If you’re like most people, you love avocados. They’re delicious, nutritious, and versatile. But did you know that you can grow your own avocado tree at home?
It takes a bit of patience, but the end result is more than worth it.
Stop, guac, roll… and read on.
This article gives you the growing essentials so that you can properly prepare for avocado season (it’s always avocado season).
Know Your Avocado Varieties
Growing avocados is a rewarding endeavor, and knowing a bit about avocados can really help you maximize the prize.
To start, there are two primary types of avocados.
Type A avocados typically have a higher oil content, while Type B avocados have a lower oil content.
Type A varieties include Hass avocados, Gwen, Lamb-Hass, Wurtz Avocados (Little Cado), Reed, and Pinkerton.
Type B varieties include Zutano, Sir Prize, Bacon, Sharwil, Fuerte, and Ettinger.
The biggest differences between Type A and Type B avocados have to do with flower type, so we won’t dive too deep into that in this guide.
However, there are some pretty great online resources that walk you through the finer details of what makes each type different or more beneficial, depending on the situation.
Choosing the Right Avocado Tree (Ideal Growing Conditions)
Growing avocado trees is exciting. It’s even more exciting when your trees are thriving and producing mouth-watering avocados.
And for most people, there’s nothing more rewarding than carefully selecting, cultivating, and nurturing your avocado tree from start to finish.
But this adventure won’t be easy. If you want a fruitful crop, you need to choose the right type of avocado tree for where you live and the care conditions you can provide.
There are several varieties with varying climate preferences, so knowing which one works best for you will go a long way in caring for your new plant and guaranteeing success.
Regardless of the variety, avocados generally like the following growing conditions.
In general, avocado trees prefer loose, rich, and well-draining soil.
Your typical avocado tree soil is composed of limestone, loam, sand, and granite. These soils also often contain peat moss and other types of organic matter – which helps drive the soil pH to a slightly acidic level.
These soil mixtures will provide a solid foundation for your tree to thrive while providing all of the best primary and secondary nutrients. Sandy soil also helps improve drainage, so something like a heavy clay soil is bad news for avocado trees.
You can optimize your avocado tree’s growth by planting it in a large pot with one or two drainage holes and filled with high-quality potting soil. The additional drainage and growing space will let their fast drainage soil purge, allowing efficient root growth while preventing the root system from rotting.
It is also important to note that avocado plants grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.0 and 7.0, but they will tolerate both acidic and alkaline soils to a degree.
Avocado trees like full-sun conditions and need direct sunlight, receiving at least 6 hours of sun a day.
If you want your avocado tree to thrive, you should place it in an area where it will receive full to partial sunlight, and if you plan to grow your avocado indoors, it would be best to ensure that it is placed by a large, sunny window.
Further, if you live in a cold area and have to bring your avocado tree indoors during the winter months, be sure to keep it in a sunny, preferably insulated room.
As a general rule of thumb, avocado trees need regular watering and a solid amount of moderate humidity to stay healthy.
Depending on your climate, you may need to water your avocado tree once or twice a week with a deep watering – that will depend on the climate and weather conditions in your area.
Be sure to water your avocado plants with enough water at room temperature, as too much cold water can shock shallow roots.
As long as the temperatures aren’t scorching, your tree shouldn’t need gallons and gallons of water – though they can do with the occasional deep soak.
Try to keep the air in the room at around 70-80% humidity, which you can do with a small humidifier and temperature control.
Climate (USDA Hardiness Zones)
The USDA hardiness zone of an area is determined by the average low temperature in that zone.
Since avocado trees are tropical trees that require warm temperatures to stay healthy and produce fruit, you will need to consider which zone you are in if you plan to grow avocados outdoors.
Generally speaking, avocado plants can be grown well in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness zones 9-11.
Many places in southern California offer the perfect climate for growing avocados outdoors, but avocado trees grow well all the way into Central America and South America, like tropical pineapples and many other tropical plants and citrus trees.
How Long Do Avocados Take to Grow?
Avocado growing has become a popular trend in recent years, and backyard and indoor gardeners often want to know, “how long does it take to grow avocados?”
Avocado trees can reach maturity in as little as three years, but more often than not, it takes five to thirteen years from the time you plant an avocado seedling. That’s a long time to wait for a few avocados for some people.
Avocado pits – the center of the fruit – often take longer, roughly four-to-six weeks before sprouting.
Avocado plants require full sunlight, moderately moist soil, and protection from excessive winds to yield healthy crops.
Because growing an avocado tree from a pit is a long process, some prefer purchasing pre-grown trees or avocado seedlings.
If you’d rather purchase an established tree, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one at the ideal size for your space, as growing avocados is such a popular gardening hobby.
Young trees usually reach maturity in three years, while mature trees may take a lot longer – sometimes up to five years.
If you select a grafted tree, you can expect your avocado to bear fruit closer to two years after planting.
How to Sprout Avocado Pits
It’s good to know that avocados aren’t the fastest-growing plants. It will take about 4 to 6 weeks just for your avocado seeds to develop roots and sprout, and it can take several years to have yourself a fruit-bearing tree.
The roots are the first to grow from an avocado seed, which appear around the flat end of the pit. After the feeder roots, you should see a sprout or stem, which will continue to grow throughout the first year!
Here is a simplified step-by-step guide to sprouting an avocado pit:
1. Remove and Wash the Pit
The first step is to carefully remove the pit from the avocado (an easy way to remove it is with a sharp knife). Gently scrub away any remaining fruit with a soft brush or damp paper towel and rinse it with lukewarm water, being sure to not remove the brown skin of the pit (that’s what is covering the seed).
2. Dry the Pit
Once you have cleaned off your avocado pit, let it dry for a day or two. This will help the pit to form a hard shell that will protect it as it starts to grow.
3. Insert Toothpicks in the Pit
Take three or four toothpicks and gently insert them into the pit. Space them evenly around the circumference of the seed so that when you suspend it over a glass of water, they will help hold it in place.
4. Suspend the Pit over a Jar of Water
Fill a glass or bowl with lukewarm water and suspend the pit in it by resting the toothpicks evenly on the edge of the container. Make sure that only the top couple of inches of soil cover the pit, and keep adding water as needed to maintain this level throughout the germination process.
5. Place the Pit in a Warm Spot with Plenty of Sunlight
Place the glass or bowl containing your suspended pit in a warm place with plenty of sunlight – preferably full sun conditions. Check on it every day or two, and add water as needed to keep the avocado pit moist.
It should take about four to six weeks for your avocado seedling to sprout roots and emerge from the top of the seed. Once the stem is a few centimeters tall, you can transfer it to a large pot filled with well-draining soil.
Ideally, you transfer the seedling to a large pot with well-draining soil when it is about 15cm tall. To encourage new growth, be sure to cut the stem back to just 8cm.
After it reaches 15cm, pot it in a rich humus soil container averaging about 25cm in diameter. Just make sure the top part of your avocado seed is left exposed. The bottom of the seed can be buried, as the bottom half of the seed is where the roots will take hold it the soil.
6. Water Your Tree Frequently
When your sprouted avocado tree is in its pot, keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water it regularly to ensure it doesn’t get thirsty, especially during the early summer months. Fall months will require fewer waterings.
Keep an eye on signs of overwatering. These signs can include the yellowing of leaves, and the best way to keep an eye on this is to let the soil surface dry out for a few days between waterings. If you notice the signs of overwatering, such as yellowing of the leaves, place it directly in the sun and keep the soil warm and dry in the following days.
7. Prune Your Tree
Trim off any dead or dying branches as needed to encourage healthy new growth. You should remove your avocado plant’s top two sets of leaves after the stem reaches 12 inches.
Doing so will make it easier for your plant to develop more leaves and shoots and become bushy in shape.
Every time it gains an extra 6 inches, pinch off every two newest sets of leaves sitting on top.
When to Plant Avocados (Indoor vs. Outdoor)
Before you can enjoy eating a home-grown avocado, you need to know when and where to plant them!
The good news is that avocados are fairly easy to grow both indoors and outdoors, depending on your climate and location.
Let’s explore the differences between indoor and outdoor growing so you can know how to get the most out of your avocado trees.
When to Plant Avocados Indoors
Indoor growing is great for those in colder zones or regions with shorter growing seasons. It also allows for more control over temperature, sunlight, water supply, soil pH, and other environmental factors.
However, if you wish to grow your avocado as an indoor plant, it is important to remember that avocados need plenty of light to thrive.
Choosing a sunny spot in your home for your tree is a great way to ensure that it gets just enough sunlight to thrive.
In addition, you will need to ensure that the soil you are planting has good drainage capabilities so that the roots don’t become waterlogged or rot away.
Finally, ensure water regularly but not too much – again, overwatering can lead to root rot or fungal diseases.
When to Plant Avocados Outdoors
If you live in a warm climate with longer growing seasons, outdoor growing may be right for you!
Outdoor growing has its advantages – namely, increased access to sunlight (which avocados love!), naturally occurring nutrients in the soil due to rainwater runoff from nearby vegetation, better air circulation (which helps keep disease away), and lastly, you can turn your avocado orchard into some eye-catching garden bed designs to beautify your garden.
When planting outdoors, selecting a site with well-draining soil is important; this will help protect your tree from becoming waterlogged or developing root rot.
Try not to disturb the soil too much, as undisturbed soil improves drainage over time. If you are growing a crop like pumpkins that like well-drained soils, you will benefit from companion planting these two food crops.
Ensure the spot receives plenty of sunlight – otherwise, your tree may struggle to thrive due to a lack of proper photosynthesis!
Finally, if possible, choose a spot near other plants. This will help increase its chances of survival since it will have access to sunlight and beneficial microorganisms living within other nearby flora.
How to Prune and Harvest Avocado Trees
Pruning and harvesting is important in ensuring that you have productive, healthy avocado trees. Here’s what you need to know about pruning and harvesting these fruit trees.
Pruning Avocado Trees
Pruning your avocado tree is key to keeping it healthy and productive.
Pruning helps promote new growth, encourage better air circulation, prevent disease, and keep the tree from becoming too large.
The best time to prune your avocado tree in late winter or early spring when it is still dormant. When pruning, pay attention to any dead or diseased branches that should be removed immediately.
It’s also a good idea to remove any branches crossing over each other or growing too close together. This will improve air circulation through the canopy of the tree.
When shaping your tree, it is best to maintain an open center so light can reach all parts of the canopy.
Additionally, avoid removing more than one-third of the total foliage at once. If possible, spread out pruning over multiple years to not shock the plant with too much heavy pruning.
Harvesting Your Avocado Tree
When harvesting your avocado fruit, be sure to wait until they are fully mature before picking them off the tree—otherwise, they may not ripen properly after being picked! Avocados do not ripen on trees; they only mature there.
To determine when an avocado is mature enough for picking, give it a gentle squeeze—it should feel slightly soft but not mushy or overly firm.
If you’re unsure whether an avocado is mature enough for picking, pick one from near the bottom of the tree or the base of the tree (the tree trunk); these tend to mature first since they receive more sun exposure throughout the season.
Once harvested, store your avocado in a cool place away from direct sunlight until you’re ready to eat them—they’ll keep for up to five days in this environment!
Where to Buy Avocado Trees
If you don’t have the time or resources to grow an avocado tree from seed, then purchasing a young plant might be the best option.
There are several places to buy avocado trees: nurseries, garden centers, home improvement stores, online retailers, or even a local grocery store.
If you’re buying your avocado trees online, some of the top sites to check out include Amazon, eBay, and Burpee – but your options will vary by seller, so be sure to pick a reputable distributor.
When shopping for avocado trees online, look for certified disease-free varieties that are well-suited for your climate.
Additionally, it is important to consider the age of the tree you’re buying—older trees tend to be more expensive, but they bear fruit more quickly than younger trees.
Once you’ve purchased your tree, plant it in an area with plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil; otherwise, it may struggle to thrive or even die.
The Bottom Line
Growing an avocado tree can be a rewarding experience, especially if you’ve always wanted to have your own avocados from mature avocado trees!
While it may take a few years before your tree is mature enough to bear its first fruit, the wait will be well worth it. Surely better than a store-bought avocado!
Just be vigilant in giving your avocado plant the right conditions, from planting to pruning and harvesting, to ensure your tree can thrive and produce delicious avocados year after year.
With the right care and attention, your avocado tree can become a great addition to your garden for years to come.
What’s not to love?