How Big Do Avocado Trees Grow | Height and Spread

I think very few plants are as satisfying to grow as fruit-bearing trees. While you might not think of avocados as fruit, there’s no denying that the avocado tree is a mainstay of any warm-season orchard garden.

How big do avocado trees grow? Before you add an avocado tree to your property, it’s important to ensure you have the space to accommodate it for many years to come.

In this article, I’ll cover the average height and growth rate of avocado trees grown both indoors and in the landscape.

How Big Do Avocado Trees Grow

Avocado trees vary in size but most grow tall when the conditions are right. Not only do you need to account for a mature avocado tree’s height but also the span of its canopy and extensive root system.

One of the biggest determining factors of an avocado tree’s size is the cultivar. The Hass avocado (Persea americana ‘Hass’) makes up the majority of trees found around the world. However, there are hundreds of different avocado varieties and each has a unique growth habit.

It’s also important to note that a tree’s environment can play a role in how big it grows. For example, an avocado tree grown in a container with a restricted root ball will not grow as large as a tree planted in the ground.

How Tall Do Avocado Trees Grow

In its natural habitat across Central and South America, the avocado tree grows 20 to 60 feet in height at maturity, with some outliers growing taller than 80 feet. Whereas dwarf avocado trees typically grow no taller than 10 feet.

The avocado is a tropical tree requiring temperatures to remain 50 °F or above all year round just to survive, and higher temperatures to really thrive. Across North America, there are only a few states that can grow the tree outdoors with any sort of reliability, namely those in Zone 9-11. Large parts of Australia also have suitable conditions for growing avocado trees outdoors to good sizes.

Whereas dwarf or grafted avocado trees typically grow no taller than 12 feet.

a well maintained avocado tree around 20 feet tall
Avocado plantation with actively pruned trees around 20 feet tall

Indoor Container-Grown Avocado

Trees grown in containers experience stunted growth, due to root restriction. You can use this to your advantage when growing avocados indoors. 

An avocado tree generally won’t grow any larger than its roots can support. If root growth is restricted due to the size of a container, the above-ground growth will be restricted as well. There are several popular varieties of Persea americana such as the Condo Avocado Tree that will reach 8-10 when grown indoors in a pot or container. This particular variety will grow happily in zones 4-11 indoors.

There are, however, some disadvantages to opting for pot-grown trees, first, a tree with restricted growth is less likely to bear fruit. Second, allowing your avocado tree to become rootbound could impact its health and overall lifespan. Common problems related to under or overwatering often lead to root rot or symptoms such as brown spots on leaves or leaf drop. So, care must be taken to follow a controlled water schedule. It is also important to protect the tree from temperature fluctuations as well as provide enough bright sunlight to maintain healthy growth indoors.

pot grown avocado indoor - How Big Do Avocado Trees Grow
Indoor pot-grown avocado

Patio or Dwarf Avocado Tree Growth

If you want to grow an avocado tree in a container, I strongly suggest investing in the Little Cado cultivar (Persea americana ‘Little Cado’). This is the only true cultivar Little Cado available to home gardeners. Other dwarfs and semi-dwarf avocado varieties are created via grafting, and these trees are an excellent option to bring interest and tasty fruit to your patio area.

Dwarf trees are similar to full-size cultivars in all aspects except for their size. A dwarf avocado tree will be shorter and have a narrower canopy. Its root system will also be far less expansive than that of a full-size tree. 

It’s possible to harvest fruit from a dwarf avocado tree as long as you have the correct growing environment. The fruit of dwarf trees tends to be of the same quality as that of full-size trees. Dwarf trees often mature and bear fruit faster than other cultivars.

Avocado Canopy Size and Pruning

Avocado tree canopies tend to be slightly narrower than the tree height. For example, a Hass avocado canopy spreads 25 to 35 feet wide, despite its average growth height of 30 to 40 feet.

Pruning is routinely used by commercial orchards to help manage the size of avocado trees, with pruning carried out at the start of the calendar year, January until April.

Avocado flowers on the branch tips ready to bear fruit
Avocado flowers on the branch tips ready to bear fruit

For avocado trees grown outdoors, aim to keep the tree pruned back to below 20 feet, by removing around one-third of the branches at a time to prevent the risk of trimming off all flower and fruit-bearing branch tips. This will allow for optimum fruit growth and still allow reasonable access for picking fruit. It will also help prevent the tree from becoming so large it is unmanageable.

A dwarf avocado tree requires the same care and maintenance as its full-size counterparts. You can even limit the growth of a dwarf tree via annual pruning and pinching off new growth over winter.

Avocado Tree Root Growth

Avocado trees have surprisingly shallow root systems. In most cases, the majority of avocado feeder roots remain in the top 6 inches of soil. This allows the tree to easily access moisture and oxygen.

Tree roots are very similar to above-ground branches in terms of their growth and spread. New roots start out thin and delicate, branching off of more established roots. As the tree ages, older roots become thicker and develop a hard, woody texture.

It’s a common myth that tree roots are a mirror image of the canopy above. In reality, most root systems extend far beyond the canopy edges, also known as the drip line. This information is important for a few reasons.

First, it’s possible for avocado tree roots to interfere with pipes and other structures in the immediate vicinity. The general rule of thumb is to plant full-size avocado trees at least 30 feet from buildings to prevent root damage.

Another thing to consider is that an avocado tree’s roots can access nutrients from an extremely wide area. A suitable avocado fertilizer should be applied throughout the entire drip line, if not further. You should also be cautious about the use of herbicides and other chemicals within 30 feet of your avocado tree’s trunk.

Avocado Tree Growth Cycle

It takes many years for an avocado tree to reach its full size and between 3 and 20 years to produce fruit, depending on the cultivar. During this time, the tree goes through several growth stages:

1. Germination

Avocado pits are very fun to germinate, even if you don’t plan on raising a full-size tree! But it certainly isn’t a quick process.

On average, avocado seeds take 6 to 8 weeks to germinate. It typically takes a few months for a fully developed seedling to grow.

2. Juvenile Plant

An avocado seedling won’t grow into a full-size tree overnight. It takes several years of growth before an avocado tree will begin to resemble its mature form.

A juvenile avocado tree can grow up to 36 inches per year on average. In addition to growing taller during this time, the tree will also develop a thicker trunk and branches to support its mature size.

3. Maturity

The average avocado tree will mature in 5 to 7 years. Keep in mind, however, that trees do not stop growing. Your avocado tree may technically be mature but may not reach its ultimate height for many years to come.

4. Fruit Production

It’s also important to note that maturity doesn’t always equal fruit production. Don’t be alarmed if your mature avocado tree bears few, if any, fruit for the first few years.

Most avocado cultivars grown from seed will produce fruit 10 or more years after germination. An avocado tree transplanted from a nursery may bear fruit in as little as 3 years.

Indoor vs Outdoor Grown Avocado Trees

Most avocado trees grown as houseplants are only a few years old. Mature avocado trees — even dwarf cultivars — don’t fare well in the average household environment.

An indoor avocado tree will never grow to its full potential size. It’s also unlikely to live as long as a tree is planted outdoors. However, you can still enjoy an avocado tree as a houseplant for many, many years before needing to either transplant or retire it.

FAQ Avocado Tree Size

Citation

UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County – Growing avocado

The University of Florida – Avocado characteristics

The University of California – Pruning Avocados

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.