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About 2.5 years ago I planted a 4-5 foot avocado tree and didn't realize how truly delicate these things were. I planted it in January and it had a harsh summer with many branches burning off including what I'm assuming was the leader, or top sprout of the tree. It has since bounced back and is doing great after 2 years, but it doesn't appear to be growing much taller. Does this avocado tree still have the potential to grow up tall? Or did burning off the lead essentially stunt its vertical growth?

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Trees in general, including the avocado, are programmed to replace the leader if it is lost. The issue that arises is that there may be multiple leaders emerge from the side shoot candidates. This causes the new tree to be somewhat shorter and sturdier than the original which had one strong leader. Pruning to favour one of the new leaders can restore the dominant upward growth.

If one single leader emerges and it still does not progress well then look for other reasons. Avocado is quite demanding on water resources and if grown in a dry location it won't make the expected growth.

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