Gardening in Lanlgey: Avocado tree has a chance of growing outdoors

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  • Sep. 16, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Avocado tree has a chance here

Dear Anne,

I grew an avocado tree from seed in March 2014 and during the winter of 2014, I kept it in a pot indoors. I brought it outside in May. It is now just under four feet in a bigger pot. I understand avocado trees are not native in Vancouver. Will it survive the winter indoors?

Geneviene Wong, Langley

It should survive indoors if you give it a sunny window. Try to put it in a west or south window. You can stand it on a chair to get it up into the light.

Through December and January it’s okay to let it dry out a little, but after that the soil should be kept gently moist. It may need a larger pot by spring.

If it has been given a larger pot, you may need a pot stand on wheels by the time it’s put outside for summer.

When your tree gets too big to bring indoors, it won’t survive outside in a container because cold attacks through the container sides. Avocado trees are native to south Mexico in zone 9.

But you could try planting it in-ground in your warmest spot. You might try mulching around the trunk and over the roots then covering it with an old sheet or coverlet during cold spells in winter. Perhaps winters will soon be warmer.

You might find it interesting to take your experiment as far as you can. Seed-grown trees can be very variable so there’s always a chance you might produce something hardier than the norm. There are newly developed avocado varieties said to be cold-hardy to zone 8.

Dear Anne,

My friend and I enjoy the lovely flowers along the New Westminster Quay boardwork. Some are called Love Lies Bleeding. But I remember another name ‘chenille plant.’ When I checked on the internet, both plants looked the same but had different names. Your clarification would be helpful.

Carol, New Westminster

There is a difference: the chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) is usually a shrub and it’s zone 10 which means it has to be a summer patio plant or houseplant here. If it’s outside, our winters would kill it.

Meanwhile Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) is a true annual that’s hardy to zone 5. This means that theoretically it could live through our winters. But it won’t because it’s a summer annual that will die when it reaches the end of its growth cycle.

Love Lies Bleeding is also named ‘tassel flower,’ ‘velvet flower’ and ‘foxtail violet.’ Common names are quite chaotic.

That’s why the Latin name is more reliable for any plant. But Latin names aren’t foolproof either since some are occasionally changed by taxonomists, leading to more chaos.

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