Growing avocados from seed is easy and they grow true to type
Summer is coming to a close, but that doesn't mean you can't take some of the summer with you into fall.
As gardeners, we are very aware of the seasonal fruit and vegetables we grow and consume, and even though year-round produce is always available in the grocery stores, it's immensely more enjoyable and satisfying to grow our own.
So if you enjoy avocados all summer long, with their creamy smooth texture and flavor as much as most people do, here is a way to grown them yourself and have your own tree that can be put indoors during the cold weather months and then put back out in the spring.
One of the best parts of this entire process is that avocado trees are easily grown from seed and they reproduce virtually true to type. Meaning that if you plant a Hass avocado, that's what you are going to get; something that doesn't always happen when you propagate plants via seed.
OK, so let's get started.
The Best Way To Propagate An Avocado
There are many ways to propagate and grow avocados, and growing avocados from seed, usually brings to mind a school project of sticking toothpicks into an avocado pit and then putting it in water.
That's fine, it can work, but there is a better way to do it, because when roots are grown in water and then transplanted into soil, they don't always do very well. Also, not all avocado seeds will germinate this way.
So let's sidestep these problems and grow them in soil to begin with. The following process is fast, easy and works really well.
How To Plant An Avocado Seed Step-By-Step
1. Choose a healthy, undamaged seed
2. Soak it in hot water 106° to 130°F (40° to 52°C) for 30 minutes. This will help stop any infection from avocado root rot.
3. Cut a thin slice - about 1/2 inch (1 cm) - from the pointed end with a sharp knife
4. Then dip the wound in a fungicide
5. Sow the seed in a 6 inch (15 cm) pot of sandy soil with the cut end slightly above the soil surface
6. Place it in a warm location 65°F (18°C) or warmer in bright, but indirect sunlight
7. Keep moist, but not wet, or else it will rot
8. Germination takes about 3 to 4 weeks
9. The seedling can be grown on in a container until it is about 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) tall, then it should be ready to be moved to its final location, or potted up into a larger container
Where To Plant And Care
Now that you have a healthy seedling, you need to plant it up either in a container or out in the garden, if you live in a warm climate.
Avocados generally take cold down to 30°F (-1°C) and after that they will get frost damage. Some avocados like a Zutano or Mexicola will take down to 20°F (-7°C), but for most areas that is a pretty warm winter.
If you live in a cold weather area that gets well below freezing in the winter, then plan to pot your seedling up in a container and plan to move it to a sheltered location during the colder months of the year.
Always plant avocados where they will get full sun, and in well-drained soil. They don't like wet feet, so allow the soil to dry a bit in between waterings.
Young trees need only light feeding so only feed twice - once in the spring and once in the summer with a good avocado-citrus fertilizer, which can be found at any garden supply center.
When planting in a container you will have to increase the container size as the tree matures, but the size of the tree can be controlled by regular pruning, plus there are dwarf varieties that do well in containers too.
You will eventually have your tree in a large wine barrel or other large pot, so plan to have that container on wheels so it can be moved easily when needed.
Note: Seed raised trees start to bear fruit when they are between 5 and 7 years old.
In order to get fruit you will normally have to have two different varieties. Avocado varieties have flowers that are categorized as either type A or type B, depending upon on the time of day they open when, and when pollen is released.
Although many single trees do produce fruit, you are better off having one of each type.
Type A Flower:
Type B Flower:
So if you're one of those people that just love summer, and you love avocados, now you have a way to hang onto both!
And while it will take time for your tree to produce its first fruit, as a gardener, just growing the tree in anticipation is usually just as much fun as eating the final product.
The writer is a member of the National Garden Writers Association, a nationally published writer, and a certified organic grower. She regularly speaks and writes about all gardening related topics, with an emphasis on making gardening a successful and enjoyable process for anyone who wants to learn. Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine concentrates of giving detailed gardening tips and gardening advice to all levels of gardeners.