Update on Xavier, 9.24.16

September 24, 2016

Seems like people like to see what’s going on with my avocado tree, Xavier.  Here he is, September 24, 2016. I didn’t see buds this year, but he seems healthy and strong. I know we are going to see major leaf drop this fall, like we always do!



Pruning your avocado tree?

January 31, 2016

Hi folks!  Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted here.  I hope I remember how to use WordPress (I’m kind of a Tumblr person now).  Anyway, I’ve received so many comments and questions about how to care for avocado trees, that I wanted to post the results of how extreme trimming of my tree Xavier went last year.


This is how Xavier looked on January 13, 2015, right before I pruned him.


This is how extreme the pruning was.

Xavier always looks kind of bad in the winter time.  I live in a cold climate, and my home gets very chilly.  There is always a lot of leaf drop when it gets cold, but last winter, I felt like Xavier was getting really unhealthy and needed to “start over.”

I am not an expert on plants or anything, but I have had great luck with Xavier and many of the plants I have, so I decided to give it a try.  I was careful to prune with my clean Felco Pruning Shears to make good cuts.  (I clean the shears with rubbing alcohol after every trim – I can’t tell you whether that’s a good thing for the shears or not – only Felco knows for sure, but that’s what I do.)  I didn’t water him very much at all during this time before the leaves grew back, because I felt he was dormant.

It took many weeks for leaves to grow back, but they grew back abundantly, just as when Xavier was healthiest!

I am proud to report that Xavier looks great.  I just took this photo today (January 31, 2016).  You can see Xavier is a lot healthier this winter than he was last winter.  Sure, there are some brown leaves, and there’s been a bit of seasonal leaf-drop, but still!  Just look at my guy here!  I didn’t add any fertilizer or compost this year, either.  Just water!

2016_01_31 IMG_2352 xavier the avocado tree

Xavier on January 31, 2016.  Looking good!  (I’ve got to lose that Diamond Armor Minecraft mask I made for my son for Halloween years ago!  JEEZ!)


Other avocado tree-related posts of mine:

How to grow an avocado tree from seed

Should I prune my avocado tree?




Should I prune my avocado tree?

March 25, 2013

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

Growing an avocado tree from seed?

March 14, 2010

Don’t even try to grow an avocado tree from the pit if the pit isn’t already naturally cracked (as opposed to you cracking / cutting it) when you open the avocado.  It has never worked for me unless the pit is cracked, and I find the most cracked pits in the month of July.

Avocado with the pit already cracked.

Avocado with the pit already cracked.

Then, take the pit out, gently clean off all the avocado from it. With the more rounded (or less pointy) side of the pit down, press three toothpicks (evenly spaced, horizontally) around the avocado to be able to support it in a glass of water (see below).  Don’t fill the water up over the toothpicks, or they will rot and will not support the avocado pit.  Within a few days to a few weeks, a taproot will start to grow (see below).  During this time, make sure the water level is consistent.  It must always touch and cover a little bit of the bottom of the pit.

Taproot starting to grow.

Taproot starting to grow.

By the way, those little things hanging out of the bottom of the pit are not roots.  I always thought they were when I first started trying to grow avocados and I’d be so initially encouraged by seeing them on the pit.  You can see in the picture the tap root is white and much heartier.

Nicely established roots.

Nicely established roots.

When your plant has nicely established roots, you can plant it in dirt.  I usually use a mix of 1/2 compost from the Union Square Farmers Market and 1/2 Coast of Maine potting soil.  I have made the mistake many times of planting in too big of a pot.  Don’t do this!  Avocados like to dry out completely between waterings and if they are in too big of a pot in the beginning, they can’t do this.  Also, don’t water it too heavily in the beginning.  I have made this mistake plenty of times, too.

However, I have had some great success.

Xavier, at nearly two years of age.

Xavier, at nearly two years of age.

My largest avocado tree is Xavier (we named all of our plants after finding really cute plant signs in the dollar bin at Target one year).  He is now about 7 feet tall and growing steadily.  He loses a lot of leaves in the winter, but he must be healthy as I just had blooms a few weeks ago!

Avocado blooms

Avocado buds

Nothing came of them, though.  I shook the plant, blew on the open blooms, but either Xavier wasn’t self-pollinating or I didn’t do a good enough job.  Oh well, I’ve got five other avocado trees that are up and coming!

Also of interest: Should I prune my avocado tree?   How do you grow a mango tree?

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