Outlines how to grow an avocado from seed, the two best methods to sprout the seed, and how to pollinate the plant to get fruit.
Did you know that you can plant the avocado seed and grow your own avocado? All you need is water, toothpicks and some potting soil – and of course the seed from which you want to grow the avocado.
The guacamole is ready and you have an avocado seed left? The avocado kernel is also the seed for an avocado tree – so you can easily grow a tree for home from a leftover avocado kernel by planting it. However, you cannot harvest an avocado from such a tree, as the male and female flowers are not open at the same time, and a self-pollination and thus maturation to the avocado is thus excluded.
They are considered the superfood par excellence and now have many fans – but unfortunately also a gigantic ecological footprint. So why not just grow an avocado yourself? We will explain how to grow avocado from a pit, what to do to give it the best chance to flourish, and what to avoid.
In short, this also works in our latitudes – but only under certain conditions and with a lot of patience. If you want to try it, we have here a guide for you. The beauty: If it doesn’t work with the fruit, you have at least grown a pretty green plant.
How to grow avocado seed: Overview of the plant
The avocado (Persea americana) belongs botanically to the family of the laurel family (Lauraceae). They are also known as avocado pear, alligator pear or aguacate. The avocado plant is native to Mexico via Central America to Peru and Brazil.
Archaeological finds show that it was already cultivated there more than 8,000 years ago as a crop. The Spaniards tried to grow exotic fruits since the beginning of the 16th century. In Mauritius, avocado trees have been in cultivation since about 1780, in Africa only 100 years later. In Asia, avocado has been grown since the middle of the 20th century.
Because of the high demand for healthy fruits, the avocado plant can now be found wherever it is possible from a climate – that is, in tropical countries around the world. Most of the fruit comes from Florida and California. At suitable locations, the avocado develops into a 20-metre-high tree. Small light green flowers form in the leaf axes, which produce the popular dark green berry fruits with the wrinkled skin some time after their fertilization.
Their original propagation by seeds is no longer used for plant production, as the offspring become feral and thus lose their typical variety properties. Instead, like most of our native fruit trees, they are propagated by refining. In room culture, however, it is still easy to draw a small tree for the window sill from an avocado core. Even if these re-grown avocado plants do not bear fruit, it is a wonderful experiment for children and all other plant lovers.
Growing avocado yourself instead of buying: Why this is better
Avocados taste and are healthy. But they are also criticised – and not even wrongly so. Because growing a single avocado requires a lot of resources. A total of 1000 litres of water are needed on average, according to Time Online, until one kilogram of avocados is harvested – far too much in drought-stricken areas such as the typical avocado areas. And also the space is slowly running out. This is because the green fruit is mainly grown in Mexico, where the global cravings are already being cut down illegally.
“Every year, 1500 to 4000 hectares of forest are cleared to make way for avocado fields,” explains Jaime Navia of the Mexican environmental organization Gira. And monocultures must use pesticides that place a heavy burden on drinking water in growing areas. In addition, there are the long transport routes. From an ecological point of view, the avocado doesn’t do well.
Yet it is so healthy and delicious. So why not grow yourself? Every avocado fan has tried it before – with more or less great success. Pulling out of the avocado core is possible, but not so easy.
How to start avocado seed: 2 methods
The core of the fruit defined as berry must be removed before eating an avocado anyway. If you use the core of a ripe fruit, you have the best chance of watching a plant grow after just a few weeks.
The plant needs a lot of heat and especially sun – this is not so easy in colder climates. The best chances are in the apartment on a sunny window sill or right in the greenhouse. On warm summer days, however, it is also allowed to go out into the sun in a sheltered place.
How to grow an avocado from seed – Method 1: The water glass
A popular method of growing avocado is the water glass method.
- Remove the seed from a ripe avocado and clean it. You should also peel off the brown skin.
- Then take three toothpicks and put them in the core: best in the upper third on the sharper side.
- Now place the seed with the flatter side down on a water glass filled with water so that the toothpicks hold it at the edge of the glass. The lower part should dive into the water.
- Place the glass with the core in a warm and dark place and replace the water from time to time. After about four weeks, the first root shoots should be visible.
- Tip: The toothpicks only serve the holder, but can injure the core in such a way that it can no longer germinate.
- You can also use an espresso cup or a liquor glass instead of a water glass. But also pay attention to regular water exchange, otherwise the core can mold.
Sometimes it takes longer for the seed to germinate, so don’t give up. Shortly before that, the seed splits – that doesn’t mean it’s broken. But the seedling has to get through.
How to grow an avocado from seed: Moving to the pot
Once roots are visible, you can pot the seed:
- Look for a plant pot about 15-20 cm in diameter. Now mix normal flower or palm soil in a 1:1 ratio with loose sand and fill the mixture into the pot.
- You can now carefully insert the core into the earth, the upper, pointed part protrudes from the earth.
- Press the surrounding soil slightly and pour with room-warm, likely stale water.
- With the move into the pot, the whole plant also moves:
- From now on, the avocado should be in a warm but also bright place. But you can’t expose them to the sun, that’s coming later.
How to grow an avocado from seed – Method 2: germinate in a flower pot
The seed also can grow roots directly in the flower pot:
- Clean the seed as described above.
- Then take a planter and fill it with loose, sandy soil, similar to the one above. Now insert the core with the pointed side upwards so that the upper part protrudes.
- Always keep the soil moist. Attach a foil over the pot to protect the seedling from environmental influences such as cold and draught.
- Will we soon be missing fruit and vegetables on supermarket shelves?
Maintaining the young plant: Where to grow avocado
A fresh avocado plant is very tender. When nursing a young avocado plant, you have to pay attention to three things in particular:
- Avoid draughts, the pot should be in a warm place.
- You should avoid direct sunlight, otherwise the plant can burn. However, the location should be bright.
- Keep the soil moist, not wet. It is best to pour a little bit again, rather a little less than too much.
The avocado should gradually become accustomed to more sun until it can easily tolerate a fully sunny location. In a cold climate summer, it can stand outside. However, the plant does not tolerate temperatures below five degrees.
In winter, a bright room with about 20 degrees is ideal. The plant should be watered regularly and the soil should be kept moist. There has to be some patience. However, the result is impressive and is extremely healthy and tasty.
If it gets warm outside, you can also put your plant in the fresh air. If it is permanently warm, it can also stay outside in summer. However, the best results will probably be achieved in the greenhouse – preferably in the light protection of another plant or behind diffusing glass.
What is the right amount of fertilizer for avocados?
Tip: Citrus fertilizer can be added to the soil once a month – but this is not a must and should not be done too often.
In the first months, the young avocado plants do not need fertilizer, they find sufficient nutrients both in the core and in the substrate. After about half a year, the young plants should be supplied with low-dose liquid fertilizer in the water every two to three weeks. Older avocados tolerate the normal dose indicated on the fertiliser pack during the growth phase. However, it is sufficient to fertilise only about every four to six weeks.
Cutting back avocado for strong growth
For the avocado to grow vigorously and bushy, it must be cut back. If the shoot is about 15 centimeters long, it is cut by about half. In any case, about three to four eyes must remain standing. If the plant is well rooted, it can later be cut back to a length of 30 centimetres so that it continues to branch out.
An avocado plant grows almost exclusively upwards in the first years, side shoots are added only later. If you see the fourth leaf shoot, you can snap it off with a rose scissors – then shoots develop slowly on the side.
How long does it take to grow avocado?
So the green plant is there – how long does it take to harvest for the first time? Well, this is unfortunately the crux of avocado breeding. Since the avocado plant needs a lot of warmth and especially sun, the whole thing becomes relatively difficult with if you are in a cold climate.
First of all, it takes several years for the plant to bear fruit at all. After four to ten years, the plant produces flowers for the first time. However, few of them are fertilized, as pollination is very complicated. The avocado is a plant with both male and female flowers, but it must be pollinated by you. If male and female flowers rise at the same time, you can help with a brush. Unfortunately, however, the flowering time is usually different.
In order for pollination to work, you should grow at least two plants. If these are in the house, the pollen can be transferred from the flowers of one plant to the other with a brush.
But at least the plant looks beautiful. And if a fruit is formed in a few years, then the avocado breeding has fully worked.
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Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.