The next time you make guacamole or avocado toast, spare a second before you throw out the seed of this popular fruit. You may just be able to grow out a tree from that tiny pit. It’s a simple process and a fun project for the entire family to take part in. You can treat it as your next solo gardening project, or you can use the opportunity to teach your kids about seed germination and plant growth.
Note: Avocado pits from commercially grown avocados don’t normally produce fruit. If you want a fruit bearing tree, try getting an already grafted plant from a trusted nursery.
Benefits Of Growing An Avocado Tree
- They have a large canopy of uninterrupted foliage which provides great shade for your backyard
- They bear lots of flowers even if they don’t bear fruit. This makes them an aesthetically pleasing addition to one’s garden.
- They can even be grown indoors with the right pruning techniques, making them a cheap alternative to buying indoor plants.
How To Grow Out The Pit
- When cutting open the avocado, do so as you normally would, but use a little bit more caution so as to avoid damaging the seed.
- Use a spoon to scoop it out rather than the knife.
- Wash the seed to get rid of any flesh.
- Now insert 4 toothpicks into the middle section or the “equator” of the seed, at equal intervals
- Let them penetrate the seed only enough to give you a firm hold.
- Now suspend the seed in the glass of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim of the glass.
- The wider broad base should be facing downwards and submerged by only an inch of water. This is where the roots will emerge from.
- Make sure to change the water every day to prevent things like fungi and bacteria contaminating the seed.
- Continue to change the water for 2-3 weeks.
What You Should See
The brown skin should wrinkle and dry off. You will also see the tap root growing from the bottom. Give it some more time where you continue to change the water daily and you will see shoots sprout from the top of the seed.
Transferring To A Pot
- Once the stem reaches 6-7 inches, cut it back down to 3 inches. Then wait for the root to grow thick and sturdy and the shoots to grow back to original height.
- You can now transfer the seed to a container with compost-rich soil. The pot should be about 10 and ½ inches in diameter.
- It is best to prepare the pot with a bottom layer of rocks, then follow it with coir and then finally the top soil. This allows water to drain off easily.
- Make sure the top soil is compost-rich.
- Pack it slightly and smooth it over.
- Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate your plant’s roots and pit.
- Now transfer your plant in carefully.
- Leave the seed partially exposed and water the plant well. The soil should be moist but not saturated.
- Make sure the soil drains of water properly.
Maintaining Your House Plant
- Re-pot the plant in bigger containers as it grows.
- You will need to prune the plant regularly to force it to branch out rather than grow upwards.
- Ordinary fertilizer will do to keep it healthy and nourished.
- Make sure it gets plenty of sunlight.
- If you notice the leaves turning yellow, stop watering it for a day or two
- If you notice the leaves starting to dry out, increase the amount of water you give your plant
- The plant will not do well in frost or extremely cold weather so keep in indoors during the winter months.
Growing Out The Tree
- You should plant your tree during the spring to get the best results.
- Make sure the area is well drained and is clear of other trees that might compete.
- The area should get plenty of uninterrupted sunlight.
- Once the tree has established roots, it needs plenty of water.
- The tree also needs nitrogen and zinc as fertilizer every so often.
- Make sure to prune the branches that are thin and spindly.
- Encourage branch growth outward by pruning shoots that grow upward.
Factors To Pay Attention To
- Water level: Avocado trees are native to a subtropical environment and need lots of water. But make sure that it is well-drained soil.
- Soil pH and composition: Soil pH should ideally be around 6.6. It is better not to use soil that is clay-like as it will hold too much water.
- Pruning: The tree needs regular pruning and tending to remove weak branches and remain healthy.
If you did purchase a grafted variety and are looking for it to bear fruit, consider planting two trees. This will increase the chances. Make sure to plant the saplings 10-12 meters apart. They may bear fruit within 3-4 years. The fruit does not ripen on the tree so make sure they are mature by picking a fruit every so often and letting it ripen before sampling. This way you will know when the fruit tastes best.
Caution: The branches are not strong, so do not try to hang things like swings or hammocks off of them.
With regular tending and maintenance, you can enjoy the shade of a beautiful avocado tree in your backyard.