Avocados are one of the wonderful fruits of summer. High in nutrition and flavor, nothing signals the start of summer like a zesty lime guacamole dip with tortilla chips. The next time you’re making guacamole or slicing an avocado for a salad, try saving your pits to grow into avocado trees. It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own avocado tree from seed, and it makes a great educational project for home and classrooms. Check out our handy-dandy guide below, complete with photos, to learn how to grow an avocado tree from seed.
Step 1 – Remove and clean pit
You’ll need to start by removing the pit from the avocado carefully (without cutting it), and then washing it clean of all the avocado fruit (often it helps to soak the pit in some water for a few minutes and then scrub all the remaining fruit off). Be careful not to remove the brown skin on the pit – that is the seed cover.
Step 2 – Locate the ends
Some avocado pits are slightly oblong, whereas others are shaped almost like perfect spheres – but all avocado pits have a ‘bottom’ (from where the roots will grow), and a ‘top’ (from which the sprout will grow). The slightly pointier end is the top, and the flat end is the bottom. In order to get your pit to sprout, you will need to place the bottom root end in water, so it’s very important to figure out which end is the ‘top’ and which is the ‘bottom’ before you go piercing it with toothpicks.
Step 3 – Pierce with four toothpicks
Take four toothpicks and stick them at a slight downward angle into the avocado seed, spaced evenly around the circumference of the avocado. These toothpicks are your avocado scaffolding, which will allow you to rest the bottom half of the avocado in water, so therefore the toothpicks need to be wedged in there firmly. I recommend sticking them in at a slight angle (pointing down), so that more of your avocado base rests in the water when you set this over a glass.
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Step 4 – Place avocado seed half in a glass of water
And set on a quiet windowsill with sunlight. It’s helpful to use a clear glass so you can easily see when roots start to grow, and also when the water needs to be changed. Many guides recommend to change the water every day, but I found, through trial and error, that it is better to change the water every five days to a week or so. You do want to make sure you change the water regularly, to prevent mold, bacteria and fungus growth, which can doom your little avocado sprout.
Step 5 – Wait for avocado seed to sprout
Many online guides I have read say that sprouting can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but in my experience, it usually takes at least 8 weeks to get a sprout, so be patient. Here is the process you will witness:
1. The top of the avocado pit will dry out and form a crack, and the outer brown seed skin will slough off.
2. The crack will extend all the way to the bottom of the avocado pit, and through the crack at the bottom, a tiny taproot will begin to emerge.
3. The taproot will grow longer and longer (and may branch), and eventually a small sprout will peek through the top of the avocado pit.
4. Do not allow your taproot to dry out unsubmerged EVER – doing so will be the death of your plant.
Step 6 – Pot in soil
When the stem is 6-7 inches long, cut it back to about 3 inches, this will encourage new growth. When it hits 6-7 inches again, pot it up in a rich humus soil in an 8-10″ diameter pot, leaving the top half of the seed exposed. Place on a sunny windowsill. Avocados love sun – the more sun the better.
Step 7 – Water and watch it grow
Give it frequent waterings with an occasional deep soak. The soil should always be moist, but not saturated. Yellowing leaves are a sign of over-watering; let the plant dry out for a few days.
Step 8 – Pinch out top leaves
When the stem reaches 12 inches tall, pinch out the top two sets of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow side shoots and more leaves, making it bushy. Each time the plant grows another 6 inches pinch out the 2 newest sets of leaves on top.
Step 9 – Troubleshooting bugs
My avocado trees seem to collect aphids – the nasty critters can’t get enough of the delicious avocado leaves. If you get them, here’s how to get rid of them: Wash all of the aphids off the plant by spraying your plant down with a hose outside or in the sink/shower. Once the little pests are off, spray your plant with a mixture of water with a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and a teaspoon of neem oil. This will keep aphids from returning. Check your plant every 4-5 days and re-clean and spray when necessary.
Step 10 – Wintering
Baby avocado trees can kick it outdoors in summer, but if you live anywhere where it gets cooler than 45 degrees F, you’ll need to bring them back indoors in the fall/winter, before the temperatures fall.
Will my avocado trees ever grow fruit?
Hard to say! Sometimes avocado plants will begin growing fruit after they’re 3 or 4 years old, others take 15+ years to grow fruit, and some never do. It helps to have several avocado trees growing together to aid with pollination. However, don’t expect the fruit to be anything like the avocado that yielded your seed. Commercial avocados are grown from grafted branches to control the outcome of the fruit – a naturally grown avocado may be very different than its parent!
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Avocado plants can live in a pot for up to two years. However, once the stock is over 26 inches and starts to look like a tree it is best to get it in the ground with southern exposure wind protection. Best of luck.
How long can an avocado tree live in a pot?
Everyone I know that tried this have been more lucky than me.
This is a very interesting topic
I LOVE THE PEEL P50!!
How long can an avocado tree live in a pot?
Never been able to grow one! Sad.
Hi, I thought I might let your readers knowthat I have found that rain water NOT tapwater,( or from bore or well ) is best for all seeds.
Should I cut the stem with scissors or a knife? I went on other websites and even watched videos on this. Only one other website said to cut it and no YouTube video said to cut it. I've been growing my plant for a couple of months and it would be a shame if all that time had been for nothing because cutting it with scissors- or at all for that matter- resulted in the death of my plant.
my avocado already have 5 roots about 4 ins long, but i don't see any shoots grow yet.
What is pinching ,my avocado is growing beautiful but I noticed the leaves on the stem going down to the pot are not growing tall ..How many leaves to I pinch ?
You don't need to use toothpicks. Cut the top 1/3 and the bottom 1/3 off of a water bottle (throw the middle portion in the recycling bin). Then invert the top 1/3 of the bottle, place it inside the bottom 1/3 of the bottle, and place the pit inside the top. Fill with water, and enjoy - no toothpicks! :)
My wife throws a planting soil mixture in a pot, waters it and I end up planting them a few months later. No toothpicks holding them in water. Her idea is if it's going to grow it'll grow
I think very hard to grow an avocado tre from a pit.Need a lot of patience?-:)
Just wondering if all this is necessary. THey seem to grow in nature without all this fuss. Why can't we just plant the pit and let it grow? I have tried several times in water......sometimes for 6 months at a time with no luck.
I was excited about this until I read the last paragraph.
very informative...thanks for sharing such insightful information and keep up the good work.
ZI was so excited to see my lil avocado seedling appear. I'm going to use the information you provided, however it scares me a bit when you say cut it back from 6"-8" to 3". Guess I'll do it though, I really want an Avocado tree. Thanks,,,,,mary
So I've been growing my avocado for a few months now and once it got to 6 inches, I cut it back to 3. It's been maybe 2-3 weeks now and I just realized today that an entirely new stem just sprouted from the base of the original stem. What should I do with it?
Just throw the seed on the ground and wait
Just throw the seed on the ground and come back later
I am growing an avocado pit it started to root. Now i am waiting for it to sprout up top. You had all the answers for me. Thank you
woooow amzing Love this idea
it took mine 6 months to finally start growing from the top but the reason it probably took so long is because for like the first month i had it upside down:/ it is 5 inches tall right now:)
Oh, I will definitely try this!
Growing in Sunny Cold Finland, I tried several times with the water technique but no luck. Now i found one growing out of the compost pile in the back of the yard. I think the warmth of the other items decomposing helped it along.!
We have tried several times to grow an avocado tre from a pit. Only once hae we had the pit start to grow. Now after several months, the root is about 2 inches long with no stalk. However in the same time, we tossed several pits on to our compost pile. We now have 3 plants, which appear to be avocados. We are going to transplant them and see how they progress.
THANK you very much for this informative, I have managed to get TWO pits to shoot and was just wondering when to pot up the baby plants, so glad I found your post as I would probably potted up WAY to early and lost My Babies. THANK YOU THANKYOU THANKYOU X
I have been following this and it's end of week 9 and I have a strong sprout with leaves and a good amount of root curled around the class...soooo excited
Been growing my tree for 4 1/2 yrs. It is now about 17ft high. We've prused it a couple of times and it grows and grows, but no fruit as yet. Neighbors can't believe it came from the pit and I'm growing another for a friend. Its about 3 ft. high. His last one froze in the winter. Hope I get some fruit, I keep looking.
I have rooted and gown many Avocado seeds, however, I believe they must be planted either in a pot or in the ground outdoors. Is that correct? They never bear fruit when placed on my screened lanai.
Hi! Great article. The leaves on my avocado plants get brown spots, and the leaves have started to hang straight down. What can I do about this? All the best, Ioni
How old should be seed for planting ? Can seed be planted immediately after removal from fruit ? Will the seed require drying / exposure to sun for few days ? How to store seeds for transportation for around 30 hours ?
wow very educational, will for sure share this to our science class , we are currently doing some vegetables and fruit gardening , thanks for a great idea!
Hello! I hope you all are still monitoring comments here. I have a question about my avocado pit. I planned on starting to grow it but I procrastinated like a month or so. Is my seed too dried out to try to grow? Or should the pit be fresh out of the fruit? Thanks in advance!
Nice I will do it
I just put mine I dirt and direct sunlight and it sprouts fine
My avocado always roots and then when it is time I put it in dirt and keep near the light of the windows. My problem is that the greenery will grow sometimes up to 3-4 feet high, but then nothing happens. I keep on and eventually the leaves start falling off from the bottom. I have never had any fruit on my trees. Is there something else that I need to be doing so that the fruit will grow? I have done so many avocado pits that I should have a grove of them by now, but I am not having any success. What am I doing wrong? Thank you for your time.
I found that it was very difficult to start the seed with a toothpick and water. Sometimes the toothpick would rot out or the water became stagnate. The method I found most successful and productive was to place the seed in moist sphagnum moss in a plastic drinking cup the cover the top with a plastic bag and rubber band. Since using this method I have a 90% success rate in getting the seed to sprout.
I have just repotted several avocado pits, which have all grown in soil (from 4 to 8 inches high). I was surprised to find that roots were accompanied by what appear to be small "seeds" (about the size of a peanut). Can anybody tell me what these are?
Keith B. - never ever use Miracle Grow for a plant that bears food that you intend to eat. Unless it's organic you will be ingesting some of those chemicals. And sorry but "any arborist" would not say never pinch the top, it really depends on the type (or shape if you will) of plant you want to achieve. Also this article doesn't contain very accurate material, it should definitely be rewritten by someone who actually knows a thing or two about growing plants, or at least someone willing to research the subject not just post based on "trial and error".
I have tried this countless times, they never sprout. Don't know what is wrong. How long does it normally take, am I not waiting long enough?
Put a few seeds into a glass of water, not with cocktail sticks, put in a dark cupboard and wait for the long time they start to split, (change water when needed) then bury them half submerged in compost with the split upwards, a shoot will come up ftom the split.
I've tried this before, today I hope it works. I'm using the tootpicks so let's see if I can get a sprout going.
Sharing with my grands; stimulating and educting
The avocado I was eating already had a tap root, so I scrapped around it, didn't clean it put toothpicks in 1/3 in water, and now it's been 2-3 weeks and I have the shoot about a inch long, I covered it with glad wrap to keep it humid for 2 weeks and now have removed and will change the water...so people my advice look for ripe avocado in late summer and when eating look for a root already growing
Had no idea that was how you grew the tree. I tried to grow one a long time ago but nothing happened now, I see how it is done, seems very easy....Thank you for the information, probably won't be a live by the time they produce because, I'm up there in age. Thanks again. Hickman_4
does Avocado loose it leaves in the winter?
very helpful. thanks...
We are doing home school plant we picked avocados to. See it grow in water.and the kids love it thank you Ms Deborah P
Thank you. This is great information.
I have grown several avocados from pit and found they have fool you when growing them in pots. There shallow root system makes them be able to be in a pot a lot longer than you would think. great For patios and such.
Do I put the pip fresh water everyday or top it up when it needs water?
my grandmother ALWAYS grew avocados and to be honest, I don't remember EVER eating them. Maybe she just throw them away? >.< In either case, it's a fond memory and I plan to grow some as well. Thank you for the easy to follow instructions :)
Is it worth going thrugh such big hastlt when it takes 3/5 Years t get the real Avacado, although I bought 2 avacados from Dubai t grow it in Karachi where there is lot of Sunshine. PM Diwan
I have àn àvocodo plant growing but wonder how often to feed?
I have a seed that has rooted and two shoots have come up from a single seed and are 4 to 6 inches tall, what do I do now about twin shoots.
Hi, my avocado was growing wonderfully, but my cat accidentally bit off the top of the plant (didn't eat it just broke it off) and now the top of the stem is drying out and dead, how can I encourage it to sprout new leaves and recover?
All of this is completely unnecessary. Just wipe the pit off, and plant it directly in soil, top side up and a couple of inches deep. Use good potting soil or garden soil enriched with hummus. Give it a good drink of water. Set it on the porch where it gets a bit of sun and a bit of water when it rains.
Im having the same problem my stem is over 24 inches has two leaves on top and the other leaves have dried up ... HELP!!!! :-)
My avocado tree is about 1ft. tall. It keeps getting new leaves but they dry up and fall off. What am I doing wrong? Thank you
Thank you this is most appreciated. Jon Lowe