Avocado tree pruning...too late?

Asked September 28, 2018, 5:39 PM EDT

Hi. I have an indoor avocado plant that started out really well, with nice healthy red and green leaves. I didn't know I was supposed to prune it earlier so by the time I did it was already 2 feet tall. It's still healthy but looks unbalanced- the original leaves are large and pointing down, while the new growth is branching out like it's supposed to. I've been pinching off new growth every couple of weeks or so but I would like to make it a more compact and uniform looking tree. I can't plant it outdoors as I'm renting...no place to put it. Can I cut the stem, and where to start new re-growth?
As an aside, the older leaves are just green while the new leaves are red and green which looks so much prettier to me. What causes this difference in color?

Anne Arundel County Maryland houseplants avocado plant

10 Responses

You didn't do anything wrong.
Avocado plants vary by variety and there is no way of knowing what type this is.
It may always want to be elongated or even tree-like with older leaves pointed down. Commercially some trees are even grafted, or growing on the roots of other varieties.
The leaf color difference is likely just what new versus mature leaves look like.
They are not able to be grown outdoors here-it's just too cold. Most of ours are grown in climates like California and Florida.

This plant might never be pleasing to you, but you can keep trying.
We wouldn't take more than about a third off of the height at any one time, and prune at an angle just above an outward facing bud, which is where the new growth (2 twigs) will grow.

cm

Thanks so much for the quick and concise response. Much appreciated! So when I cut at an angle just above a bud, how deep of an angle should I make? Is it the same as cutting fresh flowers before putting them into a vase-type cut? Silly question, no doubt, but just want to be sure. The pit was huge in this avocado! Trying not to kill it since I'll probably never find one like it again. :)

(Meant to send the above to the expert and not reply to my own question haha.)

No silly questions.
The way you do for flowers is fine. Really, the angle is primarily for shedding water if/when you put it outside for the summer. For pruning outdoor plants, you don't want water to sit for long periods of time, which can invite diseases to take hold.

cm

Thanks again! Great advice! I pruned it back and keeping my fingers crossed. Do you know when can I expect new growth, like a month or more?

Thanks again! Great advice! I pruned it back and keeping my fingers crossed. Do you know when can I expect new growth, like a month or more?

Really couldn't say.
Some houseplants go into a rest period during the lower light days of fall and winter.

cm

Ok. Thanks again... you've been very helpful. It's hard to find good info out there. This will be my go-to website from now on. No more iffy hit or miss YouTube videos.

Ok. Thanks again... you've been very helpful. It's hard to find good info out there. This will be my go-to website from now on. No more iffy hit or miss YouTube videos.

Ok. Thanks again... you've been very helpful. It's hard to find good info out there. This will be my go-to website from now on. No more iffy hit or miss YouTube videos.