Where to grow avocados?

Avocados make everything taste better: eggs, sandwiches, salads, even desserts (well, according to some people). But as they can cost more than $2 a pop, it’s tempting to start growing these nutrient-packed, heart-healthy fruits — and yes, they’re fruits! — yourself.

First, the good news: Growing an avocado tree indoors is as simple as saving a leftover pit and gathering up a few common supplies. It’s an easy foray into gardening and pretty much the perfect low-cost science experiment to try with kids.

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Now, the not-so-great news: It can take anywhere from five to 13 years for avocado trees to start producing fruit (DARN, we know) and they rarely do so indoors. Now you know why those grocery store avos cost so much!

Alas, here’s how to grow your own avocado tree from a pit in five simple steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Avocado seed
  • Toothpicks
  • Drinking glass or jar
  • 10-inch pot
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel

How to Grow an Avocado Tree

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1. Save an avocado pit (without cutting or breaking it) and wash off any residue. Let dry, then insert 3-4 toothpicks about halfway up the side of the pit.

2. Suspend the pit broad end down in a drinking glass or jar. Fill the container with enough water to submerge the bottom third of the seed, the Missouri Botanical Garden advises.

3. Place the glass in a warm spot out of direct sunlight and change the water regularly. Roots and a sprout should appear in about 2-6 weeks. If not, start with another seed.

4. When the sprout gets about 6 inches tall, cut it back to about 3 inches to encourage more root growth.

5. Once the stem grows out again, plant the pit in an 10-inch pot filled with rich potting soil. Now it’s time to let your avocado tree grow, grow, grow!

Note: You can buy older trees instead of starting from scratch. Amazon sells grafted, 4-feet tall avocado trees that may yield fruit in 3-4 years instead of 10.

How to Care for an Avocado Tree

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Place the pot in a sunny spot and water lightly but often. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not sopping wet, California Avocados recommends. You can place the tree outdoors in the summer as long as temps stay above 45°F. Occasionally prune your plant (every 6 inches or so) to encourage fullness.

TIP: Yellow leaves signal you’re overwatering. Dial back to avoid root rot.

You can also plant avocado trees outside in USDA Zones 10-12, a.k.a., regions with no frost. They do best in rich, well-drained soil with full sun. Water 2-3 times per week by soaking the soil thoroughly and then letting it dry out before watering again.

What to Make With Avocados

Although your tree won’t produce fruit anytime soon, round out your green-thumb project with some avo-themed dishes from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen. First up: Our go-to classic guacamole recipe, with just the right amount of lime and jalapeño.

Don’t miss these other favorites that make avocado the star of the show:

Great Avocado Recipes

Charred Shrimp and Avocado Salad

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Avocado Salad With Spicy Granola

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Citrusy Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

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“Fried” Avocado Tacos

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How to Grow an Avocado Tree

Container-grown avocados do well indoors.

Caring for Your Avocado Trees

Once established, avocados are simple to care for. Their large, leathery, green leaves and attractive form make them beautiful houseplants and landscape trees, even when they’re fruitless. By providing your tree’s basic needs, you help ensure its beauty and future productivity.

Watering – Avocado roots need plenty of air, so avoid overwatering. Always let container soil dry out slightly, then water thoroughly to moisten the entire root ball. If your container tree moves outdoors for summer, it may need daily watering. Container plants dry out more quickly in sun and wind — and don’t forget to bring your plant indoors once temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in fall.

For landscape avocados, water the entire area beneath the tree’s canopy. Water deeply and thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before you water again. Most avocado roots stay in the top six inches of soil, which can dry out quickly. Newly planted trees may need water two to three times per week their first year. Mature avocado trees need water equal to about 2 inches of rainfall or irrigation each week during summer.1

Fertilizing – Avocados do best with plant foods designed specifically for avocados and citrus. They prefer fertilizers with higher amounts of nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium. That means that the first number in the N-P-K ratio on your fertilizer label should be higher than the other two.

Pennington UltraGreen Citrus & Avocado Plant Food 10-5-5 provides avocados with an ideal blend of primary nutrients plus added micronutrients, including zinc and iron, which are especially important to avocado health and growth. This premium fertilizer starts feeding immediately, then continues feeding your tree for up to four months.

Feed container avocados every 12 to 16 weeks, according to label rates based on the container size. For outdoor landscape avocados, feed in late winter, midsummer and again in early fall, according to the recommended label rate based on the tree’s age.

Avocado Plants ~ How to Grow an Avocado Tree Indoors or in Your Garden

Avocado trees have a long history of cultivation in Central and South America, likely going back as far as 5,000 BC. The avocado is considered one of the healthiest and tastiest fruits on the planet (avocados are actually just a big berry, containing a single large seed). The avocado’s rich, creamy inside is filled with nutrition and flavor, and growing your own avocado tree is a fun adventure for any gardener. At Logee’s, we currently offer the following two avocado plants for sale that are customer favorites:

1 – Avocado ‘Day’ (Persea americana)

Native to Mexico and Central America, Avocado ‘Day’ is one of the easiest avocados to fruit in a pot. These avocado trees will fruit at about 3’ tall producing a medium-sized, tapered-neck avocado that is easy to peel, with a delicious, buttery sweet taste:

The fruit holds on the plant for six months with ripening occurring from July to September. Each fruit weighs about 1 pound. Another plus for Avocado ‘Day’ is its cold tolerance, being able to handle temperatures down into the mid twenties. We sell grafted plants that will start bearing fruit in 2 to 3 years.
⇨ Learn more about Avocado ‘Day’

2 – Avocado ‘Oro Negro’

Also known as ‘Black Gold,’ this popular avocado tree is a vigorous grower producing 1 to 2 pound fruit that ripens in the winter:

The shiny, black fruit has a rich, creamy flavor and a high healthy oil content. It originated in South Florida as a sport, a plant mutation that’s different from the parent variety, and is now highly sought after for its delicious fruit. We are excited to offer this rare, hard-to-find variety to our customers. Don’t hesitate, as supplies of this avocado tree are very limited. This is a grafted tree that blooms and fruits sooner.
⇨ Learn more about Avocado ‘Oro Negro’

Growing Avocado Plants & Trees

When left on their own, avocados can grow upwards of 20′ tall. Judicious pruning can restrict the height significantly and this is often done in commercial plantings for ease of harvest and spraying. As a container plant, the height of the avocado tree is restricted by the size of the container as well as pruning. The cycle of growth begins in winter to early spring with the expanding and opening of flower buds. In northern greenhouses and sunrooms, this starts before the end of December and continues until late winter or early spring depending on the variety.

Flowering Time
Flowering time is related to growing temperatures and day length. Grafted varieties flower quickly, usually the first year. These young plants, however, aren’t mature enough for fruit to hold onto the tree so the young fruit will often fall off. This happens until the plant is large enough to bear fruit.

Fruiting an Avocado
As container plants, trees need to get to 6-8′ tall with a trunk caliber of 1.5″- 2″ before they will set fruit. This requires a large, 24″ pot (15 to 25 gallon). It takes a few years for young grafted plants to reach this size.

Avocado Tree Growth
Once the flowering cycle is finished, plants return to vegetative growth over the spring and summer months. Healthy plants, even in pots, can put on 2′ or more on the strong upright branches. During the mid to late summer’s growth, the plant will form flower buds, and although they are not visible, they swell as the fall and winter season approaches, and the cycle begins over again.

Pruning an Avocado Plant
Pruning right after the flowering cycle is complete will give the least disruption to the flower bud formation. Generally, plants are pruned back at this time making strategic cuts that lessen the height and width of the tree but trying not to disturb the shorter lateral branches where most of the flowers and the fruit will form.

What type of container is best for an avocado plant?
Terracotta containers are porous and allow the roots to have better aeration. This causes the soil to dry quicker thus reducing potential pathogens. Plastic pots can be used as long as a well drained potting media is used. You can increase soil drainage by adding more perlite or sand to the mix.

Fertilizing Your Avocado Plant

Liquid Fertilizer
In containers, avocados are moderate feeders. It is best to use a balanced fertilizer with a slightly elevated middle number (phosphate) like 7-9-5. We recommend Dyna-Gro Grow Plant Food 7-9-5:

Feeding can be done through irrigation. When you water, add small amounts of liquid fertilizer once a week or every two weeks during the active growing season. Remember the more often you fertilize container grown avocado plants, you need to reduce the amount of fertilizer that’s added to the water. For example, if you fertilize every week, add 1/4 tsp per gallon or if you fertilize every two weeks, add 1/2 tsp per gallon.

Top Dress Fertilizer
Another option is to use a slow release fertilizer that is sprinkled or top dressed on the surface of the soil. These typically last for 3-6 months and release fertilizer slowly into the pot. Use slow release fertilizer in the spring or early summer so the fertilizer dosage will taper off before the onset of cold weather and the plant will have time to harden off for winter.

Granular Organic Fertilizer
You can also use a granular organic fertilizer which, like the slow release, is sprinkled on the soil surface and allowed to leach into the potting mix. Organic fertilizers generally have a slow release component to them and so only a couple applications are needed per season. We recommend Dr. Earth Organic Citrus, Avocado and Fruit Tree Fertilizer:

Fertilizer Caution
Like any plant, avocado plants can be over fertilized. This results in excessive lush leaf growth, burned foliage, and reduces fruiting potential, as well as aggravating the root disease issue. If you have used too much fertilizer, it is important to leach the fertilizer out of the soil by watering the plant continuously until you see water flowing out the bottom of the pot. Do this for several minutes.

Caring for Your Avocado Tree

Growing Avocado Plants in a Container
If you live in planting zones 9-10, avocado trees can be planted in your outdoor garden or landscape. For customers in colder zones, we recommend using a large container (15-25 gallon pot) for a mature avocado tree. It’s best to move the plant outside during the warm spring, summer and fall months when temperatures are above 40°F and danger of frost has past. Avocado plants thrive in natural sunlight since it stimulates healthy growth, flowering and fruiting. During cooler months, avocado trees need to be brought inside until warm weather returns. Keep the plant in a sunny, warm location until it can go back outside the following spring.

Sensitive Root System
One of the problems with container grown avocado plants is root rot. As is the case with most root disease, the cold damp conditions of winter often initiate the problem. Be sure to keep the plant’s root system warm during cooler temperatures. Once soil disease organisms affect the root system, it is very hard to return the plant to health.

Manage Soil Moisture in Winter
When growing plants that are going to winter over in a northern greenhouse, conservatory or sunroom, where the night temperatures are below 60˙F, it’s important to manage the soil moisture accurately. Bring the potting media to almost dryness, and then thoroughly soak the soil. A little wilt is better than constant soil moisture. The organisms that cause the root collapse thrive in damp cool soil and don’t proliferate under dry conditions.

Potted Avocado Plant Pests
In northern climate culture, few insects bother the plants with the exception of mealy bugs and they are generally not much of an issue.

Insects to Look for if Avocado Trees are Grown in the Garden
In areas where avocados are grown outside year-round, there are different pests that do affect the plants; some of which are mites, thrip and fungi. If you live in an avocado growing area, it is best to check with your local agricultural extension agent for pest problems and recommended controls in your area.

Growing Avocado Trees – Summary

Avocado trees are both rewarding and challenging to grow as container plants. The more time your plant spends outside in natural sunlight and outdoor conditions, the healthier it will be. (If you have limited light available, you may have better success with some of our popular low-light houseplants.) If grown as a container plant inside during the winter months, maintain warm soil temperatures to prevent root diseases. Attentive plant care will ensure that your avocado tree will start producing fruit within a few years for you to enjoy. You can learn more about our avocado plants, and how to grow avocado trees by exploring the links below:

• Avocado ‘Day’

• Avocado ‘Oro Negro’

• Dr. Earth Organic Citrus, Avocado and Fruit Tree Fertilizer

• Dyna-Gro Grow Plant Food 7-9-5

Download Our Avocado Plant PDF care sheet

• Caring for Grafted Plants-Article

Last Updated: 10/31/2019

Size and Height of Full-Grown Avocado Trees

The Natural Size of Avocado Trees

How big a fully grown avocado tree becomes depends on several factors. These include:

  • The variety of avocado: Some varieties grow bigger than others.
  • The type of rootstock: One variety of avocado can be grafted onto the rootstock of a different variety, and this affects the ultimate size of the tree.
  • Pruning: Trees can be kept smaller by pruning.
  • Soil type and fertilizing: Soil quality, drainage, and fertilization affect tree size.
  • Irrigation: How much and how often the tree is watered influences the size of the tree.

Most varieties of avocado tree grow to 40 feet (12.2 m) in height, unless they are pruned for size, and there are even some individual trees, growing in optimum conditions, reaching up to 60 feet (18.2 m) high.

In addition, avocado trees have a spreading growth habit and naturally branch out, covering a circular area of a diameter of 30 feet (9.1 m). Because of this, avocado trees should be planted with a minimum of 15 feet (4.6 m) of space between trees so all branches receive adequate sunlight.

Pruning Avocado Trees to Keep Them Small

Many home gardeners and commercial avocado growers prune trees to keep them smaller. Pruning is done in winter or early spring by selectively removing or cutting back branches.

However, the amount of fruit an avocado tree produces is directly affected by how many leaves it has, so pruning must be done carefully, regularly, and at the right time of year in order to keep the tree growing vigorously while also keeping it to a smaller size.

Pruning trees to keep them smaller also makes fruit harvesting easier.

Planting a Dwarf Avocado Variety

There are many varieties of avocado, but only one is a true dwarf variety: the Wurtz, or Little Cado type.

Little Cado is a hybrid of Mexican and Guatemalan varieties of avocado and naturally only grows to about to about 10 feet (3.1 m) in height. While it is small in size, the Little Cado avocado variety produces abundant amounts of fruit when grown in optimum conditions, and grafted trees can produce fruit in only a few years.

Little Cado can be grown outdoors in the ground, and it is also a variety suitable for growing in containers in a sunny location in the house or in a greenhouse.

How to Grow an Avocado Tree

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The avocado has been having a moment for a while now, although with its ubiquitous presence on menus and in grocery stores across the country, the popularity of the avocado is looking less like a moment, and more like an era. We can’t help but wish that they were even more accessible—just imagine being able to pluck ripe avocados from trees in your own backyard! That’s one reason why everyone seems to want to plant their own avocado trees lately. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and tricks for how to grow your own avocado trees. Read on for Avocado Care 101.

Avocado Basics

The avocado is an evergreen tree in the Lauraceae family. It’s native to Mexico and Central and South America, and it produces a delicious, tropical fruit that’s used in a wide variety preparations and cooking styles. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, “Three races of avocado (Persea Americana) are grown, and numerous hybrids among them exist. In Florida, the Mexican (the hardiest, often surviving to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) is grown in the colder parts of central Florida, while the Guatemalan (hardy to 21-25 degrees Fahrenheit) and the West Indian (the most tropical type, often perishing in temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit) and their hybrids are cultivated southward.” When picking an avocado tree to plant, be sure to choose a selection resistant to scab disease, which can be an issue for avocado trees grown in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.

Avocado Growing Season

Most avocado tree species are at their peak between August and November, but depending on the variety, avocado growing seasons vary slightly. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, “Plants bloom in late winter, and pollination is complex. Most types will produce some fruit if grown alone, but production is heavier when two or more selections are planted. Fruit ripens from summer into winter.”

Planting an Avocado Tree

Once you’ve chosen a tree to plant, you’ll want to create an environment that will help the planting thrive. The Southern Living Garden Book says, “When planting an avocado tree in the landscape, consider that most selections will eventually grow quite large (to 40 ft.), produce dense shade, and shed leaves all year. Growth is quite rapid, but plants may be shaped by pinching terminal shoots. Avocado takes well to container culture, and selections in marginal climates can be moved to a protected location during cold spells.”

Avocado Tree Care

After they’re planted and established, you’ll want to give your avocado trees appropriate care. When planted, avocado trees require full sun and regular water. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, “All avocado trees require good drainage; constantly wet soil encourages fatal root rot. Tree is shallow rooted; do not cultivate deeply. In the absence of rainfall, irrigate lightly and frequently enough to keep soil moist but not wet.” When creating this environment, a mulch can be helpful, and you can enlist the help of the tree’s own fallen leaves to make a suitable mulch at the base of the tree.

Happy planting! If you’re curious about how to make the most of your avocados, check out 5 Things Avocado Fans Need to Know and The One Trick to Know When Picking Out Avocados. Also be sure to bookmark some of our favorite avocado recipes, including Avocado Fritters with Lime Cream and 25 Ways with Avocado.

WATCH: 5 Things You Should Refrigerate (But Probably Aren’t)

Will you be planting avocado trees in your garden this year? Let us know what plans you’re developing for your garden in the seasons to come.

Growing Avocado from Seed

SERIES 30 | Episode 19

Well, often the answer is “yes you can, but why would you bother”? The reason for this response is that the Avocado (Persea americana cv.) tree grown from seed is unlikely to ever bare loads of fruit, if it fruits at all. But Millie reckons you should, because Avocado trees make fantastic, attractive indoor plants, or potted plants for scattering about the garden! Plus, they’re dead-easy to grow from seed, and we all have a couple of those rolling around!

Materials Required

  • Avocado seed
  • Large jar
  • Toothpicks
  • Water

Method

  1. Push three toothpicks into different points at the sides of the seed at slight angles. (These will be used to “suspend” the seed at the jar top.)
  2. With the “pointy end” of the seed facing upwards, rest the seed on over the opening of the jar.
  3. Fill the jar with water, ensuring the seed is covered to about half-way up.
  4. Place jar in bright spot, out of direct sunlight.
  5. In warm months, the seed should germinate within 6-8 weeks.
  6. Once a shoot has emerged from the top of the seed, you can remove the seed from water, gently remove the toothpicks and plant into a pot.

Avocado-Lime Mason Jar Salad

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.

Place the sweetcorn in a medium saucepan over a high heat, cover with water, and add a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sweetcorn is easily pierced with a fork. Drain and, when cooled to the touch, slice the kernels off the cobs.

Make the dressing. Combine the coriander, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil, lime juice, and avocado in a food processor and pulse until creamy. One tablespoon at a time, add some room-temperature water until the dressing reaches the desired consistency, pulsing after every addition.

Place one quarter of the dressing at the bottom of four 450g preserving jars and add a serving of chicken. Then layer in the peppers, olives, and the sweetcorn kernels. Finally, top each jar with some of the courgette noodles. Place tops on the jars and refrigerate for up to 1 day or serve at room temperature within 3 hours.

Tip: avocados brown quickly, so if you’re making this dish in advance, prepare everything except the dressing. Assemble the dressing right before serving.

Nutritional information

Serving size: 1 jar. Calories: 331, Fat: 24g, Carbohydrates: 18g, Salt: 0.2g, Protein: 16g, Sugar: 6g