How to Grow an Avocado Tree: Guac 'n' Roll

Tips for turning that avocado pit into a thriving avocado tree and your next bowl of guacamole.
Split Avocado with Seed Pit Displayed

Split Avocado with Seed Pit Displayed

Avocado, or Persea americana, has an edible seed with a pit inside that can propagate itself in water.

©2010, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2010, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Avocado, or Persea americana, has an edible seed with a pit inside that can propagate itself in water.

Chances are good you already have some experience with how to grow an avocado. It’s easy and fun to coax the large, hard stone at the center of this green fruit to sprout, which is probably why it’s a popular classroom activity!

Of course, getting an avocado pit to sprout is one thing; growing it into a fruit-bearing tree is quite a bit more work! However, many gardeners enjoy growing avocado trees as a decorative houseplant or as part of their landscaping. Wondering if that tree might one day yield yummy avocados is just part of the fun.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Remove the large pit (seed) from inside an avocado, rinse well, and dry (a wet seed will be slippery!).
  2. Push three or four toothpicks into the seed at its widest part so that you can suspend the pit over a glass of water with the pointy end sticking up. The water should cover about an inch of the seed.
  3. Put in a warm place and make sure to maintain the water level.
  4. In 2-6 weeks, roots and a stem will sprout from the seed. When the stem is about six inches long, trim it in half.
  5. When the stem leafs again, transplant the seedling to a pot with loose, sandy soil. Plant the seedling root down, leaving the top half of the pit sticking out of the soil.
  6. Give your plant frequent, light watering and keep it in a sunny place to encourage growth.
  7. Pinch back the newest top leaves every time the stems grow another six inches or so to encourage more growth and a fuller plant.

In most regions, the avocado plant can stay outside in summer. If you live in a warm climate that does not experience temperatures less than 45 degrees F, you may want to make your avocado tree part of your landscaping by moving the plant outside permanently:

  • For best results, transplant in the early spring, after gradually acclimating your plant to the elements by bringing it outside for a while each day for a week or two.
  • Plant in a large hole (about 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep) in well-drained soil, in an area that receives plenty of indirect sunlight.
  • Water regularly, but don’t over-water (you’ll know you’re watering too much if your plant’s leaves turn yellow.)

Now just sit back and get ready to guac 'n' roll! It can take anywhere from 5 – 13 years for an avocado plant to bear fruit, and some never do. But in the meantime, you’ll have a beautiful tree to enjoy.