Can you grow avocados in North Carolina?

The US is a very big country with various soil and climatic conditions. This means that what’ll grow in one area might not even take root in another area. This is why knowing what will grow in an area is important. So, can you grow avocados in North Carolina?

Avocados are plants that love warm areas and usually grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 8–11. But for a place like North Carolina, which is zones 6–8, growing avocados can be a bit stressful. But it’s possible. The best way to plant it is indoors. If it’s outdoors, you can cover it during winter.

Before planting avocados, you need to prepare the seed. This isn’t like most other seeds; you must do it properly before planting. Here, we discuss whether you can grow avocados in North Carolina and how to do it.

What to Know About Avocados

Avocados are very versatile fruits in terms of use. You can eat them alone, used for dishes or in desserts. In addition, they have several health benefits that make them appealing to many people. But planting is a whole new game entirely. Planting avocados can be stressful because they’re particular about where they grow.

Avocados are native to South America and Mexico. So, they prefer sunnier and warmer locations with only mild winters to survive. The tree can grow to up to 40 feet. They grow and bear fruit only with the right temperature and minimal cold. They are subtropical understory trees that do best in semi-humid climates and warm weather. This means they’ll do best in  Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 8-11. When planted in any other zone, the chance of growth is limited.

They require a warm and moderate temperature almost throughout the year. This means that it’ll likely die if the plant experiences extreme heat in the summer and chilly winds and frost in the winter. It also requires regular rainfall or watering to produce fruits. So drought isn’t favorable for this plant at all. States like California, Hawaii, and Florida produce avocados in commercial quantities in the US.

Growing Avocados in North Carolina

North Carolina has a plant hardiness zone of 8a to 6a. This means the average winter temperatures vary from 10° F – 15° F to -10° – -5°. Thus, it’s slightly outside the scope of where avocados can grow. But avocados come in varieties, and some can survive in temperatures as low as 19-33 ° F. Anything below that, and there might be a problem. In zone 8, avocados can grow at around 10 – 20 degrees F.

The best way to grow avocado is to do so indoors, where you can control the environment. With indoor planting, you can control the light source, humidity, temperature, etc. you can plant it in a pot so you’ll be able to bring it inside when the temperature gets too cold. Even if you plant it outside and the temperature goes below the recommended levels, you can protect the plant by covering it with a freeze cloth. 

You’ll have to ensure that the tree’s surrounding area is free of weeds that will hold cold and affect the plant. In addition, you can also mulch the plants from anywhere above the grafted part. This’ll protect the grafts and rootstocks from frost and wind. Most of the care for this plant involves watering properly but not too much and fertilization. Avocadoes love extra nitrogen. So, you might want to get a custom mix.

How to Grow Avocado?

There are several steps involved when growing avocados. The basic ones include

1.  Prepare the Seed

If you’re planning to grow avocado, you’ll need to prepare the seed. You can get a seed by extracting the pit from inside the avocado. The pit is the hard part in the center of the avocado.

  • After taking out the pit, wash it.
  • Insert four toothpicks (wooden) inside at approximately one-third of their length
  • Put the pit in a glass jar and let it rest on the four toothpicks for support.
  • Pour water into the glass jar till it submerges only the pit bottom half
  • Put the jar in a wet-lit place as you need light for this process
  • Leave it there for between 2 and 6 weeks and change the water occasionally to prepare the seed.

You can easily see the progress since it’s in a glass jar. Once it starts sprouting roots, it’s time to take it out and plant properly.

2.  Planting  Avocados indoors

You can plant avocados inside pots, and they’ll thrive indoors. If you’re doing this, you should plant it in a container the way you prepared it. The soil should only cover the bottom half. Leave the top half bare. After planting, you have to place it where there’s a lot of light. So, pick the place with the best light exposure in your house.

Also, it’s best to use a porous pot, preferably a clay or terracotta pot. This allows moisture and air to pass through. You should also have drainage holes in the pot so air can move freely. You should start with a pot about 6 to 8 inches in diameter instead of a very big pot. Then, as the plant grows, you can re-pot it accordingly.

3.  Growing Avocados Outdoor

If you’re planning avocados outdoors in North Carolina, you’ll have to worry about the cold. So if your part of North Carolina isn’t where freezing temperatures are a major part of the weather conditions, you may try it. To do this, you should ensure that the roots aren’t too deep into the ground. Plant it shallow and do so in spring. This will let the plant acclimate to the soil before cold temperatures start. As usual, go for a place where there’s plenty of sunlight.

Also, consider the height that the tree can reach when you plant it outdoors. It can go as high as 40 feet. So, make sure you plant it where it won’t become a nuisance or affect the house. When planted indoors, the pot will limit its growth.

In Conclusion

Avocados can grow in North Carolina. But it won’t thrive here the same way it would do in a warmer climate. It’ll also require more hands-on effort from you. But it’s possible, and you can pull it off.