Have you ever tried to grow an indoor avocado tree from a seed? There’s something purely magical about it. We consume a ton of avocados around here, I am def the I doesn’t care if guac is extra guy. Just add it. After all, there aren’t many snacks I enjoy more than a bowl of fresh tortilla chips and tangy guacamole. But, you might not know that growing an avocado from a seed can also be a fun and easy afternoon DIY project with the kids, that can also make stunning pieces of home interior decor too. I know – it’s two birds one stone as they say. I am obsessed with mine. If you love avocados and want to learn more about how to grow an avocado seed correctly, then you are in the right place.
Here in San Francisco, I’ve tried to grow avocados quite a few times, with varying levels of success. Still, through trial and error, I think I’ve figured out the best, foolproof way of going from avocado pits to avocado plants right at home.
Sure, you could go into the project blind, but is it really worth the headache? Just keep reading for how I do it.
How to Grow an Avocado Seed, Prepping the Seed Options
To get started, you’ll first need to get the pit out of your ripe avocado(s). I recommend grabbing a butterknife for this, using the rounded tip as you cut deeper into the fruit.
There are three different methods for this, so—read each and then decide which you might prefer. They all work great.
The first method is the one you’ve probably tried before growing avocados using toothpicks. For the toothpick method, you’ll want to get the pit clean but avoid removing the brown skin on the pit. I recommend soaking your pit(s) in clean room temperature water for 24 to 48 hours before moving on to the next step with this approach. So if you take this route, just soak them a few days prior.
The second method uses a wet paper towel to get the germination process started instead of toothpicks. With this method, you’ll actually want to remove the brown skin. Don’t forget or this process won’t work. You can use a soft dishwashing bring or a cloth to clean the skin without damaging the seed. Do this gently. I sorta like this method best, so I don’t have to fuss with toothpicks. I will say, that having done this project with my nieces, they loved the toothpicks. So you do you!
This method of how to grow an avocado seed doesn’t involve any soaking so you can just move on to the next step easily.
TheToothpick Method Step by Step
So, you’ve let your avocado pit soak in water for two to three days. Well, the next step in how to grow an avocado seed using this method requires you to take a closer look at the pit.
Can you tell which end is the bottom of the seed, and which end is the top? Pit shapes can vary a little bit, but the top will always be the slightly pointier end, while the rounded end is the bottom of the pit.
Once you’ve figured out which end is which, grab three toothpicks and a glass of water. I love it so much. It’s really a work of art all on its own. That being said, It really doesn’t matter as long as the container uses clear glass so you can see inside and that the seed can sit half-submerged in the water easily.
With the top end of the seed pointed up, take three toothpicks and stab them into the avocado seed at a slightly downward angle. Make sure to space them out evenly, as these will be what holds the avocado in place once you place it in the water. Aim for just above the mid-section of the seed.
With the toothpicks set, rest your avocado inside of the jar, with the pit being suspended by the picks that are resting on the lip of the jar, glass, or vase you’re using. From here, add clean water into the jar.
The Vessel Method
The third and final alternative to the toothpick and paper towel methods is to use a purchased vessel. This option is great because it’s bulletproof, and prevents any user error. This is what I prefer because the look is stunning. I grabbed this gorgeous planter starter vessel. You don’t need toothpicks because the top of the vessel is pinged to hold the seed at the perfect location, so once you have a primed seed simply face it nightside up in the vessel top and fill it with water til the proper water hits halfway up the seed. Then carry on below.
Place Your Avocado Seed in Indirect Light to Start
Once your seed is set, either with toothpicks, in a vessel or otherwise you’ll want to keep increasing the water level until the pit is half-submerged. Once you have enough water, place the glass in a windowsill where it can get indirect light. I’d avoid direct sunlight to start with, so use curtains to minimize direct exposure if a sunny spot is your only option. Once it sprouts you can move to more direct light.
Moving forward, remember to replace the water every five days or so. Regardless, make sure the seed stays half submerged in water at all times until it splits and sprouts. After anywhere from two to eight weeks, the seed will start to sprout. The process starts when the top half of the seed dries out and cracks. The pit’s skin falls off and the crack starts to spread towards the bottom half of the seed.
Eventually, a tiny taproot will appear in the crack at the bottom of the seed! As the taproot continues to grow, you’ll soon see a small stem appear at the top of the seed. It’s so cool looking!
Trim the stem down to 8 cm once it reaches about 15 cm high. You can leave the avocado seedling in the jar until the stem hits 15 cm again, at which point you’ll need to plant the avocado tree. Don’t wait too long or it will topple over..
The Bag & Paper Towel Method
Decided to go with my second pepper towel method on how to grow an avocado seed instead. It’s a fun choice. Here’s what to do…
Once you’ve prepped your avocado pit, you’ll need to grab some paper towels and a plastic bag. Wrap the pit with the paper towel, then get the paper towel a bit damp using something like this misting bottle. Remember, you want a damp paper towel, not wet paper towels.
Place the paper towel-wrapped pit in the plastic bag, but don’t zip it shut. Leave the bag in a dark and warm place, such as a cupboard, closet, or inside your favorite nightstand. Around 70°F in a dark place is best.
Check back on your seed(s) every four days. Once a bit of time has passed, you’ll start to notice the seed changing. First, the seed will crack. Next, roots will begin to sprout from the seed.
These roots are very sensitive, so take extra care to avoid damaging them and avoid the temptation to crack the seeds open. This method is great because it allows you to see which sprouted avocado seeds are doing the best, and which might not grow so well.
Once your seeds have a root—or roots—about three inches long, they’re ready to plant!
When to Transplant What to Know About How to Grow an Avocado Seed
Now that you know how to grow an avocado seed, and it’s successfully sprouted you are going to want to move it into a planter to grow big and strong. You won’t need to grab a large tree planter right away, but moving into one will save time later.
Regardless, make sure your chosen pot has a drainage hole. Overwatering avocado trees is super common. Just throw in some big rocks at the bottom with good potting soil. Please note that most avocado seeds won’t produce fruit, I do this just for fun, and decoration. However, I did want to call that out here.
Once you’ve picked your pot, fill most of the pot with some indoor potting mix. Place the seed in the pot, taking care to avoid damaging the roots, then add more potting mix as needed.
You need to cover the roots completely, but you can leave the top inch or so of the seed exposed above the soil. Once the stem reaches about a foot tall, pinch off the two top sets of leaves.
Continue doing this as your plant grows to promote side shoots and leaves, which will give your avocado a more bushy appearance with new growth.
Care tips for How to Grow an Avocado Seed
With your plant properly planted, it’s time to place it. Preferences vary between young avocados. While some prefer direct sunlight, others don’t respond well to this. I’d recommend sticking to bright but indirect sunlight until your plant is older. A walk-in greenhouse works great for this.
If that’s not an option, consider the windowsill instead. Since you can easily adjust the plant’s light exposure using a curtain, this might be the best option for first-time avocado growers.
Avocado plants tend to draw moisture from the top six inches of soil, so you’ll want to water your indoor plant two to three times per week. Ideally, you want to shoot for moist—but not wet—soil.
Pay close attention to the condition of your plant, and adjust your watering schedule as needed.
Avocado Plant Problems Troubleshooting and Resolving
Under the right conditions, your plant will prosper. However, you will need to keep an eye out for a few things. Here are a few issues you might run into.
|Yellowing Leaves||Yellow leaves will tend to appear if you’ve been overeating your plant. To prevent this, ensure you’re using well-drained soil, a pot with drainage holes, and stick to a specific watering schedule.|
|Root rot||Root rot is also caused by overwatering. To treat it you can add gypsum to your soil, reduce waterings, add 20-20-20 fertilizer to your soil, or remove the plant from the soil and allow the roots to air-dry before replanting them.|
|Fungus gnats||Gnats can be addressed by avoiding overwatering, using sticky traps, or replacing the soil. Check my post on the topic for more in-depth solutions!|
|Aphids||These are annoying but easy to get rid of. First, spray your plant down to wash the aphids away. From here, mix water with a teaspoon of neem oil and a bit of dishwashing soap into a spray. Spray your plants down, then check in again on your plant after five days. Repeat as needed.|
Setting Realistic Expectations for How to Grow an Avocado Seed
Unfortunately, these tropical plants take quite a long time to grow so you definitely won’t be incorporating fresh avocados into your lunch ideas any time soon.
You might actually end up with quite a large plant before you start seeing any avocado fruit, and even then, the taste won’t be anything like what you’re used to from the store. Note though, that unless you are working from an avocado to see that bares fruit you might never get any. Most avocados from the store, even if germinated correctly will never have fruit
While knowing how to grow an avocado seed is definitely a fun project, I wouldn’t rely on it if you’re looking for a never-ending source of avocado toast toppings.
Instead, I would recommend using your plants as part of the decor in your colorful kitchen, alongside whatever other plants you’re growing. While it’s possible you might end up with your own avocados somewhere down the road, there’s no guarantee. Some plants simply never grow fruit at all!
A Conclusion for How to Grow an Avocado Seed
But with a bit of good luck and a lot of patience, you might end up with fresh avocados in anywhere from five to thirteen years. Even if you don’t, I still think that knowing how to grow an avocado seed is a fun project, either as a personal project or as an experience you can share with your kids.
Are you going to give it a go? If so, I’d love to hear all about it! Let me know which method you decide to use and how it went, as well as any other planting projects you’ve been up to recently. Until next time, ya’ll xoxo
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Grow an Avocado Seed
How long does it take to grow an avocado from a seed?
Sadly, an avocado can take quite a long time to go from a tiny seed to a mature tree. You can expect to wait at least five years before the plant is mature enough to flower and bear fruit, although this can take up to fifteen years. On the other hand, some avocados never bear fruit at all.
What is the fastest way to grow an avocado seed?
Unfortunately, there isn’t really any way to speed up the growth process. While providing your plant with the ideal lighting, humidity, and temperatures can definitely reduce the time needed for your plant to grow, the plant will still take years to fully mature.
Which end of the avocado seed goes in the water?
The bottom end of the seed needs to go in the water. This will be the rounded or flat end, whereas the pointed end is the top of the seed.
Is it better to grow an avocado seed in water or soil?
It really doesn’t matter, as both methods will work just fine. However, if you want to see the plant begin to grow roots then you’ll want to go with the water approach.
Does an avocado seed need sunlight?
Although grown avocado trees can tolerate full sun, it’s not that great for avocado seedlings. Instead, I would suggest placing your plant near a sunny window, where it can get bright but indirect sunlight.
How tall will an avocado tree get?
The range can vary quite a bit. At full maturity, an avocado tree can be anywhere from 15 to 60 feet tall, with a width of up to 25 feet. If you’re planning on keeping your avocado plant around for decades to come then you’ll definitely want to keep space management in mind.