After eating your favorite avocado, don’t throw the seed away! Grow a beautiful decorative houseplant or even your own avocado tree following these simple steps.
· Avocado pit/seed
· Small, clear bottle in order to see the roots grow
Remove the large pit/seed inside the avocado.
Push three or four toothpicks into the seed at its widest part.
Stick them at a slight downward angle into the avocado seed, spaced evenly around the circumference of the avocado.
These toothpicks are your avocado scaffolding, which will allow you to rest the bottom half of the avocado in water, so therefore the toothpicks need to be wedged in there firmly.
I recommend sticking them in at a slight angle (pointing down), so that more of your avocado base rests in the water when you set this over a glass.
After filling up the bottle to the rim, suspend the seed over the glass of water with the pointy end sticking up.
Be sure the bottom part of the seed is in the water. Put it in a warm place and make sure to maintain the water level. DO NOT LET IT DRY OUT. 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.
In my area right now it is autumn and the temperature is in the mid-seventies in the day and lower sixties at night so the seeds are safe outside on my porch in those temperatures.
For those of you in cooler countries, place your bottle/avocado near a sunlit window inside your home during the colder or winter months.
Baby avocado trees can ‘kick it’ outdoors in summer, but if you live anywhere where it gets cooler than 45 degrees F, you’ll need to bring them back indoors in the fall/winter, before the temperatures fall.
In 2-6 weeks, roots and possibly a stem will sprout from the seed.
Here is what the seed should NOT look like.
Growth Progress of the Avocado seedling.
Many online guides I have read say that sprouting can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but in my experience, it usually takes at least 8 weeks to get a sprout, so be patient. Here is the process you will witness:
The top of the avocado pit will dry out and form a crack, and the outer brown seed skin will slough off.
Do not allow your taproot to dry out EVER – doing so will be the death of your plant.
When the stem is 6-7 inches long, cut it back to about 3 inches, this will encourage new growth.
When it hits 6-7 inches again, pot it up in a rich humus soil in an 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.
When the stem leafs again, transplant the seedling to a pot with loose, sandy soil. Plant the seedling root down, leaving the top part of the pit sticking out of the soil.
For the best results, transplant in the early spring, say March through June. During the summer months there is a risk of sun damage to the young plant since young trees cannot take up water very well.
Give your young avocado tree frequent waterings 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.
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.
Some experts prefer to transplant their avocado trees to its permanent place when they are a year old. It is widely accepted that fruit production can be helped with the presence of another avocado variety.
Temperatures during bloom can also influence fruit set. Optimum fruit set occurs at temperatures between about 65 – 75 F. Cooler or warmer temperatures are less ideal. It is also believed that fruit that have been cross pollinated with another variety tend to stay on the tree and not drop off before it matures properly.
If a tree is grown from seed, it can take anywhere from 5 to 13 years before the tree is mature enough to set fruit. When the tree does flower, expect a lot of flowers to fall from the tree without setting fruit. This is natural. Keep in mind that a tree grown from seed will be different from its parent variety.
The neighbor’s avocado tree (which is about 20 feet tall when in full bloom) is a grafted tree that was planted about twenty years ago. For many years it has given hundreds of lovely avocados each yearly crop. It is possible for an avocado tree to produce 200 to 300 fruit per tree once it is about 5 to 7 years of age.
The avocado tree however, alternate bears. This means that the tree may produce a large crop one year, and then will produce a small crop the following year.
There are lots of variables which will influence this. Grafted trees, depending on the variety, can bear fruit within 3-4 years.
Avocado trees can be pruned any time of the year, but there tends to be less vigorous regrowth if it is done after cold weather in the winter, sometime around February.
Some trees can grow up to 35 feet in 30 years. Some grow as tall as 60 feet but with regular pruning, the trees can be kept at a manageable size, say 12 to 15 feet.
Here is my neighbor’s avocado tree just pruned and in two months has recovered very well after being hit by two hurricanes within one week period during October 2014. So the mature trees are very resilient or hardy.
Avocado trees can live up to 300 years although there are some wild trees in Mexico that are said to be over 600 years old and still producing fruit!
Give your plant frequent, light watering and keep it in a sunny place to encourage growth.
Pinch back the newest top leaves every time the stems grow another six inches or so to encourage more growth and a fuller plant.
In most regions, the avocado plant can stay outside during the summer months. If you live in a warmer climate that does not experience temperatures less than 45 degrees F, you may want to have your avocado tree part of your landscaping by moving the plant permanently outside.
To those of who live in cooler regions, be sure to acclimate your plant to the elements by bringing it outside for a while each day for a week or two.
The avocado tree needs NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) in a balanced fertilizer with zinc. However feed young trees sparingly (1-2 teaspoons per tree, per year) of balanced fertilizer.
When watering, it is best to soak the root system well, and then allow the surface to dry out somewhat before watering again. Depending on the weather this may mean watering once a day or once every two weeks.
Water regularly, but don’t over-water. If your plant has had too much water, the leaves will look yellow.