Avocado trees are fascinating. Unlike most fruiting trees, which can be either self-pollinating or not, avocado trees are both and neither. Confused? Read on!
Avocado trees flower with a behavior called synchronous dichogamy. Each flower is both male and female, but at different times. Also, there are two kinds of flowers: Type “A” and Type “B”. "A" avocados include Haas, Gwen, Lamb Haas, Pinkerton, Reed, GEM and Harvest varieties. Bacon, Ettinger, Fuerte, Sharwil, Sir Prize, Walter Hole, Zutano, Marvel and Nobel are "B" avocados.
When an "A" avocado flower first opens in the morning, it is female for a few hours and then it closes. The next day, the same flower reopens in the afternoon, but this time it is male. When a "B" avocado flower opens for the first time, in the afternoon, it is female. Then it reopens the next morning as a male. Since a mature tree produces over one million flowers in a season and the flowers open on different days, there is no need for another tree for pollination to occur.
How to grow an avocado tree
Many of us have used toothpicks on an avocado pit with dreams of a productive tree. You can make that dream a reality with these tips (and a lot of patience).
Young trees need to be watered two or three times a week. Water heavily, but let the soil dry out between waterings. By the end of the first year, water once a week. A mature tree will use as much as 20 gallons of water a day during the peak of summer.
Avocado pests and diseases
Common avocado diseases include avocado root rot, bacterial canker, dothiorella canker, leaf blight, phytophthora root and crown rot, stem blight, sunblotch, and verticillium wilt. Avocado lace bugs, latania scale, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, omnivorous loopers, orange tortrix moths, soft scales, thrips, and whiteflies will all be attracted to your avocado tree. Birds and squirrels will join in the feeding fray, so you may want to build a tree cage around part of your avocado tree.
If you have the time and the space, growing an avocado tree in your yard can provide decades of the best guacamole ever!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!