Yes, you can grow your own avocado tree from seed. Next time you make avocado toast, instead of throwing the pit in the trash, try growing your own avocado plant. Anyone can do it. Here’s how!
Did you know that the seed or pit of an avocado can be sprouted? It’s a fun activity! Keep in mind: This method does not produce the fruit (that requires pollination!); the result is an interesting and attractive houseplant.
Start with a ripe avocado from the store. (Any type will do.) Be sure you don’t cut into the pit with your knife; just gently remove it. Eat the delicious, nutritious flesh! Wash the pit off with water and allow it to dry for 2 to 3 days.
Avocado pits (aka, seeds) may be started in a glass of water or loose soil mixture. Either will work, but the soil method will provide faster results and will be easier to eventually transplant.
Starting Avocado From Seed in Water
- Insert three toothpicks into the side of the seed around the pit’s equator (or middle), equidistant apart and about ½-inch deep. The pointed end of the pit should face up and the fatter, flatter end down.
- Fill a small glass with room temperature water to the brim and rest the toothpicks on the brim of the glass, with the flat end of the avocado seed immersed in the water and the pointy end out of the water so it remains dry.
- Put the glass in a warm location with indirect sunlight (not direct).
- Change the water in the suspended container regularly. Be sure to keep the bottom half of the seed immersed in the water at all times. Your seed should start to develop roots and a sprout in about 8 weeks.
- In 4 to 6 weeks, your seed will have roots! The roots are usually the first to emerge from the seed—and will appear from the flat end in a few weeks. Then you’ll see a sprout or stem! Look for signs of a small shoot at the pointed end. Tiny leaves will develop and grow on this shoot.
- Optional: As leaves begin to appear, you may want to gently pinch off the leaves (and discard) to encourage the avocado plant to grow a stronger stem and well-established root system before it focuses on leaves.
- Once the roots are at least 3 inches long, transfer the avocado seed to an 8-inch terracotta or clay pot that has drainage holes. Fill the pot with sandy potting soil (a cactus soil can work). Plant the seed in the middle of the spot and make sure that the pointed end is facing up! The top of the seed should be level with the soil surface but not cover the stem. Water thoroughly. Place near a bright window.
Starting Avocado From Seed in Soil
The soil method generally produces faster results. Fill a large container with a porous soil such as a houseplant potting mix or cactus mix (not regular soil!).
- Position the seed in the center of the pot, placing the seed so that the pointed end sticks out about an inch above the soil surface.
- After potting, water thoroughly.
- Put the plant near a sunny window; it should receive bright, indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist at all times until the avocado plant is established!
How to Care for an Avocado Plant
- Keep the soil slightly moist at all times, but not soaking wet. (Yellow leaves and a soft stem are signs of too much water. If leaves fall off, soil is too dry.)
- When the plant is about a foot high, cut it back to 6 inches so that new shoots will sprout.
- Keep plants near a bright window.
- Avocado plants should be fertilized every month with a standard houseplant fertilizer.
- Your tree can live outside in the summer. Bring it indoors if winter temperatures go below 45°F (7°C).
Avocado plants grow rapidly. They often have to be discarded because they’ve become too large for indoors!
Make an Avocado Shake
So what are you doing with the avocado fruit? Here’s a great idea. This is a popular treat in Brazil. Let us know if you like it!
½ avocado, peeled and pitted
1½ cups milk
½ cup ice
3 tablespoons sugar
Put the ingredients into a blender. Process the mixture on high for about 1 minute. Pour it into a glass and enjoy! Makes 1 serving.
Fun Avocado Facts
- Avocados are also called alligator pears! Why? Avocados have rough, green skin like alligators and are shaped like pears. The fruit has such a smooth, creamy texture that they were once eaten only by royalty.
- The avocado tree originated in south-central Mexico, sometime between 7000 and 5000 B.C. Archaeologists in Peru discovered avocado seeds buried with Incan mummies that date from 750 B.C. The tree itself is an evergreen. It can grow 30 to 80 feet tall.
- The oldest known living avocado tree is on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. It was planted in 1879.
- The avocado is a berry! An avocado pit (its seed) makes up 10 to 25 percent of the fruit’s weight. One avocado tree can produce as many as 500 avocados (or 200 pounds of fruit) per year. An average harvest from one tree is about 150 avocados (60 pounds).
- Guacamole may be the first thing that comes to mind, but avocados are used in all sorts of ways. For food, avocados are great in salads, sushi, soup, candy, avocado toast—even in ice cream in Brazil! If you’re not sure that you like avocados, make sure they feel firm to the touch and not mushy. Try eating first in slices or pieces, not as smashed guacamole.
- Avocados aren’t just eaten as food! Avocado oil is used in sunscreens, skin moisturizers, hair conditioners, and makeup.