Welcome to our first installment of our gardening advice blog! Our Landscape Pros will be doing their best to demystify dirt, revive your roses and green-up your grass in our new blog series! Of course, we cannot guarantee your results, but hopefully we can put you on the right track and turn your thumb from black to green.
A: Growing any type of fruit tree in a container is tough. The operative word here is “tree.” Trees generally need more root space than most containers can give them, but it can be done! I wouldn’t use a container smaller than a ½ wine barrel- a container with at least 2.5 ft width by about the same depth.
Choose a dwarf-type tree. If a fruit tree is to be kept in a container longer than a few years, it is usually only successful using a dwarf variety. ‘Wurst’ (also called ‘Little Cado’) is a dwarf variety and is sometimes recommended for container planting. This avocado is a hybrid type (a cross between Mexican and Guatemalan varieties) and it is not tolerant of temperatures below 30F. The one advantage to a container grown plant is that you do have the option to move the container to a protected place when the temperature plummets.
You could also consider a ‘Stewart’ avocado for this climate. It is not a dwarf, but it is a smaller, compact tree and tolerates colder temperatures better than the ‘Wurst’. I can speak from personal experience to the success of keeping a ‘Stewart’ in a container for a few years before it required root-pruning and re-potting.
- Avocados like a planting medium similar to citrus. Make sure that it is slightly acidic and drains well.
- Don’t expose your young tree to intense sun during the summer.
- Avocados are very sensitive to salts accumulating in the planting medium, so be sure to flush the salts from the pot periodically.
- Do NOT over-fertilize avocados –especially when planted in containers. Watch for leaf burn, both from intense sun and over fertilization.
- Mulch the surface of the pot to keep the shallow roots cool, while allowing air circulation.
- Don’t expect fruit too soon after planting! It can take 5 years or more before your tree may bear fruit.