An Almost Foolproof Way to Grow an Avocado Plant from a Seed
After you eat an avocado, the temptation to try to grow your own plant is well nigh irresistible. I have started at least a hundred avocado seeds, and very few of them even sprouted, let alone grew into a lush and leafy green plant
Then I learned the secret to sprouting avocado seeds - and it is quite easy. Here's how to start growing your own avocado plant from a seed.
First, eat an avocado.
When you finish, rinse off the seed under running water.
Peel the brown skin off the seed. This is very firmly attached sometimes. If so, gently cut through the skin with a paring knife. Leaving very shallow lines on the avocado seed will not affect the germination of the avocado seed. I lift up the skin with the tip of the paring knife and then peel it off. As you can see from the pictures, this is not absolutely necessary, but may be more attractive.
Getting Ready to Sprout
Here is what you need to do to sprout your avocado.
Fill a plant pot with dirt. It can be potting soil, or dirt from your garden, or, if you are like me and have a few dead plants around in pots, use one of those.
Prepare the pot with a small rock, piece of broken china or a charcoal briquette on top of the drain hole.
If you are using new potting soil, all you need to do is put it into the pot and gently tamp it down.
If you are using dirt from the garden, make sure there are no weed sprouts or bits of grass to sprout before your avocado gets a chance.
If you are recycling an already used plant pot with dirt in it, remove the withered plant stub. That may pull out easily, but you should make sure you remove all the roots from the dead plant as well.
For both types of soil, look through the dirt for stray roots. Dump the soil onto a sheet of newspaper, as it is likely to have clumps and compacted soil. Break up the dirt and rub any compacted bits between your fingers.
Sift the dirt through your fingers into the plant pot.
Moisten the soil. I put my pots on top of mismatched saucers to catch water.
Take your avocado seed and gently press it into the moist dirt, until it is about halfway covered. Keep the wider end down. Water the soil again, and put your pot in a place where it is not likely to be disturbed or knocked over by a cat.
Note: I previously wrote plant the pointier end down in this article, but after comments from people I have experimented both ways, and I agree, pointier end up is the way to go. Thanks for the advice people.
Check the soil every few days to see if it needs more water. It may take up to two months to sprout. It is important to make sure the soil does not dry out.
First, you will see a crack in the seed. It is the sign of success.
A sprout will come out, although it may take a couple days. At the same time, a thick little root will be pushing down into the soil.
Put your pot on a windowsill, so the sprout gets sun part of the day.
I sometimes put several seeds into the same pot to sprout, adding them over a couple days as the avocados are eaten.
You can put your sprouting avocado outside if the weather is good. In fact, this is a good idea, as the plants are less likely to grow leggy.
When the avocado plant has grown a couple pairs of leaves, you need to nip off the tiny sprout at the top, so the plant does not grow into a three foot high stick with a couple of leaves.
Wait until there is a third pair of leaves popping out - the tip of the plant will show a tiny upright sprout and two tiny leaves.
I do this with the edge of my fingernail, carefully, as I have nipped off the new side leaves in the past. This is not a catastrophe, but may make the top of your plant look a bit lopsided as it grows.
What you have done is halt the avocados upward growth, and encourage it to spend its energy on sprouting new tips at the base of side leaves. A new leaf bud will start where the side leaves come out of the stem, and turn into branches.
If your avocado has not grown as tall as you want, go ahead and let a third or fourth pair of leaves sprout before you nip the new bud at the tip. Then go ahead and encourage it to put out some side branches.
I’ve found sprouting my avocados directly in dirt is a far more successful method than the traditional way of inserting toothpicks into the seed and letting it sit part way out of a cup of water.
My mother discovered this by accident, when she tucked an avocado seed into a plant pot and forgot she had intended to sprout it in a cup of water. She watered the plant regularly – and then noticed that her plant had an unexpected companion.
Let me know how well your avocados grow from seeds, or if you have additional tips.
Questions & Answers
Can you get avocado "fruit" from its seed?
I have never had any of my plants blossom. I understand that avocado trees may take up to ten years to start blossoming, and commercial avocado groves usually graft their trees from already producing avocado trees. Currently, the oldest avocado plant I started is about six years old and has a stem about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is about five feet tall. Since I live in the northern US, my plants are outside for about six months a year. This isn't the ideal environment for a fruit tree. If my plants ever do blossom, I will post the information in my article.
I have had comments that discuss blossoms or fruit from avocado seeds that they, or relatives of theirs, grew. Most, if not all of those comments seem to be from regions where the plant can stay all year outdoors or is planted in the ground. I think it is certainly possible for a plant you start to produce fruit eventually, but you seem to need to be in a favorable environment.
I grow avocado plants from seeds as an attractive houseplant. Blossoms and fruit would be an incredible bonus, but I don't expect them. There are several nurseries that sell grafted avocado trees, and I recommend you consider getting a grafted plant if you really want to grow your own fruit.