Baby Avocado in pot - browning leaves

liszeyJune 30, 2010

Hi all!

I have a 3 month old avocado that has been growing happily in a pot until this past week or so. Now the tips and edges of its few leaves are browning. It starts at the tips and moves to include the side edges of the leaves. None have dropped yet, but I'm sure they will.

Have looked this up on here and other sites: folks have suggested more water (leaves brown, not yellow which means over watering) and too much salt in the soil. However, I've increased the water this past week to no avail. I also flushed the soil yesterday, but the leaves are even worse today. Others have suggested lack of humidity, but it's been EXTREMELY humid in NYC this past week, so I don't think that's it.

The plant does have new growth at the top, so seems heathy otherwise, and I checked the roots for root rot yesterday before flushing the soil. All looks good.

Any other thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I don't want to lose this plant!



PS Al, my calamondin is SO happy in your soil and is about to burst into its biggest bloom ever out on my fire escape! Thanks again!!

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Lidzey, is there any way you can post a picture of it?

To me it sounds like sun burn from the hot days we are having...My neighbor has one that he has to keep out of the full afternoon sun or it burns...Let's make sure


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 4:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The main reasons would be too much water, too little water, a high level of salts in the soil, high root temperatures, a nutritional deficiency.

Which of those do you think you can eliminate & when did you fertilize last - with what (including NPK %s), and at what strength?


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 9:09PM
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Thanks, Mike and Al! I will try to get a pic up sometime today.

Sunburn - I don't think so. It was outside for a little bit, but I put it inside about two weeks ago because we had a rampaging squirrel on the fire escape that ate some of my other plants. Grrrr. It's in a very sunny window now.

Too much H2O - maybe, because I've increased it in the past week and a 1/2. But based on descriptions of how avocados act with too much water (yellow), I think I can eliminate this.

Too little H2O - maybe, but I've increased this and have seen no change. This is what I thought it was originally based on other things I've read.

Salts - maybe. I flushed the soil on Tuesday. No change.

Root temp - don't think's been inside

Nutritional - maybe. Doesn't look like fertilizer burn....I've barely fertilized it because it's so young. Al, I think I fed it a month ago using standard 1/2 strength Miracle Grow Houseplant food. (8-7-6). I can switch to Foliage Pro if you think that would be better...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:41AM
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OK, here's a pic. Don't worry the room isn't really that dark - I just adjusted the settings on my phone camera to get a better view of the leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Avocado

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:36AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

My sister's avocado trees have done this indoors (laundry room), especially where the air is very dry.
Outdoors, the leaves have browned and crisped on windy days and in high-light locations, even for a
short exposure.

Although my own avocado is outdoors on a hot deck, I do strategically locate it in the shade or other
plants - and I shade half the .71 gallon container with a couple bricks.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 11:39AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

First, I would say that you can't really tell or second guess by looking at the leaves whether the problem is over-watering, under-watering, or too much salt in the soil, because the plant exhibits the same drought response for each of these cultural adversities.

Your plant really appears to be suffering some nutritional deficiencies (N, Mg, Fe?). Are you using the 5:1:1 mix? Did you lime it? I would flush the soil thoroughly several times, then fertilize with a half strength dose of any soluble 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer, Then, either unpot & leave it on newspaper overnight, or insert a wick & tip the pot at a 45* angle with the wick down (if the soil/root mass is too loose to unpot) until draining stops. Leave the wick in, because my bet is you've been over-watering & the wick will help with that. Sound like a plan? ;o)


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 1:30PM
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Thanks everyone!

Josh - the humidity MIGHT be it...though as I said it has been humid outside. It is indoors now, though, and i have had my air conditioner going on the worst hot days, so that would suck out the humidity of the particular room it was in. I haven't had it on in the past few days, however. Just to be safe, I moved it to another room that doesn't have air and still has good light.

Al, I regret to say that I haven't had the time to continue my search for ingredients for building your mixes in NYC (without a car and with little cash flow). So it's in "awful" MG regular potting mix. After all your wonderful advice and help, I'm a little embarassed, but there it is. :) I will re-flush it as you suggest and put a wick in (shoelace) since I think it is definitely too loose after checking the roots to stay together. It goes through the bottom hole up through the pot, right?

Will also try to find a fertilizer with that ratio...oy.

Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:29PM
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I have an idea that for works my friends, for your soilless mix..

Do you have some sort of strainer, like a spaghetti one, or an insect screen even?

They strain most of the peat out of the bagged mix, and use mostly what is left behind, the bark, a bit of peat, and perlite..Then add a bit more perlite..The less peat, the better. As long as you have about 5 parts bark to one part peat, and some perlite, it is better than the mix right out of the bag.

Just a thought if you want a less peaty and well draining mix....


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oh gee, Liz - I didn't ask that question as a form of pressure or with any intent to make you feel bad - at all; so don't feel embarrassed about whatever soil you might be using. I only asked that question because it's more unlikely there would be over-watering issues with the kinds of soils I use, though it doesn't prevent them entirely. ;o)

The fertilizer is easy to find and inexpensive. You can get it almost anywhere. Just look for MG, Peter's, or other soluble fertilizers in 24-8-16, or MG in 12-4-8. It's not likely you'll find the FP 9-3-6 w/o some scouting.

The wick only needs to go into the pot far enough that it will stay put. It doesn't have to go 'up' into the soil; it will pull the water that's higher in the pot downward by 'fooling it into thinking' the pot is deeper. As the water travels down the wick, it pulls more water with it and then drops off the end of the wick.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 8:02PM
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Mike - what a great idea! I'm doing that ASAP.

Al - don't worry, I don't feel pressure from you! Really it's just me putting the pressure on myself and being frustrated with my circumstances RE: soil making. My calamondin really is doing great, so I was hoping to have switched most of my plants over by now. Hopefully I can use Mike's suggestion for many of them that can do the 5-1-1 instead of the gritty mix.

And I DO have the 9-3-6 foliage pro! Just wasn't thinking about the math. LOL Bought it online this winter when we talked about my tree.

Thanks again, guys!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 8:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

liszey, and then there's this: the browning of container grown avocado leaves is extremely common. I'd have to say typical, in fact. I don't know the reason, but it just happens.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 11:25PM
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