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Avocado Leaves Turning Brown

Avacado Tree 1 Year Old

Avacado Tree 1 Year Old

Ask the Expert: What is wrong with my avocado tree?

The little thing is a year old. It did not get much sun at all this winter but now it has full southern exposure and plenty of light. I keep it inside and ensure it’s nice and warm.
When new leaves sprout from the top the older larger leaves turn brown and fall off the bottom.
I have tried giving it plenty of water and I’ve tried to dry it out.
I’ve tried a little water each day but still can’t stop what’s happening to it. Dianne

Plant Expert Reply:

It looks like you have a water stress issue.  Instead of a little water each day, water it thoroughly and when the soil starts to dry out water it thoroughly again.  At some point you will need to water it with a very diluted solution of water soluble fertilizer.  I would remove the brown leaf.  Do watch for leaf spot.  If the leaves start to get rust colored spots, you will have to treat it for leaf spot disease.  Try to give it as much light as possible.  For the summer you might want to put it outside.  Good Luck and Keep Me posted.

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  1. Mark,

    Not sure can you send me a picture of it.

  2. hope this helps

    Attached Image: 010.png

  3. Mark,

    It seems your avocado is blooming. hopefully, the bees in your area will pollinate it and the plant will begin to produce fruit. Take a look at this article about avocado pollination in Austrialia it might have some helpful information.

  4. ooh that exciting,,thank you,,

  5. I have a avacado plant that I started from a seed and its about 1-1/2′ tall now. I’ve noticed recently the same problem with the tips of the leafs suddenly looking burnt and will try some of the suggestions here, but also, I have some kind of tiny little knats flying all around the plant and have no idea how to get rid of them.

    Are there any suggestions?

    Thank you!

  6. Kaye, the gnats flying around your plant could be fungus gnats coming from the soil of your container, especially if you keep it consistently moist. Poke around your soil to see if you see any larvae. We also suggest using something like a fork to till around the soil to let the top layer dry, this will deter these types of pests. You can find a houseplant Pyrethrum spray that will work for your gnats at your local garden center. They will have further instructions on how to use it for your specific problem, but most likely you will spray the soil to rid the plant of these gnats.

  7. I’ve had my avocado for for several years now, grown from a seed. I bring it in every winter, and put it out on the porch when the weather finally gets nice in northern IL. This year I waited too long to bring it in and all the leaves turned brown, crumpled and fell off. I waited, and have beautiful leaves growing again. I have noticed a few browning spots, so plucked those leaves off. There are a few holes in unbrown leaf – could it have an uninvited guest hiding somewhere? Otherwise it’s happy and I’m looking forward to more new grown.

  8. Sounds like your plant probably fell victim to some sort of chewing insect. I would recommend wiping down all of the leaves, top and bottom, with a damp rag. Check the leaves carefully for any leggy pests along the way. Unless you see more of these holes, I would not recommend spraying it with an insecticide, especially if it is still recovering. Good luck! Let us know if we can help with anything else.

  9. I’ve had my avocado for about 2 years now, grown from seed indoors. It was doing really well for it’s first year, but over the winter all it’s leaves turned brown and eventually dropped, and the main stalk started turning brown from the top down. I decided I wouldn’t give up on it until the entire stalk was dead. It had absolutely no leaves. It gets plenty of light everyday, in a large plastic pot, and completely protected from any drafty windows. No signs of insects. I water well only when the soil’s dry. It’s recently started growing new leaves (yay!), but some of the baby leaves are browning already, and the main stalk is still very slowly continuing to brown, still from the top down. I’ve already tried snipping off the brown on the stalk, but the brown is still traveling downwards. What can I do?

  10. Liz,

    Does the pot have drain holes? The problem sounds like a form of root rot.

  11. Liz Moser says:

    It does have drain holes! And I only water when it’s dry, I stick my finger in pretty far to check. Also, it’s potted in Miracle Gro Cactus Palm & Citrus soil which is fast draining. If it’s root rot, is it treatable? Is there a way to tell for sure?

  12. Liz,

    Lift the rootball out of the pot and examine the roots. If the are whitish and firm, the roots are ok. If the roots are , black, soft or mushy the plant has root rot. In the case of root rot, you will need to make sure the water can drain away from the plant. Sometimes the drain holes get stopped up. You can trim the diseased roots off — hopefully this will stimulate new roots. Water the plant with a light solution of root stimulator or Vitamin B1. If you have to cut several roots off, you will need to trim the plant back slightly as well.

  13. Liz Moser says:

    Thanks Jamie, I’ll give it a try!

  14. Marie Wilson says:

    Hello ! I have the same problem every year – my avocado tree loses lots of leaves every year just about the time it is getting ready to bloom. The leaves just turn yellow and drop off.
    The tree is well established – about 14 years old and it does bear fruit but few of them. I have the same problem each and every year .
    What causes it ?

    Many thanks – I would really appreciate your thoughts’

  15. Marie,

    It looks like a nitrogen deficiency. You may need to fertilize it once a month from March through October. Take and soil sample to your state extension office and have them test it. They will be able to tell you what fertilizer blend you need.

  16. Tree is about six years old. I don’t think it gets as much light as it would like since it was winter and my apartment has crumby light. I may not have watered it enough in the winter, but I tried to stick to a good water routine since January. I know we have hard water here and I tried to mix vinegar into the water to desalt the soil? I saw that on a forum. I really want to salvage this tree. There is some black tip action on one of the limbs. New growth appears but quickly dies off by browning. I was spraying it for fungus as advised by someone else. The leaves browned around the edges and just curled up and died.

    Attached Image: P1040936.jpg

  17. have 2 plants, organic seeds & soil, planted at the same time. Both sprouted 2 shoots/(trunks?) & on one plant, one shoot died off, & that plant is wilting, & the other is fine! Any ideas?!

  18. Lauren,

    Hard to tell without knowing what the plants are and the environmental conditions. It is most likely an environmental issue such as water, light, or temperature. If the seeds were for different plants the conditions might be right for one and not the other. If they are thee same could be survival of the fittest.

  19. Lacey,

    trying to grow an avocado in an apartment is a tall task. Unless you can get the plant more light, you will continue to have problems. Since you have multiple problem I will address them individually.

    Water – I would not had vinegar to the water. If you are concerned about your tap water – fill a wide mouth container with water and let it sit over night. Many of the chemicals used in city water systems will evaporate within 24hrs if left in an open container. You can then use the water to water your plant.

    Plant tip action could be a type of Anthracnose or it could be Phytophthora Root Rot – you would need to spray it with the proper fungicide — not all fungicides kill all types of fungus. You can take a leaf and part of a stem to your county extension office and see if they will test it for you to determine which fungus it is. (In Arkansas the extension office will test it for free).

    If you have not re-potted the plant in several years, you may need to — if the plant is root-bound it could be causing a little bit of your trouble.

  20. My plants are about 9 months old, started from seed in my apartment in southern Germany – I know, wrong climate zone for avos, but they did surprisingly fine over winter indoors next to a large window. Now that the days have gotten warmer I put them outside, but recently noticed some leaves turning a copper/golden color (it seems to start around the veins), eventually covering the whole leaf and causing it to shrivel up. It’s happening quickly, too. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! (image attached)

    Attached Image: P4180006.jpg

  21. another image of a leaf at an advanced stage

    Attached Image: P4180010.jpg

  22. Lia,

    Were the areas a bit yellow before turning coppery? This may be a result of a mite. You may need to a magnifying glass to see the mite. It will be on the backside of the leaf. You will need to treat the plant with a miticide.

  23. Chuck Anderson Hemet, CA says:

    I have this new growth leaves that are brownish and it is on all the new sprouting leaves. It is on a drip system about 5 minutes per day that fills a ring around base to tree.
    I think it should has plenty water. ??? See Pic
    Thanks for your Help.\chuck

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  24. “I was wondering if this tree is save able, if so, what ratio fertilizer do you advice? The tree is about forty years old and does not bear good fruit, maybe one fruit out of fifty. Any help would be wonderful. Thank you very much!”

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  25. Denise,

    It is hard to tell from the photos what exactly is happening.
    Does the plant have more green leaves or yellow leaves? Are the yellow leaves all over or just at the top or base of the tree?

    If the plant has dieback from the top it could be a type of root-rot in which case very hard to overcome. However, if the leaves are here and there it could be a water or fungal issue, both of which can be controlled.

    As for fertilizer need to determine and correct the stress issue first then fertilize.

    Please send me a photo of the whole tree.

  26. Thanks Jamie for your quick response. The yellow leaves look like there at the outer top. I guess you can have a look. There is a fair amount of green leaves, some which look healthy. Here’s the photo.

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  27. Denise,

    I want to rule out an insect problem. To do that I need you to get a magnifying glass and look at the damaged leaves both the brown and the yellow ones. Look at the backside of the leaves to see if mites or thrips are present. You can also check the damaged fruit. If insects are present, you can treat the tree with an insecticde specifically rate for mites and thrips. However, treating the tree can also kill the beneficial insects and removal of the leaves and the branches that are infected may be a better course of action.

    If insects are not present, check the trunk of the tree for signs of damage. peeling bark or signs of injury can indicate other types of problems.

  28. Hello there, I have two avacado plants that I started from seed last year. They have been growing great since I planted them and have many leaves. I try to only water them once a week because I am really good at over watering thinhd! We live in the pacific northwest so I have them indoors to help keep them a constant temperature. I had them in a north facing window, but have recently moved them to see if a south facing window is better. My problem is both of the plants leaves are curling, truning dry, and turning brown. It does take a while for the leaves to fall off once this process starts but I am wondering what is causing my problem? I did transplant them into a new pot about a month ago and maybe gave them too much water at that time, but please let me know your thoughts. I attached a picture of one of the leaves to give you an idea of what is going on. I appreciate your help and look forward to your reply.

    Attached Image: Avacado.jpg

  29. Kaili,

    Two issues could be the cause of the browning. One transplant shock coupled with a water issue or too much direct light on the leaves. When you transplanted the trees did you keep the rootball as the same level. If you planted them too deep and piled soil on top of the existing rootball, the plant will not aerate properly and the water might be pooling incorrectly. This can be corrected by repotting the plant correctly. If it is simply transplant shock, make sure you water the plant the same way you did before and give it some time to recover.

    As for the move to the south facing window, sometimes windows especially south facing can act as a magnifying glass and burn the leaves. You might try backing the plants away from the window a foot or so. Once you move the plant the rest of the leaves and any new growth should be fine.

  30. I am thinking of repotting my avacado but dont know what depth to repot it to. Should it be at exactly the same depth as the current pot. I still have the top of the seed showing as thought this may be a rhizone that needs baking. How wrong or right is this? Would potting it lower in the soul to cover the rhizone be a problem. I want to pot it slighlty lower to give it more stability as it seems to be becoming unstable as it grows bigger. This is the first time i have repotted it in 4 years having grown it from seed. I am in the uk so not ideal conditions for avacodoes i know. It will always be an indoor plant so dont want it getting too big. At present it is about 2 feet high. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. It is currently in an 8 inch pot.

  31. Hello Ben, sorry for the delay. You should replant the pot at the same depth as it was before. Too deep could cause root rotting. Hope this helps!

  32. Debby Felix says:

    Our avocado tree is losing the leaves and fruit. The leave is spotted but it has this white stuff growing from trunk in several places. What can we do to save the tree.

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  33. I have a 40′ Florida Avocado tree that is fully fruited….and appears to be dying. This is sudden, within the past week all the leaves have yellow and have dropped, the fruit is falling to the ground and is soft. Last week they were still hard. I cannot believe I am going to lose this years fruit, as it produces every two years. Hope it comes back. Not seeing any bug infestation, too tall to treat anyway.

  34. Adele,

    The tree maybe experience Avocado decline which can be fungal. Can you send a few pictures – 1 of the fruit, 1 of the yellowing leaves and 1 of the tree? This might help me to determine if a fungus is present. Or you might take the leaves and the fruit to your state extension agent for testing.

  35. I have five avocado plants grown from pits and all are not doing so good. They’re in containers in miracle pot soil. Two have five to six leaves of which four are curling right down the middle and are turning brown. The other three have new small leaves that are turning black and one of those has its pit turning black, it also seems to have small mites, a lot. Please help I’m really frustrated!

  36. Marcos,

    It could be a soil issue as well as an insect problem. Can you send me a few pictures of the plants.

  37. I’ve have three plants that have grown from seeds. They are between 18 inches and 9 inches. They are still in water. All of them are bundled together and the entire root system is in water. Been this way for quite a few months now. Some minor browning of leaf tips but nothing dramatic. Do I have to move them to a soil mixture? How long can they stay in just water?

  38. Jim,

    Usually once the roots form the plant needs to be planted in soil. So I would move them to soil and this might help with the browning tips.

  39. Michael Conner says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I have an avocado tree that I have been growing for about 9 months. Recently, the leaves started browning and curling up and I am also seeing some holes in some of the leaves. This all happened pretty quick and I am wondering what I can do. I continue to see new growth in the tree and there are a few small growths popping out from the top (seems to have two main branches, one branched out to the far right). I water it about once a week and try not to over water it. Any help is appreciated and I have attached two images for you.


    Attached Image: avocado2.jpg

  40. Michael Conner says:

    I don’t think the first image went through, so you will find that below. Thanks!

    Attached Image: avocado1.jpg

  41. Michael,

    Hard to tell if it is a fungal, an insect or environmental problem. I am betting on a water issue. It looks like the plant is in a pot that is too big or that didn’t have enough soil to begin with causing the plant to be sunken in the container. This could cause a water issue. I recommend re-potting the plant. Simply lift the plant from the container and add soil until the rootball of the plant is 1″ from the top of the container. Don’t add the soil on top of the rootball. The existing rootball top needs to remain the top. Make sure the plant has good drainage. You might even need to place some rocks at the bottom of the container to ensure good drainage. Then water the soil thoroughly. Remove the leaves that are damaged. Don’t fertilize the plant for at least a month. Keep the plant away from drafts in a humid warm and bright environment. You may even need to mist the air around the plant with luke-warm warm to create the right humidity.

    In the meantime, check for Persea mite. You will need a magnifying glass to see them. If you have this mite you will need to use soap spray or mite spray on the plant.

    As far as fungus goes, time will tell. If the plant has no signs of mites and the environment is corrected and the plant continues to present brown curling leaves, then fungus is most likely the issue. In this case, you will need to spray the plant with a fungicide.

    Hope this information is helpful.

  42. I have an avocado plant, grown from seed. It is about 10 months old and in a large container. I have kept it outdoors in my patio, which receives direct sunlight in the morning and indirect sun and shade the rest of the day. it was doing very well until the past few months with the cold / frost coming in (we are in Northern California). The bottom and middle leaves are brown but have not fallen off. Recently the topmost leaves are also turning brown, mostly at the tips and yellowing.

    On the days when it is very cold (below 35 degrees farenheit), we have been covering the plant with a plastic bag at night and removing during the day. I also water once a week, but only if dry and was fertilizing with Miracle Gro during spring and summer. I have stopped fertilizing since it it is winter and not a growth period for the tree. Do I need to bring it indoors? I have several orchids indoors and wondering if it will be safe to bring the avocado plant in without introducing possible pests or mites to my indoor houseplants.

  43. Dorie,

    I would recommend bringing the plant inside if possible. Check the plant to see if it has any pests first. If it does treat the plant before you bring it indoors. Avocados can take temperatures as low as 32degrees if the plant has good air circulation and adequate moisture.

    If you can not bring the plant inside cover it with a breathable material such as a bed sheet instead of plastic. You might need to increase the water slightly. Don’t keep the soil soggy, but you don’t want it to dry out completely. Good luck and keep me posted.

  44. Our beloved little in-house avocado has received some bark damage from a kid, and the few centimeters that were torn off (with the top 4 leaves) is still open and whitish. Should we cover it with something, or do something else about it?

    Because now, a few months since the incident, the lower leaves have brown, dry tips and 2 of the leaves show brownish areas throughout.

    I will remove the soil from the top of the rootball as you recommended, but as for watering, we have no idea! We water all plants once a day. Must we wait until the soil feels dry until watering?

    Please help!!

    Attached Image: avocado.jpg

  45. Reenai I think your plant will be fine. It is going through shock and should recover. Only remove the soil if you add extra to it at some point. Make sure you give it plenty of light and water thoroughly when dry.

  46. Thank you Jamie for the quick response. I would like to be this optimistic but it seems that I’ve caused the root to have too much water over the last weeks. The rootball I uncovered was BLACK, and the trunk is brown at several places. As I removed the soil from the top of the rootball I uncovered some white residue, and the day after, I saw TINY white insects walking on the top of the rootball. I got very scared because I heard people here mention “root rot” so often, and I fear that the lovely plant is doomed! I was watering it waaay to often!

    We bought new soil in order to replace the old one (a worker in a plant store told us that), but how to be sure we eliminate all of the white little insects once and or all? We were told they would die out once the humidity levels go down. Is that so?

    Thank you! :)

  47. We live in Orlando Florida and I have an avocado plant that is about 1 1/2 years old. We went on vacation and upon returning 3 weeks later, all of the leaves have turned brown, but have not dropped. The new growth at the end of the branches have also turned brown. The plant was watered while we were gone. Should I trim off all of the dried leaves and branches and hope for new growth?

  48. Claudia,

    Sounds like a water issue. Was there a difference in how the plant was watered while you were gone?

    I would remove all damaged parts of the plant and wait to see what the new growth looks like when it emerges.

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