Grow a tree in the garden or in a pot for your own supply of this tasty and versatile fruit
Learn how to grow this delicious fruit. Image: Alamy
Weight for weight, avocados contain more potassium than bananas and are also packed with vitamins, meaning they’re full
of both goodness and flavour.
Very easy to grow, avocados, Persea americana, are great evergreen shade or feature trees. Native to Central and South America, they grow up to 20m.
Grafted cultivars vary in size, but some have a spreading habit and reach 10-12m high, so they’re only suited to big backyards. Smaller cultivars
reach 4-6m and are ideal trees for small gardens and even large tubs.
Did you know?
The avocado has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries. The Aztecs called it the testicle tree, no doubt because of its dangling pear-shaped fruit.
Californian growers ran an ad campaign in the 1920s, deliberately denying the fruit was an aphrodisiac. This bit of reverse psychology worked well and since then the ‘avodisiac’ has never looked back.
How to grow
You can buy potted avocado trees to plant from nurseries for $40 to $80.
POSITION in a sunny spot, protected from strong and salt-laden winds.
SOIL must be well-drained, rich, deep and friable with a pH of 6-7.
DIG the planting hole twice as wide as the rootball. Add organic matter like cow manure or compost to the soil from the hole before backfilling. Don’t disturb the roots, and plant so the soil level is the same as it was in the pot.
WATER regularly, especially during summer, to produce more fruit.
MULCH with lucerne hay or pea straw, keeping it clear from the trunk.
FEED young trees three times a year with a fertiliser with added nitrogen. Feed mature trees yearly in spring with a fertiliser for flowers and fruit.
Water avocado trees regularly, especially during summer, to produce more fruit
If an A and a B group tree are planted, they’ll cross-pollinate and each produce more fruit. But most grafted cultivars self-pollinate, so in a small yard you can get fruit from one tree, especially in
a temperate climate.
WURTZ, A GROUP Reaching 4-6m high, it produces medium fruit with dark-green skin.
HASS, A GROUP Bears black-skinned fruit that stores on the tree for months. A tall spreading tree, this popular cultivar likes frost-free climates.
BACON, B GROUP Upright and vigorous, it bears a medium fruit with light-green skin. Good for cool climates.
FUERTE, B GROUP Suits cool climates and makes a great shade tree for a large garden. Bears small to medium green-skinned fruit.
This fruit has an interesting sex life. Split into two categories, the flowers of Group A open as female in the morning, then close and re-open as male the next afternoon, while Group B’s flowers open as female in the afternoon, then close and re-open the next morning as male.
Plant in pots
The cultivar Wurtz can be grown in a large pot at least the size of a wine barrel. Choose a premium potting mix with an Australian Standard label.
Stand the pot on feet so that drainage is not impeded and water the tree regularly, especially during hot summer days when pots can dry out quickly.
Harvesting the fruit
Avocados don’t ripen until picked, so you don’t have to harvest them all atonce. When the fruit is fully formed, pick one and, if it ripens indoors within 7-10 days without shrivelling, they’re ready to be picked off the tree.
In the kitchen
Great to eat fresh or cooked, avocados are a versatile food to have on hand.
MAKE guacamole by mashing 2 ripe avocados. Add 1 finely chopped medium tomato, 1 finely chopped small red onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste. Serve with corn chips.
STUFF halved avocados with chopped chicken, a chopped spring onion, goat’s cheese and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Top with a slice of tomato and bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.
MASH a boiled egg with mayonnaise, chopped parsley or coriander, and avocado, and use as a sandwich filling.
A very popular way to eat avocado is in a guacamole salad. Image: Thinkstock