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I have an avocado plant (indoors) which I grew from seed just for fun. Alas, I've neglected it and now it is 'leggy' and the top quarter is twisted 45 degrees.

Can I cut it back close to the root and let it start over? That would mean cutting off all of its leaves.

Edit: added photo. It's not an optical illusion: the top 25% of the plant is bent at a 45 degree angle.

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  • My advice is NOT to cut it back to the roots, I tried that with a small Avocado plant and it hasn't grown since (roots keep growing though). – Fatmajk Nov 25 '19 at 16:16
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In their native environment the avocado trees suffer a lot of abuse such as hurricanes and occasional drought and flooding but manage to recover. They can do this because the wood is fairly soft and while branches may snap the recovery is fairly quick and lush which covers over the break and makes the tree overall look neat again. In contrast to something like papaya, however, very few avocado are single trunk columnar specimens, so branching comes naturally for this species. Except in peoples' living rooms however where the occurrence of hurricanes is very rare.

As gardeners, particularly when we have only one valuable specimen to consider, a couple of things to bear in mind: prune when the plant is actively growing, and spread your risk by keeping some leaves in place. Many plants have an active growing period and during this time can quickly respond to pruning; you don't say where you are located or otherwise indicate what stage the plant is at, so that is your call for timing.

Careful gardeners in your situation might decide to cut back but only enough to reduce the leaf area by half. This leaves the plant able to photosynthesize while it figures out where to send out side shoots. Once the branching has started, you then have more choice where to make further cuts to keep the height under control. As you gain more experience you can make bolder cuts with confidence.

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  • May I add to get a grow light. This plant is from Mexico, which gets more sunlight than your living room could ever provide. I do not mean use a grow light alone. I mean put the grow light by your plant, by the window. Most grow lights need to be on 16-18 hours in summer season and 12-14 in winter. It does not need to be expensive, as long as it's full spectrum. That appears white or yellow to your eye. Avoid those that are coloured like red, blue or purple. Those will not provide the light your avocado is needing. – GardenGems Nov 11 '19 at 21:39

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