The avocado is a bulb or pear like shaped fruit which is actually a berry with a single seed surrounded by a thick fleshy coating. This coating is the prized part of the avocado fruit that has been renowned for its healthy fat content and distinctive taste.
The largest sized avocado fruit comes from the Pollock: A vigorous spreading West Indian type with an oblong to pear shaped fruit that weighs up to 2.27 kg (5 lbs). The fruit can range between 2.5 to 6inches in diameter and up to 7 inches in length.
Avocado trees are tall evergreen trees with large, forest-green leaves and low-branched open canopies. Branches can start from the base between 4 to 6 feet from the grown with lush green elongated leaves. Although not typical, avocado trees can shed their leaves and grow a fresh set once every two years.
The avocado (Persea americana Mill) belongs to the family Lauraceae. Which is a flowering species of plant which has a worldwide distribution in tropical and warm climates. The Trees can grow heights ranging between 4 – 15 metres (13 – 80 feet) and dwarf varieties can grow between 4 to 8 feet.
Avocado fruit are covered with either smooth or rough textured skin and some varieties turn brown when ripened while other varieties such as the west Indian pollock turn pale yellow when ripened.
How to Know When the Fruit is Ripe or Ready to be Eaten?
The fruit doesnt ripe on the tree as you may think. Instead they are picked or harvested when they are mature and then given between 2 to 3 days before they are ready to be eaten.
When harvested, the fruit is hard and green (West Indian pollock) after a few days it starts the ripening process and the skin starts to turn a pale yellow color. The best time to cut the avocado fruit is when the texture of the outer layer slightly softens.
Too Much pressure will damage the fruit and turn the inside darkish green, when testing for ripeness, so you have to be gentle when doing this.
How Long does it Take for an Avocado Tree to Bear fruit?
An avocado tree planted from a seed may take five to 10 years to reach maturity and begin producing fruits however dwarf or grafted trees may take between 3 to 5 year before they start producing fruit.
Although from research, it is said that it takes 3 to 5 years for a grafted avocado to bear in my experience I have found some varieties such as the pollock, can take less than two years to bear and can do it in a very confined space and sold.
From experience, avocado trees produce just a handful fruits when they start off and as the years progress, they begin to produce more and more.
Depending on the variety and weather conditions, the age of bearing fruit may vary between plant varieties.
How can an Avocado tree to Produce More Fruit
Avocados trees are self pollinating or self fertile and do not necessarily need another tree when it comes to bearing fruit. Avocado trees however,come in both male and female varieties and having both male and female plants can increase the pollination rate and hence produce more fruit.
Male and female avocado varieties are placed into two groups; A and B varieties based on their flowering pattern.
Group A: Flowers open in the morning (at approximately 6:00 a.m.) as female, close at approximately noon and reopens the following day during the afternoon as male
Group B: Flowers open at noon as female, close at approximately 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon and reopens the next morning as male flowers
During the morning period Group B pollinates Group A and during the afternoon Group A pollinates Group B.
Having these two groups of plants around greatly increases crop production and this is what avocado farmers employ to increase the crop yields for maximum profit.
Can Avocado Trees Grow Indoors When Potted?
Avocado trees can grow indoors. Although dwarf varieties of the avocado plant may not produce as much fruit as a normal tree, dwarfing avocado trees has made it possible for farmers and home growers to bring the trees indoors especially in temperate climates where the weather conditions have temperature that goes below 35F . These temperatures can kill the avocado tree.
The average height of a dwarf avocado tree can be between 2 to 3 meters or between 4 to 8 feet when grown in a pot and still produce normal sized fruits. The tree can also grow larger than this in some cases when planted in the ground.
When potting an Avocado tree you will have to apply fertilizer nutrients and water more regularly than the trees planted in the ground since they are in a closed environment.
Potted avocado varieties require the same balance of nutrients for growth as the outdoor, earthed avocado plants which is basically a 10:10:10 ratio of NPK fertiliser with the necessary trace elements included and should be applied not directly to the base of the tree but around the canopy, twice a year.
Potted avocado trees are specially formulated to grow in small areas and replanting a seed from a dwarfed tree may not produce the same dwarf result as the parent avocado tree. In order to get another dwarf avocado tree you will have to graft or air layer a shoot unto another tree.
Although the tree can be grown from a seed and start off in a small growing container of about 6 to 10 inches in diameter, the final pot size should be adequate enough to hold the plant when it reaches adulthood.
The recommended pot size should be between 24 to 36 inches in diameter to provide ample space for roots to grow. The pots should be outfitted with holes at the bottom of the pot to maintain proper water drainage out of the plant pot.
Growing an Avocado Tree from the Seed
Avocados trees are simple to grow. The tree can be germinated from just one seed placed partially submerged in water. The avocado seed like other plant seed has the necessary nutrients stored within the seed for initial growth. After two weeks roots can be seen growing out into the water.
- Remove the Seed from the Avocado –
This can be done by cutting a ripened avocado with a knife. Be gentle and ensure not to cut into the seed while doing this.
Propagating Avocado Seeds
- Position the Seed Properly –
The Position of the seed is important because the seed will produce roots at one end and a plant shoot at the other. Usually the pointy end it the plant shoot and should be placed upwards.
- Supporting the Avocado Seed with Toothpicks –
Here you may have to use 3 or 4 toothpicks depending on how heavy the seed is. Now pierce the Avocado seed with the toothpick at a slightly downward angle so that when placed on the holding jar, the seed sits partially submerged in the water.
- Place the Avocado Seed in Water –
The seed is placed in a clear jar or container of water with the seed sitting partially into the water. The seed should be sited near an area with moderate sunlight.
This to ensure that the seedling gets the energy it needs when it does shoot out. The water quality should be monitored and changed if there is any sign of fungal growth.
- The Wait – Usually 3to 6 weeks for sprouts
Have you ever planted a red bean in a moist napkin? Well this process is similar to that and the seed will go through similar changes and eventually dry out as it ages. The roots will start to emerge and then the shoot after which it’s all uphill from there provided that it’s not neglected.
- Pot the Seedling in Nutrient Rich Soil –
When the seedling is about 2 to 3 inches tall it can be potted. The seedling can be potted in a pot of about 6 to 10 inches in diameter outfitted with drain holes. A potting soil mixture can be used.
Add the potting soil into the pot to about halfway without compacting it. Then add the seedling and top up the soil until it reaches the base of the seedling. The soil is not compacted to ensure that there is adequate aeration for the plant.
- Place the Plant in Moderate sunlight and watch it grow.
Alternatively, if you have avocado trees like I do, you will notice small trees growing at the base of the parent tree.
This is because not all the fruit stays on the tree until maturity. Some fruit falls to the ground and rot and become new avocado plants themselves.
This is an easy way to get new plants if you already have trees in your yard.