Bonsai has become an art to which many novel gardeners are trying their hand at growing! One plant that makes a popular and interesting bonsai is avocado. So, to help people curious about this technique here’s a guide on how to grow an avocado bonsai.
To grow avocado bonsai, you require the following conditions:
- A lot of sunlight with some shade
- Well-draining yet fertile soil
- Regular watering
- High humidity
- Temperatures between 60℉ and 85℉
- Weekly fertilizing followed by watering
- Constant pruning
- Treatment and prevention of various diseases and pests
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Wouldn’t it be convenient to grow the variety of avocados you want without having to source them from a fruit nursery? You can! It’s as easy as choosing the variety you want from the supermarket, eating it, and saving the seed.
However, here are the most popular avocado cultivars that you will find at your supermarket. Your avocado seed is most probably one of these varieties.
- Hass– This avocado is one of the most reliable and widely distributed types of avocado.
- Lamb Hass- Similar to Hass but larger in size.
- Gwen- This avocado matures from March to November.
- Wurtz- Smaller than other avocado varieties, but also prone to pest attacks.
- Reed- This cultivar has an upright growth habit and its fruit is spherical in shape.
Can An Avocado Be Made Into A Bonsai?
Yes, you can make an avocado tree into a bonsai, but it is more challenging!
The avocado’s growth is thick and coarse which makes wiring and training more difficult. The leaf size is very large and undesirable for a bonsai subject and does not reduce much in size as a bonsai.
The roots also present a problem as they are too big to fit in a conventional bonsai pot. Overall they do not make very good bonsai plants. But, if you are up for a challenge, you can make a bonsai out of an avocado plant.
How To Grow Your Own Avocado From Seed
It will shock you to find out how easy it is to grow your own avocado tree or bonsai from an avocado seed. If you are an avocado lover and buy them regularly from your supermarket, getting your hands on one or a couple of seeds should be easy for you.
With a few basic materials, you will be ready to start growing your own avocado.
- Avocado seed (Cleaned)
- Drinking glass or jar (transparent)
- 10-inch pot
- Potting soil
- Below are the steps for planting an avocado seed.
- Your avocado seed should be clean. Insert 3 to 4 toothpicks in a line halfway around the seed.
- Lower the seed into the glass container. Fill the glass with water.
- The bottom three-quarters of the seed should be submerged in the water.
- Place the glass in a spot with sunlight but not direct sunlight.
- In about 2 to 6 weeks you should see roots as well as a shoot. If not then start the process again.
- When the shoot gets to approximately 6 inches cut it off to encourage more roots.
- When the stem grows out again, you can put it in a pot with the best soil for avocados.
Making Your Avocado Bonsai – Step By Step Guide
Here are the physical steps you must take to make your avocado an actual bonsai!
Selecting the plant
Firstly, visit a nursery and select an avocado variety. Then select a particular avocado plant you would like to use. Check there are no yellowing or brown leaves or blotches on the plant, it should be healthy and strong. A good thick trunk is a bonus to if you can find one with this quality.
Remove the plant from its pot. Carefully remove the soil from around its roots. Comb out roots, and remove or trim any roots that you deem awkward or unwanted. Be careful not to damage the stem while sorting out the roots.
Selecting The Pot
Select a container/pot that has more than one drainage hole at the bottom. The pot should be 2 inches wider than the root ball, deep and sturdy enough to support a foot-tall plant.
NOTE- Keep in mind that the plant should remain in that pot for 2 or 3 years.
Preparing The Pot
As this is an avocado bonsai it will need media for indoor growth. At the very bottom of the container, place a layer of coarse-grain soil. This ensures good drainage and that the roots do not become waterlogged.
The top layer of soil also needs to be well-draining. After placing the root ball into the pot, cover it carefully with the topsoil. You can top off with some fine grains, but of a smaller size than the one used at the bottom of the pot.
You can make your own mixture of soil using compost, to meet the plant’s nutrient needs. Drainage holes should be placed in all four directions. Water can then drain out better.
Placement Of The Plant
Observe sunlight in your house and place the avocado bonsai where there is a lot of sunlight. In addition to their sunlight requirements, these plants need a good supply of air. That said, if you live in warm regions, the outdoors seems like a good spot to place your avocado bonsai.
Pruning The Avocado Bonsai
After potting your bonsai, you now have to prune it. Begin by pruning half of the branches. Pruning encourages proper branching and a stronger woody trunk that the bonsai has become famous for.
You also need to prune your bonsai leaves before they reach 10 inches. To trim any leaves or branches, it’s best you sterilize your scissors beforehand. Decide on which bonsai style you would like to pursue and work towards that style.
NOTE- There are about 10 main styles to choose from, so try to pick one out before planting your bonsai.
Training Your Avocado Bonsai
Decide on which side you are going to have for the frontal display. You can use copper wire or aluminum wire to shape your bonsai. You should remove your wire every year to avoid the wire cutting into the branches.
To train Your bonsai wrap the wire securely around the branch, not very tightly though. The flexible wire will allow you to manipulate the branch to the shape or direction you want.
Another material that is used to shape is the fishing line. The fishing line is secured around the branch, the branch is then pulled to the desired level. It is then secured to the pot. Pruning and training are done twice yearly when new growth appears.
How To Maintain Your Avocado Bonsai?
You now have your avocado bonsai potted up, pruned, and in training. But it does not end there, bonsai can live for a very long time! During this time, maintaining your bonsai will be an ongoing exercise.
Let us have a look at some of the issues you must deal with to keep your plant in shape!
- Keep a regular watering system to maintain moist soil
- Avoid using chemicals on this plant, it is highly sensitive to such
- Continue pruning out very large leaves
- Expose your bonsai to the sun but not for too long, some shade is necessary
- Training your bonsai will always be present, as well as pruning
- Check your bonsai regularly for pests and diseases
Conditions For Your Avocado Bonsai
We now come to one of the most important aspects of growing an avocado bonsai. These are the conditions such as light, temperature, humidity, soil, and watering schedules as well as location. We will provide all of the optimal conditions for growing avocado bonsai one by one.
Your avocado bonsai can be grown in a pot outdoors if you live in a warm climate. In cold climates though, you must bring them indoors and provide adequate lighting, even if this means providing them with artificial light.
They also need good air circulation and nutrient-rich soil. They can be placed near a window sill or ledge that gets a good amount of sun. It all depends on which spot provides the best conditions for them.
The most commonly used potting mixes used for bonsai are pumice, lava rock, Akadama, grit, and organic potting compost. The bottom of the pot is set with a well-draining material, to keep the roots from suffocating and drowning in excess water.
In between is an organic potting soil and on the top grit. Avocado bonsai are nutrient-loving plants and need lots of organic material.
3. Watering Schedule
Avocado bonsai grown indoors need to be watered on a regular basis. The soil has to be kept moist. If you are living in a tropical or subtropical climate and your bonsai is outside, water your plant every day. You can also mist the plant to give it added moisture.
Any avocado bonsai will naturally require plenty of light to grow and this is not even including fruit production. They need the light to reach and spread across the soil too.
If during the winter months you find that the light is inadequate for your avocado bonsai you could acquire a LED grow lamp. It will benefit the bonsai and other plants you might have. Besides starving your bonsai of light because you live in a cloudy area is not advisable!
Avocado bonsai benefits from higher humidity than is found inside your home, so you can increase the humidity for the bonsai. Mist it properly at regular intervals and extra if and when necessary.
Or you can place trays with pebbles, filled with water to increase the humidity. Make sure though that there is good air circulation as well or the extra moist atmosphere can invite disease.
The avocado bonsai can be grown indoors and outdoors. But they grow best at temperatures between 60℉ and 85℉. This coincidentally manages to merge with temperatures inside and outside. So you can place it anywhere depending on the season.
Avocados love fertile soil. However, eventually, the plant will exhaust the minerals and nutrients in the soil. Therefore, you must offer your bonsai fertilizer on a weekly basis. To help the plant take it in, remember to water it immediately after the fertilizer application.
What can we say, pruning is an ongoing process when growing any bonsai. Prune the branches when they become visibly too large for the plant. Also, prune off dead leaves/branches, and leaves that are too big.
We rarely think of this when deciding to plant new plants. But, the disease is always a lingering problem plant enthusiasts have to deal with. Here are a few to be aware of when growing an avocado bonsai.
– Canker disease
This makes the leaves pale on the plant, growth is slow and the trunk of the plant appears swollen. Sometimes this may be attributed to too much nitrogen or an unhealed wound after pruning.
A mineral deficiency in the soil could be turning your bonsai leaves yellow. There may be inadequate magnesium or iron in the soil.
This is a fungus that grows on the leaves and branches of the bonsai. It is white and looks powdery and usually affects plants when air circulation is poor and there is not enough light.
– Root Rot
This disease is caused by overwatering and/or inadequate drainage. If this is what ails your bonsai you find that your leaves will change color, branches will weaken, and stunted growth.
Avoid diseases by ensuring the bonsai is getting enough air and sunlight. Also, remove infected matter as soon as it is noticed.
Just like all plants, your avocado bonsai is prone to pests. Even though your bonsai is located indoors does not make it exempt from problems relating to its health.
Although the avocado bonsai may be indoors, pests may be brought indoors through contaminated soil or other plants. So, let us quickly breeze through pests most commonly affecting bonsai.
We feel sure that you might have come across them before, mostly in relation to roses. These microscopic insects suck the sap of your bonsai, they secrete a “honeydew” that ants and mold love to feed on. You will find these aphids crowded together under the leaves of your plant.
These are small oval-shaped bugs that hide in a dark cool spot on your tree or under in the root system of the bonsai.
Red Spider Mites
These are tiny red spiders that spin a fine web on the undersides of older leaves, to protect their eggs. Also, they can be found on various parts of the plant’s leaves.
This is a very common pest, common amongst all plants. These oval-shaped insects look like bumps stuck onto the underside of leaves or stems. But, be sure to treat them as soon as you see them before they infect the entire plant and spread to nearby plants too.
Management of all these insects will require the application of Neem/Horticultural oil or soapy water. Also, constantly checking your plants is essential to preventing pest infestations.
Avocado fruits are popular throughout the USA and now growing these plants as a bonsai is also picking up pace.
Growing an avocado is simple if you can provide it with all the optimal conditions required for growth, this includes well-draining soil, high sunlight exposure, medium temperatures, weekly fertilizer, high humidity, and regular pruning.
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Can an avocado bonsai produce avocados?
Yes, an avocado bonsai can produce fruit. But, this may require an extra set of care steps to ensure your bush produces avocados.
Will an avocado bonsai stay small?
Not, it won’t! In fact, an avocado tree is only small when it is young and has been grown from seed. Otherwise, it becomes large quite quickly and you cannot keep it as a bonsai forever!