Avocados need warm weather in order to grow — the slightest hint of cold or frost can really damage avocado plants. So if you live in a cooler climate and want to grow one of these handsome tropical houseplants, your best option is to grow your avocado tree indoors. And why not try to grow one from seed?
In their native environments, avocado trees can grow to a height of up to 80 feet, and can take up to ten years before they begin to produce fruit. In the meantime, thankfully, avocado plants make great indoor plants that are wonderfully easy to grow.
If you’d like to learn how to grow an avocado from seed indoors, we have just the guide for you below.
How to grow avocado plants from seed
Step by step:
Save an avocado seed from a previous avocado. Save two if you’re feeling ambitious, or want to compare progress. Clean off any avocado flesh from the seed.
Place two toothpicks through the seed. Using the toothpicks, make an ‘X’ shape through the seed to create a structure to support it on the rim of a glass.
Fill a glass or small jar with water and suspend the seed on the glass. Allow half of the seed to be submerged in the water. The toothpicks will support the seed on the rim of the glass.
Change the water frequently to prevent algae growth.
Place your seed/water combo in a warm, bright spot, but not in direct sunlight. In two to six weeks (it can take up to eight weeks) you should see it sprout. Before you see sprouting, the top of the seed (the part that’s above the water) will dry out, the outer covering will fall off and the pit will split open, from bottom to top.
Once your tender seedling grows to about six inches tall, you can cut it back, to help the plant branch and get a little bushy. This will also help promote stronger root growth.
When should you transplant the seedling from water to soil? You’ll know it’s time to transplant when the seedling’s roots are thick, its stem has grown back (after its trim) to a height of about six to seven inches, and the seedling is showing new leaves again.
Prepare a pot that’s about ten inches in diameter with rich, fast-draining soil. Your pot should also have a drainage hole. Plant your seedling along with its seed into the soil. Bury the bottom half of the seed and its roots, and make sure half the seed remains above the soil.
Place your pot in a spot that gets bright light, free of drafts. Aim for six hours of sun per day. Avocado plants enjoy medium to high humidity. Do not allow your avocado plant to dry out.
Repot your avocado plant every spring, and prune your plant in its first few years, to help encourage growth.
Don’t want to use the toothpick technique? You can also try this method, which doesn’t involve piercing the seed with toothpicks. Be warned, though, it does involve the same kind of long-term process (you could be waiting up to eight weeks to see any action from your seed).
Growing avocados from seed requires a good deal of gardening patience… with such a sturdy seed, there’s always going to be a bit of a wait before you’ll see germination. But it’s worth it, we promise.
How to care for an avocado plant
- Fertilize avocado plants regularly in the spring and summer.
- Avocado plants need full sunlight in order to thrive, so make sure the spot where your plant lives gets at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight.
- They need a constant supply of water, and should be kept moist. However, do make sure that the plant gets adequate drainage, as too much water can lead to the leaves yellowing. Place it in a pot with a drainage hole to avoid overwatering.
- Keep your plant warm — avocados are tropical plants and need warm temperatures to grow and thrive.
- Plant your avocado plant in a rich, fast draining potting mix. You may wish to add perlite to the soil you use, to ensure truly quick drainage.
- Bringing plants outside: it’s absolutely fine to bring your avocado plant outdoors in the spring, once the weather warms up to above 10˚C/50˚F. However, bring the plant back indoors when the temperatures dip below 10˚C/50˚F overnight, as well as later in the season when the air starts to cool. Leaving your plant outdoors in cooler temperatures than it prefers will cause its leaves to wilt and/or fall off.
- Beware of over-feeding: a sign of over-fertilization is a white crust on the top of the soil. This is a salt build-up from fertilizer. Wilting, misshapen and discoloured leaves can also be a sign of too much fertilizer. Take steps to reverse the over-fertilization if you feel your plant is endangered.
- As with most houseplants, take care with watering: overwatering your plant can also lead to the leaves turning yellow. While avocado plants do need lots of moisture and good humidity, it’s important to make sure your plant is in a pot with a good drainage system plus fast-draning soil to help prevent overwatered soil that holds water — which can lead to root rot.
Good luck with growing your avocado from seed, and enjoy your new houseplant!