Avocado trees (Persea americana) are sun-loving producers of a buttery fruit so appreciated, there are festivals in its honor. They thrive in warm climates and sunny areas, but must be protected from too much sun when first planted. When your well-tended avocado tree has matured in your garden, it will not only provide you with abundant fruit, but with shade. Under an open canopy of rich, deep green leaves, it will protect you from the warmth it loves so well.
Avocados Need Sunshine and Warmth
Avocados prefer being planted in sunny to lightly shady locations with well-drained soil for optimal growth and fruit production. Trees are often seen 30 to 40 feet high, but may grow larger. Avocados grow naturally in a tall and narrow shape, but are usually pruned to take on a lower open-spreading form. Avocados will grow in areas of California, Arizona, Texas and Florida with mild winters in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9B through 11. They grow best when temperatures are between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. All avocado trees must be protected from high winds and heavy frost.
Considerations For A Young Avocado
It is best to plant your young avocado tree in warm ground. Place it in the garden after danger of frost has passed, usually between March and June. If planted during the summer heat, your tree will be at risk of sun damage due to the immature tree's inability to take in water efficiently. When first planted, your tree will be able to hold about 2 gallons of water in its root system. In mild coastal areas, 1 gallon of water per day may be enough. Water your tree two or three times per week, allowing it to become mostly dry to the touch between waterings.
Popular Avocado Varieties
Hass avocado is the most popular variety of avocado due to its superb flavor on sandwiches, salads or just scooped out of its pebbly skin and eaten with a spoon. Its green-skinned, 10- to 12-ounce fruit blackens as it ripens. It is sensitive to frost below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The Bacon avocado is another tasty variety for sandwiches and salads, as well as guacamole. This fruit is 10 to 12 ounces with smooth, green skin that yields to gentle pressure when ripe. It is cold hardy to 28 degrees. The Wurtz, or Little Cado, dwarf variety is an excellent tree for a back yard. Its 8- to 14-ounce fruit is green with a medium-thin skin and good all-around flavor.
Avocado Trivia And Tips
The original Hass tree was planted in 1926 by a postman named Rudolph Hass. The tree survived to 76 years old, succumbing in 2002. There are avocado trees growing wild in Mexico that are more than 400 years old and still producing fruit. If you need to ripen an avocado quickly, place it in a plastic bag with a ripened banana. Seal the bag and check periodically until ripe. Do not refrigerate avocados if they are not ripe.
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