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How to Save a Dying Avocado Tree (9 Steps You Should Take)

How to Save a Dying Avocado Tree (9 Steps You Should Take)

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Avocados are delicious and healthy, but they can be a bit finicky to grow. If your avocado tree is looking a little worse for wear, you’ve come to the right place!

It’s possible to revive a dying avocado tree. It boils down to identifying the cause of the problem and addressing it appropriately. 

Not sure where to start? Stick around and I’ll show you what to do.

How To Save A Dying Avocado Tree Pin

How to Know If Your Avocado Tree Is Dying

Two of the leading causes of avocado tree death are root rot and fungal diseases. The thing is, there are a number of varieties that affect avocado trees, and if this is not addressed quickly it can take over the tree and kill it. 

But how do you recognize when there’s a problem with your tree? Consider the following signs and symptoms:

  • The leaves of the tree are turning brown and falling off.
  • Many of the leaves in the upper part of the canopy are pale green, small, have brown tips, and fall off easily.
  • Any new shoots turn brown and recede from the tip, leaving only the bare branches.

Note that brown leaves on your avocado tree don’t always mean it is diseased. There are times when too much sun and too much heat will certainly cause the leaves to yellow or turn brown.

In these cases, watering them more consistently and keeping them out of full sunlight is a good idea.

How to Revive a Dying Avocado Tree: Step-by-Step Guide

So, what can you do if your avocado tree is actually diseased? Here are some steps you can take to return it to a healthy state:

Wilting Avocado Tree

1. Identify the Issue

The first thing I recommend doing is taking note of all of the symptoms. Then, head to a local gardening center and talk to someone who understands what it might be.

Doing this will determine how you are going to handle reviving the tree and potentially eliminating the disease that is causing the problem.

2. Use Gypsum

Gypsum is rich in calcium and some varieties of root rot will not thrive under these conditions.

Use around 25 pounds of crushed gypsum (view on Amazon) and work it into the soil surface to a depth of around six to ten inches.

This calcium-rich environment will help to prevent new spores from forming in certain fungal diseases and will help to prevent the life cycle from continuing.

3. Use Mulch

If you liberally spread several inches of wood mulch around the base of the tree so that all of the root areas are covered, you can help to promote better growth.

The wood mulch will actually promote the growth and development of bacteria that can inhibit and eliminate some fungal diseases.

4. Don’t Water as Much

One issue with some trees is that they are overwatered. Overwatering any plant can create conditions for fungal growth.

Try holding back on the watering frequency so that you don’t encourage fungal growth. The spores don’t like dryer conditions.

5 – Test the Water

Avocado Tree With Brown Leaves

Sometimes, certain elements, such as boron, can encourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria and fungi.

If you’ve tried everything else and the tree isn’t getting better, you can take a sample of your yard water to be tested.

6. Check the Drainage

Poor drainage in the soil will hasten the appearance of root rot and other problems because the water stays in the soil and soaks the roots.

One way to prevent this situation is to dig drainage channels around the tree roots.

Some people use channels of PVC piping, but it may just be easier to dig small tunnels with a spade around the roots and leave them filled with loose soil. This will provide a reasonable channel for excess water to drain through.

If your avocado tree is located on sloping land, the drainage channels become more effective.

7. Replace with New Soil

In conjunction with other methods, you can also try replacing the top layer of soil with new soil. This will help to eliminate any pathogens around the roots that could be causing problems.

8. Use Good Fertilizer

Avocado trees need the right mix of nutrients in the soil they are growing in.

Sometimes, the nutrition balance is not right, such as too little nitrogen. This can encourage the growth of pathogens, but can also affect the ability of the tree to fight off things like root rot.

To fix this, invest in some good-quality fertilizer.

Make sure that you use it liberally four times a year and start in the winter season. This will ensure that the tree has access to good-quality soil and nutrients and will enable it to fight off diseases more effectively.

9. Use Fungicides

Finally, if all else fails or you want to use multiple treatments at once, you can invest in a good quality fungicide. This will help to eliminate the pathogens causing the disease.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Avocado Tree

Young Avocado Tree

Ultimately, the overall health of your avocado tree largely depends on the conditions in which it’s growing. By caring for it correctly throughout the year, you can reduce the chances of disease forming and other problems.

Here are a few tips for taking for your avocado tree:

  • Water Deeply But Not Frequently: With avocado trees, you want to water deeply and less frequently rather than shallowly and more often. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week. Also, be sure not to water it in the heat of the day as it will simply evaporate and cause dry soil.
  • Prune the Tree Regularly: Pruning not only helps maintain the shape of the tree, but it also helps promote new growth. Aim to prune in the late winter or early spring before the tree starts to leaf out. 
  • Mulch Around the Tree: Mulching around your avocado tree will help retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, and suppress the growth of weeds. Organic mulch, like wood chips and shredded leaves, of around 2-3 inches thick is optimal. 
  • Frost Protection: If you live in a cold climate that gets frost, you need to cover your tree with a frost blanket, as avocado trees are sensitive to frost, especially younger ones.
  • Well-Draining Soil: Avocado trees prefer well-drained, loamy soil with a pH level that’s between 6 and 7.5. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, you can amend it with some sand or other organic matter to improve its drainage. 

Final Thoughts

Avocados Growing On A Tree

Avocados are a fantastic and nutritious fruit and many people love to grow them in their yards. They do need proper care and maintenance to thrive.

One issue that many avocado trees have is root rot and fungal infections. By taking the proper steps, you can revive a dying tree and restore its health in the long term. 

You’ll then have a healthy tree and healthy fruits for a long time to come!

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Ava Andrews

Thursday 12th of May 2022

I grew an avocado tree from a seed and it had 5 leaves on it and the seed broke in half. It was at least 4 days before I planted it in dirt. By that time it was looking unhappy and the leaves all fell close to the stalk and began to shrivel up. I had soaked it pretty good so I put it in the sun and have now moved it to the shade. It still looks sad. The dirt is still damp. What should I do? It has taken so long to get to this point and I don't want to loose this plant/tree.

Jeff Parks

Saturday 30th of April 2022

Great article. I ordered the gypsum and fertilizer you recommended. Thank you, Jeff


Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Best of luck with your avocado tree!

Happy Planting! Lisa


Sunday 3rd of April 2022

It is April 4 in San Jose and I have a 15’ Haas avocado tree. It has been living mostly in the shade between 2 olive trees. I took down one tree on the East so the avocado tree will get full sun. It is covered in what must be lime green blooms but no flowers. It has dropped a few brown leaves while sprouting new growth. I’m confused what might be what it is doing. Can anyone give me some suggestions? Thanks!


Tuesday 30th of August 2022

@Gail, Without knowing how old the tree is I would guess it is just not quite ready to produce fruit and acclimatizing to the new sun aspect. My trees drop leaves all the time. Be patient. I am sure it will reward you for your energies in no time at all. :)

Linda Matthews

Saturday 12th of March 2022

My tree has had some exposure to freeze & wind. Leaves are brittle and brown. Can I cut the stock at the top,I do see some tiny sprouts. Any suggestions


Tuesday 15th of March 2022

Hi Linda, I'm sorry to hear about the freeze and wind damage! I think there's some good info on this from the University of California here:

They suggest not rushing into pruning after freeze damage, but to give it some time for new growth to appear and better assess the damage first.

Happy Planting! Lisa


Friday 4th of March 2022

Thank you for the article, I did ruins 3 little tree. I grow them outside (actually 1 a live but Im moving, so I dont know what's happen then) move too new house I let dying 1 and grow another, and just dying, now I know maybe to hot and windy or too cold. I leave in Lake Elsinore up hill. I hope next one will alive. Thank again.