Leggy Avocado Plant – Why Is My Avocado Tree Leggy

Leggy Avocado Tree Sprouting From Seed
leggy avocado
(Image credit: Daria Fomina)

Why is my avocado tree leggy? This is a common question when avocados are grown as houseplants. Avocados are fun to grow from seed and once they get going, they grow rapidly. Outdoors, avocado trees don’t begin to branch out from the central stem until they reach heights of about 6 feet (2 m.).

It isn’t unusual for an indoor avocado plant to become spindly. What can you do about a leggy avocado plant? Read on for helpful suggestions for preventing and fixing leggy avocados.

Preventing Spindly Growth

Why is my avocado plant too leggy? Trimming is an effective way to encourage the tree to branch out, but before you grab the shears, be sure the plant has optimum growing conditions in the sunniest window in your house.

Avocado plants grown indoors require a lot of direct sunlight, otherwise, they’ll stretch to reach available light and the spindlier the plant, the more you’ll need to trim it. If possible, move the plant outdoors during the summer. Also, be sure the pot is wide and deep enough to accommodate the growing tree. Use a sturdy pot to prevent tipping and be sure it has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Fixing Leggy Avocados

Trimming a leggy avocado plant should be done in fall or winter, before spring growth appears. Avoid pruning the plant when it’s actively growing. To prevent a young plant from becoming weak and spindly, trim the central stem to about half its height when it reaches 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.). This should force the plant to branch out. Trim the tip and uppermost leaves when the plant is about 12 inches (31 cm.) tall.

Pinch the tips of new lateral branches when they are 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) long, which should encourage more new branches. Then, pinch new lateral growth that develops on those branches and repeat until the plant is full and compact. It isn’t necessary to pinch shorter stems. Once your avocado plant is established, an annual trim will prevent a leggy avocado plant.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.