How To Grow An Avocado Tree

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You can make some pretty tasty dishes with an avocado but did you know that you can grow a tree from it too? It probably won’t produce any fruit, but it is a nice addition to your home plant life.

ExampleFor best chance of success, try this with a pit that has been taken from a very (very) ripe avocado that hasn’t been refrigerated. You may also want to start 2 or 3 at a time in case one fails.

Tip: If you have plenty of sunny locations in your home, you could start several of these in the early Fall and have a bunch to sell at your annual summer yard sale or donate to church raffles, team fundraisers, etc. Depending on what part of the country you live in, these can be hot sales items.

Directions:

  • Wash all the flesh off the pit, pat dry and set aside for a couple days.
  • After the drying time, remove the skin and insert 3 toothpicks 1/2″ deep into the pit equally distant from each other around the fattest part (circumference).
  • Suspend in a dark glass (pointy side up) with the toothpicks resting on the rim of the glass.
  • Fill the glass with water until the bottom 1/3 of the pit is submerged.
  • Place glass in a sunny spot. Change water every two days so there’s fresh water instead of stagnant.
  • Once you have a 6 inch stem with a couple leaves (this will take several weeks), cut the stem down to 3 inches.
  • Wait several more weeks until you have a few stems with leaves, you’re then ready to plant. The roots should now be about 2″ long.
  • Taking a 10″ diameter pot, fill with good, well draining potting soil (sandy mix works great). Removing the toothpicks, plant the pit roots down (pointy end and stems up), the top of it should be level with the soil surface.
  • When soil is dry, water. Feed regularly with houseplant food once or twice a month.
  • If the leaves turn yellow, you’re watering it too much. If leaves turn brown, you’re not watering enough. If it looks sickly, make sure you’re feeding it.
  • If you want a bushy tree, pinch the leaves after it grows every 6 inches.
  • Can be left outside during the summer months.

Another Option:

  • Push pit into a mix of sand and potting soil (pointy side up) with the top half above soil surface. Keep the soil moist. Leave it in a sunny spot. Pinch new growth and care for as mentioned above.

Another Method:

  • Wrap in moist paper towel and place in a ziploc baggy, seal. Place bag in a warm, sunny spot or somewhere warm (ideas: top of fridge, your computer monitor, television, under sink). Once it starts sprouting and the roots are about 2″ long, proceed as noted above.

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Published: December 21, 2006
Updated: August 20, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
82 Comments to “How To Grow An Avocado Tree”
  1. nikki says:

    I have a backyard compost pail. A year or so ago, an old avocado got pitched into the kitchen waste and ended up in my composter. One day, while attempting to turn the ‘soil’ there was this strange little tree growing out of it! It was fun for a long time, but then got way too big for me, so I gave him to a neighbor with vaulted ceilings. He (the tree) is doing great!

  2. Linda says:

    You know I tried and tried with the toothpick method. Then one day about a month ago I was turning over the compost and here was this little shoot growing out of an avocado seed! So I planted it and it developed these little leaves – then I decided to replant it into a bigger pot. That’s when my dog bit it in half. I ALMOST threw it in the trash but ended up leaving it to see what would happen – two weeks later, there was a little tree! I have no idea what the moral of the story is, but if cosseting and babying your avocado seed doesn’t work, try treating it like crap! It worked for me!

  3. Alex says:

    I try to grow almost everything from lemons and chillis to avocados and most of the seeds grow into plants. I never use any tricks or methods, just push the seeds in potting soil and wait a bit. My avocado trees grow like bad weeds and I’m actually thinking about planting them outside because they take too much room in my living room ;)

  4. e cigarette says:

    I’ve always wanted an avocado tree – because they’re delicious! I’ve tried a couple of times but they’ve all died. I think I was overwatering them. Thanks for the advice. I’m going to try again.

  5. samm hammock says:

    what does ‘pinch’ the leaves mean? i need mine to be more bushy than treeish cause i’m keeping it inside and don’t want it to get too tall.

  6. Carrie says:

    my understanding is the fruit will only ripen in the warmest areas of the US though like southern california and florida.

    • Francis says:

      Hi, I was told by a gardener at Adachi Florist that the avocado plant grown at home will only develope into a house plant for some time. Fruits are only developed between 7 – 8 years old. Ya, I’m growing my own too and was kind’ve disappointed. Nevertheless, I’m still going to grow my plant. Good luck with yours as well.

  7. emily says:

    I just planted a small haas avocado tree and it says it will grow up to 15-25ft…My questions are, should I plant this away from the concrete area due to the roots get under the concrete (which is my driveway) and it would ruin my driveway and it might break into little pieces??? Any suggestions would help!!! thanks-emi

  8. mimi says:

    Planted 2 avocados like this 10 years ago. Put them in the yard, and last year, they were about 15 feet tall, and were producing avocados here in Houston! then the freeze got them – first freeze in 10 years (of course). they’re coming out from the bottom – about 6 feet tall now, but i’m wondering if they’ll produce again or not!

    • virginie says:

      Mimi,
      I am also in Houston and have 1 avocado tree in a pot. I want to replant it in soil but I was told that if I have only one avocado tree I will never have fruits. Is that true? My garden is too small to have a fruit tree with no fruits.
      Thanks for your help

      Virginie

  9. Lynda says:

    ALERT!!!! Over and over again I read that under NO circumstances are humans to plant Avocado trees near pets of ANY kind because all parts are deadly to pets, containing a toxin that kills them but does not harm humans. I would imagine a fenced orchard of them is how they produce crops, otherwise, they fall in the catagory of POISONOUS PLANTS! Check it out for yourself, if you must. I’ve lost enough pets to my own ignorance, so I’m more attentive and do my homework now, my last cat just recently dying at age 22, believe it or not!!!

    • margaret says:

      Lynda that is strange i had a black german shepard dog and she loved eating the avacodos she would jump high enough to reach and peel them and then she would enjoy every bit of it her coat was always so shinny she never got sick.

      • Jayme says:

        I think sometimes bigger dogs don’t get affected by things that little dogs and cats do. My lab/malamute mix(90lbs) steals my avacados all the time, and same thing it just makes his coat shiny. It is on the ASPCA sites though that you should avoid giving avacados to your pets, not deadly but it might make them sick. So if your dog has a weak stomach or is a little guy I would avoid having a tree in your house.

    • Azra says:

      My mom has a a tree in back for years and has a small 6 lb dog it’s never harmed her or got her sick. I have never heard of this getting dogs sick unless maybe they eat the leaves?

    • Rockysstuff says:

      We lived in so. calif. and had several Avocado trees and the dogs ate all the fruit they could find. Same glossy coat results. Lots of energy.

    • Bri says:

      The only part of the avocado that is toxic is the pit and the skin, most animals won’t eat the pit or the skin but the meat inside is actually very good for their skin and coat which is why Avoderm uses it in their pet food.

    • Diana says:

      Avocado fruit is deadly to parrots, that I know for sure. My small dogs LOVE avocado so it doesn’t seem to be the fruit that is an issue. The plant I don’t know about. I haven’t been able to successfully grow a tree yet, after many, many attempts. sigh

    • Frank says:

      Raccoons come in my back yard and eat them all the time.

    • Melissa says:

      the actual edible part of the advocado is fine for pets, it is the skin, the pit and the tree that is poisonous.

    • Gina says:

      Same goes for poinsettia plants! (Christmas plants) poisoness to CATS!! Just FYI incase u didn’t know

  10. Michelle says:

    Please HELP! My 7 year old daughter and her 12 year old cousin planted an avocado nut separately. Both grew on the first try BUT the lower leaves die and fall off and the top continues to grow. Why? Both trees and doing this. I’ve been using fertilizer in almost every watering. It is Algoflash 6.6.6. with micronurtients. My daughter’s tree is 28 inches tall. I used potting soil. The pot is 10 inches tall with a 15 inch diameter. I live in northern Wisconsin, we don’t get an over abundance of sun. The tree is in my sunny picture window.

    • Jenn says:

      Hi Michelle,

      This is the same thing that keeps happening to me. I live in a basement suite in Vancouver and I don’t get very much sun or heat. I researched another site and apparently avacados are very sensitive to root rot. I think that the soil must dry out before watering again. Try a more porous potting soil maybe. I haven’t perfected my methods yet. I am going to try again for this summer. Good luck!!

  11. Jimi says:

    Does it really take 10 years to produce fruit? Hardly worth the wait if you ask me! lol I dont’ think I could keep it alive that long!

  12. Lynn says:

    I’m not sure if this is true or not, but my grandmother told me years ago that for avocado plants to produce fruit you must have two plants within close proximity to one another. I believe it may have to do with cross pollination of the plants. She mentioned something once about there being male and female plants, but she was German and sometimes it was difficult to grasp precisely what she meant…LOL. Anyway, she had a heckuva green thumb and could get anything to grow. She lived in Orlando and her avocado tree was well over ten years old and over 12 feet tall (planted outside), but never produced fruit.

    • Anna says:

      The male/female thing was probably true – I know that you need both a female and male paw-paw (similar to papaya) tree to produce any fruit, unless you get a specially bred bisexual tree.

      So if she was a green thumb she probably knew what she was talking about!

  13. mack says:

    Avacodos will not produce fruit if grown from seed. Little or no fruit at all. You must either buy a grafted avacodo (one that has been grafted from a fruit bearing plant) or graft it yourself if you know how. Good luck!

    Floridian,
    Mack

    • Kathy From PA says:

      Last year I started rooting an avacado pit and it seems like it too forever to root, but then the plant started. This year, I have FRUIT! It looks more like a green pepper and is now turning red. Not sure what is happening, but I am SO shocked to see fruit when it seems like no one on the internet has had this experience. Anyway, does anyone know what red fruit means? Did I let it go too long? I hate to pick it because it is such a conversation piece!

  14. Rebecca says:

    Has anyone gotten any avocados from doing this? I was told that the only way you can actually get avocados was by graphing a tree and it would take years for the tree to mature and produce fruit. Just curious thanks.

  15. Laura says:

    My father in law gave us an avocado tree he grew from seed. It has been long and lanky. Pretty ugly. I wanted to get rid of it but my husband loved it because it was from his father. No real fruit for over 20 long years. A total waste of space and now after all these years it has tons of large fruit. I haven’t tasted it yet. I still wish I could have had a better looking tree that gave us avocados all these years. But I guess we have to be happy that eventually it gives fruit.

    • Robin says:

      My step grandpa had an avocado tree in Cali. It never grew much of any fruit until someone asked him if he “beat” the trunk. He was told that the avocado tree needed stress to grow fruit. So he took a hammer to the trunk and hit it several times. He said it worked, but unfortunately he is no longer around.

      • Tammie says:

        LOL My father has a wisteria (not the common kind that grows wild) that’s never bloomed and someone told him to do the same thing! He laughed about it, but I don’t think he’s tried it yet.

  16. Stan says:

    Hey I didn’t think mine was working I got roots but never sprouted leaves on top while in the glass. Roots got to be about 5″ long so I planted it anyhow. Within about 3 more weeks the top started sprouting now. Wow it grew fast it’s now about a foot tall and that’s only 4 weeks in the soil in a planter. I’m psyched to see it grow. I live in NJ and will keep it indoors but maybe put it out next summer to see how it does outside.

  17. May says:

    planted the Avocado took a long time before anything showed then one morning looked it had 2 leaves . Has had them same leaves for eleven months . As i live in UK be a lot colder here it’s kept inside all the time
    Great talking point when friend’s come around

  18. Bonnie Jean says:

    Hi! My “little” avocado plant that started in my bathroom in a baby food jar has been outdoors for about 5 years. It is approx. 20 foot tall. It is protected from extream cold, plus I live in the Norhtern California bay ares where the climent is always good, in my book anyway. :)
    I have been told mine would bear fruit if it had another fruit tree somewhere near by. My neighbors have a lemon tree. I don’t know if this is a true fact, or maybe the bees just haven’t found my tree?
    Regardless, I have enjoyed my tree that grew from a little bitty pit!

  19. Becky says:

    Hi, I planted a avocado seed in with one of my other big plants just to see if it would work and all I did is put it in the dirt and cover up and than I began seeing the branch form then I have several leaves. I haven’t got any avocado’s off of the plant but it does have pretty leaves. I hope one day I will have a avocado growing on it. I love avacado’s

  20. Amanda says:

    The reason you’re rarely getting fruit is probably because everyone is forgetting the whole idea of pollination. Normally a bee, ant or other insect would carry pollen from one flower to another, but if your plant is inside than that obviously won’t happen. So when your tree grows and produces little flowers you need to cross pollinate them yourself daily using a tooth pick or paint brush. No need for a second avocado tree.

    Hint: About half the flowers will be male, half female. You can’t really tell the difference by appearance, only behavior, so just make it easier on yourself and pollinate them all.

    Hope this helps! Happy pollinating!

    • Jeanette says:

      How do you “cross pollinate?”

      • Sky says:

        Jeanette, to cross pollinate, take a small, soft paintbrush and gently brush it across the flower’s center, and then move to the other flowers on the plant. This transfers needed pollen necessary for creating the fruit. Without the help of bees, or other pollinators, this is necessary to produce fruit.

    • Scheri says:

      Wow! That’s Awesome!!! So how do you use the tooth pick or paint brush to cross pollinate?

  21. Estefany says:

    We have 1 avocado tree in our backyard that was already here when we moved in and it gives HUGE fruit! Its funny because for 6 months we had no idea it was an avocado tree, until one day i noticed the avocados growing.They don’t even fit in my hand. And after reading all these comments about everyone with their unsuccessful trees who never give fruit, i feel SO LUCKY! Oh gosh! Its delicious too.

    We were planning on cutting down the tree because its too big. Its about 60 feet tall and takes up a big chunk of property. But now im having second thoughts.

  22. Kathy @ Food Wine Thyme says:

    I am so excited to try this. My pit is drying

  23. Charlie says:

    I grew mine in a zip lock bag full of water no napkin. I just left it by the window & they started growing….I’ve had them growing in a pot. They are about 3 years old now. One is growing crooked ; I’m wondering if I should cut it….

  24. Cheryl says:

    What do you mean by pinch the leaves to make it bushier? Cut them off?

  25. Paige says:

    I was just wondering if I did this, will it produce avocados?

  26. Brian says:

    The reason for grafting is because you are grafting from mature trees. It can take as many as 30 years for a tree to mature from seed. They can mature rapidly or slowly depending on the conditions they are grown in.

    I have known people who grew avocado trees as a family business for almost 100 years and they had a couple of trees that took over 30 years to mature, but when they did they produced more annually then any 3 trees combined that they had.

    If fruit is what you want then either buy grafted trees or grow the root stock from seed and find a mature tree to get a cutting to graft onto it. To me it is more fun to just wait and see when I get fruit. Single trees can produce fruit, but having another to help pollination increases yields.

    FYI the meat of the fruit is safe for dogs in small quantities. It does contain a toxin that builds up and is slow to leave their systems. Kind of like chocolate.

  27. Lynn says:

    It does or it doesn’t! I am so dizzy after reading all these comments… No one really knows anything about Avocados. Didn’t help me

  28. Ozzie Joe says:

    This thread is priceless!

  29. Sylvia says:

    Purchased an avocado tree from home depot, planted it and was doing great. Unfortunately, dog I am sitting ate half of it off and know I am sad and concerned of my tree will survive. Any advice I can get is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  30. Rachel says:

    Avocados are tough to grow. My brother did grow one from seeds and in 4 years he is getting fruit. My tree that I bought at Home Depot has been in the ground 6 years and no fruit yet. It’s about 5 feet tall. I read that they go dormant in winter and you aren’t suppose to water it. But since I have a lot if fruit trees the trench automatically waters the avocado treet. We shall see.

  31. Pattimac says:

    I heard to make an avocado tree grow fruit you need to pound the nail in it. That’s similar to beating the tree in the comments above — as it makes the tree realize it’s under attack and then will try to procreate. Sounds weird but who knows?


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