Growing an Avocado Tree
Avocados are an amazing food that are eaten in many different countries. They are native to Mexico and other countries in Central America. The avocado is often considered a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit, or more specifically, it is considered a large berry without that signature sweet taste that usually accompanies berries. Because avocados are used in so many dishes, and are extremely saturated in healthy fats and other amazing nutrients, they can be a bit more expensive than other fruits and vegetables per unit. Many people choose to try to grow an avocado tree from the pit of a store-bought avocado. However, growing an avocado tree can get a bit difficult if you do not know the requirements of the soil and which fertilizers to use when planting it. Organic fertilizers are always best, as they bring no unwanted toxins to your tree, and this is how you find(or make) the right one so that you can have a beautiful avocado tree in your own backyard.
Choosing an Organic Fertilizer for an Avocado Tree
Growing an avocado tree can be a slow process. Most begin this journey by putting toothpicks into the pit and suspending it halfway into water in a cup. From there, roots begin to grow and eventually, the top should split open and a shoot should sprout up. After a while of steady growth, it is time to transfer to a pot with soil. Every plant requires different kinds of soil. Because an avocado tree is native to places with a warmer climate, the soil is suited best for plants that grow natively there. If you are growing your plant elsewhere, you may have to adjust your soil’s nutrient levels accordingly. The USDA has a plant hardiness zone map that will tell you, depending on which zone you live in, which plants are able to survive there with little interference, and which ones may need more encouragement and fertilizer from you. An avocado tree thrives best in zone 9b through zone 11.
Soil in these zones will have different nutrients, many of which an avocado tree absolutely needs in order to thrive and bear fruit. When you fertilize your tree, keep this in mind. You are not making up for anything except for the possible lack of required nutrients for where the avocado tree originates from. If your soil is deficient in what soil in zones 9b-11 may have, you will need to make up for that in fertilizer. That being said, what does an avocado tree need in order to flourish?
Balancing Soil Needs
Once a young avocado tree has grown tall and strong enough to be transferred from a cup of water into a pot, it will need nitrogen-based fertilizers. Usually, people will choose to purchase a citrus fertilizer, as the fertilizing makeup is very similar. When looking for the right fertilizer, a good ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will be 2-1-1. These numbers will be listed on each fertilizer product to ensure you buy the right ratio. Oftentimes an avocado tree also needs a bit of zinc in their fertilizer in order to grow properly, too. However, since your avocado tree may still be small at this point, it does not need a lot of fertilizer, and may only need it once or twice a year. You are not trying to feed the tree directly, but instead are rebalancing the soil if it has an imbalance in nutrients.
Natural and Organic Fertilizers Already in Your Home
There are many amazing organic options for soil and fertilizer for all of your plants that you can purchase at your local plant or home improvement store. However, chances are, you already have a natural fertilizer at your disposal, or can make your own very easily. A couple of natural fertilizers that, when purchased organically from the store, can benefit your homegrown avocado tree are:
- Organic coffee grounds: I think that it’s safe to say that most households have coffee in their daily routine. If you drink coffee, you can utilize the used coffee grounds as a fertilizer for your avocado tree. Coffee grounds have naturally occurring nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which as written above, is what is in every store bought fertilizer. It also contains other nutrients, including zinc. Don’t overdo it on coffee grounds; just a little on the top soil or mixed in can do the trick.
- Compost: While technically not a true fertilizer, if you start your own compost bin, using compost after it has decomposed is a natural way to boost nutrients in the avocado tree’s soil. Make sure the foods that you compost are organic before throwing it in the bin!
Your Avocado Tree will Thank You
Sometimes keeping a plant alive seems to become very complicated. Every plant needs a different watering schedule, different soil, different pots or planting positions, requires different amounts of sun, and different fertilizer. All of the challenges begin to add up, especially if you have plants of different varieties. Growing an avocado tree can get just as complicated. It starts out easy enough; suspending an avocado pit over water, and then it becomes a little more difficult as it grows bigger. Finding the right soil and fertilizer for our little tree does not have to be so difficult. Remember that soil already has the nutrients, but sometimes it may need a little bit of help feeding your tree. If you live somewhere where avocado trees are native, it will probably be much simpler. But if you don’t it is wise to check the nutrient levels of the soil and continue to research if your avocado tree begins to show signs of decline. If you start with the right soil and fertilizer, you are on the right track for a beautiful tree that may one day bear delicious fruit.