Avocado Tree: Transplanting from Jar to New Home

Transplanting avocado tree from jar to pot

From jar to pot in one piece!

A wee avocado tree is a snap to transplant the first time, from jar to pot. All you have to do is take it out of the jar and put it in the pot. Right?

Well, almost.

An avocado tree is fun to grow indoors (unless you’re a cat)

Back in May this year, I posted about growing an avocado tree from seed, and included a couple of videos with minimum conflicting advice. I followed the average of all the advice, hung an avocado seed in a small jar by a trio of sturdy toothpicks, kept it watered and fed and amused, and almost entirely safe from harm. It grew quite nicely (despite a close encounter of the cat elbow kind).

With Mr Avocado Tree (Ms?) rapidly outgrowing his (her?) fourth and final mason jar —the largest one I own— it’s become evident that I need to start buying 5-gallon pickle jars worthy of a country store counter, or get this kid into his own dirt.

The avocado tree does not listen to experts

It is possible to watch too many how-to videos. Read too many advice articles. Listen to too many experienced horticulturists. Try to sort out too many conflicting Thou Shalts and You Absolutely Musts.

That’s the trap I found myself in this morning.

Since I’m still a certifiable newbie gardener, I immediately asked Professor Google how to transplant the avocado tree. Faced with 299,000 results, I gulped down a mug of coffee and settled in to speed-read.

Oy.

So I had to decide to:

  • Wait until it’s three inches tall or
  • Wait until it’s ten inches tall.
  • Don’t transplant until it has three leaves or
  • Wait until it has 20 leaves.
  • Use a very small pot where the roots barely fit or
  • Use a very large pot to give it lots of room.
  • Position the tree so that the seed is above the level of the soil or
  • Position the tree so that the seed is right at soil level.

and furthermore…

  • Make sure to keep the toothpicks on or
  • Snip them off to avoid damage to the seed.
  • Use a mix of vermiculite, soil, worm castings or
  • Use a mix of soil, compost and sand (or many more variations).
  • Water the pot lightly or
  • Water the pot thoroughly and let drain.
  • Fertilize with —

Oh, the heck with it.

I decided to think like an avocado instead.

Avocado falls from tree, bird picks it up or it rolls down hill. Avocado gets stuck in some dirt or rolls into highway. Avocado grows or it doesn’t grow. Probably not if it’s on highway.

Avocado tree being supervised by Wingnut.

Apprentice Supervisor cat reports: Soil is all nicely floofed and patted and pawed and watered.

There’s no flock of wee garden gnomes following avocados around, toting bags of soil amended with vermiculite, worm castings and sand, fur-padded trowels to move the stranded ‘cado into just the right spot without bruising their minute toes, and bottles of specially balanced nutrient rich avocado-tree food.

So I dumped some dirt into a 6″ pot, floofed it up with my fingers and even tossed it a bit in the air (to emulate the effects of a windy hillside, don’tcha know), made a hill of it, took the tree out of the jar, put the tree in the pot, and watered it.

Enough fussing around. If it grows, it grows. If it doesn’t, it’s probably lucky that it won’t have to try to deal with Annie Godzilla Wingnut, my assistant apprentice gardener supervisor cat.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass

Avocado Tree Victim of Ditzy Gardener

Avocado tree is not supposed to lean sideways without wind

Mr. Avocado Tree (Ms?) is not supposed to lean sideways without wind

Dear Mr. Avocado Tree, my humble apologies

While rushing around this morning to make up for a late start, I bumped your home jar and broke off one of your tripod supports (aka ancient soaking-wet toothpick).

Even though I dropped everything and rushed to save you, I still heard little avocado’y gasps of terror as you lurched sideways toward the yawning chasm at your feet (aka the dining room floor).

On any other day, I’d tend to blame Annie ‘Godzilla’ Wingnut the Cat, but I can’t. She was on the floor, glaring up at me in disapproval as my elbow hit the sharp pointy thing on top of the place where plants are supposedly out of reach of the cat but aren’t really.

They’re not safe from ditzy gardener elbows, if today is any indication.

Wingnut the Cat is not an avocado tree killer

Wingnut the Cat has no problem jumping up on that out-of-reach place, slinking through the four-plant jungle with the grace of a jaguar and not knocking a single leaf out of place.

I, on the other hand, am not a jaguar.

So, dear Mr. Avocado Tree, I fear I may have knocked ten years off your lifespan and left you with a lifelong limp to the left. Or right. Or west.

I will continue to care for you with enthusiasm, changing your water every time it turns greenish and gasping with glee each time a new leaf appears to think about sprouting.

Be forewarned, Mr. Avocado Tree

I can’t be sure that my ditzy elbow won’t send you reeling and teetering toward the floor next time. We’ll have to get you planted in dirt soon, so please hurry up and sprout two more leaves so we can follow the directions in the video that started me off with this avocado growing nonsense.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the new jar and tripod. Let me know if you want an Epsom salt soak for that crooked root.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass

 

Avocado Tree Success Depends on Location, Location, and Location

Avocado now has six whole leaves!

Mr. Avocado Tree (Ms?) now has a whole six leaves!

This new avocado tree doesn’t know it yet, but it is destined to be an indoor ornamental attraction.

Although it is doing quite well in its spaghetti jar, and popped its sixth leaf just the other day in a burst of extreme hopefulness, the odds are quite high that it will spend its life in a 18″ ceramic pot near the patio door. In the sunny shade. Indoors. Alone.

With apologies to the dedicated avocado ranchers who struggle to provide a lovely avocado harvest to our local mercado and allow me to make a ton of guacamole if I so choose (which I really don’t), the fruit of an avocado tree needs to come with a warning label:

“DO NOT PLANT THIS SEED if you’re over the age of 30 and do not really intend to grow a lonely fruitless avocado tree in your patio room, or if you live in the mountains or high desert, unless you have kids doing science projects.”

Ok… It’s a bit long. We can work on that.

After starting to grow the avocado seed, and only THEN reading a wealth of information about growing an avocado tree from seed and when to predict the bountiful harvest of its fruit, I know that my future as an avocado baroness with strong ties to the high desert is grim. I would not have built such beautiful dreams if only there had been a warning label.

Avocado trees are suitable for Zones 9 through 11

Avocado trees can grow in the desert! Avocados grow around Los Angeles all the time (among other places, of course—just not this place). This comes as no surprise given where Los Angeles is—in a desert. However, even though it’s a mere 125 miles away, its desert is not my desert. No, no, not at all.

According to the nice folks at University of California’s Agriculture & Natural Resources, “Most areas of Southern California are suitable for avocados except for the mountains and high deserts where it gets too cold and too dry for fruit set.” (We’re in the high desert to which they refer. Just my luck.)

Get yer avocado tree results here!

Get yer avocado tree results here!

That said, their desert differs from our desert in that green stuff grows there all the time—with the help of massive amounts of water, sunshine, patience, proper unlimited growing season, mildly high temperatures year ’round, and time.

Here? not so much.

Out here in the high desert, those who can afford the staggering water bills can make green stuff grow quite handily—possibly even avocado trees. Those hardy souls who can afford the water can also afford the cost of having someone out and grow stuff for them.

For the rest of us without an aqueduct bringing us water, we buy most of our green stuff in the supermarket down the road.

An avocado tree planted from seed takes 5 to 13 years (or more) before they flower and produce fruit

That means I’ll be close to 76 years old when the first flowers show up on Mr. (Ms?) Avocado Tree In a Jar  (if I’m lucky and it’s not “or more” years). I doubt I’ll be doing a whole bunch of avocado harvesting.

Then there’s the fact that avocado trees can reach around 15 feet high by the time they bear their first fruit. Since I’m not likely to grow up to be Pioneer Woman, standing on tall ladders at 90 years old and doing my own roof repairs (since I’m petrified of step stools—and FORGET ROOFS), this is getting less hopeful by the minute.

Managing Expectations is Nine-Tenths of the Job

So Ms. (Mr?) Avocado Tree in a Jar, doomed to squat in lonely solitude next to the patio door in a big ceramic pot: So sorry to disappoint.

But unless your bark comes with a built-in time travel device, and you’re prepared to whisk back to 1973 and join me when I lived in a high-rise in Santa Monica, your future is fruitless. Pun intended.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass