Lauren In Tokyo

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Avocado: 9 months along

As the weather grew a bit cooler in the last couple months, the avocados themselves have slowed their growth to match. They are getting bigger, but they are not growing like they were during the warm summer months.

One of the big changes is the formation of bark at the base of the trees. Though most of the trunk is still green and plant-like, the bottom inch or two has developed a tree-like bark. Both trees were damaged in their early stages, so there is a clearly visible point where the bark stops. This bark is a new development since the weather started cooling, so I am interested to see if the entire trunk becomes woody as we progress through the winter.

One other thing I noticed in the past couple months is that the avocados seem to go through a difficult dormant stage right around 7-9 months. The older avocado, for a long time, seemed to have stopped growing altogether. There were leaf buds visible at the crown of the tree, but they didn't seem to get any larger. The younger avocado also seems to have entered this stage because it shows the same set of leaf buds but exhibits no growth. A few weeks ago I pinched the dormant buds off the older tree and have been rewarded with a flurry of new growth. You can see the new growth in the photo.

I'm not sure how much I want to promote growth at this time, though. With cold weather approaching and the daylight time becoming short, it may be better for the trees to become a bit dormant soon.

There is a slight concern that the younger tree may be a bit anemic. I moved the pots around in the early spring to make room for other things on the veranda, and through the summer it seemed okay. However when the days started becoming shorter, the veranda wall was blocking most of the direct sunshine. Since the avocado tree is fairly short, it wasn't receiving any direct sunlight. I believe this is the reason why the leaves were very light green compared to the older avocado which had much darker leaves. I moved both trees on top of the storage box you see in the picture so that they can receive a whole day's worth of sun everyday. The leaves are no longer yellowish, so I take that as a good sign.

Here is the younger avocado. Note the small leaf buds at the top and the bark at the bottom.

Here is the older avocado. This one also has bark, but you can also see the new flourish of leaves at the top where it was pinched. The leaves always come out at an angle from the point of the pinch.