. I did this to move it, and it came back stronger. I think if you’re going to do it, you should do it in the winter, when it’s cold. Make nice, clean cuts, with clean pruning shears (the felco ones I use are awesome). It takes a while for the sprouts to come out after a pruning, but they do come. It is scary doing it, though! Every time I prune my tree (which is about 9 feet tall again, so it’s time!), I feel like I will lose it. Good luck!

  7. Evelyn H says:

    We have one that is outside in a pot that was grown from seed. It is about 7-8 feet tall now but is just a single stem as we have never pruned it. How much should we prune it down? We live in Texas.

    • Evelyn H says:

      I just saw your response from earlier. Sorry!! We are cutting about 3 feet off today as the weather is mild. Will let you know how it does.

  8. says:

    Sir I n my wife bought avacado from d market 8 month back we eat n just throw d seed out in d garden ,I went back to ship n come back after 6mont n I see that there is a plant grown like 3to 4feet tol n it’s very healthy
    I’m from India d place called goa ,n I’m so happy that it was avacado tree I jus want to see when I will get to see avacado in my many years it takers to come avocado on d tree that was my question,I hope u will help me sir or mam I jus shared my thought.

  9. Alison Syntk says:

    Congratulations on your tree. I don’t know how many years it takes to get avocados, as mine has never produced any. I do get blooms every year, though! But as an indoor tree, I don’t know if it will EVER produce avocados!

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