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How to Grow Avocado — Persea

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Persea–commonly called avocado–is a tropical tree that grows to greater than 60 feet (18m) tall. It also is grown as a foliage plant indoors.

Persea is a rapid grower in tropical and subtropical regions. It produces dense shade. Persea is an evergreen that drops leaves throughout the year. Persea terminal shoots can be trimmed or pinched to shape the plant. Persea grows well in containers and can be moved indoors if temperatures turn cold. For best growth, the minimum temperature should not fall below 55° to 60° (13°-16°C).

There are three types (called “races”) of Persea americana, edible avocado, Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian; Guatemalan is most hardy and West Indian most tropical. The Mexican type produces the largest fruit.

Persea is a genus of about 150 tropical trees, many grow to taller than 60 feet in their native habitat. Persea is native to Southeast Asia, Micronesia, and tropical and subtropical North and South America.

Get to know Persea 

  • Plant type:  Evergreen shrub and trees
  • Growing zones and range:  Zones 8-11
  • Hardiness:  Tender, miniumum temperature of 55° to 60° (13°-16°C).
  • Height and width: Grow 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8m) tall; 30 to 40 feet (10-12m) tall and 20 feet (6m) wide outdoors
  • Flowers:  Yellow-green leaves 1/2 inch across, followe by blackish blue fruit
  • Bloom time:  Summer
  • Uses:  Garden tree, houseplant
  • Common name: Avocado 
  • Botanical name:  Persea
  • Family name:  Lauraceae
  • Origin:  Southeast Asia, Microesia, tropical North and South America
Avocado fruit, Persea americana
Avocado fruit, Persea americana

Where to plant Persea 

  • Light outdoors: Plant Persea in full sun outdoors.
  • Light indoors: Give Persea direct light; insufficient light will cause spindly growth. 
  • Soil outdoors: Plant Persea in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Use an all-purpose soil mix for repotting. 

When to plant Persea 

  • Set container-grown Persea outdoors in spring or fall.

Planting and spacing Persea 

  • Space  Persea 20 feet (6m) apart.

How to water and feed Persea 

  • Water: Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet and soggy. 
  • Feeding: Fertilize Persea once a month throughout the year. 

Persea care  

  •  Protect Persea from strong wind, since the banches are brittle.
  • Mature plants may require staking. 

Growing Persea as a houseplant

  • Give Persea direct light, insufficient light will cause spindly growth.
  • Provide a warm temperature and medium humidity.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet and soggy.
  • Fertilize Persea once a month throughout the year.

Persea pests and diseases  

  • Persea is vulnerable to aphids, mealybugs, scale insects and thrips. 

Persea propagation  

  • Propagate Persea from seeds saved from fresh, store-bought avocados. Use an all-purpose soil mix for repotting.

Persea varieties to grow  

  • Persea americana, avocado. Grows 4 to 6 feet in height on an erect, single stem. Leaves are dark green, leathery, elliptic and grow from 4 to 8 inches in length. Fruit is not produced indoors. 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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