Advice on how to prune this avocado tree

Hi all, new to this forum but hoping I can access the collective wisdom here.

I have been growing a Mexican Creollo avocado in a pot for about two years now, and unfortunately I haven’t taken very good care of its growth. You will see from the photos linked below that the tree has forked, and that one fork is now growing faster than the other.

My question for you all, is if this was your tree, how would you prune this tree to bring it back to order. I am thinking of cutting off the thinner of the two forked branches, and encouraging the remaining one to grow straight. And maybe pruning some of the longer branches to encourage them to branch off at shorter lengths. Welcome advice here.

Then thinking I can perhaps use the one I cut off to graft into another rootstock of some sort…


Welcome to the forum, Dan! How big of a pot is that and when did you last re-pot the tree? If you want to encourage more growth my first suggestion would be potting it up to at least 12 gal, 15 might be better. Once its roots have more room to stretch out, it’ll respond better to any pruning you decide to do.

Those two main branches still look pretty similar to each other in overall growth. Personally, I would wait for the next flush (probably spring unless you have it in a warm room), and then just pinch the terminal buds on the larger branch to encourage it to focus on the other branch for one flush.

If you’re interested in grafting another Mexican-type avocado on one of those two branches, though, I’d be happy to swap scions with you! I’ve got a rapidly growing collection of both named Mexican cultivars and seedlings, but always on the lookout for new ones. Where did your seed come from?

My one other comment would be to switch to some kind of stretchy plant ties (or ditch the supports entirely), supporting avocado branches often causes them to not strengthen as much, and it looks like the wire twist tie you’re using is biting into the trunk a bit:

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Hi Swincher, thanks for the response and the advice that’s very helpful. The avocado is about two years old now and hasn’t been re potted in that time, as I live in an apartment I don’t know that I want it getting much bigger at the moment to be honest! Thanks for pointing out re the twist ties, I haven’t looked closely in a while but you are right, it looks like it is constricting, I have some garderners velcro that I’ll replace them with.

I got the seed from Oaxaca in Mexico when I visited there in November 2019. Would happily trade scions, that sounds like a great idea, only issue is I’m in Melbourne Australia so I don’t think the scions would travel well between here and the US unfortunately.

So in terms of lopping one of those forks off, not a good idea?
thanks again

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Ah, yeah I wouldn’t recommend sending plant material internationally, there are pretty good reasons it’s generally not allowed (especially from one avocado growing country to another). That’s too bad we can’t swap scions, but I hope you’ll keep us updated on the tree!

I would still recommend potting it up at least into a slightly larger pot. Avocados are notoriously unhappy when their roots get too constricted, so you might see growth stalling out or root rot issues soon in that size of pot. If it does start to grow overly fast in a new pot, then you’ll just have more branches to work with for pruning to your desired shape.

I think you’re fine cutting one of the main branches if you want, but my opinion is you should be encouraging a little more bushiness, rather than encouraging further lengthening of a main trunk, especially if this is going to need to live in a container for an extended period. That way the trunk can have a chance to thicken and strengthen so it can support the branches without all those support sticks. My guess is if you pot it up and pinch all the terminal buds you’ll get dozens of new bud sites all along the branches, letting you choose a more compact shape when you cut most of them off later.