I did an article back in May about growing Alligator pears, better known as Avocados. Well, recently I have stumbled onto some fascinating things about them and their flowering habits. I just planted a new variety 'Donnie' and while I was researching this kind, I found out about the flowers.
In case you missed the May article and want to catch up, I included most of it here, PLUS the new information.
Pushing the limits of what I can grow is a great passion of mine. Don't tell me I can't grow something. I may not succeed the first or even the second attempt, But I will keep on trying. I had a beautiful tree growing. I babied it for about 5 years and was expecting fruit within a year or two. Then, the Winter of '09-'10 came to visit. The tree was about 12 feet tall and would not fit in my greenhouse. I know now that I could have/should have topped it and put it in the greenhouse. It would have been fine and probably just bushed out more. I will tell you what I tried. I laid it down on the concrete patio and covered it up with a blanket. This actually worked for about a week. The tree was surviving very well. However, being that it was SO cold for SO long, it just didn't make it.
I know what I did wrong, I will fix it. I really want to pick my own Avocados.
The Avocado (Persea americana) probably originated in southern Mexico, but was cultivated from the Rio Grande to central Peru long before the arrival of the Europeans. It was first reported in Jamaica in 1696. It wasn't until 1825 that it was planted in Hawaii and it was common throughout the islands by 1910. Florida got into the act in 1833, when it was introduced by Dr. Henry Perrine. California started in 1871.
Now the avocado is grown commercially not only in the United States and throughout tropical America and the larger islands of the Caribbean but in Polynesia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Mauritius, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Algeria, tropical Africa, South Africa, southern Spain and southern France, Sicily, Crete, Israel and Egypt. Seems like a popular fruit. Botanically speaking, Avocado is considered a fruit, not a vegetable....just in case you get a spot on Jeopardy.
There are some 60 varieties of commercially grown Avocados, including West Indian, Guatemalan, Mexican and assorted hybrids. The most common type we see in grocery stores is 'Hass'. It was registered in California in 1932. It is a Guatemalan Mexican Hybrid.
The West Indian race requires a tropical or near tropical (think southern Florida) climate and high humidity especially during flowering and fruit setting. The Guatemalan race is somewhat hardier, having arisen in subtropical highlands of tropical America, and it is successful in coastal California. The Mexican race is the hardiest and the source of most of California avocados. It is not suited to southern Florida, Puerto Rico or other areas of similar climate. Temperatures as low as 25 degrees do it little harm. In areas of strong winds, wind-breaks are necessary. Wind reduces humidity, debydrates the flowers and interferes with pollination, and also causes many fruits to fall prematurely. See why I think I can grow these things? Citrus works for me, so Avocados should too.
They grow on a wide range of soils as long as it has good drainage. The PH range they like are rather Alkaline, 6-7.5.
Avocados can be grown from seed. However, there is a good chance it will not come true to type. This can be half the fun. It might be as good as the fruit you ate, might be a little worst or it could even be better!
Normally, avocado seeds lose viability within a month. I would still plant them as soon as possible. Why delay the fruiting process any?
There are two ways to germinate an avocado pit. The first is to pierce the seed with toothpicks and suspend it, pointed end up, over a glass of water. Roots should start to develop within two to six weeks. Then pot up the plant, leaving the tip just poking out of the soil. However, not all avocado seeds will germinate, so if your seed hasn't sprouted after six weeks, try again with a fresh seed.
The second method is basically to just plant the pit in some good potting soil. Place it pointed end up and only cover about three quarters of it. Keep it warm and damp and wait for it to germinate. It will take anywhere from 7-10 years before it bears fruit. Every indoor Avocado grower holds out hope for fruit from his or her plant. This is always a possibility, but realistically it is not likely to happen. Indoors, the plants may never experience good enough conditions to ever flower, let alone ripen fruit. They are sun lovers but will grow in partial shade.
When it actually comes to flowering, this is where it gets confusing and yet very interesting. There are two "Types" of Avocados, please don't get this confused with varieties. There is a type "A" and a type "B". Nature has provided for avocado cross-pollination by creating varieties of these two types. The "A" type is female in the morning of the first day and male in the afternoon of the second day, As long as the temperature is above 70 degrees. The "B" type is just the reverse: its flowers are male in the morning and female in the afternoon. Aren't you glad marriage isn't like this? Honey, I thought you were the female yesterday afternoon and now it's my turn. Some of the "A" varieties include: Hass (the most popular), Gwen and Pinkerton. The "B" parade has Bacon, Fuerte and Zutano. I have Hass already growing and apparently my 'Donnie' is also a Type "A". If anybody reading this happens to come across a Fuerte or something from the "B' list, please let me know. Personally, I am not sure why one tree would not suffice? I would imagine that there would be flowers of either sex open at different times on one tree. Mother Nature, she sure is complicated sometimes!
Now, when it comes to Avocado irrigation it is no different from citrus or other fruit and nut trees,water slowly, deeply and thoroughly.
I am determined to grow one of these to fruition. While researching this article, I found some really interesting ways to enjoy Avocado.
In Brazil, the Avocado is used mostly mashed in sherbet, ice cream, or milk shakes.
In Java, Avocado flesh is thoroughly mixed with strong black coffee, sweetened and eaten as a dessert.
Some Oriental people in Hawaii prefer the Avocado sweetened with sugar and they combine it with fruits such as pineapple, orange, grapefruit, dates, or banana.
As for me, I want to make some really good, spicy Guacamole. I already grow the Limes, Onions, Garlic and Hot Peppers......now I just need some Alligator Pear.