How to Sprout, Grow, and Care for Avocado Trees

You can grow an avocado tree from seed or purchase a seedling at a nursery, and they can grow outdoors or inside as a houseplant. Grown outdoors in the right conditions, an avocado tree can produce bountiful crops of fruit. Indoors trees make attractive houseplants but no fruit.


How do you sprout an avocado pit?

Avocado pits can be germinated in water . Remove the pit from the avocado, and use toothpicks to suspend it in a jar of water with the flat end of the seed facing down. Keep the jar in a warm place where it receives about eight hours of indirect light daily.

Replenish the water in the jar as it evaporates, and you should see roots developing in about four weeks and a shoot emerging from the top of the seed in another three to four weeks. Not all seeds are viable, so it is a good idea to start several seeds at the same time.

When do you transplant an avocado seedling?

The avocado seedlings can continue growing in water until the sprout reaches about 8 inches high. Then carefully transfer the seedling into a garden pot filled with a good-quality, organic potting mix, or transplant it directly into the garden.

Can avocados be grown indoors?

You can grow avocado trees indoors as a houseplant, and this is best if you live outside USDA climate zones 9 to 11. Avocado trees do not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures, so growing indoors is a good option if you live in a cold area.

What type of soil do avocado trees need?

Plant your avocado tree in deep, loamy soil with good drainage and a pH level of 6.5 to 7. Test the soil pH and with a test kit, available at nursery stores, and amend the soil as needed to correct the pH.

If your soil is clay and does not drain well, dig a hole about three feet wide and deep and import a sandy-loam soil for planting your avocado tree.

How do you plant an avocado tree outdoors?

Choose a sunny location which is also protected from high winds. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball and mix several gallons of organic compost in with the native soil to provide nutrients to the seedling in its first year of growth.

Carefully transfer the seedling into the planting hole. If it is root-bound, loosen the soil around the roots slightly, but be gentle. Avocado trees have delicate roots which do not like being disturbed.

How big do avocado trees get when they mature?

Avocado trees grow to a large size and can reach up to 40 feet in height and 30 feet across. Plant the avocado seedling where it has 15 feet of open space around it, so it can grow into a mature tree.

If you do not have this much space, you can prune your tree to keep it smaller.

What kind of fertilizer do avocado trees need?

Avocado trees need plenty of nitrogen for growing to full size and producing fruit. They also need adequate amounts of phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and other trace minerals. Organic sources of these fertilizing nutrients include:

  • Good-quality organic compost
  • Well-composted animal manures
  • Blood meal
  • Fish meal and fish emulsion
  • Seaweed meal, for trace minerals

When is the best time to fertilize?

During the first year after transplanting, the seedling does not need additional fertilizer. In the second year of growth, begin fertilizing by applying ¼ pound of nitrogen-rich fertilizer around the base of the tree. Divide the total ¼ pound of fertilizer into three parts, and apply one part in March, one part in July, and one part in October.

The following year, increase the total fertilizer amount to ½ pound per tree, again applying it in three applications. The third year, increase fertilization to ¾ pounds total, and the fourth year, increase the total fertilizer amount to 1 pound of nitrogen per tree, and continue with this fertilizing schedlule each year thereafter.

How much water do avocado trees need?

Avocado trees need plenty of water, but exactly how much depends on the temperatures and wind conditions in your area. In most cases, trees need watering at least once per week in warm weather. Check the soil, and water when it becomes dry one to two inches below the surface or if you see wilting leaves.

By placing a mulch of shredded bark or peat moss around the base of the tree, you can limit evaporation and reduce the need for watering. Mulch also reduces competition from weeds.

What kind of pest problems do avocado trees have?

Sooty mold is a fungus which sometimes grows on avocados. It is spread by aphids and mealy bugs but can be washed off of the tree and does not cause much damage.

Persea mite is another pest of avocado trees. It causes brown spots on leaves and can lead to defoliation. Soap spray is one method of control for this pest along with natural predator insects.

How long do avocados take to produce fruit?

If you grow your avocado from a pit, it can take 10 to 15 years to produce fruit. Avocados grown from seed also do not produce fruit of the the same type as the parent tree.

Avocado trees planted out from nursery stock usually begin producing fruit in three to five years. When branches are grafted onto an already growing tree, the graft also produces fruit in only a few years.

How many fruits does a mature avocado tree produce?

A mature tree can produce 100 to 400 avocado fruits in a year. However, avocados are alternate bearing, which means they produce a large crop one year and a much smaller crop in alternate years.

When are avocado fruit ready for harvest?

Avocado fruits ripen to fullness after they are harvested and not on the tree, and different varieties are harvested between May and November. Knowing when an avocado is ready to pick takes practice, because it depends on the oil content inside the fruit, and it is hard to tell by just looking at the outside of the fruit.

Check the harvest time suggested for the variety you are growing, then pick a few fruits when they are full-size but still firm and allow them to sit for 7 to 10 days at room temperature and test them for ripeness.