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Questions about Avocado Winter Protection


Va Beach Grower:
Hi Everyone,
I've got a few of my Mexicola Avocado's in the ground and I have some other potted ones that I plan on leaving outside during the winter.  VA Beach is generally in the 40's during winter, some week's we have 30's, last year I think we had 2 weeks in the 20's (which is not typical).  This year being the first that I have some of them in the ground I've got some protection, with frost blankets and incandescent xmas lights around as well, so last week when it was in the 30's I used both and it worked out well!  I do have some questions though as I expect I'll have to use them a lot more often as we get into Jan and Feb, so here are my questions below:
1. How long is too long to have the jackets on?  I assume air circulation becomes an issue at some point or not being exposed to true elements outside?  Can I leave them on for a week at a time if we have that long of a cold spell?
2. At what temp should I be using them?  I don't want to be over-protective, as I realize babying them too much will be a problem, so my thought was if it's above 32F to not put on lights or blankets, and below 32F I use both?
3. There is some room under the blankets and I have the ones in ground w/xmas lights around the trunk and branches, so what I do w/the potted ones is stick them under the blanket to keep warm, but will this cause a problem with air circulation w/other plants being too crowded in?
4. I assume I should water much less in winter when it's cold, but I thought I read somewhere to water them before a cold streak as it helped to keep them warm?
5. Rather than crowding the other smaller potted ones underneath the blanket when cold, should I just bring them inside?  I'd rather keep them outside if huddling up under the blanket is ok.


I watched a farm in Santa Cruz put those frost blankets on in December and not take them off until April. I was definitely wondering what the hell they were doing since frost blankets seemed unnecessary in the first place at this location , but the tree's looked fine when they emerged so they can stay on for months it appears.
I wouldn't water them at all over winter, especially if any clay in the soil.
I think your 5 Gals should be fine inside the frost blankets, survival of the fittest, but bring them in if you get a hard freeze that is going to stick around a bit.

I have not protected any of my in-ground avocados yet this year, we've had four nights around 30F and two nights around 28F. Some of them had slight damage, but nothing severe. I will probably put buckets over a few of the smaller ones if the forecast shows 25F or lower. Here are three of them, you can see some minor leaf damage on the small one to the lower left:

I brought more than half of my ~70 potted avocado trees into my greenhouse for the 28F nights, but even the ones I left outside seem OK for the most part. Definitely some leaf damage on most of them, but the stems and buds seem fine, and a few show basically no damage at all.

I think you're better bringing potted trees in if you expect a hard freeze (28 or lower), but they should be fine outside under cover for milder freezes.

Here's a chart showing my temperatures here in my yard since late October (when we had our first freezes):

Va Beach Grower:
Okay thanks!  I guess I'll just stay the course, wrap and lights if below freezing, otherwise leave them off.  It's good to know that keeping on the frost blanket for extended periods shouldn't hurt them.


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