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I have a 6-month-old indoor avocado plant that is growing nicely. I have cut it back a few times and it is now about 1 meter (3 feet) high:

Avocado plant

  1. How often and how much should I prune my avocado plant? Can I just remove the leaves from the stem's tip, or should I cut off a chunk of the stem itself?
  2. What should the size of the pot be?
  3. I had to move the plant from beside the window. Now I'm looking for a new location where it will continue to flourish. Is fluorescent lighting OK or does an avocado plant need sunlight?
  4. Any other tips from someone who has successfully grown an indoor avocado plant over a span of a few years?
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4 Answers 4

I assume you are growing it for decorative purposes. If you were planning to harvest avocados you would need to grow it outside for large parts of the year. Many of your questions relate to each other. The less sunlight the more it will etiolate (stretch out). This means you will need to prune it back to try and keep it bushier.

Pruning for a denser look consist of cutting the main stem just below the top leaf node. I have never had much luck in encouraging multiple leaders. Most times after pruning they just regrow a new leader. Removing the leaves is not pruning, this just encourages the plant to grow more at the top.

A pot bound plant will tend to put on more top growth and be more likely to flower than one in a huge pot with a little root system. Re potting should be done in the spring, move to the next pot size up. I find that topsoil with a clay component mixed with soil less mix lasts longer and is better for long lived plants.

Growing under fluorescents will give you a straggly plant. Lots of sunlight or metal halide lights are a better solution. (Metal halide lamps are much costlier to run.)

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A bushy multi-leader plant is going to be the only way to go. I'm not convinced avocados make good indoor plants - they usually just want to go straight up in my experience. –  winwaed Dec 11 '11 at 16:26
    
I agree, I don't think avocados are good for decorative indoor plants. They end up looking stretched up and sparse. –  kevinsky Dec 11 '11 at 18:14

I had incredible luck several years ago with an avocado plant at my work. The window I sat next to faced south, and it lived for about 3 years. It was very bush-like, as I consistently pruned it to keep it from getting too tall and lanky. The last time I had counted its leaves, there were over 200! Sadly, one winter, it died as our weather was incredibly dark and gray for too long (Seattle). Just stay diligent with the pruning. If a new shoot starts up where you had cut, cut that shoot, too, or as you see fit. That's what I did, allowing the lower shoots to remain to give it a fuller look. Good luck!

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By pruning the main stem back, you force the plant to back bud, or grow a greater amount of smaller leaves. This is how you achieve that "bushy" appearance that you want. Back budding also allows the plant to gain more sunlight without becoming tall and "lanky" or rather unattractive. The pot should be just big enough for the root ball to fit loosely. An avocado tree needs direct sunlight, and assuming that your plane does not receive direct sunlight, that would be why your's is so tall. You should trim the roots and re-pot (Not up-pot) every spring. Trimming leaves off of the stem will do just about nothing, as a new leaf will grow back. If you wish for a shorter plant, just cut the stem above a leaf node. If a leader grows, cut if off. Then you can shape as you please.

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We have had an avocado plant grown from seed that is at least 12 years old. it sets by the north window in anchorage Alaska. Talk about a tough plant, we whack it back when it hits the ceiling. Just now looking into how to care for one as it is thinning up a bit, will repot it.

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Can you add to your answer? At the moment it is more of a comment? –  kevinsky Jan 13 at 21:44
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Welcome to the site! This doesn't answer most (if any) of the points asked in the question. Can you elaborate a bit? Thanks! –  J. Musser Jan 14 at 3:43
    
@J.Musser Well, you could concede that John Clare answered item no. 1 with "when it hits the ceiling", although it is implied rather than specifically stated. I'm not meaning to say if that's ideal, but it can be functional on at least one tree, by the sound of it. But yeah, I concur that answering more of the items and rephrasing the answer if it is a recommendation for other people's trees, would be great. More information on this particular tree's history and environment would be nice, so that we know why it's such a tough plant, if that info is available. Some people have more trouble. –  Shule Mar 24 at 7:54

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