Although strange enough that this tasty guacamole staple is considered a fruit, a less known fact is that, within the category of fruit, the avocado is technically a berry! Unlike cherries and blueberries, though, avocado trees produce large fruits that range in weight from 1/2–3 lbs each, depending on the variety. Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the avocado tree does best in climates that mimic its homeland and should be grown outdoors only in the warmer regions of the US (USDA Zones 9 and up). Within these climate zones, different varieties will do better than others based on temperature and soil quality, so be sure to research your options before selecting a tree for your home.
For many of us, growing avocado trees may seem like a “fruitless” dream because of our growing climates (anything below Zone 9–10), but the Mexicola Grande is here to help—at least some of us! This variety of avocado produces excellent, dark green fruits with large pits and is able to withstand temperatures as low as 17°F, meaning it’s a great option for gardeners that live in climates with warm summers and cool winters. Growing this tree is even possible in USDA Zone 7 if plants are given protection in the cooler months and you don’t experience hard freezes. Take note: if your area has little to no avocado trees already, you’ll need to plant a Bacon, Little Cado, or Zutano avocado to help with pollination and ensure that your Meixcola bears fruit.
Seed: Not recommended since it’s quite difficult and the resulting plants will not remain true to type. Fruits will not be the same as the original and will take 5–7 years to show up. If you’re the adventurous type and wanna try it out, go for it! We’d love to hear how it goes.
Seed Depth: Plant with 1/2 of sprouted seed exposed above soil.
Space Between Plants: 7–20′
Space Between Rows: 25′
Germination Soil Temperature: 60–70°F
Sow Indoors: With the aid of toothpicks, place seed in a glass with 1″ of the flat side submerged in water in a dark warm place. Roots will sprout in 2-6 weeks. When stem is 7″ tall, trim to 3″ to produce stronger roots. Transplant in pot or outdoors after new leaf growth.
Sow Outdoors: Not recommended.
Vegetative: We recommend grafting desirable cultivars onto stable rootstocks to produce fruit sooner than seeding.
Thrives outdoors in USDA zones 9–11. The avocado is a tropical or subtropical tree that requires good soil, steady drainage, and lots of sunlight. Regions such as Southern California have the ideal climate for growing this emerald beauty, but the Mexicola Grande is more cold tolerant than most avocado varieties and can be grown in most region where temperatures don’t dip below 17°F.
Natural: Full sun.
Artificial: Bright light that mimics full sun, such as HID lamps, is preferred. These are better suited than fluorescent and promote flowering while decreasing chances of legginess.
Soil: Can tolerate a variety of soil types, but a common theme between them all is good drainage. A pH of 6.2–6.5 is ideal. If your soil is sandy, mix in compost for added nutrients and to provide a loose, fast-draining medium.
Soilless: Does well in expanded clay pellets.
Hydroponics: Thrives in hydroponic systems.
Aeroponics: Avocado was one the first plants to be experimentally grown in an aeroponic system. Studies confirm that avocado dig it.
Water: These trees do not like to have wet feet, so good drainage is very important. Feel your soil: if it’s damp, do not water it. You can also mist the leaves, but be careful not to create an inviting environment for fungus. A drip or irrigation system may be beneficial to deliver steady but small amounts of water evenly to the soil.
Nutrients: Completely dose the soil with the holy trinity of nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—by using aged compost. Using dolomite lime will also add magnesium to the soil. To add calcium without heavily altering the pH, use crushed eggshells or gypsum.
Foliar: A fish emulsion or sea kelp dilution may be supplemented foliarly but is not necessary.
Pruning: Pruning is very important for the avocado. For full details, see Helpful Links.
Mulching: Benefits from mulching, which will suppress weed and fungal soil growth.
Deficiency(s): A zinc deficiency can be recognized by a leaf discoloration known as chlorosis. Apply compost rich in cow manure about a foot from the base of the tree to correct.
Companions: Under your avocado tree, plant small flowering herbs and flowers to attract pollinating bees, such as rosemary, borage, and lavender. Banana trees make good companions for avocado trees. Remember: don’t let them be lonely! Plant at least two avocados to allow cross pollination and fruit production.
Harvest: From flower to fruit can take anywhere from 6–8 months. The color change of their skin to a nice uniform dark green will indicate maturity. After being picked, ripeness ensues in 10–12 days. For best flavor results, do not harvest from the tree early.
Storage: Store unripe avocados at room temperature to promote natural ripening. To speed up this process, place near other ripened fruit, such as bananas. Eat at peak ripeness; otherwise, you have about 3 days of refrigeration until the avocado gets sad and old.
Fun Fact: Unlike many other types of fruit, avocados will only ripen once they’re off the tree. This can be confusing as many folks don’t know when to pick their fruits. As our Harvest section notes, color is a great way to tell when your avocados are ready. A deep green is usually a good sign that your fruits are ready to be picked, but be patient and allow them to sit for at least 10 days before eating.
Preserve: If saving half or part of an avocado, sprinkle lemon or lime juice directly on the avocado and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
Prepare: Avocados are usually eaten raw and don’t cook well (cooking usually brings out a bitterness that is quite unappetizing). Mash together with tomatoes and onions for a fresh guacamole or simply slice and add to any salad. The rich buttery flavor is complemented well by sour acidic flavors like balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. They can also be blended and mixed with milk for a chilled drink or turned into a savory ice cream. Yum.
Nutritional: Avocado is known for its high content of healthy fats (about 0.6 oz), from which most of the energy of the fruit comes. Avocados are also rich in dietary fiber, vitamin(s) B-6, C, and K, and have more potassium then bananas!
Medicinal: Avocados can naturally lower blood cholesterol levels. Essential oils extracted from the fruit have been utilized in dry skin creams and topical solutions for healing wounds.
Warnings: Allergies to avocado can be common, so watch for signs of redness or irritation when handling.
If you read the above Prepare section and though, “Avocado ice cream? I’ve gotta try that!” you’re in luck. This Avocado Ice Cream is a unique and delicious summer treat we think you’re going to love.