Complete Guide to Growing Avocados

Complete Guide to Avocado Trees

California is famous for its avocados. If you happen to live in California, you will have access to inexpensive avocados in the grocery store year-round. Best of all you will have the opportunity to grow some in your own yard.

There is a wide range of avocado tree heights and widths, avocado tree heights can vary from 12 feet to as high as 40+ and widths can vary from 6 feet to 30+ feet depending on the variety. I provided a height and width chart covering the most popular variety of avocados. This should be helpful when selecting the right tree for your space.

The conditions needed to grow a healthy avocado tree are much like the conditions needed for growing a citrus tree. They will need lots of sunlight, well-draining soil, plenty of water, and a good layer of organic mulch.

There is a lot of information here, so I would suggest using the article navigation to find the information you are searching for.

Article Navigation

Climate for Avocados

Many will say that avocado trees can be grown in any area in southern California, this is mostly true. In higher elevations, typically above 5,000, the winters will get too cold to grow avocados. We have plenty of places in southern California that fall into these areas.

I live near one of these areas, but I am still only at 2,500 ft and in zone 9a. So for the most part I am safe to grow most avocados. Talking to people that grow avocados in my area, they have never lost a tree but have had years that did not fruit well because of frost.

Avocado Cold Hardiness

Best Avocados for Cold Climates

  • Mexicola Grande(Zone 8+) is a Mexican type of avocado that is one of the best cold-tolerant avocados. This avocado tree variety prefers drier weather, making it perfectly suited for southern California.
  • Brogdon(Zone 8+) is a type of hybrid Mexican avocado that is cold resistant and can tolerate wetter climates than most avocados.
  • Duke(Zone 8+) Mexican type of avocado that is cold hardy down to 20° and is highly resistant to root rot
  • Del Rio (Pryor) – (Zone 8+)  A Mexican variety of avocado these trees can handle cold temperatures as low as 15°F and be able to produce fruit the next season. The original tree of this variety is growing in Del Rio, Texas. It’s was reported that in the 1980s the tree was frozen back to the major limbs when 7°F temperatures hit. After this cold freeze, it was able to re-sprout and grow back into a fruiting tree. The original tree of this variety is growing in Del Rio, Texas. It’s was reported that in the 1980s the tree was frozen back to the major limbs when 7°F temperatures hit. After this cold freeze, it was able to re-sprout and grow back into a fruiting tree. ‘Del Rio’ was trademarked as ‘Pryor’ and is sometimes sold as ‘Fantastic’.
  • Opal (Lila) – (Zone 8+) Mexican variety of avocado that performs well in colder regions. Tolerant to temps as low as 15° F.
  • Wilma (Brazos Belle) (Zone 8+)  Cold hardy variety that is better suited to drier climates with less humidity. Variety is sometimes sold as ‘Wilma’ or ‘Brazos Belle’. Cold hardy tp 15 to 18°F.
  • Stewart (Stuart)(Zone 8+) across from the Mexicola Grande, cold tolerant to 20° F
  • Joey – (Zone 8+) cold hardy down to 20° for short periods of time.
  • Bacon – (Zone 9+) A Mexican hybrid that is cold hardy to 24-26°F for periods of four hours at a stretch. Not hardy for long periods of cold weather but a few hours of cold is no problem for this variety.
  • Brogden(Zone 9+) Variety is cold-tolerant for a few hours in the mid-’20s but not long periods of cold.
  • Fuerte(Zone 9+) A hybrid cross between Mexican and Guatemalan varieties Variety is tolerant of light frost. At one time ‘Fuerte’ was California’s industry-standard avocado prior to the introduction of the Hass. Cold hardy down to 28° F.
  • Winter Mexican(Zone 9+)a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid that is cold hardy down to 25° with short periods as low as 20° F

Avocado Mature Size/Cold Hardiness and Pollinator Chart

VarietyHeightWidthCold HardinessPollinator Type
Zutano30-40 ft.18-20 ft.26° FB
Winter Mexican20-25 ft.10-15 ft.20-26° FB
Stewart25-30 ft.10-15 ft20-22° FA
Sir Prize25-35 ft.15-18 ft.32° FB
Reed 20 ft. 10-12 ft.32° FA
Pryor/Del Rio 25-30 ft.10-15 ft.15-18° F A
Pinkerton 30 – 40 ft.20 – 30ft.30° FA
Opal ( Lila)15-20 ft.8-12 ft.15-22°F A
Mexicola Grande25-30 ft.15-20 ft.20-22° FA
Lamb Hass15-20 ft10-15 ft30° FA
Joey25 ft20 ft15-18° F B
Holiday12-15 ft.15 ft.30° FA
HassUp to 35 ft. 5-8 ft.32° FA
Gwenup to 15 ft.up to 6 ft.30° FA
Fuerte30 – 40 ft.25 – 35 ft.28° F B
Carmen Hass20-25 ft.10-12 ft.30° FA
Brodgon 20-30 ft.15-20 ft.24° FB
Bacon20 ft.15 ft.24-26°F B
Wilma (Brazos Belle)20-25 ft.20 ft.15 to 18°F. B
Wurtz (Little Cado)10-15 ft.10-12 ft.32° FA and B
Tonnage30-40 ft.10-12 ft.20-21° FB
Choquette30 ft.20 ft.25° FA

Varieties of Avocados


  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Frost-sensitive at temperatures below 32F and less heat tolerant than some other avocado varieties.
  • Tree Size: Up to 35 feet and about 20-25 feet wide
  • Fruit:  high-fat flesh and medium-large fruit that has a creamy texture and nutty flavor. Thick textured skin that turns from dark green to black when the fruit is ripe.  
  • Bloom Time: February to May 
  • Harvest: in 12 to 14 months, the following April through September. Fruit that is ready to harvest is from the previous year’s flowers.

Carmen Hass

  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 30°F
  • Tree Size: A medium-large tree growing 25- 30 feet tall and 10-12 feet wide. The foliage will be dense in this variety.
  • Fruit: Excellent flavor and high oil content similar to Hass. Pebbly thick skin that turns black as the fruit ripens; fruit is a bit smaller than Hass. 
  • Bloom Time: It has two distinct blooming seasons, one in spring and often another in late summer.
  • Harvest: Fruit ripens from November through the following September/October

Lamb Hass

  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Frost sensitive below 30°F and more heat-tolerant than Hass.
  • Tree Size: 15-20 ft. tall and 10-15 ft. wide. The Lamb-Hass is a cross between a Hass Avocado and a Gwen (semi-dwarf) Avocado. 
  • Fruit: Very similar to the Hass, a bit more difficult to peel than the traditional Hass.
  • Bloom Time: Late winter to spring
  • Harvest: 12-18 months. Fruit ripens from the following year, April to November. The Lamb Hass takes even longer than Hass to ripen and actually can give you Hass-type fruit later in the year than just having a Hass in the yard.


  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 30F
  • Tree Size:  Grows 30-40 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.
  • Fruit: Produces an early heavy producer of fruit that has a rich nutty flavor very similar to a Hass, The skin of the fruit is moderately thick and pebbled and will remain green as the fruit ripens.
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Harvest: November to April
  • Note: Pinkertons are will not produce well without having a Type B pollinator in close proximity.  


  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 10-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Frost sensitive below 32F
  • Tree Size: Matures to 20+ feet and is about 12 feet wide. Some trees have reached a height of 37 feet.
  • Fruit: Produces fruit about the size and shape of a softball with slightly pebbled thick skin. The flesh is extremely buttery and has an excellent flavor. Most fruit will weigh over 1 lb., making it one of the largest avocado fruits.
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer
  • Harvest: Summer, from flowers the year before. Takes 12+ months for the fruit to mature.
  • Additional Info: Requires less water than most avocados to produce quality fruit. Making this variety well suited for southern California backyards.

Mexicola Grande

  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 8b-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 20-22°F, can handle short periods as low as 18°F once quite mature.
  • Tree Size: Typically reaching 25-30 feet high and 15-20 feet wide. Some examples have reached heights of 40 feet or greater, under ideal conditions. 
  • Fruit: Produces large fruits that will weigh close to one pound each. The skin is leathery and dark green changing to black when ripe. The fruit has a nice nutty flavor and has a large pit.
  • Bloom Time: Mid-spring to early summer
  • Harvest: August to October
  • Other Unique Facts: Mexicola Grande is the most cold-hardy of the Type A pollinators. I

Opal (aka Lila)

  • Flower/Pollination: Type A 
  • Zones: 8b/9-11
  • Tree Size:  15 to 20 feet in height and 8-12 feet in width on average. This smaller size makes it a good choice for containers.
  • Cold Hardiness: 20 to 22°F  and as low as 15°F for short periods
  • Fruit:  Medium-size, pear-shaped fruit with a rich and nutty flavor that skin will remain green when ripe. 
  • Bloom Time: Later winter through spring
  • Harvest: July to November

Stewart (Stuart)

  • Flower/Pollination:  Type A
  • Zones: 8b-10
  • Cold Hardiness: 20-22°F
  • Tree Size: growing to about 20 to 25 feet tall and 10-15 ft wide
  • Fruit:  pear-shaped fruit with a very creamy, nutty-flavored flesh. The skin is thin leathery and turns dark purple to black when ripe. Fruit should be picked before completely rip because the tree will drop the fruit that is ripe very easily.
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Harvest: October to December


  • Flower/Pollination:  Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold HardinessSensitive below 30°F
  • Tree Size: grows to a maximum height of 12 to 15 feet tall and width of 15 ft. forming a distinct weeping canopy. The tree is considered a Semi-dwarf making it a good variety for potting.
  • Fruit: Has large oval fruit that remains green when ripe. Has medium oil content and a good flavor.
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • HarvestSeptember to January.  

Pryor/Del Rio (Fantastic)

  • Flower/Pollination:  Type A
  • Zones: 8-11
  • Cold Hardiness15 to 18°F
  • Tree Size: grows to about 25 to 30 feet high and 10-15 feet wide
  • Fruit: Small fruit with medium to olive green thin skin. The flesh has a mild flavor that is creamy and contains a decent oil content. 
  • Bloom Time:  Winter through late spring
  • Harvest: August to November
  • Other Unique Facts:  Pryor/Del Rio variety is described above. The “Fantastic” avocado trees are grafted onto Pryor rootstock most of the time but not always. If the “Fantastic” is grafted onto Pryor/Del Rio it will exhibit the same characteristics that are described here. If the “Fantastic” avocado tree uses a different variety then the cold hardiness will be unknown.


  • Flower/Pollination: Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 30°F
  • Tree Size: Considered a dwarf avocado variety, it grows to a maximum height of around 15 feet and a width of about 6 feet. Makes for a good container tree or for small yards.
  • Fruit: In regard to fruit texture and flavor it is very similar to Hass. Has a nutty and buttery flavor but is slightly less creamy. Skin is thick and pebbled which turns dark green when ripe rather than black. Also, fruit tends to be slightly smaller than Hass.
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Harvest: the following May- September.


  • Flower/Pollination:   Type A
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 25° F
  • Tree Size: 30 feet in height while and 20 feet wide
  • Fruit: Skin is a smooth dark green and fruit tends to be large
  • Blooming Time: Late winter through spring 
  • Harvest: October – January


  • Flower/Pollination: Type B
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Cold hardy down to 28°F.
  • Tree Size: 30-40 feet in height and 25-35 feet wide
  • Fruit: Large oval-shaped fruit that remains green when ripe. Fruits have an easy to peel leathery skin. Fuerte has a creaminess and excellent flavor.
  • Bloom Time: May to November
  • Ripens: November to April
  • Fun Fact: The Fuerte is used commercially to cross-pollinate Hass trees. This makes it the second most popular commercial avocado variety.


  • Flower/Pollination:  Type B
  • Zones: 8b-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Hardy down to 24-26°F
  • Tree Size: 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide
  • Fruit: Large green fruit with a thin skin. The skin will become darker green as the fruit becomes ripe.
  • Bloom Time: Late winter into spring
  • Harvest:  December through February 

Sir Prize

  • Flower/Pollination: Type B
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness:  32°F. 
  • Tree Size: Grows to a height of 25 to 35 and a width of 15-18 feet when fully mature. 
  • Fruit: Fruit has a nutty flavor and creamy flesh. The fruit will turn black as it ripens. Fruit is like Hass but with larger fruit and a smaller pit.
  • Bloom Time: Spring to Summer
  • Harvest:  winter to early spring.
  • Fun Facts: Sir Prize has the largest fruit to pit ratio of any commercially available variety. Also, the fruit tends to withstand oxidization better than most, so no more brown avocados!


  • Flower/Pollination:  Type B
  • Zones: 8b-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 26°F
  • Tree Size: 30- 40 feet in height and 18-20 feet in width when mature.
  • Fruit: Like Fuerte in appearance with a thin green skin that remains green when ripe. Zutano fruit is rich, creamy, and more flavorful than many other avocado varieties
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Harvest: October to February

Winter Mexican

  • Flower/Pollination: Type B
  • Zones: 8b -11
  • Cold Hardiness: good down to 26° F and as low as 20°F for short periods
  • Tree Size: Typically, 20-25 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide. Some specimens have reached 40+ feet.
  • Fruit: Fruit is like Hass but slightly smaller and produces earlier 
  • Bloom Time: Mid-spring to early summer
  • Harvest: November to January 


  • Flower/Pollination:  Type B
  • Zones: 8b-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 24°F
  • Tree Size: Mature trees reach 20-30 feet in height and 15-20 feet in width. The tree will maintain a very upright and dense canopy.
  • Fruit: The fruit’s flesh will be very buttery and yellow. Making this the best avocado for guacamole. The fruit is quite large, with smooth skin that will turn a dark purple when ripe.
  • Bloom Time: Mid-spring to early summer
  • Harvest: August to November


  • Flower/Pollination:  Type B
  • Zones: 8b – 11
  • Cold Hardiness: as low as 15 to 18°F for brief periods of time
  • Tree Size: Grow to 25 feet or taller and 20 feet wide at maturity
  • Fruit: Considered a “heavy producer” of small egg-shaped fruit. The thin skin is dark purple to black, and the flesh is described as flavorful and nutty. 
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Harvest August to October
  • Tip: The Joey variety produces well by itself (without a cross-pollinator)

Wilma (Brazos Belle)

  • Flower/Pollination:  Type B
  • Zones: 8-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 15 to 18°F.
  • Tree Size: The tree reaches 20 to 25 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide when mature.
  • Fruit: Long and narrow medium-sized fruit, with a rich nutty with a thin green skin that turns purplish-black when ripe. 
  • Blooming Time: Winter to spring
  • Harvest: October to November


  • Flower/Pollination:   Type B
  • Zones: 8b-11
  • Cold Hardiness: 20-21° F
  • Tree Size: 30-40 feet in height while 10 to 12 feet is average and 8-12 feet wide
  • Fruit: Skin is dark green, slightly rough, with some yellow streaks. The flesh is buttery and mild with a nutty flavor.
  • Blooming Time: Late winter through spring 
  • Harvest: August- September

Wurtz (Little Cado)

  • Flower/Pollination:  Both Type A and B
  • Zones: 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness: Frost sensitive below 32F
  • Tree Size: a maximum of 10 to 15 feet in height while 10 to 12 feet is average and 8-12 feet wide
  • Fruit: Produces good-tasting small to medium-size fruit. The fruit has a fairly thin skin that remains green as the fruit ripens. 
  • Blooming Time: Late winter through spring 
  • Harvest: May- September

Avocado Pollination

To obtain the maximum amount of fruit on an avocado tree they will need to pollinate with a different variety with a different pollination types. Avocado tree pollination types are referred to as A or B. The commercial avocado farms, most produce Hass avocados. Hass is a type A and will produce more fruit if there is a type B pollinator in proximity. So, most farms will plant Fuerte trees, type B, in with the Hass trees.

While commercial farmers are looking for the highest yields and will plant A and B type trees to get this. That does not mean that you need two trees to get fruit. Because most varieties will produce well without having a cross-pollinator close by.

Soil Conditions for Avocados

Avocados will grow in almost any soil. While sandy loam is the best soil, avocados will grow well in clay soils if they drain enough to prevent standing water. Avocado roots need a decent amount of air contact, soil waterlogged, and compacted soils may be an issue.

Planting an Avocado Tree

Most varieties will need at least ten feet by ten feet space to be happy and productive. There are smaller varieties that can be used in smaller growing spaces. Some varieties will get quite large so you should keep the mature size in mind when picking the place, you plan to plant your avocado tree.

In Southern California, you can plant an Avocado tree almost any time of the year. While spring is often referred to as the best time that is not necessarily true. The greatest selection of trees at the local nursery is usually available in the spring but many will get trees in again in the fall. Fall is also a great time to plant an avocado tree. You are past the heat of summer and the weather will be cooler and wetter at this time of the year. When planting later in the year may need to keep a better eye on the weather and cover the young tree if there is a chance of frost.  

If you have sandy soil or very well-draining soil dig a hole slightly larger than the size of the root ball and as deep. Remove the pot carefully as the roots are sensitive. It is often best to cut the pot off the root ball to lessen the risk of damaging the root ball. If the roots are growing in a spiral pattern, score the root ball on 4 sides with a razor knife. Scoring the roots will encourage them to grow outward instead of continuing to grow in a circular direction. Place the top of the root ball at the same height as the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with native soil, it is not recommended to amend the soil.

If you have clay soil the avocado would benefit from being planted above the level of the surrounding soil. This can vary from a few inches to a foot or two, depending on the drainage of your existing soil. Never plant an avocado tree where it is possible for water to pool around the base of the trunk. If water is allowed to pool the tree roots will likely rot and the tree will die.

Most trees will come with a stake tied to the stalk. NEVER leave this stake attached after planting. This stake is there to keep the tree from bending and flexing while in transport. The longer this stake is attached the weaker the trunk will become. Just think of a limb that is in a cast for a long time and how the muscles atrophy, same for the tree. If the tree is strong enough to remain upright in minor winds, remove the stake and you are good to go. If the tree cannot support itself, place two stakes on opposite sides and support the trunk with flexible material. The Stakes and supporting material can be removed in a year or less. When the trunk is allowed to flex and move it will become stronger.

Never use landscape fabric around the base of your avocado tree. Landscape fabric will prevent the tree from growing feeder roots to the surface of the soil. Avocado trees keep most of their roots at the surface of the soil and need adequate access to air. If weed control is your concern, heavy layers of mulch will help control weeds and greatly benefit the health of your trees.

Mulching Avocado Trees

A thick layer of mulch will do wonders for the success and health of your avocado trees. You can use any organic mulch, but a layer of coarse wood mulch or wood chips is ideal for avocado trees. After planting a layer of mulch 5 inches thick and four feet in diameter is ideal. When the tree gets larger the layer of mulch should go one to two feet beyond the dripline.

Avocados love the layer of organic material that mulch provides. But in heavy or clay soils it will the difference between a healthy tree or a dying one. The mulch will allow the roots to grow between the heavy soil and the organic matter allowing access to air and above excess water. Additionally, the mulch will provide disease-suppressing enzymes and micro-organisms

Such a mulch covering the soil is loved by all avocado trees, but for those growing in loam or clay soils it may mean the difference between life and death because it allows the roots to proliferate just under the mulch where there is much air and where there are disease-suppressing enzymes and micro-organisms.

Watering Requirments

Watering is going to be critical to the success of your avocado tree. Avocado trees love water but do not like to be waterlogged. This is especially important if you are dealing with clay soils.

After planting you will want to make sure the area where the tree is planted is wetted well as well as several feet beyond. You are going to want to make sure the area remains water but not waterlogged.

The two best methods of watering your avocado tree will be to use drip tubing or micro-sprinklers. I prefer to use a drip line with emitters. My soil is clay, and I can wet the soil well with these. If I had fast drained soil the micro-sprinklers like the Micro-sprinklers from Dig would be the best option.

Avocados can be watered with drip emitters, but they often do better as they get older, especially in hotter inland locations, on sprinklers. Any kind of sprinkler that waters most of the ground under the tree’s canopy is acceptable. One of my favorites is this DIG micro-sprinkler that comes with different spray and spin patterns.

So how much and how often do you water? There really is no simple answer to this. You will need to check the soil periodically to see is it is wet or dry. Clay soils like mine hold the water for a long time, even longer with a heavy layer of mulch. So, I initially thought I would need to water deeply several times a week. But I am only watering once a week currently and may need to go to twice a week once it gets hot. If you have sandy soil, you will need to water more often.

When it comes to how long to water, it is best to water less often but water deep.

Fertilization Needs

If you maintain a thick layer of mulch under your trees you may never need to add commercial fertilization. The decaying organic material will add nutrients back to the soil. But if you feel your tree needs some additional fertilizer you can apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer as directed by the manufacturer.

Pruning an Avocado Tree

Avocados only need pruning for a few situations. One is to keep the tree balanced and shaped evenly. Another is to maintain the desired size and height.

Minor pruning can be done year-round. But the best time to prune is in February so that the tree has an opportunity to grow foliage back to shade any exposed areas.

Most people do not know the avocado tree bark is very sensitive to sun exposure and can burn if left exposed, especially in summer. If limbs or trunks are going to be exposed, they should be painted with white latex paint diluted by 50% with water.