How to Grow Avocados in California (In Your Backyard)

That tasty, creamy texture of Hass avocados straight from the Golden State has no competition.

After all, California uses its precious year-round avocados as a selling point- it’s not just any avocado. It’s a “California” avocado.

I hated the texture of this fruit when I was younger. But over time, I’ve learned to embrace the creamy texture as I take it bite out of my hipster avocado toast.

How to grow avocados in California.

Whether your use it for guacamole or scoop it straight out of the shell, you can definitely grow your own tree in CA.

They’re chock full of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6. Plus they have a bunch of other essential nutrients like riboflavin, lutein, niacin, folate, potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid, and beta-carotene.

They’re truly one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. And that’s probably why they’re regarded as one of the best superfoods on the planet.

Now, you’ll learn how to grow your own avocados here in CA.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Can you grow avocados in California?

An avocado slice from one grown in California.
A delicious California avocado.

Yes, of course, you can grow avocados in California.

The bigger question? WHERE do you want to grow them?

Are you in Southern California? Or Northern California?

The two are very different with opposite temperature extremes.

As you probably know, the majority of the avocado production stems from SoCal.

And if they can do it, so can you.

But, if you’re cooped up in the Bay Area where the temperatures are freezing, you’ll have a more difficult time trying to get any success.

You may not even get seeds to germinate properly and will need to special order an avocado tree online.

Growing avocado from seed

Avocado is easy to propagate from seed.

Any native Californian will be able to tell you the process in their sleep. To start from seed, you’ll need to hold the seed suspended in water.

The popular “toothpick” method is the easiest way- you just put a bunch of toothpicks in a cup of water with an avocado seed to hold it up.

This will germinate the seed and about 6 weeks later, it sprouts.

This video depicts how it’s done:

Why you shouldn’t grow from seed

Avocado trees are grown from seed take a very long time to bear fruit. And even then, you may not get a good healthy harvest.

Avocado takes nearly a decade to produce any edible fruit from seed, so it’s highly preferable to just buy a tree.

If it’s your first time trying to tame this plant, don’t bother from seed unless you plan to not move for the next 10 years.

And you have the patience of a steel bull.

Grafted seeds will produce in about 3-4 years while non-grafted take 7-10 years.

And if you plant your tree in a chill zone outside of USDA zones 9-11, you may never see any fruit because it’s just too cold for the plant to produce anything.

Don’t get your hopes up if you’re in northern California. The temperatures are too cold to bear fruit and it’ll take a lot of effort to sustain your plant. However, southern California growers should be able to plant avocados easily.

Otherwise, if you just want to plant avocado for the food, buy the tree and get a headstart.

You can buy young trees at your local greenery and transplant them in your yard. If you’re in Southern California, all you need to do is wait until it’s in the season to start producing edibles.

How to grow an avocado tree in California

Avocado with nuts.
Delicious.

Growing from tree is the right thing to do if you want to eventually eat the fruits of your labor.

When you transplant the tree for the first time, make sure you use soil that drains well. You can use loose or sandy soil.

SoCal also has that natural clay soil that makes an excellent substrate for growing them. Plant your trees in mounds to help the soil drainage rather than flat surfaces.

Where to plant

The mound should be as tall as the container the plant was shipped in.

After you build the mound, you can safely transplant the tree right into the middle of it.

Plant your secondary tree in the same manner at the proper distance from the first. Younger trees need partial sunlight to help them block out the full blast of UV light.

After they grow up and become stronger, full sun isn’t a problem.

Avocado trees do best when paired with multiple plants in a tight group.

A pollinator between the different plants is necessary for ensuring that you’ll get fruit. If you have a single tree, you’ll have a tough time relying on pollination from a carrier.

Southern Californian backyards are usually suited for these trees with the clay soil, correct climate, and plenty of space for a few plants. Pollination shouldn’t be a problem.

Do you need two avocado plants to get fruit?

For the person who wants fruit, yes, two avocado trees are necessary. This Is because each plant cultivated either type A or type B flowers.

These flowers will produce fruit but they are sensitive to pollen at different photoperiods throughout each day.

For the best chance of successful pollination, planning both A and B avocados will produce the highest yield.

Of course, there are techniques to get around this. Simply substituting the pollen artificially can work.

But if you want to keep it simple, then get two plants. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a non-producing plant- that can still make a nice piece for decoration.

Caring for your avocado tree

Transplanting is the hardest part. Caring and maintaining the tree is easy.

  • Water your tree twice a week with plenty of fresh water for the first 12 months
  • After 12 months, switch to once per week
  • During the summertime in CA, add extra water during the watering sessions
  • Avoid using excess fertilizer
  • Give plant food (citrus fertilizer or avocado food) once in a while
  • Do regular tree cleaning
  • Prune leaves and branches during the spring or winter
  • Watch for pests

Harvesting

After your tree starts to bear fruit, you can begin harvesting all that hard work you put in.

They can be pulled off the tree using the “twist and pull” method for a clean cut. Harvest before the fruit becomes ripe- not during.

Ripening

You can ripen your harvest faster by placing them in partial sunlight.

Think of the sun rays coming through your windowsill onto your countertop or kitchen. Placing them next to other fruits like apples will also speed up ripen time due to the ethylene gas released by them.

Storage

Avocados can be stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight. They don’t need any special requirements, refrigeration, or storage containers. Storing it in the cold will help extend the shelf life for 1-2 days.

Cut avocados can be preserved using lemon juice. Remove the pit and pour some lemon juice into a food container and place the half in there.

You can also use regular water if you don’t have lemon juice, but the acid helps prevent oxidation. Place the half with the flesh facing the water and cover it in the fridge. The avocado will be good for 2 days or so.

Can you grow avocados in Northern California?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeDyLT0SmWM

This isn’t easy, but it’s possible. You won’t be able to buy a tree and toss it in your yard and call it a day. That’s a quick way to disappointment!

First, you’ll want to choose the right type of avocado tree for those freezing climates. If you’re in Northern CA, the best type of avocado you can grow is Mexicola or Fuerte.

These avocado trees are more tolerant to freezing here and there, but NOT consistently. You can help your plant survive the cold temperatures by:

  • Placing the tree between other plants to shield it from cold
  • Planting in a heat regulated greenhouse
  • Wrapping the plant in burlap
  • Mulching the trunk to protect it from temperature drops
  • Placing the tree against a surface (exterior wall or corner) away from cold air

Even then, you may struggle to keep your plant alive. If you’re in an area that gets freezing temperatures seasonally like San Francisco, you’ll want to do what you can to keep your plant warm.

While it’s possible to grow an avocado tree in the colder parts of Cali, it ain’t easy.

You’ll be constantly caring for your plant and you may not end up with any yield at the end of the season. The cold temperatures just kill the plant and hurt the chances of it ever producing anything worth harvesting.

So don’t go thinking that this will be an easy task! Because it won’t.

Can you grow avocado indoors?

Yes, avocado can be grown indoors. Start with a grafted dwarf tree and take it from there. You can grow cultivated avocado from the rootstock.

Planting from the pit may not produce any bearable fruit. You should stick with grafted seeds.

But even if you don’t get any fruit you can still have a nice little avocado plant in your home that does well. A bit of TLC does wonders for citrus plants. Keep it dwarf so it’s easier to keep clean and pruned.

What kinds of avocados grow in California?

The best type of avocado to plant in CA are Hass avocados. That’s what California is known for. These are a specialty export from CA and are expensive compared to other varieties.

Some other popular avocados that grow well in California are lamb Hass, Gwen, Fuerte, Bacon, Zutano, Reed, Pinkerton, and other crosses. Over 95% of the Hass avocados are grown commercially in the Golden State.

You can have success in your backyard using any of these varieties. Avoid doing anything too crazy unless you’re the daring type.

The best avocado tree for Southern California

There is no “best” tree. This is completely up to you. The taste, texture, and productivity all vary.

The most popular choice is Hass. This is the primary avocado export out of CA and the favorite one amongst many fans.

Another popular choice is Reed, which has excellent taste and texture and can yield more than Hass.

But then again, you need to decide what you want. Do you want taste? Yield? Harvest season? Check out the official CA avocado resource for more details.

If you want a proven variety, then stick with Hass. they’re one of the most famous avocado varieties for a reason with their sharp flavor and creamy texture perfect for dip and guacamole.

Plus, they’re easy to grow in Cali.

Can I grow an avocado tree in my backyard?

Yes, you can grow a proper sprouts avocado tree in your yard. If you’re in the southern part of CA, you already have the native and perfect climate for growing them.

Avocados prefer warmer climates and hate the cold. Any freezing conditions or cold chills can harm the plant, which is why they don’t do well in Northern CA.

Where do they grow avocados in California?

Avocados span some 50,000 acres from San Diego to Monterey across Southern California.

The top cities are Ventura and San Diego which produce the highest number of yield per acre in all of California.

Over 3000 growers partake in this huge number of products to supply the rest of the US with that sweet CA Hass.

How do I know if my avocado tree will bear fruit?

Assuming you’ve done everything correctly and your tree is healthy, a grafted tree will produce in just 3-4 years.

You’ll start to see the fruit hanging on the branches for quite some time.

Avocado can be produced all year round in the right hardiness zones. Southern California growers should have no problem producing.

Plant some avocado!

A plate of delicious avocado toast from CA.
Avocado toast, anyone?

Now that you’ve had a quick lesson in caring for avocados in California, you can get started with your own tree.

Avocados are extremely easy to cultivate here in Southern California. The climate is perfect. The soil is supreme. And the environment makes it native.

So there’s no excuse not to enjoy that tasty, creamy texture on your toast.

2 thoughts on “How to Grow Avocados in California (In Your Backyard)”

  1. LOL San Francisco or the bay area does not have freezing weather. It’s in USDA Zone 10 and although it might be on the colder side of zone 10 because of the mild daytime highs, frost never occurs and winter overnight lows are mostly in the 40s. People grow ice cream banana and mango trees in the Sacramento valley area and avocado trees are not uncommon. My uncle is even further up north in Sutter County and has a fruiting avocado tree. Proper soil ph and drainage is the bigger challenge in Northern California than climate.

    1. We love in the Bay Area in West Marin County. We get severe frost and low 20’s in winter.
      It is an entirely different microclimate from San Rafael which is just 20 minutes away!
      I love the diversity of the Bay, and really want to grow avocados!!

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