Avocados are bright green fruit with a large seed and dark leathery skin. Also known as alligator pears or butter fruits, they are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Avocados are perfect for your salads and are a go-to ingredient for making guacamole.
Avocado trees are huge, thus making it impossible to plant one in your yard. Besides, they prefer tropical and subtropical temperatures and don’t thrive in freezing temperatures.
To grow an avocado tree, you first start with the seed. Shoot toothpicks on the side of the seed and place the seed on a glass filled with water. Make sure that the flat bottom of the avocado seed is facing downward. Then, watch the roots grow.
Once it has several leaves and thick roots, the seedling can be transferred to the pot. As the seedling grows, transfer it to the biggest pot, and once it is fully grown, you can plant the seedling in a loamy soil.
In this article, we will guide you on how to grow avocados from seeds, and how to take care of them and maintain their growth. We will also discuss when the right time to harvest the fruit is and how to store it for consumption.
Can I Grow Avocados from Seeds?
Yes, you can grow an avocado tree from a seed. You can plant an avocado tree in an indoor potted plant or a protected outdoor area. Avocados are very versatile fruits that are rich in vitamins.
Avocados grow from medium to large trees. But, dwarf versions of those trees exist for indoor growing or ornamental purposes. An avocado tree is bright green with leathery leaves and blooms white, yellow, and ivory flowers. The fruits have a large seed at the center of the fruit, and could either be black or green.
This tree thrives in warm temperatures and is sensitive to the cold. Plus, the limbs of the tree are prone to breaking and fragile to strong winds. The avocado tree comes in three varieties: West Indian, Mexican, and Guatemalan.
To grow such a tree using a seed, suspend the avocado seed in a cup of water by inserting toothpicks on three sides. The roots will start to sprout after 2-6 weeks. After this, you will notice a plant growth and you will be able to transfer it to your garden or backyard and watch it grow.
Although this method is used for growing avocado trees, there only is a slim chance of it bearing fruits. Usually, an avocado tree requires 10 years before you can have a good harvest. Thus, if you only plan to have an avocado tree for ornamental purposes, this is the best option for you.
Skip the seed method if you plan on growing an avocado for ornamental purposes or as an indoor plant. You can buy the saplings at your local nursery and plant them in your desired pot or in your yard.
If you are someone who loves fruits, having your own orchard in your backyard is definitely a good idea. All you need is a few fruit bearing trees and the knowledge to grow them. To know more about this topic, go ahead and read our guide to backyard orchards.
How to Grow an Avocado Tree?
Avocado trees are native to southern Mexico. It takes a lot of patience to grow one and you have to know every step of the process, starting with its seed.
People plant avocado trees to harvest their fruits or for ornamental purposes. Here, we have listed the steps to grow an avocado tree, whether in an outdoor or indoor setting.
1. Shoot the Seed with Toothpicks
Find the center of the avocado seed, then shoot it with a toothpick, burying it about ¼ to ½ inch into the seed. Then, shoot three more toothpicks into the seed’s sides.
2. Place the Seed over Water
Put the seed with the toothpicks in the glass filled with water. Then, make sure that the bottom of the avocado seed’s flat end is submerged about an inch into the water. If the toothpicks shake, don’t take the seed up. Instead, pull out the toothpicks a little farther into the seed. Do not cover the top of the seed; let it in the open air.
3. Let the Roots Grow
Place the glass in a warm place and away from direct sunlight. Always make sure to add water about an inch covering the bottom of the seed. Change the water every four or five days to cut the bacteria growing inside the jar or glass.
In eight weeks, roots will grow and a willowy seedling will emerge. If the seed didn’t grow, try again or begin with another seed.
4. Cut the Stem
You need to cut the stem about 3 inches tall when the seedling reaches six to seven inches tall. This will allow the plant to sprout and put energy into the new growth.
5. Plant the Seed in Soil
Several leaves and thick roots will sprout once the seedling is completely grown. Transfer and plant those in potting soil in a 10-inch wide pot with drainage holes, leaving half of the seed exposed. Do not add gravel, broken terra cotta, or other hard materials to the bottom of the pot. These hard materials will hold a lot of moisture, making it unhealthy for your seedling.
Water the soil until it seeps through the bottom of the pot. Don’t let the seedling get soaked in too much water or put the pot in a saucer of water. Too much water can damage the roots and will turn the leaves yellow. Allow the soil to dry out after watering, and water the plants when the soil feels dry.
6. Place the Pot in the Sun and Water It Well
Place the pot in the window with enough sunlight or outside when the temperature is 45°F or warmer. Water the plant often when it is placed outside and the weather is dry or warm. The avocado leaves can get sunburnt if they are exposed to too much sunlight. So, keep the potted avocado tree in a semi-shaded area.
7. Prune the Tree
Prune your avocado tree often. Every time the tree grows 6 inches tall, cut two sets of leaves. When the avocado tree reaches 12 inches, cut it back to 6 inches. And if it reaches 18 inches, cut 12 inches of the stem, and so forth.
Doing so encourages bushier growth. As the tree grows bigger, transfer it with gentleness into bigger pots with a diameter of two inches at a time.
8. Fertilize the Tree Weekly
Fertilize the avocado tree weekly in the summer. The tree needs a fertilizer with nitrogen, indicated by a higher first number, such as 7-4-2 and zinc. When the growth is minimal, avoid adding fertilizers, especially during winter.
Sometimes, avocados don’t grow from seeds. But, many gardeners have experimented with germinating the seeds and reproducing them from tip grafting.
The plant gifted seedlings are uncommon for other grafted trees. Support the young avocado tree and keep it away and free from weeds while it grows.
It usually takes 13 years for an avocado tree to grow from a seed to a flower and bear fruits. Also, an avocado tree may blossom without producing fruits and shed many flowers. A full-grown or mature avocado tree reaches 15 to 35 feet tall on average.
When the tree bears fruits, pick them once they reach a good size, and don’t let them ripen on the tree. Store them and wait several days for the flesh to soften.
The Best Conditions to Grow Avocado Trees
Avocado trees are perfect in warm climates, and some of these trees don’t like freezing conditions. Mexican varieties, such as Mexicola and Fuerte, hold on a little better in a cold climate. Thus, you can try planting them if you live in a cold area.
However, avocado trees grow best in temperatures between 60 to 85°F. Plant the tree somewhere it will receive at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. Dig a hole a little wider than the root ball and only as deep as the root ball. Digging and planting too deep below ground level can cause problems.
Do not disturb the root system during planting. Avocado trees need to be watered every 5 to 10 days with multiple gallons of water. Apply mulches of bark or cocoa beans hulls about 3 to 6 inches to keep moisture.
Plant the avocado tree between other fruit trees to increase its growth. In freezing temperatures, wrap the tree in burlap and mulch around the trunk to protect its roots.
You should plant your avocado tree in loose loamy or sandy soil and make good drainage. If you have planted it in clay soil, plant it in humps to improve drainage.
An avocado tree will need a pollinator. This is one of the important things to note when you want the best conditions for your avocado tree. If you don’t have a pollinator while the tree is growing, you will need to plant more than one tree to ensure that it will bear fruit.
Blackberries are bramble fruits that you can often find in stores and markets in the form of jams, wines, jellies, pies, juices, and liqueurs. If you want to enjoy them fresh, you can grow them in your own backyard. To help you with this endeavor, here is everything you need to know about growing blackberries in your backyard.
Caring and Maintenance of Avocado Trees
There are some things you need to know and learn when growing an avocado tree. For instance, these trees need proper care, maintenance, and pest control for you to have a great harvest.
Avocado Tree Maintenance
The first year, you’ll need to water your avocado tree twice a week. Then, after a year, you should lessen watering to once a week for irrigation. Irrigation will support the avocado trees when they need extra water in times of drought.
Apply a thick layer of mulch or organic matter around the base of your avocado tree. Keep it at least 6 inches high from the trunk. This will keep the moisture of the soil and protect the shallow root system of the avocado trees.
However, avoid using too much fertilizer on these trees. Too much fertilizer can damage the delicate and shallow roots of the tree. Also, prune your avocado tree often. If it needs heavy pruning, it is best to do it during late winter or spring.
Young avocado trees prefer a shaded area to be protected against the sun. Once they mature, however, they will need full sunlight.
Pest Control Care for Avocado Tree
People who grow avocado trees are lucky compared to other fruit growers. Indeed, avocado trees have fewer pests compared to many other fruit trees. However, there are still pests you need to manage.
According to the University of California’s Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource Ventura County, “With biological control, beneficial insects prey on harmful insects to maintain a biological balance naturally making the use of chemical insecticides to control pests unnecessary. When chemical sprays are applied to avocados, not only is this target insect killed, but also the natural enemies of other pests.”
With a decrease in the population of beneficial insects, harmful insects will arise. If there is a heavy harmful insect infestation, it is best to release beneficial insects. Then, let the beneficial insects attack and destroy the harmful ones.
Natural pest control methods are still the best-used ones whenever possible. This could be done by releasing beneficial insects targeting the harmful insects incurring loss to your avocado trees.
- If your tree is infested by brown mites, release lacewings.
- If your trees have an omnivorous looper, use the beneficial bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.
- If thrips are causing you trouble, control their population with black hunter thrips.
- If rats are eating your fruits, wrap the avocado trees’ trunks with metal sheeting. Rats cannot climb on your trees.
Put up a fence around young avocado trees to protect them when deers migrate to your yard in search of food.
Avocado Tree Care
Planting avocado trees the right way is the first step in getting a fruitful harvest of its fruits. You must apply intensive care and frequently water them during the growing season.
Fertilization is best done and benefitted from between February and September. During this period, apply and spread out ammonium sulfate. After planting your tree, apply 120ml (½ cup) of ammonium sulfate in the first year. Then, add 240ml (1 cup) every succeeding month.
Once the avocado tree turns two years old, increase the application to 480ml (2 cups) monthly. Remove the dead woods. At this point, there will be no need for you to prune the tree. However, you should maintain the size of the avocado tree and will be able to prune it and get your first fruits in a couple of years from then.
Harvesting an Avocado Tree
You may start harvesting avocados two to four years after transplanting the tree, and eight years or more after growing it from a seed.
Avocados do not ripen while they are on the tree, which makes them unique. Harvest season falls from the summer to fall, and avocados are soft, but not mushy. Cut the avocados using a pair of pruners when they are ready to be harvested.
Avocados are ready to harvest once their color change is complete. For black or dark purple varieties of avocados, the color will deepen when ripe. For bright green variety, it will change to a yellowish tint when ripe.
To test the ripeness of your fruit, pick and cut one avocado, leaving a short stem on it, and settle it on the countertop for a few days. If the stem doesn’t turn dark and wither, the fruit is mature and ready for harvest.
Use a pruner when clipping or cutting the fruit off the branch. Make sure there’s a small stem attached to it, and do not pull the fruit to avoid breaking the branch. Pick up hard-to-reach avocados using a long pole pruner. Finally, don’t forget to wear gloves to avoid scratching or tearing the fruit.
A garden is usually a planned outdoor space with plants and other forms of nature. Spending time in your garden allows your family a chance to work and bond together. However, not all of us have time to spare to manage a garden. If you are busy with everything else that is happening in your life, then you will surely love our tips to making your garden low maintenance.
How to Store Avocados?
Sometimes, we pick fruits when they change color and become soft. But, avocados are best to harvest when they are green, immature, and not ripe. They are usually harvested in September.
Harvest one or more of the largest fruits and store them in a well-ventilated area, at room temperature. You can also set them in a basket or on the countertop for a week.
Once the avocados are ready to harvest, they will ripen accordingly. When ripe, you eat them right away. If you want to prolong your fruit’s life, you can do so by storing it in the refrigerator for two to three days.
If you have cut an avocado and only consumed half of it, the other half will turn brown fast if not well stored. Use water or lemon juice to keep the remaining half fresh and edible.
- To store it using water, remove the seed and fill the storage container with a small amount of water. Place it flesh-side down, seal the container, and put it in the refrigerator for two days.
- To store it using lemon juice, remove the pit and spray the lemon juice on the flesh of the fruit. Then, wrap it using cling wrap and store it in the refrigerator.
To ripen the avocado faster, place them on the windowsill with bright sun or in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Bananas and apples hasten the ripening of the fruit for it releases ethylene gas. This ripening capacity helps ensure that the avocados will be ready for your next snack.
If you are someone who loves avocados, having one in your backyard is definitely a good idea. After reading this article, you now know how to grow an avocado tree starting from a seed. However, it is also important to know the care and maintenance in growing them, for avocados are one of the most sensitive fruit trees to grow.
To increase your chances of successfully planting and growing an avocado, you need to choose which one to plant wisely as some avocado trees survive better based on their location and climate. It takes a lot of patience to grow an avocado tree, whether for ornamental purposes or for harvesting its fruits, but once you see your tree in its full glory, you’ll know that everything that you did was worth it.