"Photo Courtesy California Avocado Commission"
You can grow a beautiful houseplant or even your own tree following these simple steps.
- Wash the seed. Using three toothpicks, suspend it broad end down over a water-filled glass to cover about an inch of the seed.
- Put it in a warm place out of direct sunlight and replenish water as needed. You should see roots and stem sprout in about two to six weeks.
- When the stem is six to seven inches long, cut it back to about three inches.
- When the roots are thick and the stem has leafed out again, plant it in a rich humus soil in a 10-1/2" diameter pot, leaving the seed half exposed.
- Give it frequent, light waterings with an occasional deep soak. Generally, the soil should be moist but not saturated. Yellowing leaves are a sign of over-watering; let the plant dry out for a few days.
- The more sunlight, the better.
- If leaves turn brown and fry at the tips, too much salt has accumulated in the soil. Let water run freely into the pot and drain for several minutes.
- When the stem is 12 inches high, cut it back to 6 inches to encourage the growth of new shoots.
While it is true that you can grow a tree from an avocado seed, keep in mind that a tree grown from seed will be very different from its parent variety and may take 7-15 years to begin producing fruit. Fruit from a tree grown from seed tends to have different flavor characteristics than their parent variety. Known varieties such as Hass avocados are grafted to preserve their varietal characteristics rather than grown from a seed.
Avocados in the Home Garden
California Avocado trees can be popular conversation pieces for landscaping. They like soil ph of 6 to 6.5. Avocados are shallow rooted trees that need good aeration and well drained soils. They do best with a thick mulch layer. I recommend two five gallon buckets full for a young tree. The idea with the mulch is to create a layer of organic matter for the shallow roots to occupy. Over time, the tree will drop leaves and create a natural mulch that is very beneficial for healthy roots. Plant in a non-lawn area with full sun, protected from wind and frost. The ideal time to plant is March through June. During summer there is risk of sun damage since young trees can't take up water very well.
When planting, the hole should be as deep as the root ball and just a bit wider. Gently place the root ball in the hole taking care not to disturb the delicate root system. If the ball is root-bound, carefully loosen up the soil around the edge and clip away any roots that are going in circles. Back fill the hole with soil. Do not use gravel or potting mix. It is important to pack the soil around the tree to avoid air pockets around the roots. The primary nutrients needed by avocado trees are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) in a balanced fertilizer with zinc. Feed young trees sparingly (1 to 2 teaspoons per tree, per year) of balanced fertilizer. It is best to spread out the fertilizer over many small applications. Time fertilizer applications with peak root growth. This occurs in March, July and October.
When watering, avocados like to be heavily drenched and then allowed to dry out somewhat before watering again. Depending on the weather, this may mean watering twice a week or once every two weeks. Base your watering on the weather conditions.