Avocado trees, like all other plants, become very stressed during transplanting. This happens because you disturb the root system and move the tree to a different environment that it is not used to.
To reduce the transplanting shock, you have to avoid damaging the tree’s roots when you dig it up. Also, give the plant shade until it is established and water it moderately but regularly.
I will tell you more about these measures in the following chapters. You will also learn what else you can do to avoid the consequences of transplanting.
Don’t damage the roots
Root damage during transplanting is one of the main causes of transplant shock. Although the plant can survive the loss of part of its root system, you still need to avoid it.
When digging up the tree, step back from the trunk at least 1 to 2 feet (for small trees) and 3 to 4 feet (for trees taller than 5 feet). You can also orient yourself to the width of the canopy of the plant and step back from the trunk half the width of the tree and only then start digging.
Dig very carefully, trying not to damage the big roots. Unfortunately, you can not save all the roots, but the more of them will remain, the weaker will be the transplant shock.
A big mistake is to shake the soil off the roots and soak them in water. Do not do this under any circumstances! The root system of trees develops in symbiosis with beneficial fungi that help the tree absorb moisture and other nutrients. By washing the soil off the roots, you remove the beneficial fungi and worsen the situation.
You should dig up the root ball with the soil and plant the tree in a new location as quickly as possible in the same condition. Please don’t leave the dug-up tree with its roots exposed either indoors or outdoors. Especially do not leave it in the sun. You must plant it the same day.
If the avocado tree is huge, you should have a professional transplanting service with the equipment to do this.
When transplanting an avocado tree to the pot, it will be a bit easier for the plant. It is not likely that you will damage the roots. Also, be careful that the soil does not crumble from the root ball.
Plant the tree so that the place where the roots and trunk meet is 0.5 to 1 inch above the yard’s surface. Do not put soil on the trunk (do not bury it). Otherwise, the trunk will rot, and the tree will die.
Shade the plant
The next most important cause of transplant shock is the sun. Even if you don’t damage the roots, the new place will be different from where the avocado was growing before.
There might have been less light in the previous place and more in the new place. Or the plant used to get direct sun only in the morning and now gets afternoon blazing sun. Either way, the sun forces the tree to evaporate moisture, and if it cannot draw enough water from the ground, the leaves will drop.
To avoid this, you definitely need to shade the avocado tree. This can be done in several ways; the simplest is to put a garden umbrella over it. But there is a drawback here; the rainwater will be less likely to get to the roots.
The second way is to stick 3-4 sticks in the ground or create a frame and put a shading net over the top. The net should filter at least half of the sun’s rays. This method is also convenient because it can help to shade quite tall trees.
Avocados should be shaded for at least 1-2 months. If the plant is doing well, after this period, you can remove the shade for short periods of time and see how it responds. But only if there is no summer heat.
If the tree doesn’t look good (drooping leaves) it should stay shaded until winter. Then it can be removed, and the plant is sure to revive in the spring.
If you have replanted the avocado in a pot, place it on the north side of the house to not be exposed to direct light. About a month after transplanting, put it in a sunny spot and see how it feels. If the leaves don’t droop, then all is well. If not, immediately move the avocado into the full shade for another month or more.
Water the avocado properly
Watering is the next thing to do after transplanting. But do not think that the more water you give the plant, the easier it will survive the transplanting shock.
No matter how carefully you dig up the plant, you will still damage the roots, and with a lot of water, the damaged places will start to rot. Therefore, you need to water properly.
Water often so that the soil around the avocado does not dry out more than an inch. It is better to water the first time with a lot of water, so the soil is well soaked. Then give a little more water from time to time to keep it from drying out.
In most cases, once or twice a week is enough. If there is a severe drought, a little more often is fine.
The amount of water depends on the plant’s size and will be 1 to 5 gallons or more. But once again, you do not need to make a swamp around the tree. The soil should always remain slightly moist but not swampy.
You will not have this problem with potted transplants. Excess water will escape through the drainage holes. Also, the roots will not be damaged by such transplanting. Water potted avocados twice a week, and they will easily survive transplanting.
Remove all fruits
Fruiting requires a huge amount of energy and nutrients from the tree. Some plants bear fruit once every two years. This is because the plant needs to rest.
In transplanting during the fruiting period, you have to remove all the fruit that has already grown. This will make it very easy for the avocado to survive the transplanting shock.
If your tree does not yet have fruit but has started to bloom, then you should remove all the flowers as well. This may seem like a time-consuming process, but it is worth it.
As a result, you won’t get any fruit this year, but you will help the tree get established faster in its new location.
When transplanting an avocado tree into a pot, you do not need to remove the fruit.
Don’t remove foliage and braches
Often gardeners remove some of the leaves or even branches after transplanting. They explain such actions that by removing leaves, the area of evaporation of moisture is reduced, and this supposedly should help the tree.
But they do not know that leaves stimulate the development of the root system. All plants have a growing above-ground part (leaves, branches) at the beginning of the season. The rest of the time, the root system develops equally to the top.
If you remove a large part of the leaves and branches, the plant will not develop new roots. This will prolong rooting for another year or more.
Besides, pruning is another source of stress for the plant. So do not remove anything after transplanting.
Use rooting hormones
The best way to speed up the avocado tree’s rooting and thereby reduce transplant shock is to use rooting hormones. This is not necessary, but it will help very well in the beginning.
Rooting hormones are chemicals called auxins. Plants produce these auxins themselves but in small quantities. If we give them these substances directly to the roots, they will develop much faster.
There are many good rooting hormones on the market. Two types are suitable for our needs – rooting powder and liquid rooting agent. Pour the powder into the planting hole and apply it to the root ball. Water the plants with liquid rooting hormone after transplanting and repeat such watering after a while.
Using rooting hormones can be a bit of a hassle and is not cheap, so like I said at the beginning, it is not necessary, and only you can decide if the tree is worth it or not.
You should also avoid giving the plant fertilizers, especially those with a lot of nitrogen. This kind of fertilizer will cause a lot of foliage growth, and we need the roots to develop. If you decide to fertilize your avocado, choose a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. This element is responsible for building up the root system.
Moisten the leaves
High humidity around will reduce water evaporation and help the plant to survive the transplanting more easily.
If the weather is dry, it is good to mist the leaves at least once a day. There is no need to water the tree. Just moisten the leaves with a sprayer, and that’s it.
If you have installed a shade as I recommended before, it will be even better. Moisten not only the leaves but also the shading net. This way, you can get a high level of moisture that will last a while.
It is not always necessary to moisten the leaves, but only when the weather is dry. You should also do it for 1 month after transplanting, but no more. Otherwise, prolonged high humidity can lead to brown spots on the leaves (fungal diseases).
Mulch the avocado tree
The last but not the least thing I recommend is to mulch the surface around the tree’s trunk. The mulch will trap moisture around the roots, and you will have to water less often.
The best mulch material is compost. Choose only quality compost from reputable manufacturers. Otherwise, you can have problems.
The mulch layer thickness should be at least 2-3 inches but no more than 5 inches. A thinner layer than I recommend will not hold moisture, and a thicker layer will prevent air from reaching the surface.
The mulching area should be the same as the area to which the branches of the tree extend. But not less than a 2-foot radius.
Also, do not put mulch on the trunk. The area where the trunk comes out of the ground should remain unmulched.