Avocado Tree Success Depends on Location, Location, and Location

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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

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