Avocados are native to tropical America but are grown in tropical to subtropical areas of the world. If you have a yen for growing your own avocados but don't exactly live in a tropical climate, all is not lost! There are some types of cold hardy, frost tolerant avocado trees. Read on to learn more about them.
About Cold Tolerant Avocado Trees
Avocados have been cultivated in the tropical Americas since pre-Columbian times and were first brought to Florida in 1833 and California in 1856. Generally, the avocado tree is classified as an evergreen, although some varietals lose their leaves for a brief period prior to and during blooming. As mentioned, avocados thrive in warm temperatures and are, thus, cultivated along the southeast and southwest coast of Florida and southern California. If you are a lover of all things avocado and do not reside in these areas, you may wonder “is there a cold tolerant avocado?”
Avocado Cold Tolerance
The cold tolerance of avocado depends on the variety of tree. Just what is an avocado's cold tolerance level? The West Indian varieties grow best in temperatures from 60 to 85 degrees F. (15-29 C.) If the trees are well established, they can survive a short-term minor dip in temps, but young trees must be protected from frost. Guatemalan avocados can do well in cooler temperatures, 26 to 30 degrees F. (-3 to -1 C.). They are native to high altitudes, thus cooler regions of the tropics. These avocados are medium-sized, pear-shaped, green fruits that turn a blackish green when ripe. The maximum cold tolerance of avocado trees can be attained by planting Mexican types, which are native to the dry subtropical highlands. They flourish in a Mediterranean type climate and are able to withstand temperatures as low as 19 degrees F. (-7 C.). The fruit is smaller with thin skins that turn a glossy green to black when fully ripe.
Types of Cold Hardy Avocado Trees
Slightly cold-tolerant varieties of avocado trees include:
These types are recommended for areas that have infrequent below freezing temps between 24 and 28 degrees F. (-4 to -2 C.). You can also try any of the following, which are tolerant of temps between 25 and 30 degrees F. (-3 to-1 C.):
- ‘Booth 8'
The best bet for frost-tolerant avocado trees, however, are the Mexican and Mexican hybrids such as:
- ‘Winter Mexican'
They may take a little more searching for, but they are able to withstand temperatures in the low 20's (-6 C.)! Whatever variety of cold-tolerant avocado you plan to grow, there are a couple of tips to follow to help ensure their survival during the cold season. Cold hardy varieties are adapted to USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, that is from coastal South Carolina to Texas. Otherwise, you probably better have a greenhouse or resign yourself to purchasing the fruit from the grocer. Plant the avocado trees 25 to 30 feet (7.5-9 m.) apart on the south side of a building or underneath an overhead canopy. Use garden fabric or burlap to wrap the tree when hard freezes are expected. Protect the rootstock and the graft from cold air by mulching just above the graft. Lastly, feed well during the year. Use a well-balanced citrus/avocado food at least four times a year, as often as once a month. Why? A well-fed, healthy tree is more likely to make it during cold snaps.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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