How to Grow an Avocado Plant From Seed - Dengarden - Home and Garden
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How to Grow an Avocado Plant From Seed

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Izzy has been an online writer for over nine years. Her articles often focus on planting and gardening exotic plant species.

A one-year-old avocado seedling.

A one-year-old avocado seedling.

If you ever wanted to know how to plant an avocado seed and grow your own avocado tree, then you have arrived at the right place. Your self-grown avocado tree may itself be able to produce fruit one day, but it may take four to six years. Until then, you'll have a really unusual houseplant to look after.

Avocado trees can grow to almost 70 feet tall, given the right conditions. So if you need to keep it as a houseplant, you will want to pinch out the growing tip to encourage it to bush rather than grow straight upwards.

Growing avocado seeds is fun, and you get to eat a delicious avocado too. Simply buy an avocado, take it home, eat it, release the seed (which is huge) and carefully clean it under cold or tepid running water. Any flesh left on the seed will inhibit germination and encourage rot. And be sure to dry your seed completely. Now you are ready to plant.

There are two methods that I know of to get an avocado seed to germinate, and I will tell you both here so that you can take your pick.

Fresh avocados and their seed.

Fresh avocados and their seed.

How to Plant an Avocado Seed: Method 1

The common method of growing an avocado seed is to insert two or three cocktail sticks into the fleshy side of the seed, and suspend it over a glass of water until it sends a shoot downwards to take a drink.

The bottom (rounded end) should be actually sitting in the water. You may need to top up the water levels to ensure it doesn't dry out. If nothing happens by the end of six weeks, it probably isn't going to sprout and should be discarded, but give it that length of time, just in case. They are quite slow at germinating.

Once it has sprouted, it can be planted in a compost-filled pot, root downward. Leave the tip of the seed above the soil level.

How to Plant an Avocado Seed: Method 2

The method above never seems to work for me and the seed usually just rots. Of course, it could be that it just hates the tap water here. It's salty and chemical-laden. Avocado trees hate saline water, and no doubt their seeds do too.

The other method I have had some success with involves taking the seed and planting it directly into a compost-filled pot, rounded end downwards. Water it well and leave it to drain.

Then pop the whole pot inside a plastic bag and seal. Place it in a warm cupboard. Light is not required at this point. Just wait for signs of a shoot at the top.

Bring the plant out and place it on a sunny window-shelf. Leave it in the bag for a day or two longer to allow the fledgling plant to adjust, then take the bag off and put a saucer underneath the pot. You can then add water for your baby avocado plant to drink.

This method also avoids the shock of moving the seedling from water to compost.

An avocado sprout stretching upwards.

An avocado sprout stretching upwards.

Caring for Your Avocado Seedling

Your avocado seedling can be placed in a sunny position and given frequent waterings. Let the soil dry out between waterings and always water from below.

Never let it sit in water that it's not drinking up. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. So if after an hour or two there is still water there, throw the water away.

Your avocado is a quick-growing tree. So be prepared to have to pot on into bigger pots at least once a year or more. As I said above, pinch out the growing tip to try to make it grow more side shoots. That way it won't grow so tall.

An avocado seedling.

An avocado seedling.

Potting Your Avocado Seedling

Eventually your little (or not so little) avocado seedling will require a larger pot to grow on in. Avocados let you know when the time is right. They require watering much more often than usual and actually wilt to let you know. To witness a tall, majestic seedling with drooping leaves is saddening.

To move your avocado seedling from one pot to another, follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Choose a day when your plant's compost is on the dry side.
  2. Obtain a larger pot.
  3. Line the holes in the bottom of the pot with broken clay pots, or pebbles, or even paper. You want a material that will allow water through, but which will not allow the soil to drop out.
  4. Place an inch or so of compost in the bottom of the pot.
  5. Gently squeeze your plastic pot containing the avocado seedling all the way round to loosen the soil from the sides of the pot.
  6. Lift the whole avocado plant out, including its soil, and place it in the centre of the pot.
  7. Fill in the sides with fresh compost.
  8. Place the whole pot in the sink, and soak with water from both the top and the bottom.
  9. Add extra soil as required. Some of the compost will sink with the addition of water as it settles into place.
An avocado seedling waiting to be re-potted into a larger pot.

An avocado seedling waiting to be re-potted into a larger pot.

Pollinating Avocado Trees

Avocado trees grow in tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. They hate frost. So if you live in an area prone to frost, you will need to keep the plant indoors though you may put it outside in the summer if you have a nice sheltered spot available.

Your avocado tree may produce fruit after four to six years, but the tree itself is only partially self-fertile. This is because its flowers are male one minute and female the next. How weird is that?

There are two types of avocado cultivars, type A and type B. In type A, the flowers open in the morning as female and close at the end of the day. The next day, the same flowers open in the afternoon as males.

In type B, it's the opposite. They open as female on the first afternoon, and the next morning open as male.

As we need both male and female to be open at the same time in order to pollinate, this is quite difficult. What we can do is wait until a male flower opens and collect some of its pollen on the tip of a small paintbrush or similar. Put the brush into a plastic bag.

Then when we next see a female flower, we can carefully dab some pollen onto the stigma and then let nature take its course.

Note: The fruit of an avocado tree is unlikely to be like the fruit you bought the seed in. This is because avocados are commercially grafted by growers to ensure continuation of the exact trees and cultivars they have grown to produce the fruit.

An avocado tree bearing fruit.

An avocado tree bearing fruit.

Planting Your Avocado Tree

If you live in a tropical or subtropical area, you can plant your avocado tree out in the garden. They like well-drained soil but hate alkaline soils with high salinity. If you have the latter two, keep your avocado trees in pots.

Grow them in a sheltered part of the garden, as they dislike high winds. Indeed high winds can ruin any potential crop.

In view of its potential maximum height of 70' (20m), it is advisable to plant away from the house, to prevent future problems with roots working their way into the foundations of your house. Normally, trees roots will spread 1 1/2 times their height.

Where Can You Grow Avocado Trees Outdoors?

Avocado trees grow well outdoors in the following states:

  • California
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Florida

Avocado trees also grow well outdoors in the following countries and regions:

  • Mexico
  • Ecuador
  • Central America
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Sri Lanka
  • India
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Spain
  • Crete
  • Peru
  • South Africa
  • Chile

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 IzzyM

Comments

Sue on October 11, 2019:

my indoor avocado plant is nearly 6 feet tall. I live in southern Florida, so I can put it outside, but I am afraid the iguanas will eat it. Any suggestions?

Julie on September 10, 2019:

I have an avacado tree my daughter sprouted from a seed.in Michigan Its about 4 ft tall now. I brought it back with me to orlando, the wind took to it pretty bad .will it recover, and should i keep it in a pot, or is Orlando winter ok .to plant in yard.

moondance on August 30, 2018:

Helpful post. Not sure why Hawaii did t make your list of places to grow avocados outside. They’re everywhere!

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 08, 2018:

Avocado trees are deciduous in a cooler climate. Many lose their leaves over the winter (even when kept as house plants) but they will grow back in the spring.

IzzyM (author) from UK on April 30, 2018:

In a light place out of direct sunlight.

Eva on April 30, 2018:

Where do you put the avocado seed after you put it in water ? In sunlight or dark room?

Lin on March 12, 2018:

Hello! Thank you so much for the info above. My avocado is more than a year old but there's so few leaves and it's not brunching out. I'm worried that if i cut it it won't grow back. What do you think i should do?

avocadian on January 10, 2018:

Hi dear!

Thanks for your insightful and informative article!

I’m Joy and recently started up a new venture to solve the avo-issues in Malaysia (you know it’s very hard to get good quality avocados in the market nowadays… more info at https://www.avocadian.com )

And yes, it’s been a very tough journey to deal with avocados… Since you’re really well experienced with avocado, I wonder if you could shed some light on what I’m doing? Do you think I provide values to the people? How could I improve it?

Thank you very much dear! =)

Nanny on April 12, 2016:

I thought I read somewhere to keep them in the dark in the beginning?

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 28, 2014:

I've grown them in Scotland which is pretty far north. I don't have a conservatory but if I did I'd keep them there. At the moment I've still got one in the unheated greenhouse. It looks a bit miserable because it has shed its leaves for the winter, but it's getting big. I left it outdoors last summer and took it in when frosts threatened.

dearabbysmom from Indiana on February 27, 2014:

It was so exciting to read this and plan to get started...but then I read to the end about living in a frost zone. My son lives in Florida, however, and I may have him do this for me. Thank you for sharing this info! Voted up.

IzzyM (author) from UK on January 17, 2014:

Excellent idea to have your own photos to hand! I've still got the tree shown above, although it is a lot bigger now. In spring when it's new leaves come through I will update this hub. I've also got several citrus trees - I can't remember if they are oranges or lemons LOL! Good luck with your seedlings :)

Sarah from Indiana on January 17, 2014:

Very Interesting! I have done this with apricot, plum and peach seeds. I started the seeds last August (2013) and now I have 2 tiny sprouts growing in pots in my window. The other 2 have good roots, so I am hopeful they too will sprout in the next few days. I am planning a hub about the process I used, but have been waiting to get good pics of the growing trees.

IzzyM (author) from UK on July 09, 2013:

Over-watering? Try to leave him on the dry side for a few days and see if he improves. Sorry that's the only thing I can think of. You don't want to re-pot him because if he is suffering now, the shock could kill him.

If his compost is already on the dry side, try increasing his watering. If there is a heatwave where you are his watering needs will have increased.

Bparberry on July 08, 2013:

I started my tree from the water and 2 months now he's a foot. Going great and fast but the sorta new bigger leaves are droopy. Granted the lower ones dry out and are cut off and there are new leaves up top. In a 3 lb. Butter bin. I don't wanna lose him any advice?

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 16, 2011:

You're very welcome :) Thanks for commenting!

dara60 from United Kingdom on March 16, 2011:

Thanks a million

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 14, 2011:

Absolutely Nate! I seldom throw any seeds away, and so have a mini forest of all sorts growing - apples, lemons, oranges, avocados etc. Reforestation is what we should all be aiming for :)

NateSean from Salem, MA on March 14, 2011:

Now this is a very unique hub. Great info and thank you for providing some very useful info. If more people would plant seeds instead of just throwing them away, we might actually be able to help restore some of the damage we're doing to our planet.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 14, 2011:

You need a nice warm conservatory or heated greenhouse so they get plenty of warmth and sunshine :)

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 14, 2011:

I have always had good success using the toothpick/glass method, getting my seeds to start. Problem for me is, every time they get going, they die shortly after. I live in a high altitude area, so I am sure the cold and such has some to do with it.

Nice hub tho,

Good job

- Harlan

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 14, 2011:

Excellent! Love to hear success stories :)

A Fresh Approach on March 14, 2011:

Great hub! I always watched my parents try to do the water method growing up in California. I was never successful at it. I got tired of it and just threw three seeds in their own dirt and watered. To my surprise, they all sprouted. I have one left (they're tempermental to being moved and I've even changed states with them)that is about two years old. Everyone that comes over to my house comments on it. We love it! Good luck to all. Avocados are great fun.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 12, 2011:

Wow! You must have a budding gardener there!

Seo company on March 12, 2011:

Had success with th glass method to the amazement and joy of my 3 year old daughter!

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 11, 2011:

Come back and let me know how you get on :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 11, 2011:

I’ve never grown an avocado plant but after reading your hub I’ve decided that I’m going try. I’m going to enjoy working on this project! Thank you for the instructions and the interesting information.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 11, 2011:

Be interesting to see if you can grow an upside side avocado LOL!!

Eaglekiwi from -Oceania on March 11, 2011:

Oh I might have the wrong end dangling -lol,you know Ive done this before ,so I feel such a dummy now.

Thanks for your reply :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 11, 2011:

Thanks :) Keep topping the water up so that the rounded part of the stone is sitting in the water. It can take up to 6 weeks to germinate so it's early days yet. Good luck!

Eaglekiwi from -Oceania on March 11, 2011:

My avocado stone is just dangling in a little water ,but still hasn't sprouted any greenery? its been around 10 days now..do I just keep topping up the water ,as I know the air conditioner makes it quite dry inside?

Loved your hub ,thumbs up!

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 10, 2011:

Sometimes the seeds just won't sprout no matter what you do! Just got to keep trying :)

SilverGenes on March 10, 2011:

Izzy, thank you so much for this! I have tried and messed this up so many times but now will give it another go :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 10, 2011:

here's hoping, so thanks :) I'd rather have the google traffic back though...

pertibha321 from india on March 10, 2011:

ya am agreed this is the example of a great hub which may be going to reach hubscore 100.best of luck to this hub and hubber.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 10, 2011:

Thanks :) Hope someone finds it useful :)

Peaceful life from Las vegas on March 10, 2011:

this is a good informative hub!

anjali on March 09, 2011:

I love plants..

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 08, 2011:

Yes they need either a tropical or a subtropical climate but you can grow them indoors in other cooler climates :)

SUSANJK from Florida on March 08, 2011:

I love avacados, do they need a certain climate. I want to try and grow some.

rainmist from Las Vegas on March 07, 2011:

It's a good idea to plant fruit tree at home garden .

Maybe the whole joy of it is not avocado . I will have a try .

good luck !

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 07, 2011:

Didn't realise the hub was featured so thanks for the heads up :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 07, 2011:

Hey good luck! Let us know how you get on :)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on March 07, 2011:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm so glad I 'ran' into this hub, although I believe, nothing is by accident. Just this afternoon at lunch I made guacamole and removed the pit from both avocados. I placed them inside the water glass thinking this was what I remembered had to happen. And, now-you're hub! So helpful. Glad it made it to the featured hub section.

Money Glitch from Texas on March 07, 2011:

I'm attempting to get one started by growing it in water. So far no luck, of course I think it has only been about 3 weeks and not 6. Guess I'll give it a few more weeks before tossing it. You are right though that some seem to sprout faster than others. Thanks for sharing all the tips. :)

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 06, 2011:

If we're all growing our own (and saving a fortune) it is worth noting that avocado fruit, like bananas, ripen off the tree. Pick them when they are green and firm, then they will start to ripen.

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on March 05, 2011:

Hmm ill have to try this thank you

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 03, 2011:

This hub is on the sign out page? LOL Thanks Hubpages! (not sure if that's good or bad)!

Susan, the second method is a bit hit or miss too, and I think that's because it depends on the seed. Worth a try :) It works for me :)

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 03, 2011:

Great Hub. I love avocados and have tried the water method so many times with no luck at all. I did not realize that there was another way to grow them. I was just signing out of hubpages and saw your hubpage on the sign out page. So glad to have found it. Thanks so much. Now I will be off to the store to buy some avocados.

IzzyM (author) from UK on March 01, 2011:

I grew my avocado trees in Scotland so it can be done. They are just houseplants of course. I started to grow some here but they didn't survive their first summer - its just too hot and dry here and the tap water is awful!

chspublish from Ireland on March 01, 2011:

Would love to grow one to maturity, at least to the fruiting stage. Unfortunately the climate here may not support the fruiting. However I have tried the first method wothout much success. I shall try the second way to see what happens. It's a shame to throw the seeds away without trying. Thanks.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 27, 2011:

They made lovely plants. Good luck with it!

JD Barlow from Southeast US on February 27, 2011:

The water method worked for me. My avocado plant is still in the baby stage, but looking good!

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 26, 2011:

Each avocado tree when they start flowering can produce 1,200 fruit each year! I hope you REALLY like avocados!

azure_sky from Somewhere on the Beach, if I am lucky :) on February 26, 2011:

Thanks so much for this useful hub!! Yes, it may take years to produce avocados, but think of the money I will save :) Maybe I'll just go ahead and plant a small orchard :) Thanks again!!

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 25, 2011:

Yes you should because it's fun :)

Nan on February 25, 2011:

You make it sound easy to grow the avacado plant and I am going to try growing a plant or two.

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 25, 2011:

I would anyway. The last one I grew lives at an east facing window. It doesn't grow an awful lot but it looks healthy enough.

trish1048 on February 25, 2011:

Hi IzzyM,

I tried the water method many years ago. I didn't have any luck with it. My mom, however, did.

I would love to try this again, however, I only have one tiny window with no sill that gets full sun. So basically, the only light I get in my home is from all exposures, but only the small window with an eastern exposure.

Should I bother to try again?

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 25, 2011:

You're welcome. It's great fun, but if you want to pick your own you are probably better off buying a tree grown by a specialist. I'm surprised at Amazon's prices. I can buy them in the local market - 5' tall or thereabouts - for about €15 ($25) each.

Fay Paxton on February 25, 2011:

Thank you so much for this hub. I've always wanted to know how to do this. I love avocados!