Fresh, ripe avocados are a treat just as a snack or in your favorite guacamole recipe. Their rich flesh is a source of vitamins and good fats, a filling repast that is good for you. Gardeners lucky enough to have homegrown fruits may find that an avocado has no flowers. While not a common problem, it does happen. How to get flowers on avocado trees? The problem may be cultural, environmental, related to tree age or pollination issues.
Why Avocado Won’t Flower
Avocado trees are classed as A and B types or determinate and indeterminate. Each tree has both male and female flowers on it, but pollination occurs best if there is another avocado nearby. When there are no blooms on avocado plants, determining the reason starts with a full examination of the tree and its health.
Plenty of natural and cultural conditions can cause failure to bloom. Often, it is simply a matter of waiting, as a grafted tree can take up to 4 years to fruit well and a tree grown from a pit may take 12 years or more.
When an avocado tree doesn’t bloom, all you can think about are the lost delicious fruits that you could be enjoying if you could cure the condition. Avocados are usually grafted onto hardier rootstock from another related variety. This promotes better fruiting and generally carries with it traits like some resistance to pest or disease, or even a better tolerance for cold. Be sure your variety is suitable for your region.
If it is, check the growing requirements for the plant. As a rule, avocados like plenty of sun, temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 C.), well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5, and moist but not boggy soil. If any of these cultural requirements are not met, an unhappy avocado may respond by aborting or failing to produce flowers.
Other Reasons an Avocado Tree Doesn’t Bloom
Once you have established that the growing conditions are all being met and you have a healthy tree, other considerations must be raised. It is perfectly natural for young avocado trees to drop flowers their first or even second year.
Avocados need a chilling period to promote flowering and fruit. They need to experience temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 7 C.) during the dormant period. The temperatures need to be fairly consistent for several months. A sudden cold snap could affect flower production. As buds are forming, a late freeze can kill these and cause them to die and fall off.
A common mistake is pruning at the wrong time and taking too much wood from the tree. Avocados don’t need much pruning, but removal of more than a third of the wood, especially terminal ends, can remove the bud wood. However, light pruning can enhance circulation and light penetration, encouraging budding.
Over feeding a tree, especially with nitrogen, can also contribute to no blooms on avocado.
How to Get Flowers on Avocado
In addition to good regular watering and care, sometimes you have to get drastic to cause the tree to bloom.
Root pruning can be used to shock the tree into blooming the next growing season. Use a sharp spade and make cuts just into the soil at the edge of the tree’s root zone. Basically, you are making a dotted line around the edges of the root area to remove the feeder roots.
A rarely used and not often recommended method is scoring the bark. It is a rather risky move, as any injury to the trunk invites potential pest and disease invasion. Use a small, sharp, sterile knife and cut a line half way around the tree on the lower part of the trunk. On the opposite side, a bit farther up, cut another identical line. The lines should never meet or the vascular tissue will be girdled.
When an avocado has no flowers, it is often a matter of proper care and some patience. Another note – some varieties produce in alternate seasons. Wait a year before you panic and see what happens.