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Growing Avocado in Florida

Scientific Name: Persea americana Miller

Common Names: avocado, avocado-pear, aguacate (Spanish)

Origin: Avocados originated from tropical America. However, we have three ecological races: Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian.

Climate: Avocado best grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In Florida, commercial growers can be seen in Miami-Dade and Collier Counties, however, isolated trees are in warm locations throughout the State. In general, avocado likes warm areas such as the southeast and southwest coasts of Florida. If you leave in south Florida, West Indian varieties are best adapted to a tropical climate and frost-free areas of subtropic. Mexican and Guatemalan x Mexican varieties can tolerate cold climates better than West Indian varieties.

Varieties: Cold tolerant varieties: Brogdon, Tonnage, Lula, Marcus, Hall, Monroe, Reed, Brookslate. Recommended for home planting: Donnie, Dupuis, Simmonds, Nadir, Russell, Brogdon, Monroe, Brookslate, Reed, Booth 7

Propagation: Avocado must be propagated vegetatively (grafting). Cleft grafting and veneer grafting are two preferred methods in Florida. The best time for grafting is during cooler months from November through February. Typically, seedlings of ‘Lula’ and ‘Waldin’ are used as rootstocks in Florida.

Fertilizer: Young trees should be fertilized every 1 to 2 months during the first year. You can start with ¼ lb of fertilizer and increase it to 1 lb per tree. For older trees, 3 or 4 applications per year in amounts proportionate to the increasing size of the tree are sufficient. One available fertilizer mix for avocado is 6-6-6-2 (N- P- K- MG).

Irrigation: Newly planted avocado trees should be well watered every other day for the first week. Mature trees should be watered more often during prolonged dry periods.

Pest and disease: One of the major diseases of avocado in Florida is Laurel Wilt (LW). Early symptoms of LW are green wilted canopies which are particularly suspect if the symptomatic tree is located next to or near a completely desiccated, declining or dead tree. Other pests and diseases include avocado root rot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, avocado scab. Insects that may also impact trees include avocado looper, scale, red mites, and borers.

Laurel wilt disease of avocado. LW symptoms also include, brown, desiccated (dead) leaves that cling to the tree and do not drop for up to 12 months.

Pest and disease management: The best practices to avoid disease are to grow scab-resistant varieties, planting trees in well-drained soils, and scouting the tree during the year.

For more information please read avocado growing in the Florida home landscape.