Please help me not kill Avocadro
October 16, 2010 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Keeping my avocado tree happy over winter: please help a not-very-experienced plant owner.

We sprouted three avocado pits (it takes a heck of a lot longer than you'd think, doesn't it?) One of them never thrived when we planted them. The other two grew well; we put them in pots, re-pot them as they grow, keep them outside during summer (3/4 of the year) and bring them inside for a few months when it gets colder out. We typically only water it if the leaves look dry.

Last year, when they were two years old, one of them just died while inside. The leaves suddenly yellowed and fell off, and it never came back in the spring. The other lost a few leaves, but not many, and has been quite healthy-looking since March.

So we only have the one left, now 3 years old. I'd like to do right by it this winter. I don't know what happened last year (and googling at the time didn't help much) so I'm not sure what to do differently this year. I'm not really much of a gardener, so please be patient and use small words :)

The leaves are starting to turn yellow. Do avocado trees usually lose their leaves in fall? They have not in the past. It's getting cool early this year, so we can go ahead and bring it inside if we should, but it's still getting into the 80's in the day and only down to the high 40's at night occasionally, otherwise 50's or 60's.

Since one died inside last year, should we just leave it out all winter? We typically get about a month of high70's/low30's, with a week or so of low 20's temperatures.

I've read my state agricultural extension page on avocado trees ( but it seems focused on a) knowing what kind of avocado you have, and b) planting in the ground in the right climate. It also seems to contradict info I found elsewhere, so now I'm really confused, but still don't know what to do with Avocadro for the winter.
posted by galadriel to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anecdote re growing avocados in Melbourne (especially in the surrounding hill areas). Bit hit and miss, as it is a little cold for them. My dad grew an avocado (not sure if he started with pip or small plant) that ended up taller than the house. It would drop its leaves over winter (most of them). If outside, it needs to be in a sheltered spot and when it is still quite young, it would probably like some additional shelter over winter (eg.create a barrier around it with stakes and heavy clear plastic.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:19 PM on October 16, 2010

My experience in growing avocados from pits is that they can get stressed out easily. From transplants, insufficient/inconsistent watering, changes in soil or water quality, any number of things. But mine have bounced back after some tough times, so I think they're pretty hardy if you respond right away. I would suggest keeping your plant indoors over the winter to avoid the 30s/40s outside at night. Also, try watering more regularly and thoroughly. I dunno what your water quality is like, but if it's hard or has a lot of salts in it, that stuff might be building up in the soil of your plant. Really run some water through the soil at least once in a while, instead of just watering lightly.

Coincidentally, I also call my three avocados (also sprouted from pits a few years ago!) my Avocadros.
posted by illenion at 12:24 AM on October 17, 2010

I'd especially agree with illenion regarding watering. I think it's important to make sure the water is really permeating the roots, because not watering enough can also cause 'stress' as the roots stretch out looking for water they can't find. I would add that it's also important to keep them well lit - especially as they first come inside they're going to go into a bit of shock - both in terms of temperature and in terms of light - I'd recommend that you get one of those fancy daylight bulbs and put it on a timer.
posted by armisme at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2010


We often get rain several times a week, usually at least one storm a week, and everything I can find says that avocado trees need soil that doesn't stay soggy and drains well. When it's outside, I'm usually worried that it's getting too much water.

The various sources I've found say that they either go dormant in winter and shouldn't be watered at all, or should be watered lightly only during winter. Are you guys saying that your experience suggests that I should ignore this?

AnnaRat, what's "still quite young"?

So maybe I don't need to worry about it shedding its leaves now, but should bring it inside when the temperatures do start getting into the "really" cold range. And get it a daylight bulb. Okay. I think this may be the last winter that we can bring it inside, though; last year it could stay on the counter (only just barely) but this year it's going to have to be a floor plant. Next year it may be too big to come inside.
posted by galadriel at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2010

I keep my watering habits the same all year 'round, and my plants are doing just fine.
posted by illenion at 10:30 PM on October 19, 2010

I appreciate it; that's good to know.
posted by galadriel at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2010

I have one that'll be going on its second winter this year (this is in North Carolina). Last winter I kept it inside near a sunny window, watered it when it started to droop slightly, and it didn't lose any leaves. This winter, it's a lot bigger and it has been repotted, and we'll see how it does.
posted by statolith at 11:16 AM on October 21, 2010

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