Cold Hardy Avocado Tree

Avocado Trees That Are Cold Hardy To 15 Degrees???
Incredulous!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

And yes there really is such a thing as a Cold Hardy Avocado Tree -- down to 15° F!

Found in the mountainous regions of Mexico, there are several varieties of avocados that can truly be called "cold hardy" enough for North Central Florida -- cold hardy enough to withstand hard freezes with some sustained damage.

That also means they are suitable for growing in other parts of zone 9 where freezes may only be an occasional concern, but real nonetheless.

That said, it's still prudent to protect a young avocado tree from hard freezes, giving it time to mature and harden. The more established the root system, the hardier the plant.

Avocado tree

Avocado fruit hanging on an avocado tree

Grafted avocados produce fruit in one to two years out of the pot, compared to 8-20 years for seedlings.
Avocado tree: 15gal

Typical 15gal Avocado Tree:
Grafted / Bearing age

shipment of avocado trees

Cold hardy avocado varieties we suggest include:

LILA

Cold hardy to 15°, Lila has a smooth textured flesh, with a rich nutty flavor, and tastes like an avocado should 😀   It produces a medium sized, pear shaped fruit about 6-10oz in size that remains a pretty green when ripe. Ripens July-Sept.

Not to be confused with the very popular south Florida variety known as Lula: Lula is only hardy to 25°F.

PANCHO or PONCHO

Cold hardy to 15°, Pancho tastes more like the Fantastic than the Lila, but produces a green fruit with a bit of red blush when ripe.  Also a pear-shaped fruit, approximately 6-8oz in size. Ripens July-Sept.

FANTASTIC

Cold hardy to 15°,  Fantastic is true to its name! It produces a small oval, all-green fruit with paper thin skin. The fruit has a creamy texture with "fantastic flavors".  Has the highest oil content of  these 5 cold hardy avocados.  Ripens Aug-Sept.

JOEY

Cold hardy to 15°,  Joey is a medium sized, egg-shaped fruit with great flavor, but the exterior skin is naturally purple black in color, making it difficult to see bruises. Ripens Aug-Sept.

BRAZO BELLE

Cold hardy to 15°,  Brazo Belle  is another medium to large sizedfruit that has purple-black skin and weighs 6-8oz at maturity. Ripens Aug-Oct.

Avocado tree

new avocado leaves up close

Lila avocados

Lila avocados in a basket

Avocado blossoms

Growing Tips for cold tolerant avocados:

These cold tolerant varieties thrive best if planted in an environment protected from wind, cold, and sun.  Here in North Florida, partial shade is  far more desirable than full sun, unlike their tropical cousins.  It is the trees with 8-10" trunks that have survived low temperatures into the high teens -- and they DO lose about 30% of their foliage and branches at those temperatures, but have been known to grow back heartily the following year.
All avocados need good drainage:  standing water will smother the roots and results in death of the tree. If you are in a low lying area, build up a mound to plant your tree on higher ground.

And if you live in Land O Lakes or further south . . .
Or maybe in Orlando . . .
    Lula is hardy to 25°F.

LULA

Not to be confused with "Lila"!  A South FL hybrid, probably a cross of a Mexican & a  Guatamalan avocado , Lulu is a vigorous, upright shade tree, up to 30' tall that does very well in Central & South FL. 

Very early bearing: fruit ripens from Nov to MarchHeavy producer of medium to large sized pear-shaped fruit w/ a long neck, about 12-24oz according to IFAS.  Smooth, green on the outside, greenish-yellow sweet tasting meat on the inside. Rich in flavor and relatively high oil content: 12-16%.

LULA
There are 3 distinct families of avocados: West Indian, Guatemalan, and Mexican.

West Indian types are a round, glossy green fruit that is low in oil and weighs up to 2 lbs, but are not cold hardy.

Guatemalan types are medium sized, pear-shaped pebbled skin green fruits that turn blackish-green when ripe, and are also not cold hardy. Fruits take 10-15 months to reach maturity.

The popular "Hass"  avocado is a​ Guatemalan variety and also doesn't produce as well in high humidity.

Mexican varieties are smaller at 8-12oz, have paper thin skins, and can be either green or black when ripe. They are the most cold hardy of all, with some tolerant of temperatures down to 15° for short spells.

Fruits mature in 6-8 months.

Average tree height

Average height of an avocado tree is 25-40', though some in the tropics have been known to reach 80'.  And yes, you can keep them trimmed lower for the home landscape, making the fruit a bit more reach-able.

Dwarf Avocados?

Wurtz avocados are the only true dwarf variety reaching about 1/4 the normal height. But Wurtz are only cold tolerant to about 25-26 degrees.