All trees are beautiful, but only one kind of tree lets you make fresh guacamole whenever the mood strikes. Growing an avocado tree that's mature enough to bear fruit takes several years and lots of water. How much water your plant needs depends on how established it is, and you'll need to check the soil to determine whether it's time to give your tree a drink. As a general rule, avocado trees do best when their soil is allowed to dry out between waterings.
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A potted avocado tree or a newly planted avocado tree should generally be watered every two to three days, while a mature planted tree can be watered once a week. Give the tree enough water to soak the soil without completely saturating it.
Watering a Potted Avocado Tree
A good number of potted avocado trees start out as science experiments. It's fun to try to grow a full-fledged tree starting from just a seed (also known as an avocado pit). Sprouting your own avocado seed is as simple as sticking a few toothpicks in the pit and suspending it broader side down in a glass of water. The toothpicks brace the seed at the top of the glass so only about the bottom inch is submerged in water.
Kept in a warm place and away from direct sunlight, the plant should develop roots and a stem within eight weeks and can be planted in soil once the stem has leaves and the roots are thick. You can also take a shortcut and buy a potted avocado tree from a garden center.
Young avocado trees planted in soil need frequent watering but also need periods of drier soil. How quickly your plant's soil dries out will depend on where you keep it. A young potted tree that's kept outside in full sunlight or in windy weather will probably need to be watered more frequently than a potted tree kept indoors. Potted trees generally need to be watered every few days.
Watering a Planted Avocado Tree
A newly planted avocado tree needs to be watered several times a week while its roots are taking hold in the ground. Soak the soil well and check back every day or so to test whether it's still moist or needs more water. Avocado farmers carefully control how much water trees get during irrigation season, but it's hard to measure how much water you're giving your avocado tree when you're watering with a hose. So, it's important to check the soil frequently and learn how quickly it dries out in your specific climate in order to develop your watering routine.
A good rule of thumb for determining whether your avocado tree needs to be watered is if you can squeeze a handful of soil from around the roots and it holds the shape of your hand, the soil is damp enough. If the soil crumbles, water the tree.
A planted avocado tree will need less frequent watering once it's well established. After the one-year mark, an avocado tree can generally be watered just about once a week. Be sure to soak all the soil under the tree's canopy each time.
Best Practices for Avocado Tree Care
Giving your avocado tree too much water can backfire. Leaves turning yellow may indicate overwatering (though it could also be sign of a diseased tree). You also don't want to let the roots in a potted avocado tree get too waterlogged, or root rot may set in. Make sure your avocado tree is planted in a pot with a drainage hole. Terra-cotta pots are ideal for avocado trees because terra-cotta is porous and helps draw water out of the soil. Helping the soil dry out between waterings keeps the roots from becoming soggy.
Keep in mind that no amount of water is going to help an avocado tree flourish in a cold climate. They do best in warm and moderately humid places where temperatures don't drop below freezing.