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Avocados crave sun and warmth. They’re a tropical to sub-tropical plant that is very sensitive to cold and frost, so you need to live in a USDA plant hardiness zone between 9 and 11 to give your avocado trees a hospitable place to live. That is, unless you’d like to grow your tree in a container.
While they do need full sun, younger trees need some protection from it until they develop dense foliage. And young or old, avocado trees don’t do well in high wind areas. So choose a sunny location that offers some protection, such as in a dip or valley.
Choose your avocado trees to suit where you’ll be planting them. If you have a warm, sunny location in USDA climate zone 9 to 11, you might like the Hass, which is the variety most commonly found in super markets. Perhaps even better tasting is the Reed avocado. Its large fruit doesn’t ship as well as Hass, so it’s not widely grown commercially, but that means it can be a great choice for your home orchard.
The Stuart, Fuerte and Jim Bacon avocados are more cold tolerant than other varieties, and the Mexicola is the most frost resistant of all. The Little Cado is a dwarf variety that makes a nice backyard tree and will also do well in container (you can keep it to 8 to 10 feet tall with pruning). Holiday is the smallest of the dwarf avocado varieties, making it perfect for small home orchards and containers. Even though the tree is small, the fruit is very large and of excellent quality.
Size and spacing
In addition to climate needs, you should plan for the right amount of space for your avocado trees. Our standard varieties can grow 30 feet tall, with a 15-foot spread once mature. Our dwarf varieties will reach 8 to 10 feet in height, though they can be held slightly smaller if grown in a container and pruned.
You’ll want to plant the Fuerte, Hass, Jim Bacon, Mexicola Grande, Reed and Stuart varieties 20 feet away from buildings and other trees. Our Little Cado and Holiday dwarf varieties need slightly less room – plant them 15 feet away from other trees and buildings.
Well-drained soil is a must for avocados. Their roots need a loose, aerated and well-drained home. Compacted soils will hold the roots back from spreading, and that can stunt the tree’s growth and invite root rot. If your soil doesn’t drain well, you can work in sand or other organic gritty matter to help it drain better. Sphagnum peat moss can improve drainage and correct alkaline soil (avocado trees like a soil pH between 6 and 7).