Avocado transplant question:

mangledmind(AZ 9B)April 4, 2010

Hello,

Just picked up some nice looking avocado trees from Lowe's on T-Bird and 101. Approximately 4-5' tall nice and green, 3/4" trunk. (1) Haas & (1) Mexicola Grande.

According to some of the research I've done, it is recommended to keep shaded on top and west sides, and paint trunk with water based WHITE paint, but for how long (maturity wise) I cannot find answers for.

The planting guide states, FULL SUN. But I'm leary ...

Was wondering when/if I should move them in/out of the shade?

Are they OK to plant in full sun right now? If not, When?

I would really like to put one in the fro yard and one out back...

Thanks

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thisisme(az9b)

Many of us have killed avocado trees here in Arizona. I was writing and writing about how to keep your trees alive. Then on a whim I did a search and found a perfect reference so I deleted it.

Follow the link.....

Here is a link that might be useful: How Not To Kill Your Avocado Tree

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:54PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

Thank you thisisme, I had read that information before purchasing. And the writings from Julie Fink as well. Also several info sites on the different genus of the avocado and it's history since it's discovery. One thing that is bothering me is that the planting and care guide supplied with trees contradicts what I've read. And none seems to want to share at what age is the plant okay to plant in direct sunlight ...

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:55AM
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thisisme(az9b)

Well the planting and care guide that comes with the tree do not account for our extreme weather. Growing up we had a tree in Northern California planted on the north side of the house and it did well. Of course our humidity was 50 points higher and the summer temps were in the 80's. Things are different here in Arizona. Avocado trees can get fairly big. I would consider a tree that has been in the ground 2-3 years to be mature.

By the way I killed an holiday avocado tree. I had it planted on the north side of my house here in mesa. The heat and sun still killed it even though it was in the shade most of the day.

I have wanted to grow PawPaw's too but would have to build a sunscreen enclosure for it until it becomes mature. If you don't want to go to all the trouble needed to keep the avocado trees alive return them because there is very little chance they will live otherwise. Every year I walk by some really nice avocado trees under the shade-cloth canopy at my local nursery and just keep on walking. I killed one and don't want to go through the expense and trouble of doing whats needed to keep them alive till they mature.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 4:14PM
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wabikeguy(7 AB)

Manglemind, I'm nursing along a little Cado (A Haas on dwarf rootstock) here in Havasu. It has put on new growth, but looks looks thin and not real robust. It's in a raised bed, is under shade cloth, and I protect it from the wind. Even so, I will be suprised if it survives.

Since planting it I have read of a varity called Lula, from Hatii, which is supposedly heat and salt tolerant. When this one dies, I may try one of those.

I have to agree with thisisme. Instead of wasting a year or two on a tree that is ill suited to our climate, soil, and water conditions, if I had it do do over again, I would take it back.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 7:42PM
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greenthumbjeff(Zone 9 - Gilbert, AZ)

The planting guide and care instructions that come with fruit trees from most nurseries and hardware store garden centers are written for average conditions (aka the rest of the country).

It's unfortunate that a lot of the plants they sell do not actually grow well here in Arizona. It's a good thing that most offer a 1 year guarantee.

You definitely want to keep these trees shaded especially during the hot summer months. The soil is also critical. It must drain well.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 1:21AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

nice site link and it gives some good basics. But for those of us in VERY sunny locations, I agree that shade is needed.
At first for the likes of Avo's and mangos. I recomend a 50% shade cloth for 2 years as the best cover. I have used something as simple as a tree stake with an old umbrella tied to it so it shades the worst 2 hours of the day. I also like to but just a little white clover seed around the planting hole so that it grows as a "nurse" crop, and helps shade the base of the tree and shade ground. It doesn't get to big and it helps put nitrogen in the ground too.
The other big cautions is that it is easy to think "well, it's hot so I'll just use more water" but that can spell death to avo's, as it will quickly lead to root rot. Keep it moist, yes, but don't let it get wet.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 6:27PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

@wabikeguy -

I'm hoping they survive, but as others and yourself have stated, I'm not holding my breath. They are currently still potted in their nursery containers under our backyard ficus. I'm still debating.

If these two die off, I will try the Lula.

@ greenthumbjeff

"...aka the rest of the country..." You got that right... It seems the rest of the planet has NORMAL growing conditions ... lol :)

The 1 year guarantee is a blessing. I agree with the lack of common sense that some nurseries have about our zone. I wish they would carry more that are adapted to our zone, especially some of the exotics.

@ softmentor -

The white clover idea sounds like it would work well in the veg garden as well. Acting as a natural mulch?

Was wondering about the shade cloth: you mentioned 2 years, is that 2 years maturity or 2 years from date of transplant?

And how can I tell how old these trees are? From my OP, they are 4-5' tall now...

Thanks ...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:25AM
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thisisme(az9b)

mangledmind first two years means first two yeas in the ground. Once the trees have both reached a minimum established size and a large root system they will be fine in full AZ sun.

There may be another alternative. Have you thought about putting them in 25 gallon or larger pots and leaving them under your ficus?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 1:10PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

The white clover idea sounds like it would work well in the veg garden as well. Acting as a natural mulch?
Yes it does, but for most garden plants it is too much competition to plant close. It does make a good "green manure" or rotation crop. Trees, like avo, grow taller and so the clover works well when close. And avo roots and clover root tend to work at different depths so they don't compete quite as much.

Was wondering about the shade cloth: you mentioned 2 years, is that 2 years maturity or 2 years from date of transplant?

Mainly the first and second summer after planting. This gives it time to develop size which then creates some of it's own shading, and a good root system that can support the tree better through the stress of very hot days.

And how can I tell how old these trees are? From my OP, they are 4-5' tall now...

A typical nursery tree will be on root stock that is one year older than the graft. If your avo is 4' including the container, it was likely grafted 1 years ago. If it's 4' + from soil level, it is likely 2 years since the graft.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 3:08PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

@ thisisme -

2 years in the ground, thanks ...
as for the "surrogate" ficus, it had crossed my mind. Not sure how large the root ball would have to get before fruit production, but the 25 gallon pot idea sounds great. Plus it would solve a "space" issue I have around the ficus, I cannot plant in the ground around it because of a flagstone patio ...

@ softmentor -

thank you for the clover tips, I may use them in my next rotation.

the avo in ground timing makes sense ...

thank you for the age definition ... could find it online ...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 12:59AM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

Well the Mexicola Grande is toast, this last bit of heat turned the leaves into burnt toast. :( gonna move the Haas indoors, I think it will fair better in a controlled environment.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:46PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

--sigh-- well, it was a noble try. They are tough to get going. There are a few in P'x and Indio, but it seems everything has to be absolutely perfect to get them established. I tried and failed 2 times before I got them to take hold.
good luck with your Hass. Remember, they are VERY frost tender so will always need protection even from those little early morning nips.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 3:16PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

We painted the trunk with tree white after we potted them in 25 gal containers and located them under our "surrogate" ficus for shade, so the trunk looks ok as do some of the branches, but all the foliage is so crisp that it turns to dust when touched.

I'm wondering if the Mexicola will come back if we prune back the dead crispy foliage and move it indoors too?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 5:23PM
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phxplantaddict

Avacados do grow here. Shade first 2-3 years in ground. DO NOT FERTILIZE. Heavy mulch, 6-8 inches deep. Do not let mulch touch trunk. North side of house is best. Plant right up against building for winter cold protection. Do not repot, they do not like their roots disturbed.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 10:44PM
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wabikeguy(7 AB)

My Little Cado (Dwarf Haas) planted in the ground is still living. It is completely under 50% shade cloth. I planted it against a rock wall with hay bales on the other sides to protect the lower trunk from the heat and wind. It is alive and putting on new growth but it's growth rate is something less than spectacular. Still a thin and spindly looking little tree.

I had a volunteer fig tree come up a foot or so from it. I'm going to let that little fig tree remain, as I fully expect the avacado tree to die this year.

If anybody reading this has had success with an in ground or potted avacado tree here in Arizona (or south eastern California), I'd sure like to hear about it.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 7:40PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

well wabikeguy, we got 2 of them in the house now, they shed all foliage outside and are now finally starting to bud new leaves and stems. Gonna leave these 2 indoors for awhile.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 12:26AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

wabikeguy - well, I've killed 4 in 2 attempts, and am on my third try. As I have looked around the Coachella Valley (Yes it's even hotter than Phoenix summers) I have seen about a dozen growing big enough that I can see them above the yard walls and fences. All have considerable protection from the wind. So, as I say, you have to do everything perfect to get them established, but they can grow.
also here the wind comes from the NW so the east side of the house seems better than north, for wind protection and shade in the afternoon.
mangledmind - keep the faith! --smiles his jolly smile--

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 10:52PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

Thanks softmentor, I'll get some pics of the new growth in the morning and post a share.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 11:14PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

As promised, here are the pics of the recovering Haas and Mexicola:

(note the paint job by our oldest boy, 20 yrs old, who obviously is no Picasso)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 2:04PM
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