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How to Plant an Avocado Tree

Two Methods:Water sproutingGround growing

The next time you eat an avocado or use one in a recipe, save the stone or pit. Planting your own avocado tree is fun and easy. It is a perfect task for all ages - for the garden, for indoors, and also makes a great project for class or at home!!

Method 1
Water sprouting

Preparing the seed

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    Remove the pit. Cut into the avocado carefully, so as not to injure the pit, which is in the fruit's center. You can do this by scoring the skin/fruit about ½ an inch (1.3 cm) deep all the way around the outside, and then twisting the two halves in opposite directions to open it. Carefully remove the pit and set it aside.
    • So that you don’t waste the fruit, use the avocado meat to create the tasty dip/topping known as guacamole.
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    Clean the pit. Wash the avocado pit gently to remove all the flesh. Use warm water and your hands, and avoid using soap. Be careful not to remove the seed cover which is light brown, as this may destroy the pit and make it less likely to grow.
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    Insert toothpicks into the pit. Holding the pit "narrow" (pointed) side up, stick four toothpicks into the middle section at even intervals, to a depth of about 1 inch.This will allow you to balance the pit on the inside of a cup, without completely inserting it into the cup.
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    Fill a jar with water. Add some water to a small, slender container (preferably glass) until it reaches the top rim. Your container's opening should be wide enough to accommodate the full width of the avocado pit easily. However make sure that it is not too wide, otherwise the toothpicks will not be able to reach and the pit will fall in.
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    Set your prepared avocado pit on the top rim of the jar. The toothpicks should sit on the rim of the container, leaving the pit only half-submerged in the water. Make sure the pointed end is up and the rounded end is in the water, otherwise your avocado will not grow.
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    Wait for the pit to sprout. Set the avocado-topped container in a temperate, undisturbed place - near a window or any other well-lit area to begin rooting and the growth process.
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    Change the water every 1-2 days. Do this to ensure that contaminants (i.e. mold, bacteria, fermentation, etc.) do not hinder the avocado's sprouting process.. Ensure the base of the avocado always remains moist and submerged in water.
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    Wait for the pit to sprout roots. Over the next 2-3 weeks, the avocado's brown outer layer will begin to dry out and wrinkle, eventually sloughing off. Soon after, the pit should begin to split open at the top and bottom. After 3-4 weeks, a taproot should begin to emerge at the base of the pit.[1]
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    Water the plant accordingly. Take care not to disturb or injure the taproot. Continue to allow the avocado pit time to establish its roots. Soon, the avocado will sprout at the top, releasing an unfolding leaf-bud that will open and begin to grow a shoot bearing leaves.

Planting the avocado tree

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    Select a warm location. Avocado trees are very particular in terms of their ideal climate and growing conditions. Most of the time, avocado trees should be planted in a pot and, and moved around to meet the changing weather. Only consider growing your avocado tree outside if the temperature does not drop below 50ºF (10ºC) at any point throughout the year.[2]
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    Prepare the soil. Avocado trees prefer soil at almost any pH level, but that is low in saline and has plenty of drainage. The soil does not need to be heavily fertilized until after the tree is about 1 year old. At that point, use a 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a year to help the tree out. Otherwise, use regular potting soil and add some rocks to the bottom of the pot to aid in draining excess water.[3]
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    Prepare your plot. Use a 20-25 cm (7.8-9.8 inches) terracotta pot filled with enriched soil to 2 cm (.8 inches) below the top. A 50/50 blend of topsoil and coir (coconut fibre) works best. Smooth and slightly pack the soil, adding more soil as needed. Once the soil is prepared, dig a narrow hole deep enough to accommodate your avocado's roots and pit.
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    Get the seed ready. When the roots are substantial and the stem top has had a chance to re-grow leaves (after at least one pruning), your baby avocado tree is ready to be planted in soil. Remove the sprouted pit from the water container, and gently remove each of the toothpicks.
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    Plant the avocado seed. Carefully bury the avocado pit in the soil such the top-half of pit shows above the surface of the soil. This ensures the base of the seedling trunk doesn't rot under the soil. Pack the soil lightly around the pit.
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    Keep the tree hydrated. Water your plant daily or enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid over-watering to the point the soil becomes muddy. If the leaves turn brown at the tips, the tree needs more water, while if the leaves turn yellow, the tree is getting too much water and needs to be permitted to dry out for a day or two.[4]
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    Maintain your avocado tree. Continue to tend to your avocado plant regularly, and in a few years you will have an attractive and low-maintenance tree. Your family and friends will be impressed to know that you cultivated and grew your own tree from an avocado pit salvaged from your guacamole recipe.

Method 2
Ground growing

Some growers find that placing the seed in water to sprout it risks producing a long, leggy tree that fails to fruit. In this case, it is better to place the seed in the ground without soaking first.

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    Obtain a good quality avocado fruit. Cut the fruit flesh away from the seed. It is easiest to cut it the long way around.
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    Twist the seed to remove it. Whack it with a knife, then twist, and the seed will come out.
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    Find the pointed end of the seed. This is the top of the seed.
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    Choose a planting locale. See the above method for plant positioning suggestions. Clear the sod or whatever else is there, in readiness for planting.
    • If possible, plant two trees, as these plants like company.
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    Place the flat end down in the soil. Stomp the seed into the ground. Cover with dirt. Water a little, then leave.
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    Follow the growing suggestions above. Fertilize after you see the plant above the ground. Do not do so sooner or the root system will fail to form properly. In about 3 to 4 years, expect fruit.
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    Harvest fruit when the avocados look big and fat. They will not ripen on the tree. Remove and place inside a brown bag to ripen. They're ready to eat when soft.


  • Be patient. When you think it isn't going to grow suddenly it will look like someone stuck a stick in the soil. Don't pull out! That's your seedling growing! Sometimes it will grow 6 or 8 inches before you see any leaves.
  • During the winter or in cold climates, it is best to transfer the baby avocado tree into potting soil in a medium flowerpot rather than directly into the ground. Keep the plant in a sunny window and keep the soil moist but don't over-water.
  • It is also questionable whether two trees are required for cross-pollination. This is not necessarily the case. In at least some strains, the tree bears both male and female flowers and is self-pollinating. You may also graft from an existing fruit-bearing tree to your homegrown rootstock (tree grafting, however, is another process all unto itself).
  • While an older school of thought declares that an avocado-producing tree cannot be grown successfully from seed except once in roughly 1,000 attempts, or that even if successful the effort will take about 7 years before the first crop is realized and that even then, the fruit may not be edible, there are some cases that serve as evidence to the contrary. An avocado strain that grow particularly fast from seed and produces a wonderful fruit from seed is the black-skinned avocado of Sabinas-Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Its skin is smooth, very thin and can be eaten and the fruit. The skin is high in nutritional value.
    • Sabinas-Hidalgo is some 80 miles (130 km) south of the twin cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, which lie on opposite banks of the Rio Grande River. For many years Texans crossed into Mexico and purchased Sabinas avocados cheaply, (they are still extremely inexpensive by comparison). At U.S. customs, the fruit would be declared, cut open and the seed removed. It was inevitable some seeds would finally be successfully smuggled into the city and planted, which they were, and today there are many fruit-bearing Sabinal avocados growing in Laredo, Texas, whose soil they apparently love -- as evidenced by the prolific production of fruit they render. They are best planted on the east side of buildings because the Laredo sun, especially in late summer, can seriously injure them otherwise. The Sabinal is readily transplanted. It is a prolific bearer and somewhat buttery. It is a little stringier than the standard Haas variety found in most Texas grocery stores. The leaf tends to be large and showy. It is an impressively fast and strong grower and seems generally free of disease and pest problems.
    • The Sabinal avocado renders another interesting level of taste when heated slightly. As it produces its own oil (which is 100% cholesterol-free), it can be sliced and the slices heated in a (cured) cast iron skillet without the addition of other oil/butter. Leave long enough to just heat. Sliced tomato can be heated in the same skillet. After a few minutes, put the tomato on the avocado, top the affair with the bottom half of a hamburger bun and turn the whole thing over with a spatula. Leave another minute or so to heat the bun. Remove, top with whatever you wish (lettuce, salsa, onions, etc), cover with the top half the bun (also heated in the same skillet) and you are in for quite a surprise. There's a deeper richer taste in heated avocado than in unheated avocado. It is full of iron, protein and other nutrients, one of the perfect foods in nature. Though somewhat high in fat, it has no cholesterol.
  • Avocados with seeds are not allowed to be imported into the US from some areas, due to several agriculture pests including several avocado seed weevils (Conotrachelus aguacate, Conotrachelus perseae, Heilipus lauri, Zygopinae spp.) and Stenoma catenifer, the Avocado Seed Moth. As the names imply, the larvae of these insects grow inside the avocado seed. For information, contact your local USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine office. This is the main website for USDA APHIS


  • An avocado tree grown from seed becomes very tall, unlike a grafted tree. Avocado branches are fragile and do not support any weight on them, so don't hang anything like a hammock from the tree branches as they will break off.
  • Thin or spindly branches and stems make for a weak plant support foundation. Failure to prune often enough can create long, winding, weak branches and stems. Pruning allows the tree stem to thicken and grow more rigid.
  • Cold (below 10ºC) can also shock your avocado plant. Keep your plant away from cold breezes, breezy doorways, and cold windowpanes. If your tree is potted, keep it indoors until the temperature rises. For young, ground-planted avocado trees and most potted avocado trees, cover the plants leaves completely with a blanket or heavy plastic during cold weather, at least until warmer weather prevails. Well-established avocado trees can often survive mild frosts and temperatures near freezing. The best bet: Always cover your tree when in doubt.
  • Low lighting and/or improper watering can also create weak stems and branches, which ultimately will cause the plant to collapse under its own weight.
  • Over-pruning (too much or too often) can stunt or stop leaf growth. After the first pruning, cut off only the very end leaf-buds on the stem and/or branches. For tree limbs and main stem trunk, pruning promotes both fuller branches and thicker, stronger leaves.
  • Letting the pit's bottom tip dry out will most likely prevent the avocado from sprouting properly, if at all.
  • Not changing or adding water sufficiently to the sprouting avocado pit can allow contaminants to form in the water and/or on the roots. Molds, root rot, fungi, and fermenting water can quickly poison the entire plant. Keep the water fresh and at the proper level.
  • Until the tree is well-established in a pot, do not plant it directly in the ground. A strong plant root system with well-loosened ground soil make for a good outdoor planting situation.
  • It can be difficult to get an avocado tree grown from a pit derived from an avocado purchased at a store to produce fruit. Though store Avocados are not genetically altered, it takes specific conditions to produce fruit. Do not expect any fruit from it.

Things You'll Need

  • A whole, ripe avocado
  • A tumbler or other shallow glass or plastic cup
  • Four toothpicks
  • Water
  • A pot
  • Rocks for drainage
  • Dirt

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