En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, User Comments, Trees
Title: Non-native avocado trees in Rio Grande Valley from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just read the article in the Austin American Statesman about growing avocados outdoors. Don't know if they grow here, but they certainly don't just grow in south Florida. I used to live in Weslaco, in the Rio Grande Valley and there are avocado trees as high as houses all over town.

ANSWER:

Here is the previous Mr. Smarty Plants question to which you are referring. It was published first in the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants section of our website and then reprinted in the Austin American Statesman, which we very much appreciate.

You are correct, southern Florida is not the only place in North America where an avocado will grow. If it were in our Native Plant Database, which it is not because it is not native, we could go to our webpage on the plant and discover which states it would grow in and, again, follow the link to the USDA Plant Profile Map to see if it grew in Travis County.

The original question was "will it grow outside in Travis County?" From GardenGuides.com., here is an article on Hardy Avocado Trees in Austin. As you said, they point out:

"Traditional cultivation of avocado trees (Persea americana) takes place in the lower Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas around Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Austin is much farther north, and typically gardeners there deal with thin alkaline soil--much more challenging for successful cultivation of the subtropical avocado. Avocado can be grown in containers but inevitably becomes a tree taller than 30 feet. Austin is in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone 8b, although a warm winter may temporarily make it zone 9--cautiously good for avocado culture."

To take this just a step further, Austin, TX is in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, the southern tip of Florida is in Zone 10b, and Weslaco, in Hidalgo, right down in the southern tip of Texas, is in 9b to 10a. If you notice in the quotation above, the thin alkaline soil of Travis County is also difficult for the avocado. We don't pretend to be right about everything (a tough thing for Mr. Smarty Plants to admit), but we just answer the questions, and our answer was basically, we don't know. We told that customer that if the only choices were keep it inside where it had outgrown its space or move it to Travis County, then there was very little to lose in transplanting it outside in Austin, but we did not guarantee that it would survive our soils and winter temperatures.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Problems with native palms in Austin
April 10, 2011 - We had a large variety of California fan palms and blue sabal palms in our yard that were damaged during the last freeze. We found that several of them now have "spear pull," which means we could p...
view the full question and answer

Grafting Pecan Trees
July 05, 2013 - I have planted two pecan nuts and now they are about 4 feet tall trees, they have not been grafted but can I graft one of the trees to the other and vice versa and expect pecans from then, they are he...
view the full question and answer

Fruit trees for South Austin.
January 25, 2008 - I live in South, South Austin, just a pinch West of 35 near 1626. I would like to plant some fruit trees in the back yard. Anyone will sell fruit trees, but they don't always grow. What fruiting var...
view the full question and answer

Are baldcypress trees (Taxodium distichum) self-fertile
March 06, 2011 - We are considering planting a bald cypress in a grassy children's play area that has fair amount of clay in the soil and receives a good amount of rain water from an adjacent slope. This seems a good...
view the full question and answer

Removing leaves before transplanting from Miami
August 27, 2009 - What is good idea to remove some leaves before transplanting a plant??
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center