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Avocado is a great plant to grow indoors, and outdoors, and many people love to plant it in their homes and gardens. Unfortunately, sometimes, the avocado plant starts to dry out, so what can you do about it, and how to prevent it?
To prevent Avocado from drying out you should:
- get yourself some suitably sized clay pot (indoors)
- choose the right soil
- water it correctly
- check for fungus
- look for damaged roots or roots that have begun to decay
- fertilize it accordingly
Let me first note that minor tip burn on avocados is no big deal. More specifically, if less than about ten percent of a tree’s canopy is brown (dead), there should be no reduction in fruit yield. In other words, if a tree has only a little tip burn, it will still produce as much fruit as if it had perfect foliage. I’ve seen this happen on my trees many times.
Why does more than about ten percent leaf burn cause a reduction in yield? It’s because when the season for flowering begins (usually in late winter), the tree will drop those damaged leaves and grow new ones rather than do much flowering. Few flowers equal a few fruits.
Regardless, below we will go into details about every one of these problems that could be the reason why your avocado tree or shrub is drying out.
Get yourself some suitably sized clay pots for growing Avocado
Get yourself some suitably sized clay pots, they should be big enough so the plants have room to grow in, have good drainage holes in the bottom (remember you can always easily drill your own or add more if need be) and transfer the plants into them.
Pots made of plastic are about the worst material used for pots when taking into account the effect pot materials can have on the overall health of a plant. There are used by growers, nurseries, etc for a number of reasons, the main one being they are so cheap.
If your avocado tree is going to grow in a pot all its life, choose a 15-gallon pot with drainage holes in the bottom right from the start. Terracotta is a good choice.
Good drainage is key to good growth. Avocado trees have a relatively shallow root system. If fully saturated for more than two days, the roots will rot and the plant will die. Loose and sandy, but fertile soil that provides excellent drainage is important. Ask for light potting soil, like a mix for cactuses, at your garden center. To help drain excess water away, you can also lay some stones at the bottom of the pot before filling it up with soil.
Choose the right soil for growing Avocado tree
Generally speaking (unless you are blessed with amazing outdoor soil), using soil directly from the garden isn’t suitable for pots, containers, hanging baskets, etc. It’s too “heavy”, doesn’t contain enough air, etc.
Instead, get yourself a bag of “high quality” container soil mix, or create your own. Something like this, “A good general-purpose container soil mix formula” would be a lot better for your containers (& plants contained within) than your garden soil.
Water your Avocado plant correctly
Keep in mind, no water coming out the bottom of the pot (via its drainage holes) could also be a sign you’re not giving the pot (plant) enough water when you are watering.
When watering, add water slowly until it starts coming out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, then stop. Then wait until the water stops coming out of the drainage holes, when that happens, start again adding water slowly until you once again see water coming out of the drainage holes. The soil is now saturated and your container plant has been watered thoroughly and properly.
Do not water again until the soil is dry, but not completely dried out. Your indoor conditions are very much going to determine how long this takes to happen. An easy and simple method of checking if it’s time to water is (without the use of a moisture gauge):
- Stick your index finger fully into the soil, when you pull it out, the very tip of that finger should feel slightly moist and have a little bit of soil stuck to it. If that occurs, you do not yet need to water that pot (plant).
- On the other hand, if that is not the case, that is, you pull out a dry and clean fingertip, it’s time to water, using the method given above.
This part is for outdoors and indoors as well.
Sometimes, there is a lot of chloride in your water that can cause your avocado plant drying out. So how to solve that problem?
The one good thing about chloride is that it moves with water. Because of this, commercial farmers primarily manage it through leaching, as can we home gardeners. By leaching, I mean that they overwater on purpose so that the extra water will carry the chloride that has built up in the soil down deeper into the soil, so deep that it is below the reach of the tree’s roots — and therefore no longer able to affect the tree.
It has also been my experience that avocado trees do better as they get older if watered by sprinklers rather than drip irrigation. (Young avocado trees do fine on drippers.) This doesn’t seem to be the case with trees I’ve seen close to the beach which never experience intense heat and low humidity, but inland it seems to make a difference.
Check for fungus
The fungus is the most serious avocado disease in California. Fungus thrives in excess soil moisture. Over‐irrigation and poor drainage and may attack trees of any size or age.
The absence of feeder roots prevents moisture uptake so soil under diseased trees stays wet. Diseased trees may set a heavy crop of small fruit but will decline and die, either rapidly or slowly.
The fungus can spread by contaminated nursery stock, water in contact with infested soil, shoes, cultivation equipment.
Control measures for fungal diseases are to use an integrated approach of prevention, culture, treatment. Plant on soil with good internal drainage; avoid over‐watering; use clean nursery stock, preferably certified disease‐free; use resistant rootstocks; prevent soil or water movement from infested areas
Discard infected soil, if you find evidence of fungus. Allow the exposed roots to dry out, which will help kill the fungus. Replace with clean, well-drained potting soil. Apply powder or granular antifungal treatment to the new soil may also help eliminate the infection. Distribute the antifungal evenly throughout the soil. Use gloves while working with the antifungal and avoid inhaling the powder. Replant the avocado into a pot that has drainage holes, adding a layer of gravel or small rock to the bottom of the pot to increase drainage.
Look for damaged roots or roots that have begun to decay
Look for damaged roots or roots that have begun to decay if there is no evidence of fungus. Before replacing the soil, allow wet roots and wet soil to dry. Replace the soil around the roots and water sparingly. Extensive root damage to the avocado may not be reparable.
Fertilize Avocado accordingly
Your avocado, as with most houseplants, will need to be fed. Fertilize the plant every three months with a small amount of water-soluble food to facilitate growth and healthy deep green foliage.