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Ask The Expert: Why Are My Avocado Leaves Turning Brown?

Ask the Expert: Avocado tree question.

Avocado Leaves Turning BrownHi all, I have a well established (~10-20 yrs old) which has produced avocados the last 6 years. This year, no fruit and the top 1/3 of the trees canopy has turned brown. I have no idea what is happening. I water the tree every other day for ten minutes. I have also noted splits in the bark at the base of the trunk. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Attached is a photo of the leaves. This problem began after our gardener removed the ground cover around the tree earlier this spring. The tree initially looked stressed but began to rebound after a few months. Now the current situation appears to be worsening again. – Art G

Flower Shop Network‘s Plant Expert’s Reply:

Art, there are several reasons that could cause your avocado tree’s leaves to turn brown. This is a hard diagnosis without knowing the previous conditions of your tree’s environment.

1. Overexposure to the Elements – Harsh conditions could be the reason your avocado tree is turning brown. Overexposure to the following could be the problem:

  • Sun
  • Ice
  • Frost
  • Drying Winds
  • Salt (carried in the air)

2. Changes in Soil – You mentioned your gardener removed the ground cover around the tree. This loss of mulch could have quite an impact. The ground cover helps retain water for the roots by keeping it from evaporating. When watering, it’s best to water thoroughly then wait until the ground is dry before watering again. A good rule is about 5 gallons twice a week. The best way to do this is by using a 5 gallon bucket with a 1/4″ hole in the center of the bottom. Fill up your bucket and set it a couple of feet away from the trunk of your tree, so that the water oozes across the feeder roots.

3. Root diseases – Root diseases kill or weaken the roots of trees. There is no cure for these, although improved conditions may help the tree to bounce back to normal and outgrow the disorder.

4. Insect Damage – Take a close look at the branches and trunk of your tree. If you notice insect damage or see ants crawling over your tree, this could be a sign of borers. If so, you will need an insecticide to kill the borers in time to heal the tree.

So what to do?

Well, it depends on how far the dieback has progressed. If the brown is just on your leaves then your tree will probably be fine. Keep it well-watered and it should bounce back. It is a good idea to get your soil tested to see if it needs any additional nutrients.

If your branches and trunk are browning, you’re going to have to do some rescuing. Find out exactly how far your tree’s dieback has progressed. Cut into the wood just a bit to see where your tree’s brown turns into fresh green. You’re going to need to cut everything dead off at this point. It’s tough love, but someone’s got to do it!

Before you go hacking off half of your tree, visit your local garden center or contact your extension service for a true diagnosis of your tree. We do the best we can with a description and a photo, but you need to be sure before taking any drastic measures.

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  1. was wondering if you knew why my avocado trees leaves will grow beautiful and healthy then get brown spots curl up and die new leaves come and do the same thing? its a indoor plant

  2. Dot,
    I need to know more about the environment of the plant such as water, light and fertilizer.

  3. Was wondering why my indoor for the winter then outdoor during the summer avocado plants have browning leaves. I’ve been watering with a filter and their in a decent size pot with room to grow now that their almost a year old. But, I’ve never been able to get the leaves to stop turning. Some have grown large and healthy others are still turning brown?

  4. Kiesha,
    Browning leaf tips are often a sign of salt burn, caused by a salt build up in the soil. Salts in the water and in fertilizer build up over time. Browning usually occurs on the old leaves first. This excess salt accumulates in the leaf edges, where it kills the tissue and the leaf dries out and turns brown. It’s important to water deeply and slowly. At least once a month, water deeply enough to “leach” or push salts well below the root zone. I’d start by flushing your plant with water under a hose or faucet and let the water run out the bottom to leach away possible salts.

  5. my avocardo trees leves are going brown at the ends then the tips are shrivlling up

  6. Jamie Woods says:

    The most common reason for brown leaf tips is salt accumulation. You can flush the soil around your tree to help clear it up. Lack of water and an iron deficiency can also cause leaf tips to brown.

  7. Hi my avocado plant in now 7 months old . I transplanted it in soil 2 months back but now it’s lower leaves are turning brown and wilting .. I am trying to look for the rot but unsuccessful

  8. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Maria,
    This could just be a case of your avocado tree adjusting to its new environment. Also, it is normal for older leaves to sometimes turn brown and fall off. Salt can also accumulate in the soil and cause leaves to turn brown, however, this browning is usually at the tips. I would keep an eye on it for now. If it is still putting out new growth, and the rest of the tree seems to be healthy, it will probably be ok.

  9. Patricia Hernandez says:

    Oh I think I got the answer salt I have mine in the house so I will try to run water through it and get it out that you so much

  10. Jamie Woods says:

    That’s great! Remember, there can also be salts in your water, so make sure to use distilled :)

  11. Drew ashford says:

    My avocado tree turned brown and now it’s dead my concern is I a planted another avocado I’m worried that if I remove the dead one that the new one might die

  12. Jamie Woods says:

    It would be best to remove the dead tree so it does not risk causing damage to your new one.

  13. My avocado tree was growing very well in a big pot until I put a stake next to it to hold it up. Now the leaves are turning brown at the tips. Can I still save it? Or did I already damage it?

  14. Jamie Woods says:

    I would just keep an eye on your tree for now. It might be adjusting to its new neighbor. It could be an issue that is totally unrelated to the stake.

  15. I have a another question,if the brown is only on the leaf and I water a take good care of it but the brown doesn’t go away but instead have more brown?What sounld I do?

  16. Jamie Woods says:

    Salt deposits can build up in the soil over time and cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown. The best way to remedy this is to flush the soil with distilled water.

  17. Margaret Symons says:

    This week I planted two avocados. The Fuerte is immediately developing along one side of each leaf a reddish brown die back. The Hass is fine at the moment. Both trees were planted in alkaline soils, had disease fertiliser especially for avocados for fungal problems. This was mixed with mulch. We’ve had a mid summer storm this week, so no lack of water. What is wrong?

  18. Margaret Symons says:

    I can’t seem to attach a photo from my iPad. But it’s summer in NZ, the trees are planted close to macadamias and walnuts and are fairly close to a hill. We have 14 frosts a year in winter and no snow. Lots in my district grow avocados. My last grafted avocado died when we went away in summer.

  19. Jamie Woods says:

    It could just be your avocado tree adjusting to its new environment. I would give it a week or two and see if it starts to perk up before you begin worrying too much.

  20. I have a little avocado in my house the leafes turned a little brown do I ripped of the ends to keep it from spreading I think it turned brown because I left it in the sun to long

  21. Jamie Woods says:

    Use scissors that have been cleaned with rubbing alcohol to cut the brown tips off at an angle. If the cause of the browning is from overexposure to the sun, it should not spread as long as the plant has been moved to a different location.

  22. I am wondering if I should cut the tips off my avocado if they are brown from salt burn or just let it be. Most of the leaves have turned about 1/3 brown

  23. Jamie Woods says:

    You might try cutting them off at an angle, but if the browning was caused by salt burn, you’ll also need to flush the soil.

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