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How to grow Avocados in Your Home Garden

Avocado is an unique fruit which is high in healthy fats, while most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate. This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to various dishes due to its good flavor and rich texture. It’s often referred to as a superfood, which is not surprising given its health properties. Not only does it have powerful health benefits, it also has the power to boost our mood and improve our sense of wellbeing.

It's surprisingly easy to grow your own avocado tree from seed. In this article you will be able to find tips on how to grow your own avocado tree, starting with the big brown seed from the center of the fruit. You can grow the plant indoors, or outside if you live in one of the warmest parts of the United States.

Avocado Tree
“The fat and happy fruit!”

Steps on how to grow your avocado seed into a cute little new houseplant.

  • Remove the seed from the fresh, ripe avocado carefully and avoid using a knife because it might damage the seed. Your tree will root faster if you use an avocado pit that has dried out for a couple of weeks. Drying the pit will allow it to crack and expose the seed inside the pit. It will also allow the skin around the pit to dry out and peel easier.

  • Gently clean the seed under warm, running water using a soft brush or cloth ensuring all flesh is removed. Peeling the skin from around the pit will speed up the rooting process.

  • You can either wrap the seed in a sheet of damp (not dripping wet) paper towel or a tea towel and place in a plastic food bag (do not zip shut) to then store it in a dark cupboard at room temperature (around 70°F / 21°C). Check on your seed every 4 days or so. Putting a reminder in your phone calendar will help so you don't forget. You also need to ensure the paper towel stays damp.

Avocado seed wrapped in a damp paper towel and ziplock

  • Another thing you can do is stick toothpicks at a slight downward angle into the avocado seed, spaced evenly around the circumference of the avocado which will be used as your avocado scaffolding in order to allow you to rest the bottom half of the avocado in water. Note the base of the pit. It’s the wider side and has a darker circle at the bottom. This is the side of the pit that you’ll submerge in water. Place the seed half-submerged 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. We recommend to change the water every five days to a week or so to prevent mold, bacteria and fungus growth, which can doom your little avocado sprout.

Avocado with toothpicks in a water glass
These toothpicks are your avocado scaffolding.

  • Wait for avocado seed to sprout. After a few weeks you’ll start to notice signs of germination. It usually takes at least 3-5 weeks to get a sprout, so be patient. During the process you will witness that the top of the avocado pit will dry out and form a crack, the outer brown seed skin will slough off, 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 then the taproot will grow longer and longer (and may branch), and eventually a small sprout will peek through the top of the avocado pit. In just 5-7 weeks, the roots will have developed enough to pot in soil. Don't you ever allow your taproot to dry out unsubmerged – doing so will be the death of your plant.

  • Plant the sprouted seed 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. If the root (or roots) are longer than 3-inches and they won’t fit in your pot, you can cut them back to 3-inches in length with sharp scissors cleaned with rubbing alcohol or bleach solution (4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water for at least one minute). It is said that this can also help produce a bushy rather than a tall, leggy plant even though there can not be found research to confirm it.

propagated avocado seeds
Thriving avocado plants seeded in water!

We recommend to keep your avocado plant in a warm and sunny location as it performs best if it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. If you keep your avocado plant indoors, place it by a large, sunny window. Southward facing areas of the home are widely suggested as they generally receive the most sunlight. Water frequently with an occasional deep soak. Keep plant moist but not overly saturated. Don’t overwater them. Check your soil every few days – once it’s dry, about 2 inches down below the surface, it’s time to give your trees more water. If the plant turns yellow, you may be over-watering; let it dry out for a few days. If the leaves turn brown and fry at the tips, too much salt has accumulated in the soil. Let water run freely into the pot, and drain it for several minutes. As with most plants, make sure the soil drains well. Pinch the stem back every time your plant grows another six inches or so, in order to encourage a bushier appearance. To increase the humidity in the air for your avocado tree, take a spray bottle and mist the leaves with it. You can do this up to two times daily. If you live in a warm-enough climate, plant your tree outside once it is big enough. In time (we’re talking many years), it might actually bear fruit. Avocado trees grown from seed may produce fruit after about 3 years.

You can skip all this in order to fast forward a couple of years by buying a full-grown avocado plant instead.

one year old avocado tree
One year old avocado tree.

Avocado Tree Care

  1. Soil requirements - For long life and good health of the tree it is necessary providing a fine sandy loam with good drainage. It is better to have deep soils, but well-drained shallow soils are suitable if irrigation is frequent. Clay soils, or shallow soils with impermeable subsoils, should not be planted to avocados. Mulching avocados with a composted green-waste (predominantly chipped wood) is highly beneficial, but manures and mushroom composts are usually too high in salts and ammonia and can lead to excessive root burn and “tip-burn” in the leaves. Manures should never be added to the soil back-fill when planting a tree. Weeds should be controlled. Ornamentals and grass can be grown under avocados, but care must be taken to supply the trees with extra water and nitrogen. Cultivation should not be practiced under avocados because the feeder roots are shallow and will be cut or injured by rototillers and hoes.

  2. Fertilization - Due to the fact that nitrogen and zinc are often lacking in the soil, they must be replaced by the grower with either chemical fertilizer or mulch/composted manure. Nitrogen deficiency results in a general yellowing color in the foliage. Rates of application are from a quarter pound (young trees) to 1.5 – 2.0 lbs (mature trees) of actual nitrogen per tree per year. Fertilizers such as calcium ammonium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, urea or calcium nitrate are considered to help in the process of growing a healthy avocado tree. Ammonium sulfate is not used due to their tendency to make the soil even more acid. In other situations, other elements may be lacking. Iron deficiency (causing sharp green veins against a yellow background between the veins) is common in calcareous soils. Iron, manganese, zinc and copper can be applied as a foliar spray in the late spring to supply minor elements.

  3. Climate Requirements - In colder areas it is recommended to have a light bulb (to provide a small amount of heat) inside the canopy for protection during the night. Heat can also be supplied to the tree by running the water on the ground or through a mini-sprinkler all night. Avocados are also sensitive to wind, which can cause fruit drop and defoliation. Trees should be located in protected areas. The optimum temperature for growth is 25 to 28 °C. The humidity should preferably be above 60 %.

  4. Diseases - The most important disease of avocado is related to avocado root rot caused by the fungus Phytophthora Cinnamomi which is very common in home gardens. This disease is made worse by poorly drained soils. Planting young trees in mounds to increase drainage, application of gypsum to the soil and applications of wood-based mulches to the soil all help reduce the severity of disease. Also this disease is easily spread in water running down a hill from an infected tree above, or by mud on shoes, shovels, ladders and picking bins. It is important to use only clean equipment around new avocado trees.

  5. Irrigation - Irrigation is one the most important cultural operation. Its frequency is determined by feel of the soil (when a ball of soil starts to crumble in the hand) or by a tensiometer reading (usually 20cb to 25cb from a tensiometer set at 8” below to the soil surface in the wetted pattern of the sprinkler). It is important for the grower to know both frequency of irrigation and how much water to apply during an irrigation event. Frequent and relatively shallow irrigations (water penetrating at least 16” to 20” deep in the soil) are recommended sandy loam soils on the hillsides. Heavier soils require less frequent irrigation, but it is important that the shallow feeder roots not become excessively dry.

There is joy in growing this plant!

Why is avocado good for you?

The avocado is among the most healthful fruits rich in many essential vitamins and minerals. Some of the most abundant ones include:

  • Folate (B-9) which is important for normal cell function and tissue growth, and is essential for pregnant women.

  • Vitamin K-1: very important for blood clotting and may have benefits for bone health.

  • Potassium which is an essential mineral that is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart health Copper which may have adverse effects on heart health.

  • Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant.

  • Vitamin B-6: it helps convert food into energy (16Trusted Source).

  • Vitamin C: an antioxidant that is important for immune function and skin health.

Being high in folate, which falls into the family of B vitamins, avocado is good for everyone when it comes to regulating mood. How so? Homocysteine naturally forms in the body, but too much of this substance will block the production of serotonin and dopamine; these chemicals regulate mood, as well as encouraging restful sleep at night. Folate in avocados helps to prevent excessive amounts of homocysteine from forming in your body so that it can produce serotonin and dopamine. Therefore, you’re less risk from depression. Being able to sleep soundly and regularly can also mean healthier, happier mood, as you’re less fatigued and will have more energy after a good night’s sleep.

Research has associated an optimal intake of folate with a reduced risk of developing colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers. However, the mechanism behind this association remains unclear. Avocados also contain high levels of phytochemicals and carotenoids, which may have anticancer properties. Being high in fiber, they can help prevent constipation, maintain digestive tract health, and lower the risk of colon cancer. The avocado fruit promotes good gut health and microbial diversity which helps the body maintain a healthy bacterial balance by reducing inflammation and aggravation of the digestive tract.

Also in every 100 g of avocado there are 76 milligrams of a natural plant sterol called beta sitosterol which helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels making this fruit healthy for your heart while the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados may be beneficial in preventing chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.

Avocados are not only healthy and delicious, they can also be transformed into a beautiful plant with glossy and oval leaves.

Avocado trees are broad-leafed evergreens that grow as wide as they are tall, so give them their space. Moreover, they can be grown as houseplants if you don't live in a zone that stays above about 20 degrees

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