Tip How to grow avocado tree in clay soil to prevent root rot fungus

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Mark, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Avocado is one of the great fruit trees but it can be notoriously difficult to grow in places where the soil is heavy (particularly clay based).

    Avocados love free draining soil more than any other fruit tree (that I know of) they don't like to dry out either - it's just that don't like wet feet whatsoever. Avocados like humus rich soil (rain forest settings are perfect), volcanic soil, and sandy soil with lots of organic matter. In any location where the soil is naturally like described above, avocado trees thrive and grow fast.

    Common practice for growing avocados in clay soil is to build a mound and plant the young avocado tree above ground so when the tap root grows down it doesn't end up permanently in wet clay and then develop root rot leading to a slow death.

    However, often people (myself included) do not build the mound high enough or the dirt pile sinks/erodes over time and the sensitive tree roots end up still in the clay or exposed. To overcome this problem I have considered growing my avocado trees in large pots (dwarf varieties) but until now I have persisted with the mound technique. I have two trees growing OK...ish.

    Over the past 18 months I have been admiring a property down the end of my street who have been growing an avocado in a large used tractor tyre and the growth has been completely amazing! The video below shows this fine example of how to grow an avocado tree in clay soil successfully - I only wish I had thought of this myself 6 years ago after 4 failed avocado trees. :)

     
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    Good info there, I just planted a Dwarf Avocado, I built up a mound and I have good soil for the first foot, but i'm not sure what's under that.

    So, are you on the look out for some tractor tyres now? ;)
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I just got a dwarf avocado yesterday :cheers:

    Yes, tractor tyres or possibly build a square raised bed out of sleepers... :dunno: Maybe I could get a free tyre from the dump?
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    I absolutely love avocados so this will be one tree (or more) that I will look at one day when I own some dirt.
    How big do you think a pot would have to be to grow one of these in it? (just wondering)
    I just don't think my landlord would be too happy with a tractor tyre in their maintenance-free garden bed. (or the wife for that matter) :(
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Avos are such a healthy fruit and as we know they cost a fortune to buy but a backyard tree will produce lots of fruit. My grandparents had a Hass avocado in Toowoomba and it grew so FAST and produced so much fruit we never had to buy them for years!

    In South Africa avocados are sold for a fraction of the price here comparatively. One of the reasons is how many trees are growing privately and in park lands so it makes for an abundance of fruit.

    Avos do grow well in pots and actually make good indoor plants - a dwarf variety would be best and I'd go at least a 45cm pot or bigger. But, to get any serious fruit from an avocado tree it's best to grow in ground. As I said, avocados (in the right soil and conditions) grow fast so waiting until you have your own plot will have you producing fruit soon enough after planting anyway if you decide to hold off.

    Or, get that tractor tyre just to see your landlord's face drop :ROFL:
     
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  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    A fellow YouTuber (Carol Ann) made me aware of this excellent fact sheet resource for growing avocados:

    http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/119739/avocado-growing.pdf

    In this PDF they recommend metalaxyl granules as a way to help prevent Phytophthora root rot. I haven't heard of this product before so I might try and get some for my trees since this fungus/disease is prevalent in our area.

    It also mentions how to plant avocados and in particular to use lots of compost to simulate the rich forest floor where avos originate from as a way to improve performance.
     
  7. Wade Morgan

    Wade Morgan Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark, great video,

    We have successfully grown this avocado in the pot from a seed, i now want to plant it on the side of the slope which is clay soil.

    Being that it is on a hill, could I plant it in a hole with drainage pipes coming out of the hole to drain the water or plant on a mound as directed in the video?
     

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  8. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi Wade,
    Well done on growing the tree from seed! I'm a big fan of growing stuff from scraps (eg celery, leeks etc). If you have time, do read the info sheet from the NSW DPI that Mark posted. It's got lots of great detail.
    I'd still follow Mark's advice and perhaps use something to retain about a metre of "ideal" soil for the avocado tap root. Even though you should have reasonable drainage on that hill.
    Without putting a dampener on your enthusiasm, you should probably be aware of a few peculiarities about avocados (and apologies if you know all this and I'm telling you how to suck eggs.) Most commercial growers will grow both an "A" and "B" type of avocado, as the fruit yield is optimised this way. Therefore your avocado seed (if from a store bought fruit) is likely to be a combination of say Hass (A type) and perhaps "Bacon" (B type). The resulting seed is a hybrid, and it's productivity will be hit and miss. So you might never get a great yield, even under perfect conditions. (This isn't important if you're doing the exercise to grow a tree from seed and don't care too much about cropping.)
    Because your seed is likely a hybrid, even if it flowers, you'll do better if you follow commercial growers and have a second tree for it to cross fertilise with. But it will be difficult to know what tree will be best, because the flowering habit of your hybrid will be unknown.
    Sorry to sound like a "negative Nancy" - but if it's avocado fruit you're after, it's one of the rare occasions where buying a grafted variety from a nursery is better. If you're just after a nice tree, go for it!
    Now mangoes...that's a different story, and you should be able to grow a poly-embryonic like Kensington Pride from a seed. (If you have the right climate!!)
     
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  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Welcome Wade!

    Yes, everything that OskarDoLittle said.

    Also, I have made another avo growing video that might be helpful:
     
  10. Jenny

    Jenny Active Member Premium Member

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    I started an avocado from seed and its now about 30cm tall, planted in a small container. At what plant height would it be ok for me to plant it out into the garden and what season will be best to plant it out? Also, since we have hot summers here, will it be best for me to plant it in a spot with partial shade, like for instance next to my fig tree? Or will it be okay to plant it in a spot where it gets direct sunlight for the whole day?
     
  11. Cathy

    Cathy Member Premium Member

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    I got a large inner plastic drum from a washing machine at my dump for my icecream bean tree and so far it has been great. Was cheap and I have tape I am going to use to wrap it to help keep it from deteriorating in the sun and protect the roots. If it thrives I will invest in a better planter when it needs potting on.

    I just get concerned about chemical leaching from tyres. Road grime and petro chemicals are not my fav garden ingredients
     

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  12. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Using the washing machine drum is a very good idea Cathy.
    However, do you know how big your ice cream bean will get?:eek:
    They are a tree that easily gets to 15m wide and 10m high.
     
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  13. Cathy

    Cathy Member Premium Member

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    Lol.. yes I know they grow huge.... but I'm a renter and want to take it with me when I move. I did see one that had been in a pot for three years and it did well so I figured nothing ventured nothing gained. The plant was $20 and the pot $5 so worth taking a gamble!
     
  14. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Plant it out at any time really once it's established and growing well in the container. Say a foot or two...

    Avos do well in partial shade initially when it can grow and eventually get full sun but it still will need some good sun for it to grow well otherwise plant it in full sun and perhaps protect for a year two with some shade cloth through summer.

    You may have to wait a long time before you see fruit though... Unless you intend to graft onto the rootstock.
     
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