Soil Requirements: Loose well draining soil
Ideal Temperature: Warm, Arid Conditions
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Watering Needs: High with time to dry in between watering
Time to Mature: 5 to 8 years
Harvest: Varies depending on tree size and varietal
Growing avocado from seed is an extremely simple process that does not require any of the fancy specifically created tools that are on the market today. I have successfully started about a dozen avocado seeds using nothing more than a water dish, some plastic wrap, and (believe it or not) a bottle cap. I personally use bottle caps from a screw top wine bottles because they are slightly larger and metallic which makes it just a little bit easier to use though a standard plastic soda top will work as well.
First, cut 3 to 4 slits into the cap so that water can easily flow in and out of the cap. Then place the cap top down in the center of your water dish. (Note: the water dish should be 2 – 3 inches tall.) Next balance the seed on top of the cap so that the wide seed base rests securely on the cap slits. The seed top is the narrower, pointy side and should be faced upwards. Water should then be added to the dish so that it covers the entire cap and about 1/4 inch of the base of the seed. Finally, loosely cover the seed and dish with plastic wrap and set the whole thing to the side.
The other option for starting an avocado tree from seed is to buy an AvoSeedo from Amazon. I would suggest this route if your not a really crafty person or if you plan on growing a bunch of seeds repeatedly. The AvoSeedo is a hard plastic tool that is specifically designed to sprout avocado seeds. If you have never seen one of theses little gadgets it might be worth buying simply for the novelty of the item. When set up you get these amazing little avo-boats floating around and its pretty funny/adorable. Then, once into the early stages of sprouting, you have this little mini floating tree forest.
It generally takes anywhere from 2 to 4 months for the seeds to germinate and sprout. During this waiting time I generally change the dish water about once a week. The seed itself may begin to split but do not worry as that is just a natural effect of the seeds interior growth. One of the biggest mistakes that I have noticed first timers making is simply not being patient enough. Avocado seeds take a very long time to germinate and begin growing. So, don’t lose hope, stay the course and before you know it you will have to plant your avocado sapling into soil.
Once your seed has grown to about 2 to 3 inches tall it’s time to transplant it to its new soil home. If your seed hasn’t begun to produce leaves you will want to bury it faced upwards just over its most recent growth. If your seed has started to grow leaves then you should bury it to just below the leaves. The entire seed should be completely covered in either scenario.
Knowing that this is a tree you will want to select a large container to plant and raise your avocado in. I personally used a 15-gallon plastic container so that I would not have to transplant my tree into a larger pot later in its life cycle. At minimum, you will want to start your seed in a fairly wide container as the roots grow in all directions. As far as the soil choices go for your avocado tree; they are not to picky when it comes to ph balance so i would choose an organic soil that suits your needs and budget. For soil ideas and suggestions check out my Top 5 Organic Soil Selections.
If you plan on growing your avocado tree indoors, know you will have to regularly prune it to keep it a reasonable size. Left alone avocado trees regularly reach 40 feet in height and have root systems that spread in a 30-foot radius from the trunk. I currently have my 2 year old office tree priuned to about 2 feet with healthy top leaves and a three way devided trunk.
Harvesting and Uses
Once your plant grows to maturity it will begin bearing fruit (avocados!!!). Avacado trees are one of the few trees out there that will not ripen its fruit while they are still on the branch. This means that as your avacados grow to full size you will not be able to pick and immediately consume the fruit as it will need 1 to 2 weeks off the branch to ripen to the soft delisciousness that they are know for. While still on the branch your avocado fruit will continue to develop its natural oils that add to the flavor and texture of the plant. However, as with all things, if you wait too long to pick your avocado fruit they will begin to overdevelop their oils and spoil on the branch, evetually dropping off on their own with rancid flesh.
Determining if your trees fruit are ready to be harvested or not is somewhat of a tricky buisness. I’ve found that the best way is to pick 1 tester fruit every 2-3 weeks once you begin to suspect they might be ready for harvest. Allow the tester to ripen for 1-2 weeks. If the tester shrivels into a rubbery tastless ball your avocados need more time to develop on the branch and you should try again an a few weeks. If however your fruit ripens into the soft buttery yellow deliciousness this is a good indicator that the rest of your tree can begin to be harvested.
If you are trying to quicken the ripening process of some of your freshly picked avocados you may want to try placing a few of them into brown paper bags and leaving them on a counter top. The fruits naturallty produce Ethylene Gas which quickens the ripening process so traping the gas in a semi breathable environement (paper bag) will help them ripen faster. Other ethylene gas producing fruits such as apples and bananas can be added to the bag to increase the ripening speed further.
For a bunch of other fun ideas on how to use avocado check out 27 Next-Level Ways To Use Avocados.
Please leave me a comment below with your own experiences or questions.