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We have an avocado plant grown from the seed and it was doing very well until we went on a 1 week holiday. Although we watered it before we left, we came back to a plant with shriveled up and drooping leaves. Watering it managed to get the leaves all horizontal again but they remain very shriveled even after 1 week. They feel like dry, dead leaves.

What should I do know? If I cut the leaves off, how far down the stem should I cut? The stem still looks pretty green and healthy so should I leave them or should I cut all the way down to the stalk?

dried avocado plant

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This plant is well established and will do everything it needs without any assistance. I agree the leaves look dead but you should wait until you see new growth before removing the old leaves.

There is no need to cut back the stem. It is storing energy. Avocados are trees with strong apical dominance (they grow one "leader" trunk). The existing trunk still looks to have a leader. Even if it is dried out the plant will bud out a new leader lower on the stem.

Keep the plant in a similar situation to where it was before. Do not overwater as there are no leaves to transpire. Let the top half inch of soil dry out before watering.

Wait patiently and the tree will use the leader to grow new leaves. New leaves will rarely grow on the existing stem due to the apical dominance.

This site gets a lot of questions about avocados. They are easy to grow but hard to keep as a nice houseplant because they are tropical trees.

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  • Why not let the plant determine its own water requirements by sitting the pot in a cm of water, and let the potting mix wick up what it needs? – Graham Chiu Jan 11 '16 at 6:32
  • @GrahamChiu If the plant had a capillary wick system and the plant was used to that then this would be a superior way to provide just the water a plant needs. However the soil mixture has dried out on this plant and it's water needs have been reduced without leaves to transpire. I favour a thorough wetting followed by a decreased quantity of water until new growth shows. – kevinsky Jan 11 '16 at 10:53
  • The picture I see above shows (presumably) potting mix that is now saturated with water. Potting mix is able to wick water up from a saucer. That's how all the self watering planters I've seen sold work. – Graham Chiu Jan 12 '16 at 3:02
  • @GrahamChiu You should ask a question about that as capillary action and self watering planters are another topic entirely – kevinsky Jan 12 '16 at 10:54
  • taking to chat -> the-garden-shed – Graham Chiu Jan 12 '16 at 21:56

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