Catalina Avocado Grow Guide

A Catalina Avocado On The Tree
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

If you live in South Florida, you have no doubt come across the famous Catalina Avocado.

Extremely popular in the Cuban-American community, the Catalina Avocado is one of the best-tasting West Indian Avocados out there.

That said, this grow guide will cover everything that you need to know about Catalina Avocado:

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Table of Contents

Catalina Avocado Tree Characteristics

The Catalina Avocado Tree is a Flowering Type A Avocado. In other words, the female flowers open in the morning and male flowers in the afternoon. In order to maximize Catalina’s fruit production, the tree should be planted near a Flowering Type B Avocado with a similar fruiting season.

This includes avocado cultivars such as:

A Young Catalina Avocado Tree
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

Speaking of fruit production, Catalina’s fruit production consistently ranges from average to good. The avocados themselves are medium to large-sized fruits that typically weigh between 1 – 2 lbs. Interestingly enough, Catalina is known to be extremely productive in Cuba (its place of origin).

Therefore, I speculate that someone growing Catalina in ‘South-South’ Florida can expect higher yields relative to someone growing Catalina in areas like Central Florida or California. Regardless of location, Catalina has developed a reputation for being a dependable and solid summer avocado cultivar.

That being said, it should be noted that the Catalina Avocado Tree has a vigorous growth habit.

A Immature Catalina Avocado On The Tree
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

Fun Fact: An easy way to identify a Catalina Avocado Tree is by examining its leaves. Catalina’s leaves are elongated and slightly rounded, making them among the most aesthetically pleasing leaves of any avocado cultivar.

Finally, Catalina is a pure West Indian Avocado, which means that it is very susceptible to cold damage

Similar to other West Indian Avocados such as the RussellPollockDupuis, and Simmonds, Catalina should only be planted in areas that rarely experience freezing temperatures. This makes Catalina a great option for those in USDA Hardiness Zones 10B and above.

Catalina Avocado Flavor Profile

The Catalina Avocado boasts a smooth, glossy green skin with a slightly leathery feel. Upon cutting into a Catalina, the “easy peel” skin effortlessly falls off, and the medium-sized seed pops out without leaving any paper residue.

The bright golden yellow flesh of the Catalina exhibits a buttery and creamy texture. A thorough examination of the fruit’s flavor reveals a light richness, faint sweetness, and a taste reminiscent of a perfectly ripe canistel.

A Mature and Ripe Catalina Avocado Cut In Half
Image Credit: Serendib Farms

While the fruit lacks a significant oil content, typical of West Indian Types, it makes up for this fact by having a much lower moisture content compared to other summer avocados that are available at the same point in the season.

From my perspective, Catalina stands out as an exceptional summer avocado, rivaling other delectable West Indian Avocados such as the Simmonds and Day.

In fact, I believe that Catalina definitely ranks among the best-tasting West Indian Avocados.

Catalina Avocado Season (And When To Pick)

Catalina Avocados are considered an early to mid-season avocado (August – October). However, I believe that Catalina tastes much better as a mid-season avocado vs an early-season avocado.

That is because, similar to SimmondsCatalina can taste terrible and watery if picked too early. As a result, to really maximize Catalina’s full flavor potential, I recommend harvesting Catalina closer to September.

A Mature and Ripe Catalina Avocado
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

That said, the best time to pick Catalina Avocados are when they are mature on the tree.

And while determining an avocado’s maturity can be difficult and require some trial and error, I have developed a repeatable process that has worked great for me:

  1. Starting August 14, pull a single fruit off the tree and allow it ripen for 3 – 8 days (at room temperature)
    • Delicately create small indents all around the fruit using your fingers.
      • If you detect a mixture of hard and soft spots, the fruit is not yet ripe. 
      • Conversely, uniform softness (not super soft) throughout the fruit indicates that it is ready for consumption.
  2. Taste the fruit – is the taste or consistency off ?
    • If the fruit tastes great, the rest of the avocados on our tree are ready to be harvested
    • If the fruit tastes sour/foul/rancid, wait another month and repeat the process with another single fruit
      • Fruit that are picked too early will often become black/inedible.
A Catalina Avocado On The Tree
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

After confirming that the avocados on our tree are mature, we can begin developing our ‘avocado pipeline.’ This involves picking some fruit to ripen on the counter for more immediate use while also placing others in the refrigerator to be used later. By adopting this approach, we can ensure a continuous supply of ripe avocados.

Catalina Avocado History

The Catalina Avocado was introduced to the United States from Cuba.

And while the story below is not true, I genuinely appreciate Jason Pepe’s commitment to providing the fruit-growing community with a heroic account of Catalina Avocado’s “Origin Story” so much that I had to include it 😆

This amazing avocado floated across from Cuba, 60 years ago just before Fidel Castro took over the Island Nation. Wise Cubans jumped into the ocean to escape the Castro regime and tossed in some favorite scions for us to enjoy here in the States.

We owe a great debt to poor old Don Miguel Cruz de la Santa Maria Espinoza Sanchez Alvarez Jr. who sadly was lost at sea. His amazing scion wood, wrapped in cellophane and aluminum foil floated over, washing a shore on Miami Beach.

His shiny little package was miraculously picked up on the shoreline and immediately grafted and cared for by keen eyed avocado lovers in Miami.

Jason Pepe

Jason ended the story by saying:

So be sure to think about this story every time you eat a Catalina! Well the story may be full of you know what, but the avocado is not! Catalina is the real deal and one hell of an awesome Avocado!

As Jason mentioned above, while that heroic tale is not historically accurate, the truth remains that the Catalina Avocado is an extremely popular variety among Cuban-Americans in South Florida.

Catalina Avocado Tree For Sale

If you love West Indian Avocados, you honestly can’t go wrong with Catalina.

However, due to its susceptibility to cold damage, Catalina is not incredibly common in the nursery trade.

If you are unable to find a Catalina Avocado at a local nursery, they are available for sale on FastGrowingTrees.com, which is an online nursery that provides a wide selection of tropical trees, shrubs and plants. 

Not only does FastGrowingTrees ship quickly, but they also offer an optional 1 Year Warranty (which is always nice)!

Conclusion

If you found this grow guide helpful, please consider sharing. It helps support the website 🙂

If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this grow guide, please comment them below! This way, others can also benefit from the answer to the same question. For any other questions or growing tips that you think may be helpful, feel free to use the contact form and drop me a line.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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