How to Grow an Avocado Plant From a Seed in 10 Easy Steps (Plus Growing Tips to Make It Thrive) by Elisa Schmitz
I remember my dad growing avocado plants from seeds throughout my childhood. It was not unusual to see several pits suspended in glasses of water, at various stages of growth. Over time, Dad would plant the sprouted avocado seeds in pots, and avocado plants of various sizes could be found around our home. Looking back, this must have been therapeutic for him and my mother alike because it's a great mindfulness activity.
My father is an avid gardener, so the avocados must have given him joy year-round when he couldn’t garden outside because, Chicago weather. My mother is from Puerto Rico, so seeing the avocado plants must have reminded her of her homeland, where avocados can grow nearly as big as your head. Naturally, we ate a lot of avocados – they’re healthy and delicious!
Even despite these good memories, I had never grown an avocado plant from a seed. Being home during the pandemic, I started to focus on my garden more and more. The quiet time finally gave me the opportunity to grow an avocado from a pit – no more excuses. Instead of going it on my own, I enlisted my husband to be part of “Project Avocado.” This is also a great project to do with kids!
Here’s how you can grow your own avocado plant from a seed in 10 easy steps:
Photo: My friend Nuria in Spain was inspired by my Project Avocado to grow one herself.
- Eat an avocado or two. (Here are some great avocado recipes to try!)
- Rinse the seed to remove the leftover avocado fruit from the seed’s skin. (You can remove the skin but it’s not necessary.)
- Identify the top of the seed and have it point upward. The rounder part is the bottom, where roots will form.
- Pierce the seed with four toothpicks, at equal distance from each other, angles slightly downward, so you form a steady base from which to suspend your seed in water.
- Fill a glass with water (we used a clear plastic cup), as close to the top as you can without causing overflow. Put the seed on top, with the toothpicks serving as the base. The round part of the seed should be submerged in the water as much as possible, without causing water to overflow. Place the glass in a sunny spot.
- Change the water a few times a week, to keep it fresh. If you notice mold or other growth, change the water as frequently as once a day. Make sure the water level remains constant so the seed bottom is always submerged.
- Watch for growth below! Within a few weeks, you should notice a root start to emerge from the bottom of the seed, so exciting. Continue the watering process as the roots grow into the bottom of your glass.
- Watch for growth above! Shortly after you see roots growing, you also may notice a stem start to sprout from the top of the seed, so exciting. Continue the watering process as the stem grows up from the seed, and get your gardening supplies ready!
- Once the stem has grown to about 6 to 8 inches and leaves have formed, it’s time to plant it in soil. (Note that you also can cut it back at this time, and let it regrow, as some gardeners think cutting it back allows it to grow again more thoroughly. We did this and it caused more anxiety than anything, as we worried it wouldn’t grow back. It did not regrow from the cut stem, but it did grow a new stem from the cut one. However, I'm not sure it was any more lush than it was before we cut it. So it’s up to you!) Choose a pot that has enough room for the roots to grow, and that provides drainage. It’s OK if the top of the seed is a bit exposed to the sunlight. Plant your seed in good potting soil.
- Put your new plant in a sunny location. Monitor the soil to ensure it is moist but not soaking wet. We check ours once a day because it’s in a sunny location and can dry out.
Photo: You can see where we cut the original stem, and where the new stem grew.
A few notes about growing an avocado, plus growing tips to make your avocado plant thrive:
- As it grows, your avocado plant may shed a few leaves. Ours lost three leaves in the weeks after it was planted. But the new leaves that grew in seemed stronger and sturdier, and the plant continues to grow new leaves at top.
- For drainage, we put several small rocks at the bottom of the pot before we added the soil. This allows water to drain to the bottom, without the roots having to sit in water.
- Because we cut the stem and a new one grew on an angle from the original, we ended up using an orchid stake and clips to ensure the new stem grew up straight. Our hope is that as it grows bigger and stronger, we can remove the stake and clips and it will continue to grow straight on its own.
- You can take your avocado plant outside, as long as the weather stays above 50 degrees or so. I take mine outside during the warmer-weather months, then bring it back inside during colder-weather months because, Chicago weather.
I can’t tell you how much joy Project Avocado has provided, and we have already started on several more avocado seeds that are at various stages of growth. As a couple, it’s given us a shared goal and hobby to enjoy together. For me personally, it was a bucket list item that I have checked off with a smile. And with a mindful nod to my mom and dad.
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