Avocado Tree / very bad condition / Transplant Shock / Total newbie, need help!

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- The What -
Hey guys, I really could use some help with this one, as it's very important.. it was my friend's, who just passed away, and is one of the two remaining trees from a very large batch we got growing, around 7 years ago, which we've been trying to train to go for longer than normal times without water.
When my friend passed a few weeks ago, knowing the council will likely be knocking his house down, and that the tree would likely get cut away, I had to dig it up to save it.. but I don't know much about gardening, if anything really, and while I've tried to do my research, I don't know what I'm doing here at all, and could really use some help!

- Current Health -
The tree is currently in what I now know to be Transplant Shock.. its leaves have been sagging since the day I removed it, and do not seem to be improving.
After getting a little afternoon sun today, and yesterday, the leaves have started to feel quite dry, but are still green.
I've pulled it inside now and will not give it any more sun until somebody says I should, as that was clearly a mistake.
Yesterday, I also added Seasol, to the water mix, but not much would have gotten in, considering the limited amount of water that can pass through this clay-like soil.
It's also worth mentioning that we're just coming out of a cold winter here in Australia (we have winter in July, summer in December).

- Roots & Drainage -
Where it was, a lot of the roots were tangled with another tree, and there was no space to dig around, very much, either, so I didn't get much of a 'root ball'.. there was definitely no ball, just some roots coming off the bottom of it, no soil really in it.
The soil it was in, was quite claylike, water does not drain well through it, but that's what I had to put it in the pot with at the time. In addition to that, the pot only has a single hole in the middle, and barely drains. I've been stabbing holes in the soil with a bike spoke to try encourage the water to soak down through, but to little effect.

- The question -
There is nowhere I could put it in the ground.. somebody told me not to re-pot it again, but I'm worried the current conditions are going to finish it off. What do I do??? :(


[edit: I was waiting over 24h, for the forum that came up top, to accept my post, but Daleys are so fascist with their forum posting rules that I can't seem to get this post through, and now the tree is in much worse condition, the leaves are really starting to feel dead, please help!!!!!!]
 

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- The What -
Hey guys, I really could use some help with this one, as it's very important.. it was my friend's, who just passed away, and is one of the two remaining trees from a very large batch we got growing, around 7 years ago, which we've been trying to train to go for longer than normal times without water.
When my friend passed a few weeks ago, knowing the council will likely be knocking his house down, and that the tree would likely get cut away, I had to dig it up to save it.. but I don't know much about gardening, if anything really, and while I've tried to do my research, I don't know what I'm doing here at all, and could really use some help!

- Current Health -
The tree is currently in what I now know to be Transplant Shock.. its leaves have been sagging since the day I removed it, and do not seem to be improving.
After getting a little afternoon sun today, and yesterday, the leaves have started to feel quite dry, but are still green.
I've pulled it inside now and will not give it any more sun until somebody says I should, as that was clearly a mistake.
Yesterday, I also added Seasol, to the water mix, but not much would have gotten in, considering the limited amount of water that can pass through this clay-like soil.
It's also worth mentioning that we're just coming out of a cold winter here in Australia (we have winter in July, summer in December).

- Roots & Drainage -
Where it was, a lot of the roots were tangled with another tree, and there was no space to dig around, very much, either, so I didn't get much of a 'root ball'.. there was definitely no ball, just some roots coming off the bottom of it, no soil really in it.
The soil it was in, was quite claylike, water does not drain well through it, but that's what I had to put it in the pot with at the time. In addition to that, the pot only has a single hole in the middle, and barely drains. I've been stabbing holes in the soil with a bike spoke to try encourage the water to soak down through, but to little effect.

- The question -
There is nowhere I could put it in the ground.. somebody told me not to re-pot it again, but I'm worried the current conditions are going to finish it off. What do I do??? :(


[edit: I was waiting over 24h, for the forum that came up top, to accept my post, but Daleys are so fascist with their forum posting rules that I can't seem to get this post through, and now the tree is in much worse condition, the leaves are really starting to feel dead, please help!!!!!!]
IMO, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the tree is not going to make it. Your second picture shows dried leathery leaves, a sign of death. Avocados have a shallow but wide root system and must have WELL drained soil. Their root system is also very sensitive and any damage to it is a serious concern to the trees survival. There is only one thing I can think of that might save the tree at this point and that is to get a product called Super Thrive and use that per directions on the plant.
 
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Thanks Chuck, someone else is also telling me it's not very likely to live..
I may have understated the roots a little, they probably would reach slightly wider than the pot if it weren't that small, it's just not a ball really.. also, some of the leaves still feel alive, just sagging, and the trunk is still very green.

Could you tell me some of the basics though? I've got a few nagging questions actually, as I don't really know anything about gardening.. everything I've tried I've just learned from Google and nobody's had a full on discussion with me about it yet.

1. How much should I be watering it?

2. If I were to re-pot it with a larger pot, with better drainage, and some compost, being very careful not to break any more roots.. if I were willing to sit there for hours picking them and bits of soil out carefully with a toothpick and tweezers (which I am), would that be a good idea, or would I definitely make things worse? I could do it in a sink, to keep the roots hydrated, and break the pot off, even.. then straight into compost so they can't dry out? Could that work?

3. If not, I could drill extra holes in the bottom of the pot for better drainage, would this help much?

4. What's the rules on sunlight here? Would some tiny bit help at all or should I outright avoid it, and for how long if so? Would a UV light give it what it needs without harming it the same way if not?

5. Should I prune anything? The dead leaves? Any branches? I don't know anything about this either :(

6. Is there anything else I should know about looking after it that could help?

I am willing to do anything to make this tree live, no matter how much work it is. It's that important to me.
 
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Thanks Chuck, someone else is also telling me it's not very likely to live..
I may have understated the roots a little, they probably would reach slightly wider than the pot if it weren't that small, it's just not a ball really.. also, some of the leaves still feel alive, just sagging, and the trunk is still very green.

Could you tell me some of the basics though? I've got a few nagging questions actually, as I don't really know anything about gardening.. everything I've tried I've just learned from Google and nobody's had a full on discussion with me about it yet.

1. How much should I be watering it?

2. If I were to re-pot it with a larger pot, with better drainage, and some compost, being very careful not to break any more roots.. if I were willing to sit there for hours picking them and bits of soil out carefully with a toothpick and tweezers (which I am), would that be a good idea, or would I definitely make things worse? I could do it in a sink, to keep the roots hydrated, and break the pot off, even.. then straight into compost so they can't dry out? Could that work?

3. If not, I could drill extra holes in the bottom of the pot for better drainage, would this help much?

4. What's the rules on sunlight here? Would some tiny bit help at all or should I outright avoid it, and for how long if so? Would a UV light give it what it needs without harming it the same way if not?

5. Should I prune anything? The dead leaves? Any branches? I don't know anything about this either :(

6. Is there anything else I should know about looking after it that could help?

I am willing to do anything to make this tree live, no matter how much work it is. It's that important to me.
If you are extremely careful to not damage the roots further re-potting MIGHT be of help. First of all they don't like clay soil although they will grow in it. They like a more sandy soil, like a sandy loam, something that drains easily. If repotted into a medium like this you will have to water more often but they do not like to be wet, just slightly damp. I would put it into a larger pot. An avocados root growth habit is outward and not downward so you won't have much of a root ball. As for sunlight as long as the tree is in a weakened state I would just give it morning sun and reduced sun in the afternoons until it starts showing decent health. Don't prune anything until and if it is brown and dead. I mentioned Super Thrive earlier. This stuff is amazing. I have actually seen it bring back a tree that I would have sworn was dead multiple times and on different species of trees. I think it is sold world wide but whatever the case get some quickly. I don't know what kind of potting mixes and garden soils you have in Australia but what I would use as a growth medium is the best potting soil mixed 50/50 with the best garden soil available.
 
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Thank you Chuck!!! OK first thing in the morning I'm heading down to buy a new pot and a decent sandy soil/compost, and to see if they have Super Thrive! If they don't have that brand here, do you think another would do it, and if so what specifically should I be looking for in terms of content/descriptions on the bottle?
 
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Thank you Chuck!!! OK first thing in the morning I'm heading down to buy a new pot and a decent sandy soil/compost, and to see if they have Super Thrive! If they don't have that brand here, do you think another would do it, and if so what specifically should I be looking for in terms of content/descriptions on the bottle?
There isn't another Super Thrive. ST is a man made vitamin that smells like vitamin E but it isn't. It has been available for many years. There isn't another product that even comes close to it. I don't think any even try.
 
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Thanks Chuck, there's no Super Thrive here, though there was a supplement called 'Thrive', but I found another one that contained more different nutrients than that, called 'PowerFeed', which has higher concentrations of calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorous (aimed for those based on the list at the top of this article).


I put in some Seasol to go with it, as per the instructions, which the tree had already been given slightly before (barely more than 2 litres of the water with it in made it through the original soil - sorry if I forgot mention that before - someone (a customer) in the shop had previously recommended it, but the staff were useless, all college students who probably think plants crave electrolytes).

If you have the time, I'd like to hear your thoughts on what I did for each stage, as I'm just guessing here, and have no experience at all with this sort of thing.

Here's the main expensive sandy compost I used:


And here's the cheaper lumpier compost, for drainage:




And from here on is what I did:



Existing roots while washing soil out.




How it sat for 10 minutes while preparing new pot (disturbed and swirled water around at the 5 minute mark so it wasn't still for too long.




Building up of new compost. I used a finer sand like one for the main base, but it did say 'retains water', so I got a lumpier type going down the sides towards the drainage to hopefully improve that.
Some of the PowerFeed (a small handful) is scattered throughout the soil down here.




Whole root 'ball', on its way to the pot. Didn't want to break off the soil now stuck in the very middle, as I figured it this level might be a good compromise, if there's any tiny tiny roots I might break by accident.. those are the most important right now, right?




Tree placed in pot on top of compost.




Compost filled in, lightly pushed under remaining rootball, and gently compacted from above, with a second small handful of PowerFeed scattered around (mostly not too close to the rootbase), and mixed up into the soil no more than a few inches deep - think I used enough, or should I try to get some lower into it?




A bit more of the thicker compost on top to pad it out and distribute water more evenly to the good stuff.




9 litres of water with 60ml Seasol, poured the lot in. Was that a right amount? How often should I water this much? I know not to use the seasol too often, as per the instructions, though not why or what would happen.




How much of the roots are exposed - is this about right? I covered them up another inch since then as I wasn't sure, but also read once that "the root bulb needs to be exposed". Not sure how much.




Also, here's the 3 big leaves that still feel alive (2 on left, one middle/lower)

The rest are drying up a lot more and don't feel soft like these ones do. What does this mean?

I'm also scared to risk them getting sunlight.. an hour or two in the afternoon is what did it to the others I think.. unless that was just bad timing. It does get hot here, but it's only spring right now (southern hemisphere). What do you think? Would a mesh netting from a flyscreen help? Is morning sun safer? It could get a bit where it is, but it would always be intense.. today it's rainy and is not intense, but that's rare here.

The plant's only ever been used to morning sunlight anyhow though.



Thanks for your patience, Chuck! Please let me know if there's any more information I can provide that would give you a better insight into the chances of this tree. Do you think I've helped it, or maybe just made things worse by disturbing it?
Would it be worth trying to get a bit more of that clay stuff out of the root ball?

Cheers,
Tony
 
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Thanks Chuck, there's no Super Thrive here, though there was a supplement called 'Thrive', but I found another one that contained more different nutrients than that, called 'PowerFeed', which has higher concentrations of calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorous (aimed for those based on the list at the top of this article).


I put in some Seasol to go with it, as per the instructions, which the tree had already been given slightly before (barely more than 2 litres of the water with it in made it through the original soil - sorry if I forgot mention that before - someone (a customer) in the shop had previously recommended it, but the staff were useless, all college students who probably think plants crave electrolytes).

If you have the time, I'd like to hear your thoughts on what I did for each stage, as I'm just guessing here, and have no experience at all with this sort of thing.

Here's the main expensive sandy compost I used:


And here's the cheaper lumpier compost, for drainage:




And from here on is what I did:



Existing roots while washing soil out.




How it sat for 10 minutes while preparing new pot (disturbed and swirled water around at the 5 minute mark so it wasn't still for too long.




Building up of new compost. I used a finer sand like one for the main base, but it did say 'retains water', so I got a lumpier type going down the sides towards the drainage to hopefully improve that.
Some of the PowerFeed (a small handful) is scattered throughout the soil down here.




Whole root 'ball', on its way to the pot. Didn't want to break off the soil now stuck in the very middle, as I figured it this level might be a good compromise, if there's any tiny tiny roots I might break by accident.. those are the most important right now, right?




Tree placed in pot on top of compost.




Compost filled in, lightly pushed under remaining rootball, and gently compacted from above, with a second small handful of PowerFeed scattered around (mostly not too close to the rootbase), and mixed up into the soil no more than a few inches deep - think I used enough, or should I try to get some lower into it?




A bit more of the thicker compost on top to pad it out and distribute water more evenly to the good stuff.




9 litres of water with 60ml Seasol, poured the lot in. Was that a right amount? How often should I water this much? I know not to use the seasol too often, as per the instructions, though not why or what would happen.




How much of the roots are exposed - is this about right? I covered them up another inch since then as I wasn't sure, but also read once that "the root bulb needs to be exposed". Not sure how much.




Also, here's the 3 big leaves that still feel alive (2 on left, one middle/lower)

The rest are drying up a lot more and don't feel soft like these ones do. What does this mean?

I'm also scared to risk them getting sunlight.. an hour or two in the afternoon is what did it to the others I think.. unless that was just bad timing. It does get hot here, but it's only spring right now (southern hemisphere). What do you think? Would a mesh netting from a flyscreen help? Is morning sun safer? It could get a bit where it is, but it would always be intense.. today it's rainy and is not intense, but that's rare here.

The plant's only ever been used to morning sunlight anyhow though.



Thanks for your patience, Chuck! Please let me know if there's any more information I can provide that would give you a better insight into the chances of this tree. Do you think I've helped it, or maybe just made things worse by disturbing it?
Would it be worth trying to get a bit more of that clay stuff out of the root ball?

Cheers,
Tony
Let me begin by saying that the products you have in Australia are very different than in the US. From what I can tell from the pictures is that the Power Feed is nothing more than 10-6-6 fertilizer and the Seasol is some type of liquid seaweed.
A plant in a weakened state such as yours does not need fertilizer. It will be a slow process bringing the tree back and too much food is detrimental. If you use the fertilizer use it at 1/4-1/2 the amount. You can use the seaweed, if it is liquid seaweed, at the stated ratio. The sunlight is more important than food at this time. Give the plant morning sun and filtered light in the afternoons.
 
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Thanks Chuck! Do you think it would be worth digging out the nutrient stuff, from around the top of the pot, so it doesn't get watered through?? The tub says 2/3 of a 'scoop', for a 30cm pot.. the pot is 40cm, and I have no idea what a 'scoop' measurement is.. it didn't come with any kind of scooper. The stuff I put at the bottom wont be reached by the roots until they grow anyway, but was a small handful, less than a golfball's worth down there, and about the same went on top, more around the edges, so it would be doable if you think it's harming it!
The Seasol is indeed a liquid seaweed. A lot of people have been recommending it for having miraculous results, but people talk a lot of crap here in Aus lol so I don't know.. ask 4 people which way's north here, and you'll get 4 different answers :D

There's not been much sun here but the last living leaves have lost their softness now, and feel like the rest that got sunburnt, and while the trunk is still a lively green, very smooth/waxy to the touch, it's aboput 20% less lively than it looked a few days ago.
I've managed to order some SuperThrive though, but it wont be here for at-least a week.
Thanks again for all your help! Also wondering, do you think it would be better indoors or outdoors at this point?
And would a flyscreen mesh be enough to reduce sunburn if the sun does come out, or if I were to get a tinted glass would that be better?
And should I try a UV light at all, and if so, could it be dangerous to the tree if too intense?
I only have a really weak UV hand lamp thing..
I'm also considering if an LED lamp can replace the sunlight in a more controlled manner based on this graph I found from, but I've never heard of people using LEDs as lights for plants.. not that I've heard much about plants and light, at all, to be fair. What are your thoughts on this?


Credit: Chalmers University of Technology

Cheers,
Tony
 
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Thanks Chuck! Do you think it would be worth digging out the nutrient stuff, from around the top of the pot, so it doesn't get watered through?? The tub says 2/3 of a 'scoop', for a 30cm pot.. the pot is 40cm, and I have no idea what a 'scoop' measurement is.. it didn't come with any kind of scooper. The stuff I put at the bottom wont be reached by the roots until they grow anyway, but was a small handful, less than a golfball's worth down there, and about the same went on top, more around the edges, so it would be doable if you think it's harming it!
The Seasol is indeed a liquid seaweed. A lot of people have been recommending it for having miraculous results, but people talk a lot of crap here in Aus lol so I don't know.. ask 4 people which way's north here, and you'll get 4 different answers :D

There's not been much sun here but the last living leaves have lost their softness now, and feel like the rest that got sunburnt, and while the trunk is still a lively green, very smooth/waxy to the touch, it's aboput 20% less lively than it looked a few days ago.
I've managed to order some SuperThrive though, but it wont be here for at-least a week.
Thanks again for all your help! Also wondering, do you think it would be better indoors or outdoors at this point?
And would a flyscreen mesh be enough to reduce sunburn if the sun does come out, or if I were to get a tinted glass would that be better?
And should I try a UV light at all, and if so, could it be dangerous to the tree if too intense?
I only have a really weak UV hand lamp thing..
I'm also considering if an LED lamp can replace the sunlight in a more controlled manner based on this graph I found from, but I've never heard of people using LEDs as lights for plants.. not that I've heard much about plants and light, at all, to be fair. What are your thoughts on this?


Credit: Chalmers University of Technology

Cheers,
Tony
I know nothing about artificial lighting. Morning sun will not hurt the plant. Leave the fertilizer on top alone. It will probably hurt the tree more by digging around than the fertilizer will. I doubt if the leaves will rejuvenate. Look for new buds. If you find any the tree will probably be OK.
 
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Thanks Chuck! Sorry, one more thing.. I can't find an answer anywhere as to how much to water it. Again I have no idea what's appropriate and I really don't wanna stuff this up.
One website I found is suggesting, for a tree this size, at this time of year, if it were healthy, that it should receive 220 litres every 10 days, which sounds a bit excessive.. somebody else I'm talking to is absolutely insisting that I give it no more than 50ml water a day, which sounds completely insane, it wouldn't even wet the roots!
What I have been doing is pouring in a 10 litre bucket every couple of days, and keeping the soil mostly damp, but it does dry out a little like that.. Do you think I'm overdoing it or underdoing it?


Additionally, have been doing the morning light then filtered afternoon light as you said, too. It also now has superthrive.. and on someone else's advice I've just covered it with a bag and sprayed water in to try to re-moisturise the leaves some, and closed up the gap a bit, but I'm worried this will choke the plant.. but that person is telling me it will die for sure if I don't do that. I'm getting so many mixed messages, can you clear anything up for me?
The same person also keeps telling me I should prune some of the leaves so the roots have less to support, but I read elsewhere that I absolutely shouldn't..

Cheers!
Tony
 
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Thanks Chuck! Sorry, one more thing.. I can't find an answer anywhere as to how much to water it. Again I have no idea what's appropriate and I really don't wanna stuff this up.
One website I found is suggesting, for a tree this size, at this time of year, if it were healthy, that it should receive 220 litres every 10 days, which sounds a bit excessive.. somebody else I'm talking to is absolutely insisting that I give it no more than 50ml water a day, which sounds completely insane, it wouldn't even wet the roots!
What I have been doing is pouring in a 10 litre bucket every couple of days, and keeping the soil mostly damp, but it does dry out a little like that.. Do you think I'm overdoing it or underdoing it?


Additionally, have been doing the morning light then filtered afternoon light as you said, too. It also now has superthrive.. and on someone else's advice I've just covered it with a bag and sprayed water in to try to re-moisturise the leaves some, and closed up the gap a bit, but I'm worried this will choke the plant.. but that person is telling me it will die for sure if I don't do that. I'm getting so many mixed messages, can you clear anything up for me?
The same person also keeps telling me I should prune some of the leaves so the roots have less to support, but I read elsewhere that I absolutely shouldn't..

Cheers!
Tony
People always think that you must water a plant much more than the plant needs. More plants are killed by overwatering than by any thing else, a fact. Only water when the plant says it needs it, but, in your case, that can't happen so you do the next best thing. You only water when the soil around the root system is getting dry. Most plants don't like to be wet, they like to be slightly damp and as long as a plants roots are just slightly damp that is sufficient. There is no timeline or amount of water or number of days in regards as to when to water and how much. Every plant is different, all soil is different, all growing conditions are different. Covering with a bag? I wouldn't do that and here is why. If a plant can't get air circulation it WILL get mold or mildew. spraying the leaves and trunk is a good thing though, especially with the liquid seaweed. As for pruning the leaves. I can see reasons for pruning and for not pruning. Personally, at this time, I would not prune. These leaves are still providing a little photosynthesis help and the plant needs all the help it can get. You now have SuperThrive. Use it as per directions, not any more or any less.
 
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Alrighty, bag is off, the leaves are feeling a lot better after some time in the humidity with the dryer on, and I'll keep it off now to avoid mould and whatnot! I've added about 15ml of Seasol to the spray bottle and given the leaves the once over. Will keep putting it in the daylight, keeping the leaves, and now I have a much better grasp of when/if to water it. This tree would not stand a chance without your help, Chuck! Thank you so much!
 
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Alrighty, bag is off, the leaves are feeling a lot better after some time in the humidity with the dryer on, and I'll keep it off now to avoid mould and whatnot! I've added about 15ml of Seasol to the spray bottle and given the leaves the once over. Will keep putting it in the daylight, keeping the leaves, and now I have a much better grasp of when/if to water it. This tree would not stand a chance without your help, Chuck! Thank you so much!
Spray the leaves and trunk a few times each day. The plant will absorb the nutrients. IF, IF the plant does not show improvement within a week add no more than 2 drops of SuperThrive to the spray bottle of Seasol and continue numerous daily sprayings. What do the leaves feel like and are they starting to turn brown or wrinkled.
 
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Will do exactly as you instruct! The leaves are still hanging low, but are all also still a dark green, and are a little softer after the moisture.
Still all wrinkled, but they have some bend in them now again, and are less ready to crack. Is this good news? :D
 
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Will do exactly as you instruct! The leaves are still hanging low, but are all also still a dark green, and are a little softer after the moisture.
Still all wrinkled, but they have some bend in them now again, and are less ready to crack. Is this good news? :D
Yep, good news. If they start to turn white or brown on the margins that's bad news. The plant should start showing new growth within 2 weeks if the leaves stay the same or get better. If new growth begins to show the worst is over but not complete.
 
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