How To Prune An Avocado

avocados (2)If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the years teaching pruning, it’s that when I start to talk about old wood, new wood, two year old wood – your mind squeezes shut with fear.

So before we begin here today lets relax a little. Just hang with me here while I talk about new wood and how it influences how you prune your Avocado. 

Avocados Fruit On New Wood

flowers and fruits coming on new avocado wood ediblebackyard n

Avocados fruit on their new wood. The new wood is soft and bright and is at the ends of the branches. It’s the wood that the flowers and fruits are hanging from it.

Once this wood has flowered and fruited, it’ll never fruit again.

It will however carry on growing. The branch you see before you will stretch out a bit further every year. And the fruit will come on those new bits. It doesn’t take long for them to get annoyingly out of reach or annoyingly in the way!

Renewal Pruning

Avocado before prune

The solution to those far away Avocado’s is simple. Each season remove one or two branches at their point of origin. Be bold! Choose the tallest one or the one that’s cluttering up the middle.

Your tree will react to this by shooting out fresh new growths where you cut. The next lot of fruits are now reachable! Huzza!

This is renewal pruning. Off with the old, to grow the new. Oh to be a tree.

Apart from reach-ability, compact Avocados are way easier to foliar spray (how they love seaweed!), and much easier to protect from wind (which they hate).

Excerpt From “Pruning Fruit Trees: A Beginners Guide

No matter what fruit tree you prune, they all begin the same way – with a ponder. Follow that with the removal of the dead, damaged, crossing and diseased wood. Unless stated, stick to the golden rules: prune on a dry day, think first, and prune no more than a quarter.


Avocados can produce alot of fruit on a small tree. Happiness = feet on the ground for all orchard tasks! Avocado trees are super easy to prune. Their wood is soft and there is very little science to muddle your way through.

An annual prune makes for a quick, easy job. Leave the prunings as mulch around the bottom of the tree.

Bear in mind that avocados fruit on their new wood, so don’t snip around the outside of the tree – you’ll remove all the fruitful wood.


Prune your avocado as soon after harvest as possible.

Height And Width

Use thinning cuts to reduce the height and width to your chosen limits. Within your comfortable reach is a good guide – leave the ladders to the roofers! In a two for one deal those thinning cuts also open the tree for light and airflow. Focus on removing the dominant, vertical shoots. Avocados respond with a strong regrowth , so don’t be shy!

Fresh new shoots low down on the tree make for easy times ahead – fruitful wood, within our grasp.

Remove low branches to keep the fruits up out of the grass.

Avocado before prune

Before Pruning

what to prune off the avocado

after the prune

After pruning. The branches that are too high, too low and too wide have been thinned out.


  1. John Wilkinson says

    Hi Kath,
    Looks like the “high” one is still there ?

    • Sharp eyes John! If you look really closely you’ll see that it looks thinner up there – there was two branches. One pruned off from the tree in front, one remains from the tree behind.

      • John Wilkinson says

        That is very hard too see. Might show up better with more sky above it ? So the tree behind was next for downsizing ?

  2. Margaret Silverwood says

    Hi Kath,
    Do you have any advice about how to reduce the height of a really large avocado tree? It’s up to about 20 metres tall now, and I’d love to be able to take it down to a manageable size.

    • Holy moly Margaret! Yip you are going to need to bring it to its knees alright to get that fruit. Avocados are amazing at getting a big haircut and carrying along – you wont kill it ok. My style with pruning is to chip away over a few years when bringing a big tree back to ground – although equally I’ve seen big trees felled back to size in one go. My way would be to choose one or two of those big long limbs and remove them back to the trunk (thin them out). Do this over the next few years and steadily bring her down to ground. Then keep her there 🙂 Hope this helps

  3. Joy jacobs says

    Kath. I have an avocado tree gone from a stone thrown not the garden it’s about 5/7 years old . Will it fruit it looks healthy enough .

    Joy jacobs

    • Hi Joy There is no way of knowing sorry to say – you’ll know when you see flowers. Can take up to 10 years, but some of those stone grown trees are amazing fruiters. Good idea to keep it pruned though so that when it fruits you can reach them. 🙂

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