Growing an avocado tree from seed (C. DE MAIRE)

My friend Cathy DE MAIRE sends me a couple of URLs where one can find a description of ways to grow avocado trees from seed :

at iVillage Garden Web

Grow An Avocado Tree!

There’s nothing more fun than growing your own Avocado Tree!

“How do I do it?”

Open the avocado and remove the pit from the center. You can eat the fruit of the avocado, it’s yummy and is full of nutrients!*

Wash the avocado pit under cool running water, you don’t need soap to clean it. With your fingers gently wipe away and remove any of the green fruit that might be on the pit. Rinse it well and then blot it dry with a paper towel.

Carefully push three toothpicks into the thickest width of avocado, you want to push the toothpicks into the pit about a 1/2″ deep. (It’s okay if you push them in deeper or even a little less) The toothpicks will help suspend the avocado pit in water and keep the top part of the pit in fresh air and the fat base of the pit under the surface of the water. Be careful pushing in the toothpicks, they have pointy edges and could hurt if they poke your hands, it’s all right to ask a grown-up to help with this.

Suspend the pit over a glass filled with water….the toothpicks will rest on the rim of the glass and hold the pit in place so it doesn’t sink to the bottom. Always check the water level in the glass and see that the water is covering the fat base of the pit by about an inch depth. If the water is below that level you’ll need to add some more. Slowly and carefully pour in more water from a small cup to avoid splashing.

Place the glass in a bright windowsill. In about three to six weeks the top of the avocado pit will begin to split and a stem sprout will emerge from the top and roots will begin to grow at the base.

When the stem grows to about five or six inches pinch out the top set of leaves. In another two or three weeks new leaves will sprout and their will be more roots.

It’s now time to plant the young avocado tree. Place enriched potting soil in a large flowerpot (maybe 8″ to 10″ across). Fill the soil to about an inch from the top of the pot. Make a small depression in the center of the soil and place the pit, root-side down into the depression. Don’t put it too deep…you want to have the upper half of the pit above the soil line. Add some more soil around the pit to fill in any air holes by the roots and then firm it into the soil by gently pushing the soil around the base of the pit. The tree’s stem and leaves should be straight and pointing up (like a flagpole).

Give the soil a drink to water the pit. Water it generously so that the soil is thoroughly moist. Water the soil slowly and gently so that when it’s poured in it doesn’t gouge out holes in the soil. Keep your tree watered but don’t let the soil be so moist that it ever looks like mud.

How do I care for my avocado tree?”

Keep your tree in a sunny window, the more sun it gets the bigger it will grow.

Remember to give it frequent light waterings but don’t let the soil get muddy. If the leaves turn yellow it means that the plant is getting too much watering, let the tree’s soil dry out for a couple of days, then return to light waterings.

When the stem grows six more inches 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 six inches pinch out the two newest sets of leaves on top.

“Can my avocado tree ever go outside?”

Yes it can go outside in the summer. If your winters are cold ~ below 45 degrees (F) or 7 degrees (C) ~ you must bring your tree inside for the winter. Otherwise, if your winters are cool and mild, the tree may stay outdoors year round.

“Will my tree ever grow fruit?”

Sometimes they will begin setting fruit after they are three or four years old. It helps to have several avocado trees growing together to aid with pollination.

“How tall will my avocado tree grow?” An avocado tree is a medium to large tall tree. It can grow between 20 and 40 feet tall. With pruning it can be kept at a much shorter height.


Enjoy sprouting your avocado pit and growing your tree!

Entered by Trudi_d



How to Plant an Avocado Tree

The next time you eat an avocado or use one in a recipe, save the stone or pit. Planting your own avocado tree is fun and easy. It is perfect for all ages – for the garden, for indoors and it also makes a great project for class or home for students.


1. Cut into the avocado carefully, so as not to injure the pit located in the fruit’s center. Carefully remove the pit, and set it aside. Use the avocado meat to create the tasty dip/topping known as guacamole.

2. Wash the avocado pit gently, removing all avocado flesh.

3. Holding the pit “narrow” (pointed) side up, stick four toothpicks into the middle section of the pit at even intervals, to a depth of about 5 mm.

4. In a small, slender container (preferably glass), add water until it reaches the very top rim. Your container’s opening should be wide enough to easily accommodate the full width of the avocado, but not too wide.

5. Set your avocado pit (with inserted toothpicks) on the top rim of the container. The toothpicks should sit on the rim of the container, while keeping the pit only half-submerged in the water. Make sure the pointed side is up while the rounder end is in the water or your avocado will not grow.

6. Set the avocado-topped container in a temperate, undisturbed place – near a window or other well-lit area – to begin the rooting and growth process.

7. Change the water every 1-2 days. Do this to ensure that contaminants (i.e. mold, bacteria, fermentation, etc.) do not hinder the avocado sprouting process. Ensure that the base of the avocado always remains moist and submerged in water.

8. Wait patiently. The avocado takes several weeks to begin to root. Over the next 2-3 weeks, the avocado’s brown outer layer will begin to dry out and wrinkle, eventually sloughing off. Soon after, the pit should begin to split open at the top and bottom. After 3-4 weeks, a tap root should begin to emerge at the base of the pit.

9. Continue to water the plant accordingly. Take care not to disturb or injure the tap root. Continue to allow the avocado pit time to establish its roots. Soon, the avocado will sprout at the top, releasing an unfolding leaf-bud that will open and begin to grow a shoot bearing leaves.

10. Plant the baby tree. When the roots are substantial and the stem top has had a chance to re-grow leaves (after at least one pruning), your baby avocado tree is ready to be planted in soil. Remove the sprouted pit from the water container, and gently remove each of the toothpicks.

11. Use a 20-25 cm terracotta pot filled with enriched soil to 2 cm below the top. A 50/50 blend of topsoil and coir (coconut fibre) works best. Smooth and slightly pack the soil, adding more soil as needed. Once the soil is prepared, dig a narrow hole deep enough to accommodate your avocado’s roots and pit.

12. Carefully bury the avocado pit in the soil such that the top-half of pit shows above the surface of the soil. Pack the soil lightly around the pit.

13. Water your plant daily or enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid over-watering to the point that the soil becomes muddy. If the leaves turn brown at the tips, the tree needs more water. If the leaves turn yellow, the tree is getting too much water and needs to be permitted to dry out for a day or two.

14. Continue to tend to your avocado plant regularly, and in a few years you will have an attractive and low-maintenance tree. Your family and friends will be impressed to know that from an avocado pit, salvaged from your guacamole recipe, you have cultivated and grown your very own avocado tree. (Note: The fruit you get from a tree grown in this manner will almost certainly not be edible.)

15. Alternatively, plant the pit in a pot, during the warmer months and wait for 3-4 months for the plant to sprout.


  • During the winter or in cold climates, it is best to transfer the baby avocado tree into potting soil in a medium flower pot rather than directly into the ground. Keep the plant in a sunny window and keep the soil moist but don’t over-water.
  • As with many fruit bearing trees, the avocado tree requires two separate avocado trees to allow cross-pollination and begin to bear fruit. As an option to growing two avocado trees from pits, you can purchase a second “real” (fruit-bearing) avocado tree from your local plant and tree nursery. You might also consider grafting a branch from an existing fruit-bearing tree to your home-grown root stock (tree grafting, however, is another process all unto itself).


    • In the rooting processes, the greatest dangers to avoid:
    • Letting the pit’s bottom tip dry out will most likely prevent the avocado from sprouting properly, if at all.
    • Not changing or adding water insufficiently to the sprouting avocado pit can allow contaminants to form in the water and/or on the roots. Molds, root rot, fungi, and fermenting water can quickly poison the entire plant. Keep the water fresh and at the proper level.
    • Over-pruning (too much or too often) can stunt or stop leaf growth. After the first pruning, cut off only the very end leaf-buds on the stem and/or branches. For tree limbs and main stem trunk, pruning promotes both fuller branches and thicker, stronger leaves.
    • Once planted in a pot or planter, over-watering will quickly begin to turn your plant leaves yellow. Water only as much needed to keep the soil moist. Under-watering will shock your tree, and the leaves will begin to curl back and turn black. If either situation is not corrected promptly, your avocado tree may have a slow or unsuccessful recovery.
    • Cold (below 10ºC) can also shock your avocado plant. Keep your plant away from cold breezes, breezy doorways and cold window panes. If your tree is potted, keep it indoors until the temperature rises. For young, ground-planted avocado trees and most potted avocado trees, cover the plants leaves completely with a blanket or heavy plastic during cold weather, at least until warmer weather prevails. Well established avocado trees can often survive mild frosts and temperatures near freezing. The best bet: Always cover your tree when in doubt.
    • Thin or spindly branches and stems make for a weak plant support foundation. Failure to prune often enough, can create long, winding, weak branches and stems. Pruning allows the tree stem to thicken and grow more rigid.
    • Low lighting and/or improper watering can also create weak stems and branches, which ultimately will cause the plant to collapse under its own weight.
    • Until the tree is well-established in a pot, do not plant it directly in the ground. A strong plant root system along with well-loosened ground soil make for a good outdoor planting situation.
    • Growing an avocado seed in this manner does not result in fruit identical to the parent; it will be identical to the substandard avocado tree onto which your edible variety was grafted. It will provide first rate shade, however.

    If you want a fruit bearing tree purchase a small Avocado tree from a nursery and follow their instructions concerning cross pollination and geographic preferences.



    Grow a house plant – ‘avocado’

    Avocado trees make great houseplants and are easy to grow from seed. You won’t get any fruit but they’re really attractive plants.

    The first thing you need to do is remove the large seed from a ripe avocado. Remember that the roots grow down from the fat end of the seed and the stem will grow from the pointed end.

    There are a couple of ways to grow avocado from seed. Some people like to immerse the seed in a glass of water. The seed is supported at the top of the glass by toothpicks pushed into the top 3rd of the seed. The seed sits in the glass, half covered with water. Eventually roots will begin to grow down into the water and a stem will begin to grow. The plant is then carefully transplanted to a pot.

    That’s a great way to see how the roots and stem of a plant begin to develop, but I think the plant will be healthier if the seed is planted directly into a pot. This way there’s no risk of damaging the roots when transplanting from the glass to a pot.

    Half fill a 120 to 150mm high pot with old compost or a good organic potting mix and pat down gently. Place the seed on top of the compost, fat end down. Fill the pot with compost and give it a good soak. Place the pot in a warm spot but not in direct sunlight, perhaps in your bedroom near a window. Keep the compost moist but not soggy. Within 4 to 6 weeks the stem should have appeared.

    Once the plant is well established, perhaps after a year or so, pinch out the growing tip. More stems will grow from this point and the plant will become much bushier.

    Keep transplanting into bigger pots as the plant grows bigger.

    Use whichever of the 2 growing methods you prefer. If you have more than 1 seed, try both methods.

    NOTE: Sometimes seeds don’t germinate. Don’t give up. Try again with new seeds.

  • Published by

    Willem Van Cotthem

    Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.