Avocado trees are not precisely as high-maintenance as other trees, but there are specific approaches that high-maintenance growers take to ensure the best fruit possible. What’s more, if you’re growing your avocado tree from seed rather than transplant, it’s important not to upset the natural balance of moisture in the soil since this can be fatal to a young sapling.
Reasons for Cutting Top off your Avocado
There are a few reasons why you might want to cut the top off your avocado tree. This can be done when the tree is young or mature, but it’s best to do it when you have time and good weather.
It Has Disease or Pests
Cut down your avocado tree if it has illness or pests like mites or borers to stop their spread. If you’re not sure if your tree has disease or pests, leave it alone to avoid spreading issues to other plants in your garden.
You Want More Fruit
If all of the fruit on an avocado tree ripens at once and you don’t have enough room to store them indoors without damaging them from overripe conditions, then cutting off the top half of the tree will help prevent this problem from happening again next year.
The important thing is that you don’t try to cut too much off at once, especially if there are no leaves on the branches yet.
How to Cut Off your Avocado Tree
Many home gardeners have a beautiful avocado tree in their yard that has grown too tall. Many homeowners want to cut the top off their avocado tree to make it shorter and easier to manage.
Ripen the avocado by placing it on a plate and covering it with plastic wrap for about one week. The fruit should be soft when gently squeezing it between your thumb and forefinger.
Trim off the lower leaves of the tree to reduce its height, if needed. Use scissors or pruning shears to remove any leaves hanging below the bud union of the trunk and branches. This will allow sunlight to reach the top of the tree more efficiently so that new growth can begin at once.
Cut all but two or three branches at 45 degrees with pruning shears, loppers, or a saw to reduce the tree’s height by one-third. Cut back everything except your new apex; leave these branches for support until new shoots develop from your branch tips. Remove diseased, dead, or dying branches here.
Pros and Cons of Cutting the Top off Avocado
Pros of cutting off your avocado tree
- You can grow a new avocado tree from the pit or use it to grow another tree in another location
- It will stop you from wasting water on an unproductive plant that isn’t bearing fruit
- It will allow you to plant other fruit trees in their place or possibly even citrus.
- The energy going into the avocados will now be redirected towards growing other fruits
Cons of Cutting Off your Avocado
Cutting off the top of your avocado tree is not recommended. The top is where the fruit is produced; if you cut it off, you will lose the ability to gather any fruit from that tree.
The only exception is if a large dead branch hangs over your house or other structure. If a large dead branch is hanging over your home and the weight of it threatens to cause damage, then cutting it off might be worth doing.
However, some cons come with cutting off avocado trees:
- You lose the ability to gather any fruit from that tree
- If it already has fruit on it, which most do, then you will have no way of getting those fruits when they fall off if they don’t fall off first.
- If you have multiple avocado trees in an area where they can cross-pollinate with each other, then removing one will make it more difficult for them all to produce fruit
Factors to Consider when Cutting Off your Avocado
You can cut the top off if you have an avocado tree too large for your home or garden. A few factors should be considered when cutting off your avocado tree, including the size of the tree and whether there is enough space for the remaining branches to grow.
Consider these factors before you cut off your avocado tree.
The age of the tree
You can cut it back to about 20 inches above the ground if it’s young. If the tree is mature, you’ll need to leave at least 30 inches of the trunk to form a new shoot from which fruit can grow.
The health of the tree
Avocado trees that are diseased or damaged by pests may be more likely to decline after they’re cut back. In these cases, it’s better to wait until next year to prune so that new growth has an opportunity to establish itself before being pruned again.
The size of your yard
Cutting back an avocado tree for smaller yards isn’t likely to cause any problems. But if your yard is large and there’s plenty of room for the new growth, leaving more than one-third of the trunk intact will allow you to prune more aggressively next year without harming the plant’s overall health.
Avocado trees are difficult to cultivate and manage, and their trunks grow too huge, heavy, and awkward. If you want a little avocado tree that can be kept indoors, you can chop the top off as long as you leave at least six inches of green growth below.
Before cutting off the top, leave a long green growth on the bottom if you want a large avocado tree outdoors.