How to raise an avocado tree


How to Grow and Care for an Avocado Tree

If you live in the southern tip of the United States or further south, you have the unique opportunity to grow an avocado tree outdoors in your garden. These tall, evergreen fruit trees are best known for their creamy fruits with abundant health benefits. The tree’s thick, bright green foliage is also grown for its ornamental value. However, it is important to keep in mind that all parts of this tree, including the fruit, are toxic to a wide range of animals .

Common Name Avocado Tree
Botanical Name Persea americana
Family Lauraceae
Plant Type Tree, Fruit
Mature Size 60 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, Partial
Soil Type Loamy, Sandy, Well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, Neutral
Bloom Time Late Winter, Spring, Early Summer
Flower Color Yellow, Green
Hardiness Zones 9-11, USA
Native Area North America, Central America, Asia
Toxicity Toxic to pets

How to Plant an Avocado Tree

It is best to plant avocado trees outdoors in the spring. This allows the tree ample time to become established before cooler, winter temperatures arrive. This is especially important in the northern areas of the avocado tree’s hardiness zones. Choose a planting location that provides ample room for these tall trees to grow. Plant them at least 10 feet away from structures and allow for at least 30 feet in between each avocado tree, if you’re planting more than one. 

Keep in mind that the root system of avocado trees is quite sensitive, so try not to unnecessarily disturb the roots during the planting process. Dig a hole that is wider than the root structure. The depth of the hole should generally match the height of the root ball, since planting the tree too deep or too shallow can cause problems. 

The trees are vulnerable to high winds so very young, soft, and immature trees may benefit from support. Choosing a planting location that offers wind protection will help keep your tree upright and healthy. Just be sure the your tree receives plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil. If soil conditions are less than ideal, amend the soil with sand or another well-draining substrate before planting. Avocado trees can also be grown in a container, though this will eventually stunt their growth.   

The 12 Best Planters of 2022

Avocado Tree Care

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

Light

Like most tropical plants, the avocado tree thrives on a lot of sunshine. Plant this tree in a location where it can receive at least 8 hours of sunlight every day. These trees can tolerate partial shade, but grow best and produce more fruits when kept in full sun. 

Soil

Avocado trees prefer rich, loamy, and well-draining soil. It is important that the soil is aerated and does not hold onto excess water, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. A soil pH that is acidic to neutral, between 5 and 7, is ideal. These trees are sensitive to alkaline soil.  

Adding a layer of mulch around the tree can help the soil retain the right amount of moisture and will offer protection to the avocado tree's shallow root system. Be sure to keep the mulch about 6 inches away from the base of the trunk to avoid suffocating the roots or causing collar rot. 

Water

Avocado trees benefit from infrequent, deep watering. This encourages deeper, stronger root growth. Wait until the soil begins to dry out, then water deeply. During the summer months when temperatures are hot and conditions may be dry, the avocado tree will require more frequent watering. Young trees also require more frequent watering as the tree establishes. Mature trees should receive around 2 inches of water per week.  

Temperature and Humidity

These famous fruit trees can only be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, limiting them to tropical and subtropical climates, unless you decide to grow an avocado tree indoors. They are frost-sensitive and grow best in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Fertilizer

Fertilizing an avocado tree during the growing months will help encourage healthy growth and fruit production. Start in the late winter to early spring and feed until the fall, depending on the specific instructions included with your chosen fertilizer. Nitrogen is important for this tree, so be sure the fertilizer you choose has high amounts of nitrogen. Fertilizers specifically designed for avocado or citrus trees work well.  

Pollination

Pollinating an avocado tree can be a bit tricky. These trees have what are called ‘perfect’ flowers, which means each flower has both female and male parts. However, avocado tree flowers open their female and male parts at separate times, making self-pollination possible but not always as fruitful. For optimum pollination, it is ideal to have two avocado trees. 

Avocado trees are considered either type A or type B. Type A trees open their female parts in the morning of the first day and their male parts in the afternoon of the second day. Type B trees open their female parts in the afternoon of the first day and their male parts in the morning of the second day. These different times make cross-pollination possible between the two types. When choosing which trees to plant, be sure you have both type A and type B for the best results.  

Types of Avocado Trees

All avocado trees stem from three main varieties: Mexican, West Indian, and Guatemalan. Within these categories, there are several avocado varieties available. 

  • Hass: One of the most popular avocado varieties, the Hass avocado is often found in grocery stores. It is a hybrid of Guatemalan and Mexican avocado varieties. This is a type A tree that produces thick, bumpy-skinned, rich, and creamy fruits. It is more sensitive to heat than other varieties. Hass avocado trees are known to produce a reasonably sized yield when grown on their own.  
  • Fuerte: Also a widely known avocado type, the Fuerte avocado is a type B tree often grown with Hass avocados. This variety is also a hybrid between Guatemalan and Mexican varieties. These trees produce large, oval-shaped fruits with relatively smooth, thin skin that peels away easily. The fruits have less oil content than Hass avocados. These trees are also more sensitive to heat, making them a good fit for the northern borders of the avocado's growing zones. 
  • Pinkerton: This type A, Guatemalan tree is popular for its smaller size and large fruit yield. It produces oblong fruits with flesh similar to the Hass avocado—rich and creamy. These trees require a type B avocado tree to produce a significant fruit yield.  

Harvesting Avocados

Harvesting homegrown avocados is satisfying since a good amount of time and patience goes into growing these creamy fruits. For nursery-bought trees, you can expect to see fruit in three to four years. For avocados started from seed, it may take five to 13 years before fruits appear. 

When fruits appear, wait until the avocado grows to its mature size. The fruits do not ripen on the tree, so avocados are picked as soon as they are full size. Bring the avocados indoors and let them rest on a counter until ripe. Give the avocado a gentle squeeze to test for softness. Once the flesh is soft but not squishy, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work.  

How to Grow Avocado Trees in Pots

Though they will not reach their full height, avocado trees can be kept in containers. This is ideal for small yards or gardens near the northern edge of the avocado’s growing zones, as potted trees can be moved to a protected area when cold weather arrives.

Young trees or dwarf varieties are ideal as these will stay small for some time. When choosing a container, be sure it drains well and has unobstructed drainage holes. Breathable materials such as terra cotta make a great choice, as water and air can freely move through the container. Fill the container with well-draining soil, such as compost and sand. 

Pruning

Pruning avocado trees will encourage more manageable, bushy growth. It is best to start when trees are young. If grown from seed, start pruning when the seedling is only 6 inches tall, snipping off the top pair of the leaves. When it reaches a foot in height, trim back 6 inches. After this, prune the tree yearly. 

Mature trees require occasional pruning to keep the tree clean and to create adequate space for air and light to travel through. Light pruning can be done any time of year, though heavy pruning should be done in the early spring. Prune away any low-hanging branches to keep the tree clean and accessible. Prune thick areas to ensure adequate light and airflow. Cut back any dead wood and trim away V-shaped branches. Continue to prune the tips off the brranches if you decide to keep the tree on the smaller side. Remember, start slowly and do not take off more than one-third of the length of each branch. 

Propagating Avocado Trees

Propagation is often done through grafting, layering, or cuttings. It is best to propagate in the spring when new growth is abundant. Grafting is often done to combine the desirable qualities of two different varieties of avocados while layering and starting cuttings are done to produce duplicate trees. Here’s how to perform each method of propagation: 

Cuttings

You will need sharp snips, moist and well-draining potting soil, a small pot, and IBA rooting hormone.

  1. In the spring, select new growth that is 5 to 6 inches long and has several leaves that have not opened.
  2. Using sharp snips, cut the new growth branch at a 45-degree angle. 
  3. Wound the cut end by scraping at the bark on either side of the cutting. This will encourage root production. 
  4. Dip the cutting into IBA rooting hormone. 
  5. Bury the cut end into moist, well-draining soil. 
  6. Keep the soil moist and place the cutting in a sunny area. 
  7. After a couple of weeks, gently tug the cutting to check for resistance, which indicates root growth. Repot the cutting into a larger pot or outdoors.  

Grafting

You will need sharp snips, a sharp knife, and something to cover the grafted area, such as grafting tape. 

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 as if you are taking a cutting. 
  2. Remove the tip of the cutting, along with any leaves that are present. 
  3. Then, wound the tree you would like to graft onto by removing a section of bark. 
  4. Make sure the cambium of the cutting and the cambium of the tree are touching. 
  5. Secure the cutting onto the tree, making sure to cover the exposed areas. 
  6. In a few weeks, the grafted branch and the main tree should be fused together. 

Air Layering

You will need a sharp knife, a rooting medium that can be wrapped around a branch, and rope or tape to secure the rooting medium around the tree.  

  1. Select the branch you would like to take as a new tree.
  2. Using a clean knife, cut two circles around the branch to create a section of bark that can be peeled away.  
  3. Once the bark is removed, scrape the inner branch to clean the cambium away. 
  4. Wrap the exposed inner branch with rooting material, such as compost in a small bag (make sure the compost is wrapping the branch, not the bag) or another rooting medium. Secure around the branch. 
  5. In several weeks, roots should develop. When this occurs, cut the branch off below the formed roots and plant the new tree. 

How to Grow Avocado Trees From Seed

Starting avocado trees from seed is a fun, simple project. However, it is important to keep in mind that seeds will not produce trees identical to the parent tree. To do this, you will need an avocado seed, a jar of water, toothpicks, a sharp knife, a small pot, and well-draining potting soil. Then follow these instructions: 

  1. Using a sharp knife, poke three or four holes around the circumference of the avocado seed.
  2. Poke the toothpicks into the holes. This will create the supports needed to suspend the seed in water.  
  3. Submerge the thick, or bottom end, of the seed into the water. Around one-third of the seed should be in the water. 
  4. Place the seed in a sunny location and change the water daily. 
  5. After a few weeks, roots should form and leaves should appear at the top of the seed. 
  6. Once this occurs, gently plant the seed in well-draining soil.  

Overwintering

When grown in the appropriate zones, avocado trees do not require extra care during the winter. For trees grown on the northern edges of their growing zones, it is best to keep them in pots so they can be moved indoors or to an area protected from cold weather. 

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Common pests that may bother an avocado tree include mites, caterpillars, borers, lace bugs, and thrips. Diseases include root rot, fruit rot, sun blotch, and cankers. Be alert to the presence of these pests or early signs of disease. Prompt action is the best way to remedy any developing problems before they threaten the health of your avocado tree.

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. “The Scoop on Avocado and Your Pets.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/news/scoop-avocado-and-your-pets

How to Grow an Avocado Tree From a Pit at Home

If you're a fan, you know that most dishes can benefit from the addition of a few creamy avocados. And while you can easily snag avocados at your local grocery store, you may have stopped to wonder how hard it would be to grow your own. The bad news is that it can take five years minimum for an avocado tree to start producing fruit; the good news is that with a single brown avocado seed, a few simple supplies and an understanding of some basic care tips, you can learn how to grow an avocado tree indoors without a ton of effort. Read on if you're ready to give this fun and inexpensive gardening project a try — it's a great activity for kids, too!

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Check out these five basic steps to begin growing your very own avocado tree from a pit:

Supplies Needed

  • Avocado seed
  • Toothpicks
  • Drinking glass or jar
  • 10-inch pot
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel

How to grow an avocado tree at home

Emilija Manevska//Getty Images

  1. Save an avocado pit (without cutting into or breaking it) and wash off any residue. Let dry, then insert 3-4 toothpicks about halfway up the side of the pit.
  2. Suspend the pit broad end of the pit down in a drinking glass or jar. Fill the container with enough water to submerge the bottom third of the seed, the Missouri Botanical Garden advises.
  3. Place the glass in a warm spot out of direct sunlight and change the water regularly. Roots and a sprout should appear in about 2-6 weeks. If not, start with another seed.
  4. When the sprout gets to be about 6 inches tall, cut it back to about 3 inches to encourage more root growth.
  5. Once the stem grows out again, plant the pit in an 10-inch pot filled with rich potting soil. Now it's time to let your avocado tree grow, grow, grow!

Note: You can buy older trees instead of starting from scratch. Amazon sells grafted, 4-feet tall avocado trees that may yield fruit in 3-4 years instead of 10.

How to care for an avocado tree

MAIKA 777//Getty Images

Place your pot in a sunny spot indoors and water lightly but often. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not sopping wet, California Avocados recommends. You can place your pot outdoors in the summer as long as temps stay above 45°F. Occasionally prune your plant (every 6 inches or so) to encourage fullness.

Gardening tip: Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering. Dial back to avoid root rot.

Tips on growing an avocado tree outdoors

Dominic Dähncke//Getty Images

Avocados are tropical plants (they're native to southern Mexico), so you can also plant avocado trees in the ground outside in USDA Zones 10-12, a.k.a., regions with no frost. They do best in rich, well-drained soil with full sunlight and medium-high humidity. Ideally, you'll want to plant them between March and June. Give them plenty of space when planting, especially if you're growing multiple trees, since they can reach anywhere from 40-80 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide under the right conditions. Additionally, avocado trees have very shallow roots that mainly grow in the top 6 inches of the soil. For this reason, mulching (go for a coarse option) is key after planting. Water 2-3 times per week by soaking the soil thoroughly and then letting it dry out before watering again.

Will my avocado tree produce fruit?

Before you embark on growing your own avocado tree, there's one important thing to keep in mind: These trees typically take between five to 13 years to produce fruit. It's also quite challenging for this to occur indoors, which is the reason why they're fairly pricey in stores at times.

But even though your tree won't produce fruit anytime soon (or ever), you can still round out your green-thumb project with some avo-themed dishes from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen. This nourishing fruit is packed with nutrients, like healthy fats and fiber, as well as vitamins C, E and K! Browse through our favorite dishes that make avocado the star of the show:

Great Avocado Recipes
Charred Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Mike Garten
Avocado Salad With Spicy Granola
Mike Garten
Citrusy Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
Mike Garten
"Fried" Avocado Tacos
Danielle Occhiogrosso Daly

Caroline PicardContributing Writer

Caroline is a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience. From 2015 to 2019, she held various editorial positions at Good Housekeeping, including as health editor, covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and dreams of the day Northwestern will go back to the Rose Bowl.  

Monique ValerisSenior Home Editor

Monique Valeris is the senior home editor for Good Housekeeping, where she oversees the brand's home decorating coverage across print and digital. Prior to joining GH in 2020, she was the digital editor at Elle Decor. In her current role, she explores everything from design trends and home tours to lifestyle product recommendations, including writing her monthly column, "What's in My Cart."

This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

How to grow an avocado at home: practical tips

Tips

Avocado, with its recognizable taste and buttery texture, rightfully occupies one of the first places in the list of products for a healthy and balanced diet. This superfood is rich in saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, contains a supply of potassium and vitamins E, K and group B, serves as a source of antioxidants and accelerates the absorption of nutrients.

If you have space in your living room or kitchen, try growing this tropical plant in your home and in a few years you will be able to not only enjoy the lush foliage of the tree, but also eat ripe fruits from your garden.

The scientific name of the avocado tree is Persea americana. The plant comes from Mexico. In hot tropical forests, it can reach 18 meters in height, but this does not mean that you cannot grow it at home - just get a suitable planter and cut the plant in time to adjust its growth.

The avocado tree loves warmth and sun, therefore, taking into account the weather conditions, it is better to grow it not in the backyard, but at home, where it will be possible to provide humidity and temperature that are comfortable for the plant.

How to grow an avocado

One of the easiest ways to grow an avocado is to use the pit of a ripe avocado, anything you can buy at your local supermarket will do. The seeds sprout quickly and easily, so you will definitely be able to start a seedling. However, remember that it takes up to 3-6 years for a tree to give its first crop, and at home, an avocado will not always bear fruit.

  1. Select a healthy and ripe avocado of your favorite variety and carefully remove the pit. Be careful, the seed will not germinate if the outer brown shell is damaged.

  2. Turn the narrow part of the bone up, pierce it with three wooden toothpicks at an equal distance at a slight angle.

  3. Fill the container with water and set the stone so that its bottom is submerged in water.

  4. Place the container on the windowsill and change the water every five days.

  5. It usually takes four weeks for a bone to grow. But if this does not happen, do not despair and be patient!

  6. Roots and sprouts appear almost simultaneously. Wait until the future tree is 15 cm tall and then cut it in half. This will cause the avocado to sprout more.

  7. Prepare a pot of fertile soil in a well-lit area.

  8. Dig a hole and plant the avocado in it, leaving only the green part of the plant above the ground.

  9. Water the avocado and continue to care for it. If you want to grow fruit, find out if your variety is self-pollinating or if it needs another plant nearby.

How to care for avocados

Soil

Like all shallow-rooted trees, the avocado tree needs loose, well-drained soil. As for pH, it should be neutral or slightly acidic, as with most other garden plants.

Watering

In the first few years of life, the avocado tree needs a lot of water. Water the plant two to three times a week. After the tree is rooted, watering can be reduced, as the roots will get the necessary moisture from the soil. Understanding when a tree needs additional moisture is quite simple - pay attention to soil moisture, as soon as it dries, water the plant.

Fertilizer

Avocado grows well in fertile soil and requires regular fertilization throughout its life. In the early stages, in order for the tree to grow healthy and strong, use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen once a month. Such top dressing can be replaced with organic compost, which is applied every three months. Continue to fertilize the plant during flowering and throughout the growing season. When the fruits are ripe, fertilizers can be postponed until the next season.

Pruning

Avocado care depends on where you grow it. An outdoor tree will require minimal pruning. Potted plants, on the other hand, require pruning regularly to keep them compact. In addition to the main branches, pay attention to side shoots so that the avocado does not lose shape.

Pests and Diseases

Although the avocado tree has a high content of toxic persin, to which only humans and cats are immune, it does not repel pests. Spider mites, thrips and caterpillars can merge on the plant. Treat your avocado with neem oil to combat them.

Another danger is diseases, the most common of which are root rot and bay wilt. Root rot is caused by overwatering or the accumulation of salts in the soil as a result of excessive fertilization. Laurel wilt is a deadly fungal infection spread by ragweed beetles, so keep them out.

Harvest

It is not always clear from the appearance of the avocado when it is ripe enough. Up to a certain point, they can sing on a tree, but usually ripen after harvest. If the fruits are left on the tree for too long, they can become soft and overripe.

To test the ripeness of an avocado, pick the largest fruit and leave it in a dark place for a few days. Try lightly pressing down on the avocado with your thumb. If it is soft and the flesh has become creamy, the fruit is fully ripe. If the flesh is hard and bitter in taste, then the fruits are not yet ready to serve, give them a little more time.


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How to grow avocados at home

February 6, 2019LikbezDo it yourself

Step-by-step instructions for those who want to get a real tree.

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1. Buy an avocado

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Choose a dark green fruit that is quite soft to the touch.

If you don't find a ripe avocado, don't worry. Take an unripe fruit. Put it together with bananas or apples for a couple of days. The ethylene they release will help the fruit ripen faster.

2. Separate the seed from the pulp

Carefully cut the fruit into two halves.

Remove the seed from the pulp with your hand or a spoon. Rinse it under warm water.

Use the pulp the right way 🥑

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3. Sprout the seed

You can plant an avocado at any time of the year. If the bone is not damaged, the probability of seedlings is quite high.

Option 1

Use a knife, awl or thick needle to make three or four small holes 2-3 mm deep in the stone. Insert toothpicks or sharpened matches into them.

Pour filtered or, for example, settled water for watering flowers into a small container.

Position the bone so that the blunt end is in the water. Toothpicks resting on the edges of the container will not let it sink.

Keep the water at the same level and change every few days. But make sure that the puncture sites do not get wet.

Instead of water, you can use hydrogel, which is sold in shops with houseplants. Its level should also be below the punctures.

Place the container of avocados on a windowsill or other well-lit place.

The root will hatch in one and a half to two weeks, although its appearance may be delayed for a month. When it reaches 3-4 cm in length, remove the toothpicks and transplant into the ground.

Option 2

Remove the outer shell from the bone, being careful not to damage it.

Place in a small narrow vessel so that it is about halfway in the water and not tipped on its side.

When the root reaches 2-3 cm a couple of weeks after germination, transplant the seed into a pot.

Option 3

Simply place the stone in a pot of soil so that ⅔ of it is on the surface. If you dig deeper, it might just rot. The pot should be as described in #4 and the soil as described in #5.

Water every 2-3 days. This method is the easiest, but you will have to wait a few months before the first shoots appear.

4. Choose the right pot

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Get a plastic or ceramic pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Its depth should be no more than 10–15 cm. For the first time, this will be enough.

5. Fill the pot with the right soil

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Mix universal potting soil with coarse sand and peat in proportions 1 : 1 : 1. This will make the soil loose.

When choosing, keep in mind that the soil for avocados should be neutral (pH = 7), not acidic.

Use gravel or expanded clay for drainage.

6. Plant the seed if you germinated it in water or hydrogel. Fill in the soil and loosen well. Make a small indentation on the surface.

Plant the seed so that it is about halfway in the ground, no more. Try not to damage the roots during planting.

Water your seedling. Make sure the soil is moist but not swampy. From excess moisture, the bone can become moldy.

7. Put in a bright and warm place

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Position the pot so that it has enough light. Ideal for window sills. The temperature should be room temperature.

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8. Take good care of it

Do not put the pot in the shade, otherwise the plant will not develop normally. Water the avocado once every 3-4 days in the warm season and a little less often in the cold. Don't let the soil dry out completely.

Spray regularly when seedlings appear. If the air in the room with avocados is very dry, you can put a small container of water next to it to increase humidity.

Monika Baechler

In the first few months, the avocado will stretch rapidly upwards and can reach 50 cm. Then the growth rate will slow down. When there are more than eight leaves on the shoot, pinch it. Carefully remove the very top with a knife or scissors. After do not forget to rinse the instrument.

As soon as you notice that the avocado begins to stretch, pinch it. So you get a tree with a neat crown.

If possible, keep avocados outside during the summer. With the onset of autumn coolness, return the plant to a warm room. Do not leave outside if the temperature drops below +10 °C.

9. Fertilize and replant avocados

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In the warm season, fertilize once or twice a month with houseplant products.

Replant young avocados annually for the first five years. Then the interval between transplants can be increased to three years. Each time choose a pot with a slightly larger diameter.

When transplanting, take care not to damage the root system. Just transfer the earth ball into a new container and add the right amount of earth.

10.


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