Training a young avocado plant in container

Avocado    Pennsylvania, USA

My avocado plant that I grew from a seed seems to be doing really well (thanks to all on PlantVillage who helped me to grow it). I have re-potted it into a large clay pot and it is outside on the porch to soak up the summer sun. The plant is growing rapidly and in addition to what I believe is a sucker, it also has a young lateral branch growing. I have marked both with red arrows in the attached pictures. Until such time as I move someplace warmer, I intend for this plant to remain in a container. Should I begin to train the seedling now in any way? Does the sucker need removed from beside the main tree and can anyone tell me if I should prune the new branch? I From what I can tell the seedling should sprout another opposing branch on the opposite side? I'd love some advice on how to keep this tree manageable in the container.

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (4 points) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: August 9, 2013


I used to grow every avocado pit I got when I lived in a snowy-winter climate, decades ago. The advice I recall reading (years later, perhaps) was to lop off the top when the seedling is small to force it to develop branches. I didn't do that, and I ended up with a bunch of sticks with foliage on top.

Assuming that this is not the one and only avocado you will try to grow, you could try pruning each one differently and see what result you like best.

If you don't like the lopsided look, you can force it to make a branch going in the other direction by lopping off the top. Cut just above a leaf node that's directly above your branch, making sure the leaf is pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow. New branches come from the leaf nodes, so you can control where the next branch comes from. Cut no closer than a quarter-inch above the leaf node.

Or if you want it to branch lower down on the stem, see if you can find leaf nodes lower on the stem.

(I know -- this is your first and you don't want to lop off all that lovely top growth.)

The sucker doesn't look vigorous enough to steal energy from the rest of the plant. You can leave it or prune it off, whatever you prefer.

Posted by: Tanya in the Garden (128 points) Tanya in the Garden
Posted: August 17, 2013

Lindsay McMenemy commented,
Oh thank you so much, I will have a look at it tomorrow and see if I can find some good spots to make the cuts, I have another couple sprouting and like the idea of trying out different methods ..
almost 11 years ago.

I took the leap and made the cut!!! I decided that although it is my first avocado seedling and is looking really beautiful that I would be brave and experiment. I really would like it to grow an opposing branch so I identified the first leaf node above the branch and cut it about 1/2 an inch above it. The plant looks a bit odd now but I hope that the pruning will pay off and it will even out. I've been amazed at how fast these plants grow so hopefully in a couple of weeks there will be a new branch. I decided to leave the sucker as I think it will grow and perhaps mask the leggy stem somewhat. It was scary lopping that beautiful top off....

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (4 points) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: August 20, 2013

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