Catalina avocados are prized for their creamy texture and large size, weighing up to two pounds each. In their native Cuba, trees are said to produce up to 1,000 avocados annually.
The Catalina avocado is native to Cuba and has been naturalized to Florida. The tree itself is distinguishable from other varieties because of its somewhat rounded, rather than elongated, leaves. A Catalina avocado tree can grow to a mature height of about 30 feet with a width of about 20 feet.
Like most avocado trees, this robust plant grows well in USDA hardiness zones 9 – 11, but it can survive in zones four and up when grown indoors or on a patio. Avocado trees cannot withstand freezing temperatures and should not be exposed to frost, but the Catalina avocado will tolerate temperatures as low as 28 – 32°F.
The Catalina avocado has an elongated, pear-like appearance, although it can be almost lemon-shaped, bulging in the middle and tapering at both ends. When mature, the thin, smooth skin is a bright, lime green hue, and the creamy flesh is pale yellow. Considered a large variety, this avocado can weigh nearly two pounds on average.
Trees can flower as early as March, leading to harvest as early as June, extending well into fall, with peak harvest in early fall. Although this plant is self-pollinating, proximity to other avocado trees will increase cross-pollination and yield.
Catalina Avocado Care
This type of avocado tree can be somewhat challenging to establish. Still, considering the advantages of the variety — high yields, large avocados, and creamy flesh — it can be well worth the effort.
In its native Cuba, this plant thrives, despite a clay soil environment. Typically, avocados don’t do well in heavy clay because they’re prone to rot when soil retains water. However, the soil in Cuba is both extremely fertile and well-drained, creating surprisingly good conditions for avocado growth.
Although this unique combination of elements is not emulated in Florida, areas of somewhat sandier soil in the state can provide a good home for the Catalina avocado. In regions with clay soil, you will have to create mounds for better drainage.
This tropical-subtropical evergreen needs full sunlight. The shade will hinder growth, so make sure to plant it away from other trees. Like most avocado trees, frequent pruning is essential to keep the plant from growing out of control.
Catalina Avocado Fruit and Harvesting
Catalina avocados are typically harvested from midsummer through fall, with peak harvest in early fall. Because Catalina avocados maintain a bright green color, it’s best to wait until they are around two pounds, then pick the largest one and see if it ripens within four to five days. If so, you can begin harvesting. It’s best not to let these avocados fall, as the skin is easily damaged.
This variety of avocados is excellent for a range of preparations. The flesh is soft and creamy, so it’s a good choice for salads, sandwiches, spreads, and guacamole. It also has a subtle sweetness rather than nutty undertones, making it ideal for smoothies and desserts. If you like avocado fudge or mousse, both the flavor and texture of this variety lend themselves well to such recipes.
The skin is thin and soft, so the best way to remove it is with a paring knife rather than trying to peel it or scoop out the flesh. One feature you’re sure to love is that Catalina avocados don’t tend to brown as quickly as other varieties when cut.
Catalina Avocado Advice
When it comes to maintaining this enormous tree, you’ll want to pay close attention to watering and pruning. Like most avocado varieties, root rot is a genuine concern.
For the first one to two years, you can water the tree two to three times a week, until the tree is established. Weekly watering is preferred when the plant matures.
It’s best to give the roots a deep soak, then allow them time to dry before the next watering. Avocados don’t tolerate drought well, but neither do they thrive in overly moist conditions.
Regular pruning is essential for ensuring proper growth. Because Catalina avocados are so large and heavy, branches must be frequently pruned so they don’t become overburdened and break. Ideally, you should prune early in the year (January) and stay on top of pruning wild growth year-round.
Is the Catalina Avocado a Fruit?
Avocados are a fruit. Because they have a seed and fleshy pulp, they technically fall into the berry category.
When Can I Expect the Tree to Start Producing Fruit?
The Catalina avocado tree can start producing fruit within just one to two years of planting, but don’t expect full yields for perhaps seven to eight years.
How Much Fruit Does a Mature Catalina Avocado Tree Produce?
The storied Catalina avocado tree produces as many as 1,000 avocados in a single year in Cuba. In Florida, however, you can expect around 200 – 300 avocados a year on average, considering that the tree may alternate between large and small yields from one year to the next.
What Nutritional Value Does the Catalina Avocado Offer?
The Catalina avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fat and fiber. It also delivers vitamins A, B, C, E, K, minerals like folate, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, thought to contribute to eye health.