The avocado plant is native to Mexico and other South American countries, though its fruit has become a staple in households all around the world. It has a delicious, nutty flavor that enhances salads, sandwiches, dips, and desserts, making it one of the most versatile fruits around. The plant itself is also quite lovely, with egg-shaped leaves and pretty, greenish flowers. All of these benefits have many people considering growing their own avocado plant indoors. If this plant is on your homegrown list to try out, knowing how to do it right is the first step. Let’s jump in and learn how to start growing an avocado indoors.
How To Start
In general, there are two ways to start an avocado plant, with a seed or with a seedling. Starting with a seed is a time consuming and difficult process, but is well worth the effort. Starting with a seedling is easier, and will produce fruit much faster. In this case, you should start with a dwarf avocado tree, which is specifically bred to produce fruit while being smaller than the ones you’ll find in nature.
If you’re looking to get fruit as quickly as possible, start with the dwarf seedling. If you’re looking for a long term gardening project then seeds are the way to go.
How to Grow Avocado Plants From a Seed
Planting an avocado using a seed is quite easy, and doesn’t even require any soil or large pots at first. If you’re going to choose this route, you should be aware that growing it this way may not produce fruit for ten years or more. If you’re looking for a plant guaranteed to grow fruit, you may want to get a dwarf plant bred for this purpose. In that case, you can skip this section and head onto the next one. For those looking for a long term project read on!
When growing an avocado plant indoors from a seed you can use any pit from an avocado that you’ve purchased and eaten. You’ll also need some toothpicks and a glass of water. Wash the pit to remove any excess fruit flesh, then insert a few toothpicks into the seed.
Using the toothpicks as support for the pit, suspend it over the glass of water with the broad pit end facing down. The bottom inch of the pit should be in the water, add more liquid to the glass if needed. Place the pit in a warm area where it gets some light, though direct sunlight should be avoided. An eastern facing window is a good spot at this point in your plants growth cycle.
It takes about 2-6 weeks for the avocado pit to sprout. Allow the new sprouts to grow up to 6 inches, then trim them back down to 3 inches. Once the roots are thick and the stem has sprouted some new leaves, it’s time to move it to a pot. At this point you can move it to a sunnier location and follow standard care for growing your avocado indoors.
If you’re looking for a pre-made solution, there are some kits on the market that provide the ideal setup. These can help make the setup a bit easier, although they are certainly not a requirement.
Start your plant in a container with a diameter of about 10 inches and twice the depth of the roots to give them room to grow. When planting a seed, don’t cover it completely with soil. Instead, leave half of it showing. There should also be a drainage hole in the pot to remove excess water.
If you’re starting with a larger seedling you may need to upgrade to a larger pot. There should always be room for more root growth, and the chosen container should give plenty of space for your avocado plant. It’s better to choose a slightly larger pot as avocados grow quickly and this will provide the space needed.
Though an avocado plant likes moisture, it can’t handle soaking in too much water. To prevent this, a rich potting soil that drains quickly is a must. This will give the plant the nutrients it needs to stay healthy without risking overwatering. Most store-bought potting soils will work, and you can always use a special potting mix designed specifically for avocado trees.
Avocado plants don’t like to be dry, so it is a good idea to try to keep the soil they are in continuously moist to keep the plant happy and healthy. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should drown your plant in water every day. Vigilance is key when growing an avocado indoors, so check it every 2-3 days and add moisture as often as needed. You should also watch for leaves that have begun to turn yellow since this is a sign of overwatering. If you notice this, give the soil a few days to dry out before adding more water.
Though avocado seeds don’t require sunlight to begin to sprout, once the stems and leaves begin to grow moving them into the light is a must. An avocado plant grows best in full sun, so a south-facing window is the best place for them if possible. The brighter the area, the more the plant will thrive. You should be shooting for 8+ hours of full, bright light per day.
Most indoor gardeners will need to supplement with grow lights to keep their plant happy. This is especially true in the winter months when the sunlight is less intense. A plant that doesn’t get enough sunlight will not bear any fruit, although it can still be healthy.
If you’re choosing an avocado plant to grow with your other houseplants, you need to remember that this plant is native to the warmer climates of South America. They can’t handle the cold at all, so you need to make sure they are as warm as possible, especially if you live in an area with icy winter months. Any exposure to frost will certainly kill the plant.
Avocado plants prefer warmth but can handle temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary. Their growth will slow down at these temperatures, so if you want a large, lush plant, don’t keep them at this temperature for long periods of time. These low temperatures will also interfere with the plant’s ability to bear fruit.
If your summers are hot, you can even put them outside, as long as you monitor the outdoor temperature carefully to avoid frost damage. This can help them get additional sunlight, as long as you ensure that they are never exposed to cool temperatures.
You should also avoid placing them near any drafty or poorly insulated exterior areas during the winter. The cold air that can be present in these areas can cause growth problems with your plant.
Like any other indoor plant, an avocado plant needs fertilizer to ensure it is getting the nutrients it needs. Adding a balanced fertilizer often throughout your plant’s growing season is a must to keep it healthy and happy.
For most indoor plants, liquid or slow-release fertilizers are best to ensure that the nutrients are distributed evenly through the soil for the roots to absorb. Many slow-release fertilizer even includes varying pellet thicknesses, which dissolve at different rates for longer-lasting results and less frequent fertilizing.
Too much fertilizer isn’t good for an avocado plant, so follow the instructions on whichever product you choose closely. You can also watch the soil for a white crust, which forms when there is too much salt build-up when over-fertilized. If this happens, flush the plant often until the excess fertilizer is removed.
For avocado trees, you can start fertilizing them about 6 months after planting them. Do so about roughly once every other month during the spring, summer, and early fall. This means you should end up fertilizing them about 3-4 times per year.
Most gardeners will need to repot their avocado plant as it grows. The best time to repot your indoor avocado plant is in the spring when it begins to grow again after winter dormancy. This will guarantee that your plant’s roots have room to spread out in the soil. You may want to trim your avocado at this time as well to increase its bushiness.
Choose a container that is slightly larger than the one you’re currently using, and gently move the plant into its new home. This will give your plant room to grow, and neglecting this step can stunt its growth as its roots won’t have room to grow out.
Avocado plants can grow up to 30 inches each year, so you may need to prune yours often to keep it from getting too tall. Staking the plant will also ensure that the stem is supported until it is thick enough to do so on its own. If you’re growing a dwarf variety you may not see such dramatic growth. This is to be expected from the smaller dwarf plants.
These plants are toxic to animals, so it is best to keep your critters away from them as much as possible. Place your avocado plant on a table or stool to keep it out of reach if necessary or place it in a room that your animals are not allowed into to keep them safe.
Growing an Avocado Indoors
Growing an avocado indoors can seem daunting, but it is well worth the effort. Nothing beats a fresh avocado that you worked hard to grow and raise. For the easiest time, choose a dwarf variety, and soon you’ll be able to enjoy fresh avocado whenever you please!
Growing an Avocado Indoors FAQ
How Long Does It Take an Avocado Tree To Bear Fruit
If growing from a seedling or avocado starter kit expect about 3-4 years. From seed, it’s not unusual for it to take a decade or more for your plant to mature and bear fruit.
Do You Need To Plant Two Avocado Trees To Get Fruit?
While you can get fruit from a single plant, planting two increases your chance for them to bear fruit. This is due to how pollination works for avocado flowers.
Are Coffee Grounds Good For Avocado Plants?
Yes, coffee grounds can be used as an all natural fertilizer that can help provide needed nutrients to your avocado plant.