Avocados can become very large trees, and once they are established, they need little care. The type of avocado in the Houston area should be the Mexican type. The way you can tell if you have a Mexican avocado is to take a leaf and crunch it up. Then smell it. If it smells like licorice, then it’s a Mexican avocado. A Mexican avocado look very similar to the Haas avocado you buy in the store. They have thin skin that is first green and turns black when it’s ripe. Most avocados are grafted onto Lula avocados which is the big, green avocado. The Lula seed is very large and produces an easy to graft stem, but it is not very cold hardy.
Mexicola Grande Avocado
Mexicola Grande, Don Juan, Brazos Belle, Joey, Poncho and Wilma avocados are cold hardy, but they can be damaged by a severe freeze especially when they are young. Plant your tree so that the graft union is below ground level to protect the Lula rootstock. You can also mound additional soil around the trunk of the tree to help it survive even if the top part of the tree is killed. Water the tree prior to an expected freeze. You can also cover young trees with a blanket or a tarp for severe weather. Also, using a heater might help. After the tree has matured, it will become hardier and should withstand temperatures of 22-25 degrees.
When avocado trees are young, they need to be grown in a pot and in a shady area in order to protect the trunk from getting sunburned. You can also use stakes and burlap or shade cloth 2’ or so higher than your tree. Once the trunk turns brown, then avocados can be grown in the direct sunlight.
Don Juan Avocados
Avocados do not like “wet feet.” They die easily if they are left standing in water so they need to be planted in a well-drained area. Choose a location that is protected from the cold such as a south or southeast side. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot and 2” or so deeper than the depth of the pot. Place the tree in the center of the hole and fill the hole half full of loose soil. Then, fill the hole with water and once the water has diminished, then fill the remainder of the hole with soil. Make a small moat around the tree approximately 2” high. Water when it is needed so it does not dry out. Mulch with a 2” layer of pine bark mulch.
They are also sensitive to sodium because sodium will make the tips of the leaves turn brown. To remedy this situation, avocados need to be given large amounts of gypsum at the base of the tree. Gypsum is slightly soluble, so a lot of gypsum is needed to replace the sodium withcalcium in the plant. By adding gypsum, the new leaves will not be brown, but the old leaves will not change.
Generally, it is best not to fertilize an avocado tree the first year it is transplanted. After the first year, then fertilize with a balanced 8/8/8 to 13/13/13 as the tree grows. To remember to fertilize, fertilize on last week of January, Mother’s day, and Father’s day, To make it easy to remember, just use a time-release fertilizer.
Mexican avocados bloom around January-February, and the fruit matures in seven to eight months. There are two types of Mexican avocados -Type A and Type B. Type A has female flowers in the morning and male flowers in the afternoon. Type B is just the opposite; it has male flowers in the morning and female flowers in the afternoon. For fruiting, this factor is important when avocado trees are young, but when the trees are older, they apparently develop both types of flowers in the spring.
The following Type A and Type B trees grow well in this area:
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