Can You Grow Avocado Trees in Arizona? Which Varieties Are Best?

The humble avocado is a fruit that has taken the world by storm in recent years.

According to Statista, avocado production in 2020 reached 8.06 million metric tons, an increase from the previous years of 7.18 million.

Not surprisingly, people around the world want to know if there are avocado varieties suitable for their climate.

There are 5 climate zones in AZ, according to the University Of Arizona; Cool Plateau Highlands, High Altitude Desert, Mid-Altitude Desert, and Low Altitude Desert. If you like desert trees, this article discusses the desert trees that grow well in Arizona.

According to the Arizona Cooperative Extension, this encompasses zones 4b to 10b. Avocados are typically grown in zones 8-11, meaning some gardeners in AZ have to option to grow their own.

They can typically be split into three main varieties; Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian, with the Mexican being the most cold-hardy and best suited for the extremes of the AZ climate. Young avocado trees will need cold protection in their first years as well as protection from the harsh sun, whilst their canopy grows large enough to protect their sensitive pale trunk.

To successfully grow avocados in AZ, you’ll need to create a micro-climate for your tree. By planting it on the east side of a deciduous tree, it’ll receive protection from the harsh summer sun yet also receive full winter sun.

Alternatively, you can provide them with 50% shade until they can develop strong roots and produce a dense canopy of their own.

Avocados are sensitive to salt, so you may need to flush out the excess salt the AZ earth tends to harbor to successfully grow avocados here.

8 Best Avocado Varieties To Grow in Arizona

1. Aravaipa Avocado (Persea americana ‘Aravaipa’)

Aravaipa Avocado Tree
Image by Weed ’em & Reap via Pinterest

The Aravaipa avocado is an AZ native avocado tree, hailing from the Aravaipa Canyon. No one knows why it exists in the middle of the desert, or who planted it. The myth is that the seed was dropped by a passing cowboy coming from Mexico, and the tree somehow managed to thrive. The mother tree is said to stand at 50 ft tall and wide and is reportedly over 150 years old!

The Aravaipa avocado is a type A avocado, so will produce on its own. However, production will be improved with the addition of type B nearby to increase pollination. The Aravaipa avocado can withstand temperatures as high as 120 degrees and as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The taste is reportedly similar to Hass.

Other Common Names: Unicorn of the Desert

Growing Zones: 8-11

Average Size at Maturity: 50 ft tall and 50 ft wide

Flowering Season: February

2. Fantastic Avocado (Persea americana ‘Fantastic’)

Fantastic Avocado Tree
Image by Brooks Tropicals via Pinterest

The Fantastic avocado is an extremely cold tolerant variety of avocado native to Texas and is said to tolerate temperatures that drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s valued as being more cold-hardy than other Mexican avocados. The fruit has thin, dark green, and bumpy skin.

The flavor is reportedly nutty and creamy, and is excellent eaten fresh, peeled, or made into any kind of sauce. You can expect to harvest between August and October, and the fruit typically weighs between 6-8 ounces. Fantastic avocado will grow best in acidic well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Fantastic Avocado

Growing Zones: 8b-11b

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

3. Holiday Avocado (Persea americana ‘Holiday’)

Holiday Avocado Tree
Image by via gregalder.com via Pinterest

The name of this avocado variety comes from the fruit which tends to ripen between Labor Day and New Year’s Day. They are A-type, Guatemala avocados, are semi-dwarf, and can be highly productive.

The Holiday avocado is a smaller-sized tree that tends to take on a weeping aspect as they grow, giving them an added aesthetic appeal. As such, they make an excellent backyard, patio, or container-grown trees.

They are frost sensitive to below 30 Fahrenheit so should survive in parts of AZ. The fruit is pear-shaped and usually weighs between 18-24 oz.

Other Common Names: Holiday Avocado

Growing Zones: 9b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 22-25 ft tall and 22-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

4. Mexicola Grande Avocado (Persea americana ‘Mexicola Grande’)

Mexicola Avocado Tree
Image by thisoldhouse.com via Pinterest

The Mexicola Grande is considered the most cold-hardy of all the avocado varieties, being tolerant of temperatures of 18 Fahrenheit. It’s a Type A avocado and has an upright spreading habit. The fruit is large and black-skinned and is up to 25% larger than its parent, the Mexicola.

The fruit is obovate, thin-skinned, weighing in between 4-12 oz, and ripens between August and October. The flesh is dark green/yellow. The paper-thin, glossy black skin is also edible as are the leaves which are commonly used in various Mexican recipes.

They boast a strong aniseed flavor. The seed size is large and the oil content is around 18%.

Other Common Names: Mexicola Grande

Growing Zones: 8b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 25-30 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

5. Stewart Avocado(Persea americana ‘Stewart’)

Stewart avocado
Image by groworganic.com via Pinterest

The Stewart avocado is a more cold-hardy and compact version of its parent, the Mexicola. It’s capable of withstanding temperatures down to 18 Fahrenheit. The fruit has a thin, shiny black skin, and the flesh is a clear, bright yellow/green color and has a creamy texture. They weigh between 6-12 oz and ripen between October and December.

The Stewart is a vigorous tree that produces large yields. The fruit has a medium-sized seed, and the flavor is somewhat nutty. Whilst they are type A, they have been known to show type b characteristics too.

Other Common Names: Stewart Avocado

Growing Zones: 8b-11

Average Size at Maturity: 25-35 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

6. Fuerte Avocado (Persea americana ‘Fuerte’)

Fuerte avocado
Image by Mimi Avocado via Pinterest

The Fuerte avocado is often recognized as the archetypal avocado, being green in color and shaped like a pear. It’s medium-thin skinned, peels easily, and weighs between 6 and 12 oz. The fruit is dense and pale green/yellow in appearance. The flavor is creamy, mildly oily, and has faint notes of hazelnut. The seed is medium-sized. Many consider it to be the best tasting of avocados.

Fuerte is a tall and spreading tree and is one of the more cold-hardy varieties. ‘Fuerte’ means strong in Spanish, and is a reference to this particular variety surviving a big freeze in California in the early 20th century.

The leaves have a strong aniseed smell when crushed. They are irregular with their fruit-bearing patterns, with some trees bearing on alternate years and others seemingly randomly.

Fuerte is type B, so will benefit from the presence of a type A variety for higher yields. Fuerte is harvested from late fall through spring.

Other Common Names: Fuerte avocado

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 25-40 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter/early spring

7. Bacon Avocado (Persea americana ‘Bacon’)

Bacon Avocado Tree
Image by gregalder.com via Pinterest

The Bacon avocado is a popular avocado variety for those with lower winter temperatures. It’s hardy down to 26 Fahrenheit. Its flesh is creamy and buttery and goes perfectly spread on toast, in salads, smoothies, or sauces and dips.

The fruit is medium-skinned, usually weighs between 10-12 oz, and ripens between December and March. The pit takes up a large portion of the fruit and tends to cause mold when ripe, making the fruit more perishable than other varieties.

Bacon is a medium-sized tree, with an upright growing habit. Its leaves are dark green and glossy, and it’s a late-producing variety, so could be a good choice paired with an early fruiting variety if you want to extend your home avocado harvest.

Bacon is a self-fertile, type B avocado meaning you don’t need another variety for cross-pollination to get a good harvest.

Other Common Names: Bacon avocado

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter to early spring

8. Zutano Avocado (Persea americana ‘Zutano’)

Zutano Avocados on a tree
Image by etsy.com via Pinterest

The Zutano avocado produces heavily and is more tolerant of cold than many other cultivars, down to 26 Fahrenheit. Being a type B avocado, It’s prized for its ability to pollinate many people’s favorite type A varieties, and produce a delicately flavored fruit in the off-season, between October and February.

The fruit of the zutano is pear-shaped, thin, and glossy, and remains green even when ripe. The flesh is not as creamy or flavorful as other varieties and can be a bit watery, fibrous, and hard to peel, meaning they work better in things like smoothies or brownies as opposed to guacamole. The zutano is a spreading tree with a rounded crown and spreading branches.

Other Common Names: Zutano avocado

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 30-40 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late winter to early spring

Avocados In Arizona

Whilst the hot and arid climate of Arizona is not the natural growing zone of the avocado tree, which prefers tropical/subtropical area, with a bit of care you can grow this wonderful fruit that has captured the heart and stomach of the world.

By babysitting the tree in its younger years in the form of providing the right micro-climate, you should be able to harvest your avocados in AZ. Experimenting with different varieties is the best way to ensure success for your climatic conditions.

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