December 26, 2015
We have an avocado plant that has become almost a small tree. We move it outside in late spring and back inside in late fall. Every year we think we are going to lose it when we move it inside, because it drops most of its leaves. We put it in a sunny window and it barely survives the winter then we move it outside and it leafs back out and continues to grow. Right now we are in the leaf dropping stage. Is there anything we can do to prevent it from dropping all its leaves? It is also really tall and skinny. I would like it to bush out more. Can I prune it now and would that help or hurt?
Avocados can grow quite tall and thin if you don’t pinch out the top bud. The top bud has dominance, and it will continue to keep growing upright unless you pinch it out. Removing the top bud will direct energy into some of the buds further down on the stem and encourage branching. I would suggest pruning it when you move it back outside, since it is already struggling indoors and needs all the leaves it can get now. I am assuming you are waiting too late to bring the plant inside in the fall each year. If you move it right before a killing frost, you are allowing it to begin to harden off outside and get used to the really cool nights. Then you bring it indoors where we have relatively little if any humidity, lower light and a constant temperature and the shock causes all the leaves to drop. If you can move it inside when the outside and inside temperature conditions are about the same, it can be an easier transition
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