The Q&A Archives: Can I grow an avacado tree in my area?

Question: For the second time I have tried to plant an avacado tree with no luck. I plant a 5-gallon one. This time I babied it, put it in a planter with wheels so that I could roll it under the patio when the temp got to be around 40 degrees, planted in potting soil, etc. My question is, if I wait til spring, plant a bigger tree, plant it in the ground, will it just die again? Should I just give up on an avacado tree? I live in the very west of the San Fernando Valley. It gets very hot, sometimes over 100 or 105 degrees, in the summer and on winter nites can get as low as 35 or 40 degrees.
Thank you,

Answer: You can successfully grow an avocado tree if you choose the right type. Avocados do well in the mild-winter areas of California, Florida and Hawaii. Some hardier varieties can be grown in the cooler parts of northern and inland California and along the Gulf Coast. The northern limits in California are approximately Cape Mendocino and Red Bluff. Avocados do best some distance from ocean influence but are not adapted to the desert interior. West Indian varieties thrive in humid, tropical climates and freeze at or near 32? F. Guatemalan types are native to cool, high-altitude tropics and are hardy 30 - 26? F. Mexican types are native to dry subtropical plateaus and thrive in a Mediterranean climate. They are hardy 24 - 19? F. Avocados need some protection from high winds which may break the branches. There are dwarf forms of avocados suitable for growing in containers. Avocados have been grown in California (Santa Barbara) since 1871.

Avocado trees like loose, decomposed granite or sandy loam best. They will not survive in locations with poor drainage. The trees grow well on hillsides and should never be planted in stream beds. They are tolerant of acid or alkaline soil. 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 leached often to reduce salts.

Here are some of the hardier types of avocados:

Origin James Bacon, Buena Park, 1954. Hybrid. Tree broad, productive. Fruit small to medium, to 12 oz., round-ovoid, smooth green. Flesh only fair, almost colorless,seed cavity molds rapidly. Hardy for Bay Area, Central Valley. To 25? F. Season December.

Origin Orton Englehart, Escondido,1969. Hybrid. Seedling of Reed. Tree open, upright, branching. Fruit medium, to 14 oz., skin green flesh extraordinarily pale,buttery, nearly fiberless. Not alternate bearing. To 30? F. Season April - July.

Origin Bangor (Oroville), 1912. Tree vigorous, open, resists wind. Fruit small, 12 oz., elongated pyriform, waxy green, skin paper-thin. Flesh excellent, oil 21%. Seeds commonly used for rootstocks, resist root rot. Extraordinarily hardy, recovers quickly from freeze, to 22? F. Season October

Origin Atlixco, Mexico, intro. Carl Schmidt, 1911. Hybrid. Tree open, spreading, tall. Fruit large to very large, 16 oz., elongated pyriform, skin dark green with numerous small raised pale spots, waxy bloom, skin thin. Flesh good, oil 18%, seed medium. Formerly standard cv. of California industry. Tends to bear in alternate years, unproductive near coast or in north. To 26? F. Season December.

Origin Albert Rideout, Whittier, 1905. Mexican. Tree tall, spreading, open. Fruit small, to 8 oz., long pyriform, skin paper-thin, pale waxy green. Flesh good, oil 18%. Oldest avocado cv. in California. Quite hardy, for Central Valley floor and far north. To 23? F. Season October.

Origin Riverside, Robert Whitsell, 1982, patented. Seedling of Hass. Tree dwarf, to 14 ft., low vigor. Fruit small, to 8 oz., a Hass look alike, elongated green, flesh good. Most productive of dwarf avocados, best dwarf for outdoor use, also for containers, greenhouse. Not hardy, to 30? F. Season February - October.

Origin Rudolph Hass, La Habra Heights, 1926. Seedling of Lyon. Guatemalan. Tree rather open, not tall. Fruit medium, to 12 oz., pyriform, skin thick, pebbled, coppery purple. Flesh good, oil 19%, seed fairly small. Currently the standard of the industry. To 26? F. Season July.

Origin John Reinecke, San Diego, 1939. Hybrid. Tree upright. Fruit small to medium, to 10 oz., olive green, with long neck, oil 12%. To 26? F. Season June.

Origin George Cellon, Miami, 1919. West Indian. Tree dense, broad, prolific. Fruit round, slightly pyriform, to 20 oz., slightly rough glossy green, oil 12%. Only West Indian type recommended for California, rather hardy, to 28? F. Season April.

Origin R. Lyon, Hollywood, 1908. Central American. Tree columnar, slow growing, difficult to propagate, often scion incompatible. Fruit commonly over 24 oz., dark glossy green, rough, pyriform, oil 21%. High quality. Tender, to 30? F. Season April.

Origin Coolidge, Pasadena, 1910. Mexican. Tree tall and spreading, vigorous. Fruit small, 5 oz., round pyriform, skin paper-thin, purplish black, waxy bloom. Flesh highest quality, seed very large. Hardiest cv. known, seedlings useful as rootstocks in far north. Recovers rapidly from freeze. Defoliated at 20? F, trunk killed at 17? F. Season September.

Hope this information is helpful!

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