Avocado tree

The avocado tree is more robust than you think and can also bear delicious fruit in our part of the world- if grown in a container. How to care for the Persea americana

Susanne Nüsslein-Müller Susanne Nüsslein-Müller
Apr 09, 2021 02:32 pm
readtime icon 8 Minutes
Growth type
  • small tree
  • shrub
Growth height (from)
from 1000 cm to 2000 cm
Growth characteristics
  • sweeping
  • upright
  • multi-trunked
Flower color
  • green
  • yellow
Flowering time (month)
  • April to May
Flower shape
  • Panicules
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • elliptiques
  • lancéolées
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Fruit color
  • brown
Fruit shape
  • Berry
Fruit characteristics
  • edible
  • sunny
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to moderately humid
ph value
  • neutral
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Leaf ornaments
  • Fruit
Winter Hardness
  • frost-sensitive
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 9
  • Interior greening
  • Planters
  • Winter garden
Garden style
  • Pot garden
Bee Friendly
bee friendly plant

The avocado tree (Persea americana) is native to the rainforests of Mexico and Central America. The plant genus Persea has around 150 different species, but apart from the avocado, only one other species (Persea schiedeana) is cultivated as agricultural crop. The family of plants belonging to the avocado tree are the laurel family (Lauraceae). Thousands of years ago, the plant was used in many ways by early civilization. Since the 18th In the 19th century, the avocado tree spread worldwide in the tropics and subtropics and is now one of the most widely grown crops. There are over 400 different varieties. We know, for example, the “Hass” variety with wrinkled, black-brown fruits or the more elongated, green fruits with smooth skin of the “Fuerte” variety.


Persea americana grows in its tropical home as a multi-stemmed shrub or tree. Adult avocado trees can reach heights of 65.61 feet and have wide, spreading crowns. The plant is evergreen —except in extreme dry seasons. Their trunk has a smooth, gray-green bark. The wood is quite soft and is used to make furniture or as construction wood. The robust tropical fruit trees can also bloom in our containers and bear fruits. But, of course, the plants stay much smaller. If you want to be on the safe side, buy grafted plants: These bloom and often bear fruit two to three years after. This can take significantly longer for seedling plants.


The leathery foliage of the avocado tree is elliptical to lance-leaf in shape with a slightly pointed edge and has a dark green sheen. The undersides of the leaves are matt gray-green with densely matted wooly hair. When budding, the leaves are reddish in color. Depending on the variety and location, the leaves can be up to 15.74 inches long and up to 5.90 inches wide. They are arranged alternately on the branches with short stems. Avocado leaves contain toxins and are not suitable for consumption. Pets should be kept away from the plants.

Flower of the avocado tree
The leaves of the avocado tree (Persea americana) are quite popular with insects

The avocado tree forms branched, fragrant flower panicles with rather inconspicuous, yellowish-green individual flowers. These consist of three sepals and three petals, which hardly differ from each other and optically form one unit. Some of the stamens carry nectaries, which makes them attractive for insects. The flowers of Persea americana provide plenty of pollen. But a fruit does not ripen from every blossom. Many are sterile and cannot be fertilized at all. In addition, pistils and stamens ripen at different times in the avocado flowers. You will therefore get better yields if you cultivate two different varieties.


The avocado fruit is a single-seeded berry. This means that all the fruit layers are not lignified and the core is the seed. This is about the size of a golf ball and, depending on the variety, round to oval. The oil-rich pulp is light green to yellow in color and has a creamy consistency when fully ripe. It tastes delicious and nutty and is a wholesome fruit. Avocados are usually pear-shaped, but can also be almost round, depending on the variety. Their skin is smooth or wrinkled, green or almost black. The fertilized flower takes eight to ten months to become a fruit ready for harvest. Avocados are harvested from the tree when they are unripe. They ripen after being harvested and taste even better than if you let them ripen on the plant. It is important that the fruits are not stored cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, if possible.


Typical to their habitat, the avocado likes it warm and sunny, but also tolerates a slightly shady place, especially in midsummer. A heated conservatory is ideal, in summer, a covered place out in the open. Overall, the plant is more robust than you might think.

Avocado tree as a container plant
In summer, the avocado tree (Persea americana) can also be shifted to the patio

The avocado tree needs nutrient-rich, well-drained soil in the container. Ideally, a commercially available premium quality soil for container plants should be used.


The water requirement of Persea americana depends of course on the location. Warmer the location of the plant, the more water it needs. However, due to the leathery foliage, the avocado tree evaporates less water than plants with soft leaves. So water regularly, but with caution. It is important to prevent waterlogging as well as complete drying of the soil. Damage caused by drought can be detected by the brown leaf margins. The plant also needs to be watered regularly in winter, the quantity also depends on the temperature of the location.


Avocado trees should be provided with a composite fertilizer for container plants every week from April to September when they are watered. It is better not to fertilize in fall and winter.


Persea americana has a vigorous growth and the strong roots soon fill the existing root space in the tub. Therefore, avocado trees should be repotted in slightly larger containers at the beginning of each year and every two to three years when they are mature.

young avocado plant
Young avocado trees must be usually be re-potted annually

The avocado plant branches out well and therefore does not need any special pruning. Individual shoots that are too long or unbranched can be shortened in spring.


The avocado tree needs sufficient light even in winter because it is an evergreen tree. The ideal winter temperatures for it is between 44.6 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. For a short time, the plant in the container can also tolerate lower temperatures of up to 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.


For example, Persea americana “Hass” or some other refinements are available in the mail order business for container plants.


The sowing or planting the large avocado seeds is not only fun for children. For this purpose, after consuming the fruit, the seeds are cleaned under running water of any pulp residues and allowed to dry for a short time. At approximately half the height, stick three toothpicks all around the core and place it with the blunt end facing down in a glass of water so that the lower area is slightly submerged. In a warm place, the first roots appear and the shoot form within three to four weeks. Once the first leaves form after the cotyledons, the seedling is transplanted into a pot with soil.

Diseases and Pests

Like other container plants with leathery leaves, the avocado tree can also be attacked by scale insects or mealybugs scale insects or mealybugs especially in winter. It is important to check the plants regularly and to remove the pests with a brush or tweezers at the first signs. In summer, spider mites can appear on the avocado plant, especially in areas of the house with dry air. Then it can help to increase the humidity and spray water on the plants regularly. Or you put them outside and use sprinklers.