Tuesday, November 17, 2009


two weeks after pinching the avocado's apical meristem, it is looking quite a strange plant. the combination, i suspect, of overthrowing apical dominance and increasing exposure to fluorescent light has resulted in a vegetative growth spurt. (vertical growth has been so very little over the last couple weeks.) but while i had hoped that axillary buds lower on the stem would be inspired to put forth new leaves, all the energy has gone into enlarging the existing leaves -- the higher the leaf, the higher the priority given. the result is a skinny-stemmed plant with 4 large leaves. the length of the top leaf is nearly one half of the plant's height. goodness gracious.

avo, nov 17th

gigantic avo leaf, nov 17th

perhaps if the pinch was made earlier the plant would have produced leaves closer to the base.


highest point of avo plant, nov. 5th

Monday, November 2, 2009


the avocado's leaves have been maturing nicely.

avo plant, oct 29th

plants perceive light as a ratio of red to far red light frequencies. far red is what stimulates a plant to grow taller, while the red makes a plant grow fuller. both are important. sunlight gives a hefty range that is tough to match while growing a plant indoors. incandescent light gives primarily far red while fluorescent is rich in red. combining these types of light can make for an adequately happy indoor plant.

i am going to try to up the avo's intake of fluorescent light.

avo plant with wine for scale, nov 2nd

this afternoon i decided to attack apical dominance.
the story of the pinch:

severed apical meristem

Monday, October 26, 2009


the avocado plant has experienced some stress recently.

like a moth to the flame, the avo's attraction to the desk lamp caused it harm. it grew so quickly that i didn't realize it could reach the lamp, and a leaf was singed.

avo, oct 26th, too much of a good thing

the other thing i've noticed is that the axillary buds (located along the stem) are either smaller or detached altogether. this must have happened just over the last few days. did they fall of on their own? have fruit flies eaten them away? i do not know. i was getting ready to make the decision to pinch, but this is causing me to hesitate.

avo stem, oct 26th, bud gone

these buds are meristematic zones! these regions are responsible for a plants growth.

the vascular cambium is the meristematic region located inside the stem and roots of the plant. it produces the xylem and phloem (which transport water/nutrients up and down the plant), and thus controls the girth of the plant. the axillary buds along the stem (from where new leaves, flowers, branches would grow) control vegetative growth. however, they are not as active as the apical meristem, located at the top of the stem. in order to stimulate vegetative growth and obtain a fuller plant, we must eliminate apical dominance. you can do this easily by cutting off the apical meristem of a young plant that has enough axillary buds.

pinching works better with certain plants over others. it is commonly practiced with basil and tomato. it is avoided with pine trees that are grown for the purpose of becoming christmas trees. the resulting adult christmas tree would require two stars (or angels), not one, to guard the highest point. but i do not know exactly how the avocado plant will respond, especially since its axillary buds appear to be damaged.

i will investigate this further before acting. notice how spindly it is:

avo, oct 26th, next to bottle 'o red for scale
(typical 750ml bottle, but please note protruding cork)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


i gave the avo plant another dose of fertilizer yesterday.

avo, oct 21st, 1 day after fertilizer

developing leaves, oct 21st

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


i signed out The Avocado / Botany, Production and Uses (Whiley, Schaffer, Wolstenholme) from the university library today. i read a bit about successful germination. apparently an avocado seed should be planted soon after it is removed from the fruit to avoid dehydration-- and it doesn't take long for this to happen. scarification (removing the brown coat surrounding the pit or cutting sections from the cotyledons*) and soaking the pits in gibberellic acid (GA)** for 24 hours prior to planting have been shown to increase both the speed and percentage of germination. the seed coat actually contains chemicals that inhibit germination!

today the pit did seem to be drier. (this is its fourth day outside the fruit.) after reading about the danger of dehydration, i was hoping that the pits large size would mean the embryo was well protected. but squeezing the pit, it did not feel firm; it felt somewhat spongy. i removed the pit's coat with a dull knife. it was splitting already and there were some soft orangey-brown dents. i impulsively ripped the pit in half with my hands. there goes that one.

avocado pit interior, 4 days out of fruit

i suspect there is some rotting going on in there.

* the avocado is a dicot, so it has 2 cotyledons.
** gibberillic acid is a hormone found in plants.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


avo photosynthesizing in kitchen, oct 19th

Saturday, October 17, 2009


look here:

newly acquired avo pit next to menno cinn doughnut for scale

this very large avocado pit was extracted last night from a variety of the species with which i am not familiar. unlike the typical hass variety, this avocado has smooth, shiny, green skin. the grocery store cashier informed me it was from mexico. it proved to be a most delicious specimen via guacamole.

i am seriously considering trying to grow this pit, but whether or not i have sufficient resources, i am not sure. it has also occurred to me that if i am to document the lives of two avocado plants, in order to keep things clear, i will have to name them.

avo sunbathing in kitchen, oct 17th

Friday, October 16, 2009


avo young leaves opening, oct 16th

not much natural light gets into my bedroom. this will inevitably limit the growth of the plants i keep in here. the avocado does, however, respond to lamp light. it takes about a 1/2 hour for it to turn around to face the halogen desk lamp.

avocado, oct 16th


on october 8th i brought home a ziplock bag of bright blue, powdered (15,15,18)* fertilizer. it was given to me by my horticulture prof for a take home growing experiment. i decided to share it with the avocado and gave it a light sprinkling of the solution.

the avocado continued to grow vertically and the number of axillary buds increased, but they remained very small and undeveloped. the apical dome and leaf primordia remained hidden under unopened developing leaves at the top of the shoot.

avocado leaflets, october 13th, 5 days after receiving fertilizer

*these numbers represent the percentage of macromolecules nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, respectively, present in the fertilizer. different plant species have different fertilizer preferences.


during the spring of 2009, i began bringing home avocado pits from work and encouraging them to germinate in jars of water on windowsills. many were duds, but some split open and showed a desire to live. many of those perished on their own accord or were neglected by me, but one little trooper survived. by the time i was ready to move to guelph, the lone avocado pit had firm roots a couple inches long. i returned to waterloo on september the 13th and potted the avocado pit -- and it should be noted that this was a very delicate transplant process. the roots were very vulnerable having grown in water, not having a buffer of soil.

the avocado seemed to take to its new home. within a week, it had sent up a stem that has been growing steadily since.

avocado, october the 8th, 3&1/2 weeks after potted