Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. They are one of the wonderful fruits of summer. The next time you’re making guacamole or slicing an avocado for a salad, try saving your pits to grow into avocado trees. It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own avocado tree from seed, and it makes a great educational project for home and classrooms. See this very helpful guide below, complete with photos, to learn how to grow an avocado tree from seed.
STEP 1 – REMOVE & CLEAN PIT
Remove the large pit (seed) from inside an avocado, rinse well, and dry, because a wet seed will be slippery. Be careful not to remove the brown skin on the pit – that is the seed cover.
STEP 2 – LOCATE WHICH END IS ‘UP’ AND WHICH IS ‘DOWN’
There are avocados whose pits are slightly oblong, whereas others are shaped almost like perfect spheres – but all avocado pits have a ‘bottom’ (from where the roots will grow), and a ‘top’ (from which the sprout will grow). The slightly pointier end is the top, and the flat end is the bottom. In order to get your pit to sprout, you will need to place the bottom root end in water, so it’s very important to figure out which end is the ‘top’ and which is the ‘bottom’ before you go piercing it with toothpicks.
STEP 3 – PIERCE WITH FOUR TOOTHPICKS
Push three or four toothpicks into the seed at its widest part so that you can suspend the pit over a glass of water with the pointy end sticking up. The water should cover about an inch of the seed.
STEP 4 – PLACE AVOCADO SEED HALF SUBMERGED IN A GLASS OF WATER
And set on a quiet windowsill with sunlight. It’s helpful to use a clear glass so you can easily see when roots start to grow, and also when the water needs to be changed. Many guides recommend to change the water every day, but I found, through trial and error, that it is better to change the water every five days to a week or so. You do want to make sure you change the water regularly, to prevent mold, bacteria and fungus growth, which can doom your little avocado sprout.
STEP 5 – WAIT FOR YOUR AVOCADO SEED TO SPROUT!
In 2-4 weeks, roots and a stem will sprout from the seed. When the stem is about six inches long, trim it in half. Or here is a more detailed way of doing it:
1. The top of the avocado pit will dry out and form a crack, and the outer brown seed skin will slough off.
2. The crack will extend all the way to the bottom of the avocado pit, and through the crack at the bottom, a tiny taproot will begin to emerge.
3. The taproot will grow longer and longer (and may branch), and eventually a small sprout will peek through the top of the avocado pit.
4. Do not allow your taproot to dry out unsubmerged EVER – doing so will be the death of your plant.
STEP 6 – POT IN SOIL WHEN TREE IS ABOUT 6” TALL
When the stem is about 6-7 inches long, cut it back to about 3 inches, this will encourage new growth. When it hits 15 cm again, pot it up in a rich humus soil in a 8-10″ diameter pot, leaving the top half of the seed exposed. Place on a sunny windowsill. Avocados love sun – the more sun the better.
STEP 7 – WATER & WATCH IT GROW
Give it frequent watering with an occasional deep soak. The soil should always be moist, but not saturated. Yellowing leaves are a sign of over-watering; let the plant dry out for a few days.
STEP 8 – PINCH OUT TOP LEAVES TO ENCOURAGE BUSHINESS
When the stem reaches 12 inches tall, pinch out the top two sets of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow side shoots and more leaves, making it bushy. Each time the plant grows another 6 inches pinch out the 2 newest sets of leaves on top.
STEP 9 – TROUBLESHOOTING BUGS
If you get bugs, here’s how to get rid of them: Wash all of the aphids off the plant by spraying your plant down with a hose outside or in the sink/shower. Once the little pests are off, spray your plant with a mixture of water with a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and a teaspoon of neem oil. This will keep aphids from returning. Check your plant every 4-5 days and re-clean and spray when necessary.
STEP 10 – WINTERING
In most regions, the avocado plant can stay outside in summer. If you live in a warm climate that does not experience temperatures less than 45 degrees F, you may want to make your avocado tree part of your landscaping by moving the plant outside permanently.
Now just sit back and wait to see if your avocado tree will ever grow. It can take anywhere from 5 – 13 years for an avocado plant to bear fruit, and some never do. But in the meantime, you’ll have a beautiful tree to enjoy.