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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
Category: General
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white spots, holes and blotches on avocado tree

Resolved Question:

I just bought an avocado tree about 4-5 feet tall from a well-known nursery. I transplanted it, and then suddenly holes in the leaves rapidly appeared (within hours/days). At first I thought it was an insect, then I noticed that first a white spot appeared, and then it turned into holes in the leaves. I cut off all the leaves with holes. While doing that, I noticed a "splotch" on the tree stem, close to the soil. The splotch is about an intch long and 1/2 inch wide; it's whitish in color and very "rough-tough" on the exterior. Can I save my tree or do I need to take it back? Also, will it cause harm to my other indoor garden plants and trees? Thanks. XXXXX PS -- I have placed (and already had) a deposit on file with you. $15 for a mediocre answer; $25 for a great one. Thanks.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I'm sorry that you are having problems with your new tree. Some additional information will help me to figure out what might be wrong.

Look at the underside of the leaves. Is there anything that looks like white webbing there?

Do the splotches seem to occur mostly near the leaf veins?

How big are the splotches before they turn into holes?

Concerning the white at the base. Is the bark there split open? You may have to remove the white stuff to find out.

Thank you.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm not an expert at planting, although I do tend to have a proverbial green thumb by applying love to growing things. Re your questions: 1) No, there is no white webbing under the holes. But I will have to look again (I'm upstairs now) -- but I cut off the leaves with holes in them, and they appeared normal, except for the hole -- and it looks like first what became a hole was a whitish brown spot. 2) The holes are between the veins. 3) The splotches are small, difficult to see at first unless you're really looking for them. The white at the base looked like the equivalen of the scab on a person -- crusty and tough. I cut it off before spraying the tree with garlic (I'm a little OCD). Under the crust I cut off appeared healthy, fresh tree stem. Let me know if you need anything more. And thanks for your attempts to help. I can't stand the thought of losing something living, plus the nursery is a good two-hour round trip away (I live in the Los Angeles area.) Melody Beattie
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me, Melody. I also hate to give up on any living thing. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for waiting. It's going to be impossible to give you a definite answer based only on an online description, but I'll give you some possibilities. But before I do that, despite our mutual dislike for giving up on a plant, my first recommendation to you is to return the tree.The reason for that si that you will either need to do some detective work first or experiment with treatments. In the end, you may well lose the avocado anyway.

That being said, I'll tell you some possibilities. The white splotch at the base is probably the result of a fluid the plant leaks form minor injuries. In that case, it's nothing to worry about. The other possibility is a fungus.

Now for the leaves. Phytophthora root rot, also called cinnamon root rot, is very common in California. Although the pathogen is in the roots, the leaves are often first to show the effects. They become splotchy and holes develop, then they die and fall off. There are systemic fungicides that give some control of this disease. They would be available at local nurseries and garden centers. Deficiencies of minerals can also be responsible. A fertilizer containing both macro and micro nutrients would remedy that problem.Mites can also do the same thing to the leaves. They are such a tiny species that we often can't detect them. However, they do usually make webs on the underside of the leaves.

At this point, you're probably wondering what to do. If you choose to keep the avocado, I suggest that your next step be to contact your County Extension Agent. This is a government program offered through universities, and there is no charge for their services. Just click on this link, then click on your county to get contact information:

In some areas, the agents will come to your home to examine a plant, while in others, you'll have to deliver a leaf for them to look at. They won't treat the plant for you, but they will diagnose it and recommend a treatment.

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope the situation works out well for you no matter what you decide to do.

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