Why Is My Avocado Tree Leggy?

Wild, Avocado tree height can reach 6 feet (2 meters) before branching off of the stem. They also get plenty of sunlight.

Avocado trees are prone to becoming unbalanced when they are grown inside – the one spindly stem that reaches upwards and an erect crown of leaves and with no branches.

It’s not that difficult to get the Avocado to grow out when you know the reason it’s become sluggish. In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons for legginess and the best way to do something to address it.

To fix a leggy Avocado tree:

  • Make sure the plant gets sufficient lighting
  • Cut your avocado’s central stem to a half height at six to eight inches (15-20 cm.)
  • Check that it is equipped with the correct mix for potting and the correct size pot.
  • Maintain a steady temperature within the plant

What Does Leggy Mean?

When we say that a plant is “leggy,” it means that the growth is tall, but thin, and lacking many flowers or leaves.

For annual plants that die in winter, a sagging appearance is usually a normal part of their dying process.

For perennials and trees such as Avocado the primary reason for plants becoming overweight is the lack of sunlight and poor pruning.

Causes of A Leggy Avocado Plant

The main reason for the Avocado plant’s sagging growth is the absence of sunlight. Regular pruning is a great method to encourage development in lower parts of the plant’s stem.

Pruning can reduce the time of growth. However, it can help the stem grow stronger and free it of a sagging appearance.

Lack of Light

If they don’t receive enough sunlight, Avocado plants quickly grow tall and spindly. They require light for photosynthesis, the process through which they create food.

In photosynthesis, light interacts in the chlorophyll green found in the leaves of plants, together with carbon dioxide and water. The result is glucose and oxygen that the plant utilizes for growth or stores for later use.

In the absence of a sufficient lighting source, Avocados aren’t able to create enough nutrients. They enter a state of emergency and utilize the remaining energy they have to produce an increase in growth – resulting in an extended growth pattern with only a only a few leaves reaching for the closest light source.

Plants contain special proteins known as photoreceptors that are found in their stems and leaves that are extremely attuned to the light.

This is how they decide where to send their urgent growth. If the plant is able to get to the light before running out of power, then it can grow leaves and develop normal.

Pot Size

The young Avocado plants can thrive in a tiny pot for about a year. Then the roots will begin to fill the pot, then the avocado plant is likely to be the pot is bound.

The plant will cease to produce numerous leaves, and then grow upwards with a leggy growth. This is due to the fact that the roots that are overcrowded aren’t able to absorb enough nutrients in the right amounts.

avocado tree two fruit

Excessive Fertilizer

A high concentration of nitrogen can lead the plant to show an excessive amount of growth quickly. Nitrogen is the main ingredient in the development of the green areas of plants and is essential to ensure healthy development.

But, if plants are exposed to too much nitrogen, especially when it isn’t fully developed, it can begin to produce cells at a rate that is not sustainable which results in a weak, sluggish growth.


Avocados are subtropical or tropical plants that prefer an extremely humid, warm climate with a mild summer and slightly cooler winter.

Based on the species that they are, they thrive in temperatures ranging from 68-82 degrees F (20-28degC) with an average humidity of 45-65 percent.

In the absence of these conditions it is not likely to thrive and could grow leggy, especially when it is young.

Temperatures that are higher are more likely to trigger rapid growth spurts that are leggy than temperatures that are lower, since Avocado plants go dormant during colder times of the year.

How to Fix A Leggy Avocado Tree

Provide Enough Light

The first step to fix the problem of a sagging Avocado plant is to ensure that it gets enough light. If it’s an indoor plant you’ll probably require the most bright spot within your home. A space that is a few feet from a bright window is ideal.

In the summer or spring when temperatures are typically between 68 and 82 degrees (20-28degC) Consider the possibility of moving the plant outdoors. It is possible to leave the plant outside during the night so long as temperatures don’t fall to the freezing point.

Aged Avocados enjoy full sun however direct sunlight could cause damage to younger plants. Therefore, when your avocado is younger 5 years of age, you should avoid setting it up in a spot that direct sunlight hits its leaves.

It is particularly dangerous close to windows, since the glass intensifies sun’s rays , which can burn the plant quickly.

It is easy to determine if the plant’s sagging is due to a lack of light since the growth is inclined towards the light source closest to it.

However If it is growing up it is likely that something else is responsible for the discomfort.

Prune Your Avocado Regularly

Even under ideal conditions, if you fail to trim the Avocado plant, it’s likely to grow unbalanced. Pruning properly is crucial to encourage the growth of branches. Cut the plant’s tips and uppermost leaves at twelve inches (30 centimeters). Thankfully, pruning Avocado plants is simple. Follow these steps:

  • The first step is to get good secateurs. They will allow you to trim your plant without damaging the stems. Even the most sharp of scissors can cause bruises and damage to the cells surrounding the cut.
  • Then, clean your secateurs of any visible debris to decrease the chance of spreading disease to your plants. Make use of a general-purpose cleaner. There’s no need to sterilize them using alcohol or bleach.
  • Now it’s time to trim. If this is your first pruning, ensure that the plant is 6-8 inches high. Cut a clean line about halfway, right above the leaf node. Leaf nodes are simple to recognize – they’re the tiny bumps that create the leaves.
  • The plant is now producing two branches from the place of the initial pruning. When these branches reach 8 inches in length, you are able to cut or pinch the ends.
  • One branch could assume the role of main stem (known by the term apical dominance). When the stem is 12 inches, you can pinch or trim the tips to direct the plant’s energy to other branches.
  • Keep trimming branches as they grow beyond eight inches, until the plant has the shape you would like it to be. Don’t cut smaller branches.

As your plant grows older it will be able to reduce the amount and often you trim it. When it’s about 2 years of age, you’ll only have to trim it every year. Be sure to prune it during the winter months or in the fall when the plant isn’t active in growth. (Source: University of Georgia)

Prune The Roots

Root pruning is an excellent method to maintain the plant at a certain size, without causing issues due to being roots bound. It is recommended to do this every year after the plant is at your desired size.

  • To trim the roots of a plant take the plant gently from its pot the same way you would do when you repot it. Then, using sharp, clean secateurs or scissors, trim 1 inch off the roots on an area of rootball. Note the side you cut or perhaps mark it in the plant’s pot.
  • Sprinkle a bit of freshly sprayed potting mix and put the plant back into the pot.
  • When pruning the roots of a plant make sure to give a gentle cut to the top growth to compensate for the loss of roots.
  • The following season, you can repeat this process on the opposite part of the root ball.

Use A Suitable Pot Size

If you’ve cultivated the Avocado plant from seeds It can be kept in a 6- to 8-inch pot for the first year , or two. When it is 2 or 3 feet tall, you’ll have to pot it again.

Make sure to use a pot that is an inch or two larger and a little deeper. Then the plant needs to be repotted into a larger pot each year or until it reaches the size you desire for it to be.

When the plant is as big as you’d like it to be and you are happy with it, stop repotting it in larger pots. Instead, each spring, you should replace the top two inches of potting mix with new mix. Every few years, trim the roots of the plant when they begin to become root bound.

Repot Using The Right Soil

Avocado plants are like an open, fertile, well-draining potting mix which remains moist, but not wet or sloppy.

A mix of one-third compost, one-third sand and one-third vermiculite or perlite is the best choice. It is also possible to use an cactus potting mix that has been enriched by a small amount of compost.

A good drainage system is essential to keep your avocado’s root system in good health, so that it will absorb nutrients efficiently and flourish.

The roots are susceptible to rotting when they are extremely wet for more than just a few days, so ensure that the water will be easily drained from the plant’s pot. Don’t leave your plant in water longer than one hour at a stretch.

Maintain The Correct Temperature Around Your Avocado Plant

It is recommended to place the plant within a place that the temperature does not fluctuate excessively and doesn’t exceed the temperature of 82degF (28degC).

Make sure your plant is away from hot sources and areas that are draughty Try to avoid moving it around excessively.

If, for instance, you’re planning to move the furniture outside, do so when temperatures at night are above freezing, which means you don’t need to keep moving it inside.

If you are bringing your plant inside during winter, make sure to bring it inside in a temperature similar to the temperature inside your home, so that you don’t stress the plant.

Propagating Your Plant

If pruning your avocado sounds like a little bit of an inconvenience, you can take solace in the knowledge that you can plant new plants using the cuttings!

If you have a cut of 5 or 6 inches, it’s ideal to propagate. It is simple:

  • Take off all except the upper one or two leaves off the stem.
  • Remove the skin from the bottom half millimeter of stem.
  • To increase the chance that the plant will take roots, use the hormone that stimulates root growth..
  • Put the cut in a mix of peat moss and perlite and then water it well.
  • Make sure the cutting is kept moist by wrapping it in plastic.
  • Be on the lookout for new growth! If you spot it, you’ve got an all-new Avocado plant.

Can I Cut The Top off My Avocado Tree?

In most cases, you can. The removal of the top layer of the plant can encourage it to expand outwards instead of upwards, and is an the best way to decrease the amount of sluggishness.

If you take the top of the plant, be sure that you leave some of the leaves on the plant to ensure it can grow food.

If you remove the portion that has all the leaves removed from this plant will not be able to photosynthesise and will likely end up dying.

Although it’s possible that the plant has enough energy to create new leaves in this scenario however, there is a risk of significant danger.

How Do I Make My Avocado Bushy?

To help your avocado tree to grow and grow into a bushier habit, you’ll have to trim it frequently in the initial two years of growth, since this is the time when it begins to develop its initial growth.

If the plant you have is more than this, it’s likely that you will not be able to alter its appearance or pattern.

If you’ve got a new plant, trim it the first time once it’s six to 8 inches high. Cut off half the height, then cut off the top and tip leaves as the central stem is growing back up to twelve inches.

When the new branches are eight inches, cut the tips. Repeat this procedure with every new branch until the plant is as tall as you like it.

As your avocado tree grows be sure to prune the branches at the top and leaving the lower branches uncut.

This will allow trees to develop laterally instead of vertically, and will allow more sunlight to reach the lower leaves. Once the tree is established, a regular pruning during winter or fall keeps it in good shape.

How Do You Thicken an Avocado Tree Trunk?

The best method to allow your avocado to grow an imposing, strong trunk is to ensure that it is in the right conditions requires and to continue pruning the plant.

If you trim the main stem as well as other branches the plant will channel the energy into its growth, including its main stem. As the plant grows the main stem will get thicker and grow more ‘trunk-like.’

Final Words

The most important thing to grow an beautiful, bushy avocado tree is to provide it with the proper conditions. The most important thing is enough light and steady temperatures, and trimming it regularly in the first two years.

Avocados can provide you with beautiful foliage if you take care to treat them with respect!



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)