How to Plant an Avocado Tree
The next time you eat an avocado or use one in a recipe, save the stone or pit. Planting your own avocado tree is fun and easy. It is a perfect task for all ages — for the garden, for indoors, and also makes a great project for class or at home! This method will yield a tree that flowers, but not one that bears fruit. If you want to grow an avocado tree for fruit, it is best to purchase a grafted tree from a nursery.
1.Remove the pit. Cut into the avocado carefully, so as not to injure the pit, which is in the fruit’s center. You can do this by scoring the skin/fruit about ½ an inch (1.3 cm) deep all the way around the outside, and then twisting the two halves in opposite directions to open it. Carefully remove the pit and set it aside.
- So that you don’t waste the fruit, use the avocado meat to create the tasty dip/topping known as guacamole.
2.Clean the pit. Wash the avocado pit gently to remove all the flesh. Use warm water and your hands, and avoid using soap. Be careful not to remove the seed cover which is light brown, as this may destroy the pit and make it less likely to grow.
3.Insert toothpicks into the pit. Holding the pit “narrow” (pointed) side up, stick four toothpicks into the middle section at even intervals, just enough to give a firm hold. This will allow you to balance the pit on the inside of a cup, without completely inserting it into the cup.
- The pit should sit in about 1 inch of water, so keep this in mind when inserting your toothpicks.
4.Fill a cup/jar with water. Add some water to a small, slender container (preferably glass) until it reaches the top rim. Your container’s opening should be wide enough to accommodate the full width of the avocado pit easily; however, make sure that it is not too wide, otherwise the toothpicks will not be able to reach and the pit will fall in.
5.Set your avocado pit (with inserted toothpicks) on the top rim of the container.The toothpicks should sit on the rim of the container, leaving 1 inch of the pit only submerged in the water. Make sure the pointed end is up and the rounded end is in the water, otherwise your avocado will not grow.
6.Wait for the pit to sprout. Set the avocado-topped container in a temperate, undisturbed place — near a window or any other well-lit area to begin rooting and the growth process.
7.Change the water every one to two days. Do this to ensure that contaminants (i.e. mold, bacteria, fermentation, etc.) do not hinder the avocado’s sprouting process. Ensure the base of the avocado always remains moist and submerged in water.
8.Wait patiently for the pit to sprout roots. Over the next two to three weeks, the avocado’s brown outer layer will begin to dry out and wrinkle, eventually sloughing off. Soon after, the pit should begin to split open at the top and bottom. After three to four weeks, a taproot should begin to emerge at the base of the pit.
9.Continue to water the plant accordingly. Take care not to disturb or injure the taproot. Continue to allow the avocado pit time to establish its roots. Soon, the avocado will sprout at the top, releasing an unfolding leaf-bud that will open and begin to grow a shoot bearing leaves.
10.Select a location. Avocado trees are very particular in terms of their ideal climate and growing conditions. Most of the time, avocado trees should be planted in a pot, and moved around to meet the changing weather. Avocado trees prefer a temperature of 60 – 85°F (15.6 – 29.4°C), and established trees can handle temps as low as 28°F (-2.2°C).
11.Prepare the soil. Avocado trees can grow in soil at almost any pH level, but it must be low in saline and have plenty of drainage. The soil does not need to be heavily fertilized until after the tree is about 1 year old. At that point, you should conduct a soil test to find out what nutrients are available/lacking in your soil. You can then get fertility recommendations based on the nutrients found in your soil.
- You may want to use a 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a year to help the tree out. In general, you can use regular potting soil and add some rocks to the bottom of the pot to aid in draining excess water.
12.Prepare your plot. Use a 20 – 25 cm (7.8 – 9.8 inches) terracotta pot filled with enriched soil to 2 cm (.8 inches) below the top. A 50/50 blend of topsoil and coir (coconut fibre) usually works best, but make sure you check the soil where you’re planting to ensure this is the right blend. Smooth and slightly pack the soil, adding more soil as needed. Once the soil is prepared, dig a narrow hole deep enough to accommodate your avocado’s roots and pit.
13.Get the seed ready. When the tree reaches 6-7 inches in height, prune it back to 3 inches. When leaves have re-grown, you are ready to plant. Remove the sprouted pit from the water container, and gently remove each of the toothpicks.
14.Plant the avocado seed. Carefully bury the avocado pit in the soil such the top-half of pit shows above the surface of the soil. This ensures the base of the seedling trunk doesn’t rot under the soil. Pack the soil lightly around the pit.
15.Keep the tree hydrated. Water your plant daily or enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid over-watering to the point the soil becomes muddy. If the leaves turn brown at the tips, the tree needs more water, while if the leaves turn yellow, the tree is getting too much water and needs to be permitted to dry out for a day or two.
16.Maintain your avocado tree. Continue to tend to your avocado plant regularly, and in a few years you will have an attractive and low-maintenance tree. Your family and friends will be impressed to know that you cultivated and grew your own tree from an avocado pit salvaged from your guacamole recipe.
Without cutting your seed, remove it from the avocado and give it a good wash. Anything left will turn to mould.
2. Figure out the bottom from the top
The slightly pointier end is the top, and the flat end is the bottom. This is important when submerging the seed in water.
3. Pierce the seed with three toothpicks
Stick three toothpicks into the seed at an angle, avoiding the fault lines and place in a plastic drinking cup or jar with the bottom submerged in water. Make sure you change the water regularly.
Wait for your plant to grow
In 2-4 weeks you should be able to see the root growing out of the bottom of the seed. Around 7-8 weeks, the leaf should start to grow out of the top of the seed.
Move to a pot
Once the root is about 15cm long, plant it in a pot with a 25mm diameter. Place the pot in a spot with plenty of sun.
Will my tree grow fruit?
It’s a gamble. Some say it will after 3-4 years, others say 15 years and some say never. Either way, we think it’s a good-looking plant to have around your home.