Knowing how to grow an avocado from seed can turn into a fun project, and it gives you a free houseplant in the end. If you feel bad about throwing away your avocado seed after your morning toast, you don’t have to. You can upcycle your avocado seed to grow your own avocado tree in no time and it’s a very simple process – you can even encourage your kids to get involved.
Before going into details, it should be pointed out now that you are unlikely to grow avocado fruit from this tree. There’s always a chance, but reaching this stage can take upwards of seven years and it’s hard to keep an avocado tree alive for that long. That said, you never know, and you’ll always get an adorable houseplant from the process. Would you like to try it ? Here’s how to grow an avocado from seed.
How to grow an avocado from seed
What you will need
8 inch diameter pot
Before you begin, it’s important to point out that you’ll need to perform the first steps immediately after eating your avocado. If you let the seed dry out, it may not germinate.
1. Remove and clean the avocado seed — Do not use a sharp knife to cut the avocado seed directly; it could easily damage it. Instead, carefully cut around with a spoon, then wash the avocado pulp down the sink. If the pulp does not move, let it soak for 5 minutes before cleaning the seed. Don’t rub too hard though, you don’t want to damage the brown outer layer.
2. Locate the bottom of your seed — The top and bottom of an avocado seed may look very similar, but you need to figure out which is which. Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, but the flatter end will be the bottom, while the top should form more of a point.
3. Drill toothpicks into your seed — This step may seem a bit aggressive considering the care we took with the seed in the first step, but it is important. These toothpicks will essentially help suspend the seed over a glass of water, which will be its first home. Try to find a clear glass for this step, so you can see the progress later, and hold the seed on top to give you an idea of the best toothpick placement.
You’ll take three toothpicks and pierce the seed at a downward angle around the edge, keeping them an equal distance apart. Remember that the bottom third of the seed will need to be submerged in water once the glass is full, so don’t drill too low. Make sure the toothpicks are holding the seed firmly before moving on to the next step.
There are avocado grow kits available online if this step seems too difficult for your liking. We recommend AvoSeedo’s Avocado Grow Kit ($10.95, Amazon).
4. Prepare the first house for your avocado tree — Fill the glass with warm water and place the seed on it, so that the lower bottom ⅓ of the seed is submerged. It will need plenty of light, so place the glass on a windowsill where it will receive indirect sunlight.
5. Change the water regularly — You will need to watch the water as it can quickly become slimy. Change it every few days to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria. After 2-4 weeks, the seed should open and the roots should start growing in the water. If there is no luck after 6 weeks, you may have to start over with another seed.
As it grows, the roots will spread and a sprout will grow into a small stem at the top of your seed. Once the roots have filled your glass or the stem is about 6 inches tall, that means it’s time for your avocado seed to find a more permanent home.
6. Transfer your seeds to a pot — Find a pot about 8 inches in diameter with a drainage hole in the base. To help drain the line, you can place a small stone over the hole before filling it with potting soil.
Leave a space at the top of the soil ready for your avocado seed. Gently lower your seed into the soil, aiming for a placement similar to what you had in the glass – with the top ⅔ of the seed above the surface. Make sure the hole is deep enough to bury the roots in the ground rather than compacting them on the surface. This will help them absorb nutrients more efficiently.
7. Place in a bright, warm place — Find a nice, bright windowsill for your new plant. You can put it back to where you grew it before if there is space. Once it gets stronger, you can also move it outside if you have a warm enough climate (60-80°F). Don’t forget to bring it indoors for the winter.
8. Ongoing maintenance — The trick with a healthy avocado tree is to get the water levels just right. Always check the soil moisture with your finger before watering. If it looks wet, wait and check again the next day.
However, just as it is easy to overwater, so is drying. The roots of an avocado tree stay close to the surface, so they can dry out quickly. As a general rule, water a newly planted avocado seed every 2-3 days, while mature trees should be watered weekly. Just make sure it’s not saturated. You can also give it fertilizer in the spring and summer to promote growth.
If you want your avocado tree to branch rather than grow straight, that’s pretty simple to do. You just need to pinch off the top leaves once they reach about a foot tall. Then, as it grows another six inches, pinch off two sets of leaves from the top again, and so on.
How long do avocados take to grow from seed?
It only takes a few weeks for roots to start propagating from an avocado seed, with a stem and plant forming soon after. Avocado trees have been known to live for hundreds of years, although it takes at least seven years to begin bearing fruit.
Is it worth growing an avocado from seed?
We definitely think so! At the very least, you can grow your own houseplant, which can be a fun project for kids. If you want to improve your chances of bearing fruit one day, you can always grow more than one.
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