How to grow Avocado (Palta or Avocado): Complete guide

Hello farmers. In this article we will learn how to grow avocado in our garden. We will give you all the agronomic keys to plant it step by step, in addition to the care it requires. We will see what is the most suitable type of climate to grow it, the varieties that exist, the type of soil that best suits it, the importance of its flowering, how to prune it, how to pay it and how to water it.

avocado tree

The avocado, also called avocado or avocado, and whose scientific name is Persea americana, is a tree of the Lauraceae family, highly appreciated throughout the world for its good nutritional properties. Its origin is located in Central America, in the area of ​​Mexico and Guatemala, making it a suitable crop for hot climates. Although, it needs significant amounts of water, so we will have to incorporate irrigation to grow it in areas such as Spain.

Avocado, avocado or avocado

1. What is the right type of climate?

According to what we have mentioned in the previous section, it can already be deduced that the avocado is a crop native to practically tropical areas, so it will be very sensitive to low temperatures: below 0ºC the tree would suffer damage. In addition, it will need significant amounts of water, since it does not tolerate drought. With these two conditions, the optimal areas to grow this valued fruit in Spain decrease considerably; It would only be possible to grow it in coastal areas, where frosts are unlikely, and the implementation of irrigation is necessary.

Plantation of young avocados in coastal area. Source: Rodríguez Sosa et al. (2014) Profitability of avocado cultivation in the Canary Islands

On the other hand, it should also be noted that this tree is not favored by large changes in temperature between day and night, which is another point to recommend its cultivation almost exclusively in coastal areas in Spain.

However, these conditions can be slightly relaxed by choosing varieties more adapted to temperate climates such as that of the Mediterranean region.

1.1. What is the best variety depending on the climate?

We could say that there are 3 groups of avocado varieties depending on their origin, commonly called races: the Mexican, the Guatemalan and the Antillean. These 3 types of avocado will be a key element to define the optimal climatic conditions for this crop.

Antillean varieties are the most adapted to tropical areas, so their use in cold areas would not be advisable. For their part, the Guatemalan and Mexican varieties would be the best option for temperate zones such as Spain. Although, the avocado is still a very sensitive crop to frost, so its production in Spain is currently hardly restricted to areas of Granada, Malaga and the Canary Islands, whose microclimates allow its growth.

2. What type of floor is the most recommended?

The ideal soils, as for most crops, would be those with a light texture, pH between 5.5 and 7, deep and well drained. This does not mean that avocado cannot be grown in other types of soil. What is important is drainage and avoiding waterlogging, since these conditions are conducive to the appearance of root diseases, to which avocados are especially sensitive.

On the other hand, as the avocado is a crop that originates in humid areas, it has not had the need to develop deep roots to seek water, so its root system is not as vigorous as that of other species typical of dry climates.. This will affect us in the search for and uptake of nutrients in the soil, so it is vitally important that we have soils rich in organic matter. In case of having a poor soil, we will be the ones who have to make external contributions through fertilizers, compost, organic amendments, etc.

3. How to acquire the plants?

Once we have verified that our orchard is located in an area that meets the appropriate climatic conditions, it will be necessary to acquire the plants. To do this, we have 2 options:

  • Go to a nursery and buy avocado seedlings. This option is faster and the tree will begin to bear fruit sooner. It is also important that we buy avocados in a root ball (pot).
  • Germinate the seed ourselves from an avocado pit. With this option the tree will take about 5 years to bear the first fruits.
Avocado seedlings. Source: Ecoforce

The ideal would be to choose the first option, because it is important to know which variety we are acquiring and to be certain that it is the most suitable for our climate.

Another reason for choosing the first alternative is the type of flowers that the avocado has, so to speak, it is a bit special, since there are varieties with different types of flowers, so if we choose the second option, we will not know what type it is about.

4. Avocado flowering

4.1. Why is it important to know the type of flowers of our avocado?

The avocado has a somewhat special bloom, which is technically called protogynous dichogamy. This means that, despite the fact that the same plant has flowers of both sexes, female and male, they will never be present simultaneously on the tree; that is, first the flowers will appear in the female state, they will close and, later, they will reopen in the male state. As a consequence, pollination will be negatively affected, since we need male and female flowers at the same time, so that fertilization takes place and the tree produces a more or less large number of fruits.

Male and female flower of an avocado tree. Source:

Having said this, I am going to explain the solution to this little problem: There are varieties of avocado that have type A flowers and others that have type B flowers. Type A flowers open in the female state in the morning of day 1, close and reopen in the male state in the afternoon of day 2. For their part, type B flowers open in the female state in the afternoon of On day 1, they close and reopen in the male state on the morning of day 2. Here is a diagram so you can see it better:

Opening of flowers A and B of avocado as a function of time

Based on the scheme above, we can see that avocado self-fertilization is going to be tricky. Although it can sometimes occur, it will not be enough and we will get very few avocados. If our objective is only to have the tree as a decoration, we can plant only one variety, either type A or B. However, if what we want is to obtain a larger number of fruits, we will have to plant varieties of different types, in order to achieve a temporal overlap between the female flowers of A and the male flowers of B. In this way, variety B will fertilize variety A and we will obtain a greater number of avocados. This chart shows this strategy more clearly:

Strategy to achieve the overlap in time of male and female flowers.

Now you will understand what I was telling you about the disadvantages of germinating the seed at home. By doing that, we won’t know if our variety is A or B, and so we’ll get fewer or no avocados.

4.2. When does avocado bloom?

The flowering of the avocado, like that of any plant, will depend on the variety and the geographical area where it is grown.

In its areas of origin, Mexico and Guatemala, the flowering period can run from November to March, depending on whether it is a late, medium or early variety.

In the typical areas of Spain where it has been cultivated, such as Malaga, Granada or the Canary Islands, flowering begins in late spring or early summer.

5. How to plant the avocado?

5.1. ground preparation

Before planting, we must make sure that the soil is not caked. In this case, we must remove the soil so that it is loose. To do this, we can use a motocultor or motoazada, which are small agricultural machines that are used to decompact hard ground.

For more information about these agricultural machines, you can consult our article Motocultivators and Motoazadas for the orchard. Differences and how they work.

5.2. How to make the holes

Once we have prepared the ground, the next step will be to make the holes. The size must be adequate for the root ball to fit, so that it is at the same level as the land of our orchard, that is, it does not protrude to avoid stress on the roots of the tree. If the plant is grafted, it will also be important that the graft area is not covered when it is buried.

5.3. Protectors and tutoring

Protecting the trunk of newly planted young trees is of vital importance, since the bark during this period is very sensitive. To do this, we can use a special white paint mixed with our own fungicides for this use, or another option is to use specific protective meshes. Materials for both alternatives can be purchased at nurseries or garden centers.

As for the trellising, it is a technique that consists of guiding or directing the plant by tying some of its branches to a tutor, in such a way that it has a support on which to lean and thus be able to grow correctly. For this, we will need stakes of about two meters, which will be placed next to the tree and buried about 40 cm deep. The tying to the plant must be done with anchor-type rubber bands.

Plantation of avocados trellised and with protectors. Source:

5.4. Aftercare at planting

It is vitally important to water the avocado immediately after planting it, since it is a plant that has quite high water requirements. Although, special care must be taken so that it does not get waterlogged, as root diseases could appear.

Another point to make once planted is to carry out a thorough control of weeds, since if they appear, they would compete with the tree for water and nutrients. It will be necessary to remove all the weeds that could appear around the trunk, carrying out this task during the first months after planting, as well as before and after incorporating fertilizers.

6. Avocado pruning

6.1. What is it for?

The purpose of pruning is to provide a correct structure to the tree that maximizes its production, so that sunlight can penetrate more uniformly. In addition, it can contribute to better control of pests and diseases by improving aeration inside the canopy. Another benefit of pruning is to contribute to the increase in the size of the fruits, since in the absence of this, we will have a greater number of fruits but of a smaller size.

6.2. When to prune?

The best time to prune is just after harvest, that is, late fall or early winter.

6.3. types of pruning

6.3.1. formation pruning

The objective of this type of pruning is to provide a correct structure to the tree that maximizes its production and must be carried out during the first years of life.

The trunk of the tree must stand out at the height that we want the main branches to emerge. Later, when the branches have already emerged at that point, we will keep 3 or 4 that are well located. The well-placed branches will be those with a slightly horizontal position, forming an angle of about 45º with the trunk, and which in turn are at the same distance from each other, that is, if we are going to keep 3 branches, there would be to ensure that they were separated by about 120º between them. The rest of the branches must be eliminated.

Top view of an avocado tree after pruning. Source: Torres, E., Pruning systems in avocado cultivation

6.3.2. maintenance pruning

This type of pruning should be done when a few years have passed or when we observe that the avocado tends to recover its natural shape: grow in height and form vertical branches, called suckers, which have to be eliminated.

Those branches that direct their growth towards the interior/exterior and those that are dry or deteriorated should also be cut. It may be convenient to make cuts at the ends of branches that are too long.

6.3.3. rejuvenation pruning

This pruning should be done when we notice that the vigor and production of the tree begin to decrease. It consists of thinning to remove poorly positioned branches or branches that hinder the passage of light and air.

7. How to pay avocado

The best way to fertilize is through fertigation, since we can more precisely control the time and amount of nutrients provided. This technique consists of incorporating the fertilizers with the irrigation water.

As in most plants, the most important nutrients for avocado are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. During the first years of the plantation, these nutrients must be in a 1:2:1 ratio respectively; when the tree begins to produce the ratio should be 1:1:1 and, upon reaching maximum production and for consecutive years, the ratio should be 2:1:2.

Below are estimates of the amounts and timing of application of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It should be noted that these amounts are approximations that depend on numerous factors such as the age of the tree, the type of soil, the variety or the geographical area.

7.1. Nitrogen needs

Nitrogen is a very important element, since it fulfills essential functions in the growth and development of plants. Between 0.6 and 1 kg of nitrogen per tree and year are needed, which should be divided into 2 applications, one in spring and the other in summer.

7.2. Phosphorus needs

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant respiration and metabolism. Between 0.13 and 0.26 kg of phosphorus per tree and year should be provided, the ideal time being during flowering and root development, that is, at the beginning of summer and at the beginning of autumn. Although, these periods may vary depending on the variety and the geographical area.

7.3. Potassium needs

Potassium is an element that is involved in many plant processes, such as water use, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Potassium needs are between 0.6 and 1.3 kg per tree per year, and should be applied from May to October.

8. Irrigation in avocado cultivation

As we have already mentioned, the avocado is a tree that is highly dependent on water, that is, it does not tolerate drought, although, on the other hand, it is also very sensitive to waterlogging. A flood in our avocado tree could be fatal, since it favors the appearance of diseases such as Phytophthora and Rosellinia. For this reason, it is very important that we pay special attention to the dose, frequency and time of irrigation application. The simplest way to control these factors is to use drip irrigation, although in many cases micro- sprinkler irrigation is being chosen.

Micro-sprinkler irrigation. Source: SIRHC

Here I leave you an approximation of the irrigation program suitable for areas of the south and east of Spain. As in the subscriber section, it should be noted that it is a rough estimate, and may vary depending on the climate or soil of our orchard.

For a drip flow of 4 litres/h and a duration of 2.5 hours, we establish the following irrigation program:

Year drippers/tree
1 1
two two
3-5 4
6 and following 8
Approximate irrigation program for eastern and southern areas of Spain. Source: Own elaboration based on Avocado Irrigation Needs, Brokaw Nurseries
Month irrigations/week
January 0-3
February 0-3
March 0-3
April 2-4
May 3-5
June 5
July 6
August 7
September 7
October 5-6
November 2-4
December 0-3
Irrigation frequency of the avocado crop for an area in the east or south of Spain. Source: self made

With the above data we would obtain annual water needs similar to those in the following table

Year litres/year
1 1860
two 3720
3-5 7440
6 and following 14880
Annual water needs depending on the age of the avocado for the eastern and southern areas of Spain

9. Bibliographic references

  1. Campos, B., Calderón, E., González, J., Barceló, A., Sarmiento, D., & González, J. et al. (2015).Course: The cultivation of avocado. Summaries of papers (pp. 1-59). Board of Andalusia. Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training Institute. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development.
  2. Lemus S., Gamalier; Ferreyra E., Raul; Gil M., Pilar; Maldonado B., Patrick; Toledo G., Carlos; Barrera M., Christian; Celedon de A., JM (2005).Avocado cultivation. La Cruz, Chile: Agricultural Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture of Chile. INIA Bulletin No. 129. 76 pages
  3. Martinez C., Juan Pablo; Muena Z., Victoria and Ruiz Sch., Rafael. (2014) Nutrition and Fertility in Avocado. La Cruz, Chile: Agricultural Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture of Chile. INIA Bulletin No. 283, 74 p.
  4. Rodriguez, L., Caceres, JJ (2014). Profitability of avocado cultivation in the Canary Islands. Council of Tenerife. Agriculture and Rural Development Technical Service. Water, Agriculture, Farming and Fishing Area.
  5. Brokaw Nurseries. (nd).Avocado irrigation needs.

Related posts

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Botón volver arriba