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19 Tips for Pruning Your Avocado Tree

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When you decide to prune your avocado tree, always remember to prune with intent and avoid over or under pruning. It is important to note that the method of pruning used on one tree may be unsuitable for another.

Avocado trees are not all the same. Hence, pruning should be based on the instances surrounding individual trees.

The basics of pruning an avocado tree should begin in the nursery, and training should follow immediately after planting.

Training is particularly vital if you are aiming for the central leader form. Recall that when avocado trees grow, they tend to spread out broadly and have a limited apical dominance.

Before you prune your avocado tree, visualize the look you want for the tree now and in 2-15 years to come.

Besides all that has been mentioned above, hygiene plays an important role when pruning avocado trees.

There are chances that your avocado can get infected through pruning. Remember to clean your pruning tools regularly.

avocado tree with fruits

There is more to pruning your avocado tree than these few points. To this end, we shed more light on how to prune your avocado trees in the subsequent paragraphs.

Do Avocado Trees Need To Be Pruned?

Yes, you need to prune avocado trees.

Pruning your avocado tree will give it a proper look, ensure the right amount of nutrients reach the branches, and produce healthier fruit. Avocado trees require large foliage for improved fruit production.

Be aware that avocado trees do not need excessive pruning. If you need to prune, light pruning is recommended to improve the tree’s balance and expose it to the right amount of sunlight.

At times, your tree may require some reshaping. In such cases, you may do some heavier pruning.

When trying to prune avocado trees, the best results come when you are cautious.

For most avocado trees, light pruning is adequate. In fact, some avocado trees can go years without the need for you to prune them.

Pruning your tree has several advantages, but when you do too much, there can be problems. If you are not sure of the need to prune your tree, prune lightly or avoid pruning altogether.

So far, we have emphasized the need to avoid over-pruning. Rightly so because excessive pruning can leave the tree at risk of sun damage, stunted growth, reduction in fruit production, and frost injuries.

There are several methods of pruning an avocado tree. Some of these methods include mechanical pruning, central leader, tree thinning, selective limb removal, stumping (stag-horning), and replacing the entire tree block.

These methods will help improve light reception and manage the overall size of the tree.

pruning a fruit tree

When To Prune Your Avocado Trees

Minor or light pruning to correct limb breakage or tree balance can be done at any time. However, heavy pruning should be done at the start of the year between January and April.

Avocados produce fruits and flowers from their stem terminals. So, if you cut the stems off, the flower terminals will be affected.

When this happens, the tree will not produce any flowers the following year. Doing this will also result in a water sprout explosion due to bud breaks throughout the branch.

If possible, you can make thinning cuts on the subtending branches to prevent excessive growth.

When the buds begin to grow into water sprouts, you can nip them back and force lateral growth. This, in turn, will decelerate the sprouts’ growth leaving the side bud terminals to grow into flower buds.

Pruning avocado trees in July leaves little time for new buds to mature before August. Consequently, the branch will not be able to produce flowers before spring.

If your tree requires heavy pruning, you should cut off a single branch at a time. To reduce the tree height, remove the tallest branch for that year, repeat this process the next year, and continue to do so until the tree reaches the required height.

Height reduction in avocado trees can take 3-4 years. Spreading the procedure over several years is advisable since it reduces the stress on the tree.

Doing this also reduces the chances of diseases, and it does not affect fruit production drastically.

Never prune your trees in the winter or fall to avoid exposing the newly cut branches to cold and frost.

Avocado trees should only be pruned when there is little risk of exposure to both extreme temperatures.

avocado tree

Any Difference for Pruning Plants in The Ground vs. in Pots?

There are no differences between pruning an avocado plant in the ground (outdoors) and pruning potted avocados.

19 Tips for Pruning Your Avocado Tree

You will find more success pruning an avocado tree with the following tips:

  1. Horizontal branches that grow close to the ground should be pruned because they restrict tree access.
  2. Cut windows into the canopy to allow light to penetrate the tree’s interior.
  3. Prune the trees that are planted on slopes to lower heights than those on flat land.
  4. For easier access to the tree, the main limbs should be spaced 3 to 4 feet apart.
  5. If you intend to rejuvenate the tree, cut it back to the main trunk. However, when you do this, there will be no production in the second year.
  6. Be sure to remove V-type crotches because mechanically, they are weak and quickly develop rot.
  7. Remove dead wood regularly.
  8. Significant cuts should be clean and must be lined up with the trunk contour.
  9. When you renovate a grove, remove all interfering badly crossed limbs. Also, get the split crotches and laterals out of the way.
  10. Ensure you use the most suitable tools. When trimming branches with a diameter below 1 inch, a hand pruner would do the job. However, when dealing with thicker branches, loppers would be more suitable.
  11. Your tools (hand pruners and loppers) will go dull over time. Ensure you sharpen them regularly for easier pruning.
  12. You will be more productive if you get all your tools out at once. Going back and forth to get the tools you need will slow you down and make things tedious.
  13. To keep your tools from carrying disease pathogens, clean them regularly. You may do this by spraying them with disinfectants such as alcohol or diluted bleach.
  14. Your pruning should be aimed at balancing side shoot growth and removing upright and strong water shoots. This way, the tree can achieve a central leader shape.
  15. When pruning, pay attention to details by making small and precise cuts at the right time. It reduces the need for any heavy pruning.
  16. To prevent bacterial or fungal diseases like black streak and sunblotch from spreading, always prune healthy trees separately from unhealthy and sick trees.
  17. Always discard the infected trimmings properly.
  18. When the tree has grown pretty tall, you should get a stable ladder for easier access.
  19. Ensure you wear enough gear to protect yourself. You do not need special gear for this. Any comfortable piece of clothing that you do not mind getting dirty will do. You can also wear gloves, safety goggles, and a sun hat.
pruning an avocado tree

Final Take

When the time comes to prune your avocado tree, there are certain things you need to remember.

For one, never over prune your avocado trees. Also, major pruning should be done in the summer and spring; the trees are fragile, so exposure of new tissue to extreme cold can be detrimental.

All in all, it is best to perform preventive pruning. In other words, prune on a small scale before the need for large-scale pruning arises.