Avocado trees are some of the most unique and attractive houseplants you can grow. And if you live in a warm climate, they’re a tremendously fruitful and worthwhile food forest addition. But – how do you grow avocados from seed to harvest? It’s a tad tricky. And growing them takes a long time. We know a few easy avocado-growing hacks to make the process much easier – and plenty of gardening experience to share.
Here’s how to start!
- How to Easily Grow Avocado From Seed In 5 Steps
- Transplanting Avocado Trees Outdoors In 4 Easy Steps
- Avocado Plant Growing Requirements
- Avocado Planting and Growing Schedule
- Choosing the Best Avocado Varieties and Cultivars
- A and B Avocado Varieties
- Common Problems With Avocado Plants
How to Easily Grow Avocado From Seed In 5 Steps
Growing avocados from seed is as easy as throwing an avocado seed in water – and then waiting for it to germinate. But we warn you that growing avocados from seed isn’t for you if you’re in a hurry. That’s because it might take five to fifteen years for your avocado tree to produce fruit if you grow it from seed! Luckily – you can find small avocado trees at your local nursery that will expedite the growing process by a decade or more.
Let’s discuss both options – how to grow avocados from seed. And also how to transplant a small avocado tree. Shall we?
Step 1 – Germinating Avocado Seeds In a Mason Jar
The best way to grow an avocado seed from scratch is to use an old-fashioned Mason jar with water to germinate the seed. It’s also surprisingly exhilarating to watch your avocado seed germinate and develop a root system. So – gather your supplies. You’ll need an avocado seed, a 32-ounce Mason jar, three or four toothpicks, and 20 to 25 ounces of water.
Step 2 – Inserting Toothpicks Into the Avocado Seed
Take your healthy, washed avocado seed. Insert four toothpicks into opposite sides of the avocado pit approximately one-third down from the pointy end. Your instinct might be that this will hurt the seed. But it won’t. The avocado seeds are robust, resilient, and surprisingly strong. The idea is to let the toothpicks support the seed from the glass’s rim as the round bottom half of the seed dangles in water.
(DIY avocado gardeners refer to this process as the toothpick method – or avocado scaffolding.)
Step 3 – Add Water to Your Mason Jar
With toothpicks inside the avocado seed and hovering on the mason jar rim, slowly add water. Fill the jar (or glass) with water until the bottom half of the seed sits in the water. Next, place your glass in the sunniest and warmest spot in your home. A bright kitchen counter, sunny windowsill, or any spot with bright light is perfect. As the days pass, you’ll notice the water evaporates. Replenish the water every few days so the avocado seed constantly sits in the water. Never let the avocado base get dry!
Step 4 – Wait For the First Sign of Root Development
Now wait – and watch for root growth! Your avocado seed will develop roots in a few weeks to a month. You’ll notice a large sprout emerge from the small cracks. Wait for the roots to grow a few inches long. You can then plant the sprouted seed in a growing pot with a well-drained potting mix. You want to plant the seed halfway above the soil – just as the seed sat halfway above the water. Water the seed deeply after planting.
Step 5 – Nurture Your Developing Avocado Seedling
One of the biggest secrets of nurturing your baby avocado plant at this point – is aeration. Avocado trees have tremendously shallow roots – and they hate excess moisture. A 12-inch terracotta pot will suit your seedling perfectly. But remember – avocados grow relatively slow at first. Expect a 12-inch pot to accommodate your avocado seedling for many years!
And – your young avocado seedling won’t begin fruiting for at least five to ten years. Growing grafted avocado trees you buy from the nursery can speed up your harvest. Big time!
So – we’re sharing our best avocado tree planting tips as well.
Transplanting Avocado Trees Outdoors In 4 Easy Steps
Here’s something else that many avocado gardeners overlook. Avocado seeds are heterozygotic. That means that the seeds vary a great deal genetically. In other words – you rarely know what you’ll get when you plant an avocado seed!
For that reason – many gardeners prefer growing avocado seeds from a grafted tree transplant they buy at the store.
If you decide to go that route, here is an easy process to help you transplant it outdoors.
Step 1 – Find a Healthy Avocado Tree at a Local Plant Nursery
Buying a grafted avocado tree from a local and certified plant nursery or garden center is your best bet if you want delicious, homegrown avocado fruit sometime this decade.
Be sure to note the age of the avocado tree you buy. Because avocado trees under one year old are susceptible to sunlight burns – especially if you plant your tree outdoors during peak summer. The hot sun can burn your young tree’s bark! After one or two years of development – the tree will develop a thick set of leaves capable of shading itself.
So – young, baby avocado trees need partial shade and indirect sunlight. But mature trees want as much sun as you can muster.
Step 2 – Time Your Avocado Tree Transplant Perfectly
April is our favorite month to transplant avocado trees outdoors. April is when the soil can easily reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit – while still being cool enough not to hurt the avocado tree’s developing and gentle root system.
Step 3 – Choosing the Best Transplant Site
Choose a site with at least six hours of direct sunlight. Also – remember that some avocado trees can last for hundreds of years. And they grow massive, perhaps reaching 35 feet tall – and 20 feet wide. So – give them plenty of space. Some cultivars can get even heftier in the correct growing conditions.
Step 4 – Transplanting Your Avocado Tree Into the Transplant Site
Dig a hole at least twice the size of the avocado tree’s root ball. Generously pad the new transplant hole with a fifty-fifty mixture of native soil and a loose, nutrient-rich growing medium. (This way – the transplant site has plenty of well-draining, fluffy, nutrient-rich soil.) Make sure the soil is light and airy. Well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7 works best. Consider adding rich humus soil or compost if your native soil needs amending.
Gently place the avocado tree into the hole. Carefully cover the tree’s roots smoothly with your soil mixture. Then, water your avocado tree deeply. Keep the soil moist going forward – but never waterlogged.
Avocado Plant Growing Requirements
Avocado trees are tropical plants with tremendously shallow roots. And they hate standing water. Most cultivars demand growing outdoors in warm climates in USDA zones 9 through 11. Luckily – you can grow avocados as houseplants in many parts of the world, even in chilly climates.
Mature avocado trees love full sun – at least six hours daily. The more sunlight you can offer, the better your fruit production. They can tolerate slight shade or dappled sunlight – but full sun is always better. So, avoid planting avocado trees near other native shrubs, plants, trees, or structures that will block sunlight.
Avocado trees grow best with a well-draining soil type and a pH between 5.5 to 7. Flooded or wet soils will invariably result in inferior yields, root infection, or tree death. If you live in a rainy climate – it’s possible to grow avocado trees on a slightly elevated hill to help prevent waterlogging.
Avocado plants love organic wood mulch – like thick cedar chunks, woodchips, Redwood, or other bark mulch placed atop or around their transplant site. The wood mulch helps to protect the avocado tree’s shallow roots. Many avocado-growing enthusiasts recommend against raking the avocado tree leaves. Leave them where they are – the avocado roots will benefit from the added protection. (Ruth Stout would likely concur.)
Avocado trees prefer warm temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Some avocado cultivars are hardier than others – and I’ve read that some varieties (like Wurtz avocado trees) can sustain temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, avocado trees won’t tolerate extreme frosts. If you grow avocados in northern regions of the US with freezing winters – it’s wiser to keep them as an indoor houseplant.
(Baby avocado trees make excellent indoor plants. But remember, they’re a tropical plant. So – they need a sunny spot – like a bright window or any other warm spot in your home.)
Watering is crucial for newly planted avocado trees. After transplanting, water and satiate the roots at least a few times weekly for the first month. Then – after the first month or so, water the newly transplanted tree weekly.
You don’t need to water your avocado trees that much once they get established. But they always benefit from a periodic drink during prolonged dry spells. One to two inches of weekly water will suit them perfectly – as long as the soil drains well!
Harvesting avocado fruit is somewhat tricky. But at the same time – you have leeway. Here’s what we mean. Avocado fruits don’t ripen on the tree. Usually – gardeners harvest the fruit during the avocado’s maturing season and then let them ripen on their kitchen counter. Different avocado cultivars have unique maturing seasons. The maturing season is usually sometime in the spring or summer. But – some avocado trees have cold-weather maturing seasons, too. (Duke and Fuerte avocados come to mind – which are ready to harvest around October to November.)
Mature and harvested avocado fruit will mature after approximately one week.
Avocado Planting and Growing Schedule
Here are the critical dates all avocado growers should know about.
|Avocado Growing Schedule||Duties|
|April||April is arguably the best time of year to transplant avocado trees outdoors. These trees love warm, sun-lit soil.|
|May||May is another excellent time of year to transplant your young Avocado tree outdoors. During this time, the soil is nice and warm – but the sun isn’t too punishing.|
|June||June is the final month we recommend transplanting your avocado tree outdoors. The risk of hot temperatures is too high in July and August. Remember that avocados love warm weather. But – they might have trouble absorbing enough water under the scorching heat – especially when they’re young, baby trees.|
|July||If you transplant your avocado tree in April, May, or June, you should still water it at least once weekly throughout July. The high temperatures and direct sunlight mean it will need at least a few inches of water weekly. Don’t let the roots get too dry.|
|August||August is within the maturity range of many avocado plants and might be the perfect harvest month. Whether or not you harvest your avocado plants in August – ensure that they don’t get too dry. With the hot August sun, your avocado plant is susceptible to excessive heat stressors.|
|September||September and October is when some parts of the US begin to flirt with overnight frosts. So – if you’re letting your potted avocado tree get some fresh air, September and October are good times to bring them in at night. Some avocado trees are hardier than others. But they almost always detest frost. Don’t let them get too cold!|
Study whichever avocado cultivar you decide to grow! Many vary in their maturity dates, size, and growing requirements.
Choosing the Best Avocado Varieties and Cultivars
There are hundreds of avocado varieties – and we have trouble tracking all of them! Luckily – all avocado trees exist in three categories – Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian. Of these three groups, there are many cultivars, hybrids, and varieties. Here are our three favorites.
Bacon avocados are one of our favorite avocado cultivars, originating from Mexican varieties. They’re famous for their rich and buttery taste.
- Tree Size: Up to 15 or 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide
- Maturing Season: November through March
- Fruit Weight: 10 to 12 ounces
- USDA Zones: 8 to 11
- Self-Pollinating: Yes
Hass avocados are arguably one of the most famous cultivars. They have a lovely, deep-green skin that develops bumpy ripples. The flavor is one of the best we’ve tried – with a nutty, sweet, and creamy taste.
- Tree Size: Up to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide
- Maturing Season: April through October
- Fruit Weight: 5 to 7 ounces
- USDA Zones: 8 to 11
- Self-Pollinating: Yes
Reed is the most significant avocado variety we’ve ever seen after researching countless cultivars. The fruits are massive – and can easily reach over one pound. Luckily, Reed avocados are also delicious, so having an overabundance of these yummy treats is a high-quality problem.
- Tree Size: Up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide
- Maturing Season: July through October
- Fruit Weight: 16 to 24 ounces
- USDA Zones: 8 to 11
- Self-Pollinating: Yes
A and B Avocado Varieties
Another thing to know about avocado trees is that they come in two varieties – A and B. They differ in their flowering times, as indicated in the chart below.
|Type A Varieties||Type B Varieties|
|Flowers shed pollen during afternoon hours.||Flowers shed pollen during morning hours.|
|Flowers seek pollen during the morning.||Flowers seek pollen during the afternoon.|
It’s also worth noting that not all avocado varieties are self-fertile – meaning some require additional avocado trees to fruit effectively. We prefer self-pollinating varieties, but even self-pollinating varieties often benefit from a second or third tree.
Common Problems With Avocado Plants
Avocado trees are surprisingly easy to grow if you live in the correct climate – and choose a suitable location. But three avocado tree complications come to mind that all growers should know about.
Frost & Cold Weather Damage
Avocado plants love growing in the tropical climates of Texas, South America, or Mexico. Some cultivars can tolerate cold better than others. But if you live in a region with snowfall, icy winds, and hard overnight frost, it may kill your avocado plant.
Avocadoes suffering prolonged cold (37 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) for more than 14 days will experience various fruiting issues – including flesh browning, increased defenselessness to pathogen attack, and inability to ripen.
Flooding is another element that can kill your avocado tree. Avocado trees enjoy well-drained soil – and their roots are susceptible to root rot if exposed to too much water. Keep your avocado trees out of standing water – because excess water is one of the few things that will kill it.
Healthy avocado trees are usually resilient against insect pests. In other words – while a wide variety of avocado pests attack avocado trees, management is only required in severe situations. Common avocado pests include the following.
- Avocado Looper
- Avocado Red Mites
- Avocado Lace Bugs
- Red Spider Mites
- Xyleborus glabratus
Thanks for reading our guide about growing avocados from seed to harvest!
Avocados are one of our favorite fruits. And homegrown avocados make some of the best Mexican food for guacamole, tacos, avocado toast, and burritos! Don’t forget the homemade avocado salsa – and yummy tortilla chips!
What about you?
- Have you ever cultivated homegrown avocado trees outdoors?
- Have you ever grown avocado trees indoors as a houseplant?
- What fertilizer do you use for your avocado tree?
- What avocado cultivar is your favorite?
- How old is your avocado tree? Is it ten years or older?
- What’s your favorite way to let your avocados mature after harvesting?
We love growing fruit trees. Avocados are arguably one of the most underrated varieties.
So – we would love to hear from all avocado gardeners. Near and far!
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!
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Growing Avocadoes From Seed – Resources, References, and Works Cited:
- Avocado FAQs | UC Riverside
- Edible Plants | The University of California ANR
- Feed the Future | Avocado Production Manual | US AID
- Fruit Produce Facts | UC Davis Postharvest Center
- Heterozygous | NIH | National Human Genome Research Institute
- Redbay Ambrosia Beetle | University of Florida IFAS
- When To Pick Avocados | The University of Californa ANR | Coop Extension Ventura County