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PlantFiles: Avocado, Alligator Pear
Persea americana

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Family: Lauraceae (law-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Persea (PER-see-uh) (Info)
Species: americana (a-mer-ih-KAY-na) (Info)

12 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Category:
Trees

Height:
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Evergreen

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By grafting
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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to view:

By Ulrich
Thumbnail #1 of Persea americana by Ulrich

By weeds
Thumbnail #2 of Persea americana by weeds

By IslandJim
Thumbnail #3 of Persea americana by IslandJim

By tommyb
Thumbnail #4 of Persea americana by tommyb

By tommyb
Thumbnail #5 of Persea americana by tommyb

By tlc57
Thumbnail #6 of Persea americana by tlc57

By Thaumaturgist
Thumbnail #7 of Persea americana by Thaumaturgist

There are a total of 10 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Profile:

10 positives
5 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive nathanieledison On Mar 27, 2013, nathanieledison from Santa Rosa, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

They're a ton of fun with the whole toothpick trick until you have a jungle of avocado trees growing in your kitchen. They don't like the frost but they will take it and stay green in my zone, which never goes below 25 in winter. Fun and easy trees though!

Neutral SpaceCase418 On Mar 9, 2011, SpaceCase418 from Annapolis, MD wrote:

ATTENTION THIS POST MAY BURST YOUR BUBBLE!

All avocado's have anti-self pollination mechanisms. There are two types of flowers. one type has male flowers one day and then closes for the night and the next day when the flowers open they are all female. the second type of flower does the same thing but sex is vice versa. Call them type A and type B. strains with flower A can only be fertilized by strains with flower type B. what does this mean to you? if you buy a haas avocado in the supermarket and plant the seed you WILL NOT get a haas avocado plant. it will be half haas half something else. the only way to get the actual avocado you want is to get a clone. also most commercial avocados are grafted to a different root base to increase production and decrease things like root rot. If you wish for a specific variety make sure you research the exact variety you wish to grow and find out exactly where its produced and what its grafted to. otherwise you may be let down with your outcome.

Positive MangoMorelli On Sep 18, 2010, MangoMorelli from Vrdy
Czech Republic wrote:

Hello everyone,
I have lived all over the place OH, TX, RI, NV, Czech Republic,
and now WA. All you have to do is stick the pit round side down in a bit of soil and -voila- a little sprout in a week to a month. I have always had great success by just sticking them in the dirt with other house plants. I have found the mode of inducing root growth with the toothpicks and water to promote rot...and cloudy water. It is however a wonderful way to demonstrate root growth to kids!!! Plus the transfer from water to soil tends to damage the roots and leads to shock....
Now--- the rest truly depends on what type of atmosphere your home is. Obviously if you live in a warm sub to tropical climate this sprout must go in the ground outside and begin to mature into a very large and beautiful tree.
Most likely the indoor specimen will just be that a specimen.
Just enjoy the little fellow and given enough room to expand and a lot of time you can certainly have a beautiful indoor tree. Now in Seattle, I stuck a pit in the soil of our outdoor courtyard and forgot about it completely. That was in May, it is now Sept. and I saw it sticking up through the mondo grass today and put him in a little pot and moved him to the terrace. It tends to be a bit chilly here in the winter I have heard, so now he can come in the house when it gets too cold outside.

Enjoy, experiment, and most importantly give a good go. Most plants do not need to be molly cottled, just stick em in some dirt and see what happens. ;-)



Neutral angelam On Mar 3, 2007, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

I have an avocado in a large pot (variety Hass). It is growing well, especially since I got it into cover with protection from this very hot, very dry Summer. However both before the move and since I am losing small branches and wonder if anyone knows the cause. The leaves appear to wilt, with the rest of the plant OK, then within a couple of days have turned black and the stem starts to go black as well. I've been cutting them off below the discolouration. The problem seems to develop randomly across the plant and no area seems particularly prone. Apart from that it is glossy and growing vigorously.
Any ideas?
Its a handsome plant and I'm looking forward to getting it into the ground once our drought breaks. The bird toxicity must be various, our chickens love them, though I'll be more careful in future as to what they get.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Dec 11, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

In trying not to repeat what already has been said....I had grown a supermarket pit the gardeners way-toothpicks and jar. After planting the free tree i watched it grow for seven years when it first flowered and set fruit. They were the size of small coconuts,unfortunately three years later it succumbed to a root disease.
Twenty years later i am restarting with "Mexicola" a cold hardy avocado to 18 degrees. We will see.....

Neutral desertboot On Jul 5, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

Here's a failproof - if somewhat bizarre - way of getting avocado seeds to sprout, shown to me by an old friend:
- Stick four toothpicks, about quarter inch deep, into the sides of the seed and about halfway up its height.
- Balance the protruding ends of the toothpicks along the rim of a tall glass beaker / tumbler, making sure that the "eye" of the seed's facing down.
- Fill the beaker with water right up to the brim. The top of the seed will, of course, stick out of the water.
- A kitchen shelf is a good place to leave the arrangement, undisturbed. The seed should start to germinate in about a week. Ensure that the water level doesn't fall.
- When the first few leaves appear and the shoot's about 8" tall, carefully lift the seedling out of the water, making sure not to damage the root system. Pluck the toothpicks out from what remains of the seed and transfer the baby tree into a pot of peaty soil. Average water; partial sunlight for the first couple of weeks.

PS: A friend almost lost her dog last month courtesy a glut of avocados, fallen into her garden from a neighbour's tree. The dog, happily, made a miraculous recovery after three days of high-tension for all concerned.




Positive suncatcheracres On Jul 5, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have grown decorative avocado plants for years, and I love to eat the fruit, which is extremely healthy for people--I know nothing about the whole bird and dog controversy. When I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, zone 9b, I had a friend who had two large avocado trees in her yard, situated by a lake close to downtown, and she always gave me bags and bags of the fruit to make guacamole for my then teenaged son and his friends.

I now live in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, and if I can eventually get an area with enough sun cleared on my property, I would like to plant the Mexicola variety, as it is hardy down to 18 F degrees, accodring to my very handy little booklet entitled "Fruit and Flowering Trees for Florida," published by Horticultural Printers, Ltd. in Dallas, TX. If you live anywhere in Florida and want to grow fruit, you should own this booklet.

Here's a bit of information about avocados from this booklet: "There are three basic types of avocados--Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. Mexican varieties produce small green-purple fruit in summer, are hardy to 18F, and will bear fruit throughout the state, as far north as even Charleston, SC and Pensacola! Guatemalan types bear large, green-reddish fruit with great flavor in late summer to early winter, and are hardy to 22-26 degrees. These varieties can be grown throughout central and South Florida. West Indian varieties produce large, delicious fruit in late summer, but are not hardy below 28-30 degrees and must be grown only in south Florida. Many popular varieties are hybrids of these three types."

In 1974 a friend and I toured Mexico for over four months, buying crafts for her import business, and I was always looking at the various Mexican gardens we came across. I was told at the time that every Mexican village had its own variety of avocados, grown in that specific location for centuries, and adapted to that exact locale and climate.

I hope to grow both the Mexicola and the Winter Mexican varieties--the Winter Mexican is hardy to 20F--as they fruit at slightly different times, Mexicola in July to August, and Winter Mexican in Oct to December, in order to enjoy this wonderful fruit just a little bit longer each year.

Positive foodiesleuth On Jun 3, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

We have three different varieties of avocados in our yard. They flower and fruit at different times of the year. Right now, two varieties have fruit which now measures about 5-7 inches and will be about 10 inches and weigh a bit over two pounds when mature. They should be ready to harvest by end of June and on through August.

Another variety which fruits Nov-Dec is almost like a perfect little round ball, about 5-6 inches diameter, weight about one pound, with small seed and buttery flesh....Lovely!

We have lots of wild birds in our area and they do compete with us for the fruit.....and I have never noticed that they have been affected by toxidity.......our 2 dogs would rather eat an avo than their regular food and when they find one on the ground, the grin on their faces is a sight to see......

The female eats the flesh daintily and leaves the perfect skins and seed behind.......the male will scarf the whole thing just leaving the seed behind. We were worried about the sharpness of the skin edges when ingesting it....our vet told us the dog would know if he could eat it or not.....We've had our dog 6 years and so far, no problems!

Positive martaruth On Jun 2, 2004, martaruth from La Porte, IN wrote:

Whenever I eat an avocado, I take the skin off the seed and plant it in soil with the top sticking out -- usually with many to a pot. Some seeds dry up or rot, but many of them sprout. I have been doing this for years.

I have several pots of them on the floor in front of a window in my Chicago home -- formerly in a south-facing window, now in a west-facing one. Some pots hold a thicket of 10 or so thin-trunk trees. Sometimes I weave the trunks together; sometimes I tie them to a bamboo rod to hold them upright, as I don't have horizontal space for the drooping branches.

By the way, I kept goats for some 15 years. Since I fed them all of our plant waste, I'm sure they must have had avocado skins; but there certainly was never any ill effect that I noticed.

Since the fruits in the stores are various varieties, so are the plants -- with different sizes and colors of leaves and sturdiness of trunks. When I moved to my present apartment, I had to leave a pot of 8 trees because the largest ones were almost 10 feet tall.

For the first time ever, I have a plant -- not very old or very large -- that is producing a couple of hard, white objects. (I will try to send photos in a separate email.) I am wondering if they might turn into blossoms.

Positive richamerican On Dec 17, 2003, richamerican wrote:

My childhood dog ate avocados for 12+ years and never became sick. He's eat an entire avocado, except for the seed.

Negative kakapo On Sep 12, 2003, kakapo wrote:

Avocados are DEFINITELY poisonous to pet birds. Ingesting even a little bit can kill them. Do NOT feed any part of the avocado to your pet birds!

Also, the seed, bark, leaves, (and, in some species the flesh & peel of the fruit) can be toxic if ingested by dogs, horses, goats, sheep, cattle, & rabbits. These species tend to get GI upset from ingesting parts of the tree &/or fruit.

Positive kmcdole On Aug 7, 2003, kmcdole from Fremont, CA wrote:

Grew a "Littlecado" for over 14 yrs in our backyard in Fremont Ca, when it had a pollinator it produced large and tasty fruit. It was possible to keep it pruned to less than 8 ft tall, this helped keep it from frost damage. Had a "weeping" growth habit, also helped keep it short. We now live in central Ca and it gets a little colder than Fremont, I'd like to find something that will survive here in 8a.

Positive Zanymuse On Jun 29, 2003, Zanymuse from Scotia, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Easy to grow and lovely glossy leaves this tree needs plenty of room for its branches to spread. The fruit is eaten by people and animals and is a favorite of cayotes who will eat their fill and scurry off carrying one for a late snack if the fruit is allowed to fall on the ground. It has also been used as the base for domestic dog food and is believed to help provide a healthy gloss to their coat. I had not heard it could be poisonous to animals and have seen it eaten by several animals and birds with no ill effect.

Neutral 11780 On May 31, 2003, 11780 wrote:

I am currently growing an avocado plant for the first time. It germinated in the spring and now has eleven leaves. It is growing on the window sill,in my kitchen and is already 35 cm high.I am surprised to fing that the pears are toxic to birds and small pets.I love avocados and eat them regularly !

Positive IslandJim On May 24, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

It's a great tree, big and lush. and if you like the frut, that's a added attraction. Be aware however, that there are "a" types and "b" types and, while most are self-fertile to some extent, a pollinator of the other type will improve the set of fruit.

I think the issue of toxicity to pets is borrowed trouble (squrrels, rats, and raccoons probably steal as many avocados every year as all of our supermarkets combined sell and I don't see any reduction in their numbers.) Besides, as long as you give your pets their normal diet of chicken snouts, they won't be tempted by the avocados.

Negative hankpage On Feb 20, 2003, hankpage from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

The avocado fruit is toxic to most birds. Even a nibble of your Aunt Millie's Guacamole could kill your house pet. Use caution when growing miniatures indoors.

Just to clear things up. The fruit is toxic to BIRDS.

Neutral Floridian On Oct 2, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The avocado is a dense, evergreen tree, shedding many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing and generally branches to form a broad tree. It was cultivated from Texas to Peru before arrival of Europeans. Avocado trees like loose, decomposed granite or sandy loam best. They will not survive in locations with poor drainage. They are tolerant of acid or alkaline soil.

There are dwarf forms of avocados suitable for growing in containers. In containers use a planting mix combined with topsoil. Plastic containers should be avoided. It is also useful to plant the tub with annual flowers to reduce excess soil moisture and temperature. Container plants should be moved outdoors with care Whitewashing the trunk or branches will prevent sunburn and plants should be leached often to reduce salts.

Avocado flowers appear in January - March before the first seasonal growth. Indoor trees need low night temperatures to induce bloom. Fruit ripens in 6 - 12 - 18 months depending on the cultivar.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chowchilla, California
Fremont, California
Fresno, California
Garden Grove, California
Hayward, California
Menlo Park, California
Oak View, California
San Diego, California
Santa Rosa, California
Spring Valley, California
Bartow, Florida
Kathleen, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Garden, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Deer Park, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Killeen, Texas
Pipe Creek, Texas
Seattle, Washington



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