The Q&A Archives: Avocado Problems

Question: Our Hass avocado tree, planted about three months ago from a 15 gallon container, was doing very well until several weeks ago about 50% of the leaves began turning brown, starting at the tips and progressing downwards around the edges first and then filling in, downwards toward the stem. The leaves eventually fall off. The tree is in full sun except for a few hours of the day. The tree appears to be dying. Any advice is appreciated.

Answer: Avocado trees are fussy about having well-draining soil. They're also very susceptible to salt burn. The discoloring of the leaves indicates one, if not both, problems. The roots of the tree are concentrated in the top two-feet of the soil. If there's a high water table, or lots of rain, the soil can remain soggy long enough to cause the symptoms you describe. Avocado trees should be watered lightly and frequently. Fertilize lightly, if at all, and flood out salts that build up in the soil about every 4th watering. (Water heavily to leach out salts, making sure entire root zone is flooded.) Avocado trees drop leaves quite heavily all year, and those leaves make a great mulch over the roots, so leave them if possible. Make sure the soil provides adequate drainage for the roots, and that's its not stressed by constant winds. Give it a few more months to establish itself in the garden, and your tree should produce new leaves as the season progresses.

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