Growing an avocado tree from seed?

Don’t even try to grow an avocado tree from the pit if the pit isn’t already naturally cracked (as opposed to you cracking / cutting it) when you open the avocado.  It has never worked for me unless the pit is cracked, and I find the most cracked pits in the month of July.

Avocado with the pit already cracked.

Avocado with the pit already cracked.

Then, take the pit out, gently clean off all the avocado from it. With the more rounded (or less pointy) side of the pit down, press three toothpicks (evenly spaced, horizontally) around the avocado to be able to support it in a glass of water (see below).  Don’t fill the water up over the toothpicks, or they will rot and will not support the avocado pit.  Within a few days to a few weeks, a taproot will start to grow (see below).  During this time, make sure the water level is consistent.  It must always touch and cover a little bit of the bottom of the pit.

Taproot starting to grow.

Taproot starting to grow.

By the way, those little things hanging out of the bottom of the pit are not roots.  I always thought they were when I first started trying to grow avocados and I’d be so initially encouraged by seeing them on the pit.  You can see in the picture the tap root is white and much heartier.

Nicely established roots.

Nicely established roots.

When your plant has nicely established roots, you can plant it in dirt.  I usually use a mix of 1/2 compost from the Union Square Farmers Market and 1/2 Coast of Maine potting soil.  I have made the mistake many times of planting in too big of a pot.  Don’t do this!  Avocados like to dry out completely between waterings and if they are in too big of a pot in the beginning, they can’t do this.  Also, don’t water it too heavily in the beginning.  I have made this mistake plenty of times, too.

However, I have had some great success.

Xavier, at nearly two years of age.

Xavier, at nearly two years of age.

My largest avocado tree is Xavier (we named all of our plants after finding really cute plant signs in the dollar bin at Target one year).  He is now about 7 feet tall and growing steadily.  He loses a lot of leaves in the winter, but he must be healthy as I just had blooms a few weeks ago!

Avocado blooms

Avocado buds

Nothing came of them, though.  I shook the plant, blew on the open blooms, but either Xavier wasn’t self-pollinating or I didn’t do a good enough job.  Oh well, I’ve got five other avocado trees that are up and coming!

Also of interest: Should I prune my avocado tree?   How do you grow a mango tree?


19 Responses to Growing an avocado tree from seed?

  1. […] Also of interest: Growing an avocado tree from seed? […]

  2. nfroio says:

    I am massively impressed with your tree! I just started three seeds, and they are coming along nicely.

    As you probably have also found, they grow at whatever rate they feel like growing, one is about 2′ tall, the other, just starting to put out nice roots into the jar of water, and the new stalk is just forming.

    My blog is solely devoted to their progress, with a goal of totally debunking the myth that store bought avocados cannot produce edible fruit.

    What variety of avo are your trees from? I am using Hass avo’s, 2 were grown in Mexico, and the other (most recent) was grown in Chile. All are organic.

    You definitely gave me a huge boost of confidence with your beautiful photo of Xavier!

  3. […] SEE:  How to grow an avocado tree from seed and How do you grow a mango […]

  4. BM R. says:

    Beautiful tree!!! I have a row of jars with avocado pits in them on my window shelf. My first successful one, like you said, came from the pit that already cracked and started to root when I cut open my avocado with my daughter. The other dozen didn’t do anything but sitting there… One day, I didn’t have a jar readily available, so I stuck another pit into the soil in the pot of my first successful one, almost one-foot tall at that time. After a couple of weeks, I didn’t see anything happened so I pulled that pit out of the soil to throw away. To my surprise, there was a root about 2 inches already came out. I was worried it wouldn’t survive if I put it back in the soil, so I did the toothpick-water-jar trick. Now, 2 weeks later, the root is growing and curving around in the jar.
    I really want to prune like you told, but I don’t know if I have the heart to do it. I usually don’t have much luck in growing any trees/plants/flowers. My kids call me plant killer. So, with this one success, I’m so scared to cut it. Also, what did you do with the part that you cut? 🙂

    I see your Xavier has all the leaves looking perfect to the tip. Mine was that way until recently, some of the leaves turned brown at the tips. I don’t know what happened. Do you have any idea? Thank you for posting!!

    • Alison Syntk says:

      Hi BM R. and thanks for reading and commenting! Congratulations on your successful avocado tree! You’re going to have to prune sooner or later, or your tree is unlikely to survive (at least that’s what I found in my many attempts). However, wait until your tree has quite a bit of leaves and is at least a foot tall. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I did a post on pruning. I composted the part I cut off – well actually, I did press some of the leaves, because they were beautiful (you know, when you put leaves — no stem — between to sheets of wax paper and in the pages of a heavy book until the leaves are completely flat and dried). Your other question – about the brown tips… Xavier does have the brown tips as well. Part of that could be because of a build up of salts in your soil. Take your plant into a well drained area, like outside or a shower and just keep watering it with a ton of water to kind of “rinse” out the soil. That will help. Something else that might help is to make sure your plant dries out between waterings. Also, the brown tips may be seasonal. I definitely see them more in the winter (along with a lot of leaves falling).

  5. That tree is gorgeous! I just started my first already-cracked pit. I have two others that have been held up by toothpicks in glasses of water, but I’m excited to see if the already-cracked one actually does something.

    • Alison Syntk says:

      Thanks! How is your tree coming along?

      • It finally has roots and about a seven inch stem!! I’m excited because I’ve never ever gotten an avocado this far. The pit is still attached and it’s suspended by mini skewers in water. When should I think about putting it in soil, and do I need to prune the stem back yet? The stem is long but the leaves are still starting to emerge.

      • Alison Syntk says:

        Hi SJG. I would think you can plant that pit at any time. You can leave the pit alone. It will dry up completely and fall off the stem when the plant isn’t using it anymore. Plant it in a pot between 6-8″ in diameter (I’m guessing – use your judgement), and have the dirt cover the roots completely, and only half-cover the pit (if it is still attached). Don’t prune until you have many leaves (like in the photo on my pruning your avocado post page). Good luck!!!

  6. مسعود says:

    thats amazing. do you use any kind of fertilizer for your avacado plant?

  7. jalexartis says:

    Hi Alison,

    Xavier is stunning and beautiful. Being an avocado makes it more special. You have done a masterful job. Thanks for sharing.

    I tried the toothpick & jar method last summer. I got roots; but, for some reason the avocado did not live. I read one can start a tree by placing a pit in soil. I did and have a nicely growing tree –now about 3 months old. I have many pictures and articles in my blog–pictures also on Flickr.

    As I read your advice, it seems I should wait until summer to prune. I certainly thought I should have more leaves. I now have a batch of 10 new ones. I have the plant under a grow light. It seems to like it.

    It remains in the pot where I placed the pit. The pot is too large, but do not want to transplant yet. What do you recommend?

    My goal is to have a avocado tree that looks similar to Xavier. He has lots of character. I am following your blog and look forward to your new avocado post. Again, thanks for sharing!


    • Alison Syntk says:

      Hi Jalexartis! Don’t wait until summer to prune. I’m not an expert, and I’m figuring this out as I go along, but I am right now writing an update on Xavier, because I did a HUGE amount of pruning last winter, and it worked out really well! Just give me a few minutes here and I’ll have the post up and you’ll see that it went well! Oh, and as far as your question went, I’d say leave your tree in the big pot so as not to disturb those young, growing roots. However, water very lightly so that the soil can still dry out within about two days. If you see the leaves wilt from dryness, though, you’ll have to water just a bit more. At least from my experience (I’m no expert), it seems like Xavier has suffered more from overwatering than from being too dry (and his leaves tell me immediately when he’s too dry). I hope this helps!

      • jalexartis says:

        Thanks Alison for the information.

        Mercedes [the name I’ve given her] seems to be doing okay. Without pruning her, I have 6 branches [new limbs]. Five of them in the last growth spurt. Not all the leaves survived though. I have no idea why.

        I have also had the plant drop leaves that are about 2 months old. I do not know why either. I have not had leave dry out.

        I water thoroughly [until water drains through] about every two weeks or until the top soil dries out. She seems well with that. I watch the leaves carefully. If a detect a little droop as I an watching the soil, I water.

        Mercedes stand a bout 2-feet tall now. I read as much as I can and try to apply my plant knowledge.

        I just wish I could determine if leaf drop is normal or not. I expect those leaves will eventually be replaced.

        Last I saw Xavier, he really look healthy, What you are doing is working for him.

        I will post new picture of my avocado plant tomorrow night. I’m now on a 1st on the month update. That gives enough time to really see change.

        Thanks and your reply is helpful.


  8. […] How to grow an avocado tree from seed […]

  9. I’ve started four avocado trees all from uncracked seeds–I’ve had zero failures

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