- Planting and growing avocados
- Most Read
- Wait for your plant to grow
- Where’d They Come From?
- Delivering More Than the Mail
- About those Fantastic Flowers
- Not Sure How They Taste With Cream, Though
- Dig a Big Hole
- What You’ll Need
- How to Grow an Avocado Tree
- How to Care for an Avocado Tree
- What to Make With Avocados
- Great Avocado Recipes
Planting and growing avocados
Maintain an adequate water supply to the trees throughout the year, not only for meeting moisture requirements, but also for effective uptake of nutrients. It’s essential for avocado trees to have well-aerated soil; they cannot tolerate heavy or waterlogged soil, so it’s important to monitor the trees and soil as part of your irrigation process.
Avocado trees that don’t get enough water can experience:
- summer stress resulting in early flowering and poor fruit set
- increase of fruit shedding in spring and early summer
- reduced fruit size, particularly if stress occurs in the first 6-8 weeks after fruit set
- poor quality fruit due to reduced uptake of boron and calcium.
Too much water causes:
- reduced tree vigour as a result of reduced soil aeration
- increased incidence and severity of Phytophthora root rot
- increased risk of nutrient imbalances
increased leaching of nutrients from the root zone, which wastes fertiliser and poses an environmental hazard by polluting groundwater.
Avocados are sensitive to poor-quality irrigation water. They require water that has a low conductivity value (low in soluble salts) and a low chloride content. Analyse new sources of irrigation water before use, and test existing sources regularly if a change in quality is possible. Water salinity should not exceed 0.6 deciSiemens/m (equivalent to 384 ppm total soluble salts) and chloride content should not exceed 80mg/L.
Irrigation is essential in most of Queensland, particularly from August to April. For coastal areas with high rainfall, a water storage reserve of 5 megalitres per hectare (ML/ha) is generally necessary to maintain production in a dry year. This needs to be increased to about 8-12 ML/ha in drier coastal areas and inland areas such as the Central Burnett of Queensland.
We recommend using an effective soil moisture monitoring system to help you schedule irrigation events. Devices used can include tensiometers, gypsum blocks and capacitance probes.
How To Grow An Avocado Tree From Seed
Learn how to grow an avocado tree from seed Handyman
While avocados grow easily from seed, don’t expect any fruit for 7-15 years.
Even if you don’t get fruit, an avocado tree makes a pretty pot plant for a sunny patio and growing one from seed is a great project for kids.
Remove the seed, called a pit, from an avocado without cutting it and wash it thoroughly to get rid of the flesh, taking care not to remove the brown skin or seed cover, then put it in water to form roots and a shoot.
When the stem reaches 150mm high, transplant it into a 150mm pot, leaving the top half of the pit exposed. Water regularly, but don’t overwater.
GROW TIP Pinch out the top two sets of leaves so side shoots will grow and form a bushy plant.
Step 1. Space with toothpicks
3-4 toothpicks at a slight angle evenly around the circumference of the pit. Put in a glass of water, flat-end down. Position the glass on a sunny windowsill and change the water every 4-5 days to keep it clean.
Step 2. Let the roots grow
Make sure the water always covers the base of the pit. The top of the pit will dry out and form a crack that will extend to the base. Roots will then grow from the base and new shoots emerge from the top after 3-4 weeks.
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If you have little ones, this makes for a really cool science experiment.
1. Remove and clean the pit
Without cutting your seed, remove it from the avocado and give it a good wash. Anything left will turn to mould.
The slightly pointier end is the top, and the flat end is the bottom. This is important when submerging the seed in water.
3. Pierce the seed with three toothpicks
Stick three toothpicks into the seed at an angle, avoiding the fault lines and place in a plastic drinking cup or jar with the bottom submerged in water. Make sure you change the water regularly.
Wait for your plant to grow
In 2-4 weeks you should be able to see the root growing out of the bottom of the seed. Around 7-8 weeks, the leaf should start to grow out of the top of the seed.
Move to a pot
Once the root is about 15cm long, plant it in a pot with a 25mm diameter. Place the pot in a spot with plenty of sun.
Will my tree grow fruit?
It’s a gamble. Some say it will after 3-4 years, others say 15 years and some say never. Either way, we think it’s a good-looking plant to have around your home.
For a more detailed look at how to grow an avocado tree from its seed, watch the YouTube video below or check out our comprehensive guide on how to grow an avocado tree.
All hail the awesome avocado – key ingredient of the greatest dip/side dish/condiment on earth, guacamole (see Helen’s recipe at the bottom of this fact sheet)! Apart from being amazingly tasty, avocados are darned good for us – high in vitamin C, chock full of anti-oxidants, great for our skin and a good source of beneficial mono-unsaturated fats. Oh, and for the blokes, they are a great liver cleanser and may also help prevent hair lose due to their high content of folic acid. Is there anything this fab fruit can’t do?
Generally regarded as a fruit of more tropical climes, many varieties of avo will do just fine in the southern states, given the soil and drainage is just right. You see, as fantastic as avocados are, they can also be a bit fussy, but with a bit of love and attention they will fruit just fine in the southern states. Avocados despise “wet feet”, so improve drainage of your heavy clay soil with gypsum and compost well before planting, and consider planting your avo’s on a slope, or a mound. Soil wise, a slightly acid to neutral pH is fine, so aim for about 5.5 – 7 for best results.
Choose a warm, frost-free position for these tasty trees, remembering that many avocados can reach a height of 5 – 10m at maturity, so leave room for these gorgeous trees. Over the hot summers across much of this country, you may find your avocado looking a bit average, especially in its first few years. Avocados aren’t known for their vigorous root systems, and this can cause them to dry out much quicker than many other plants, so keep the water up to them when it’s really hot (in accordance with local water restrictions of course).
The other thing to remember about avocados is that each variety has a different flowering “habit”, which sees avo’s categorized into two groups, A and B. Now, avocados are partially self-fertile, which means they may produce a bit of fruit on their own, but their yields will be increased if you can whack in one tree of each group. Avocados ripen once harvested, and, dependant on variety, this can take about a week to 10 days.
A word of warning regarding all avocado types – many parts of the plant can be highly poisonous to a number of animals, mainly horses, cattle, goats and birds. There is debate about whether they are poisonous to dogs, with some reports of poisoning. So if you want to protect your pooch, it would be wise to consult your veterinarian!
Avocado – Bacon (B Flowering Variety): The best cold tolerant avocado, Bacon will grow to a manageable height of 4m in cooler climes. Fruit is a medium size and quality and appears on the tree from June – late July, and, unlike most other avocados, will fall from the tree when ripe. Can bear fruit in as little as 4 years.
Avocado – Edranol (B Flowering Variety): An extremely tasty avocado, Edranol is popular in large scale avocado production, especially in South Africa. Edranol loves a slightly sandy, well-drained soil, and will go gang-busters in a coastal location as nit prefers a warmer locale. Expect a medium sized fruit with a darkish skin and butter yellow flesh.
Avocado – Fuerte (B Flowering Variety): Another great cold tolerant variety, Fuerte produces small, pear shaped fruits with a dark green skin and a fabulous nutty flavour. Fuerte can be quite a large, spreading tree reaching a decent height of about 8m x 12m, so give it some space. Fuerte has a tendency to produce fruit every second year (between June and October), and can take about 6 years to produce fruit.
Avocado – Hass (A Flowering Variety):Possibly the most popular of all avocados, Hass bears incredibly flavoursome fruits that keep well. A handsome tree to about 9m x 10m, Hass is fairly cold and frost tolerant once established, and will bear its delicious fruit between September and January.
Avocado – Pinkerton (A Flowering Variety): If you just can’t get enough avocados, perhaps consider growing a Pinkerton! This variety is a massive cropper, meaning you can have gallons of guacamole from this flavourful, medium sized fruit. May be cold tolerant once established, Pinkerton will bear fruit from June – August.
Avocado – Reed (A Flowering Variety):Large, round, thick skinned variety with a smooth, green skin and a rich flavour. Reed avocados store well in the fridge once cut. This variety grows to a manageable 4m x 2m, and will bear fruit after 3 years or so. Fruit matures between November and March.
Avocado – Rincon (A Flowering Variety): A small to medium fruit with a glossy green skin, Rincon is an avocado variety better suited to coastal sites and warmer spots in the garden. Rincon is not a fan of frosts, and won’t tolerate extended periods of cold weather. As a tree, Rincon is a beaut size, about 4m x 3m, and bears fruit between July – September.
Avocado – Sharwill (B Flowering Variety): Sharwill is a NSW & QLD fave, with good reason. This awesome Avo is a regular bearer of good quality, very tasty fruit with a decent oil content, small stone and fair storing ability. Sharwill is not real frost tolerant, and will bear its glossy green, pear shaped fruit between June – August.
Avocado – Wurtz (A Flowering Variety): A gorgeous small tree for gardens, Wurtz is a popular variety if avocado, prized for its rich, flavoursome fruit. A good performer in warmer climates, Wurtz is a dwarf-like tree growing only to 2.5-3m, yet produces a consistent, heavy crop of beaut fruit! Expect fruit from October – December.
Helen’s Rockin’ Guacamole Recipe
2 Avocados Mashed
1 Roma Tomato Diced
1 Eschalot Diced
2 tsp Lime Juice
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1 tsp Ground or Cracked Pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
Mix it all together… you might not need to add all of the eschalot depending on how big the avocados are. If you are using this as a spread or similar on toast, you may want to add a bit of mayo as well. Enjoy!
We all know, of course, that letter carriers deliver the mail. But I wonder how many of you know about the 1920s mailman who “delivered” what would become most popular avocado in the United States?
It’s an interesting tale, and I’ll tell you all about it in a minute.
In the meanwhile, read on to learn all about growing avocados (Persea americana), the smooth-as-butter green-fleshed fruit that cooks covet for guacamole, sushi, smoothies, and more.
But be warned: unless you live in Florida, Hawaii, California, or deep south Texas, the prospect of walking out to the backyard to harvest fresh avocados for a batch of guacamole is but a dream.
But what the heck, you like to learn new things, right?
We’ll bring the chips!
Where’d They Come From?
Unsurprisingly, avocado trees are native to Mexico — the south-central part of the country, specifically.
Probably because they are truly the yummiest bit of greenness ever grown, they are now cultivated commercially in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world.
They were brought to the United States in 1833 when horticulturist Henry Perrine planted avocados in Florida. Several years later, in 1871, Judge R.B. Ord planted a tree in Santa Barbara, California.
Avocados became a US commercial crop in the early twentieth century, and was popular in the states in which it grew. But it did not gain widespread acceptance in this country until the 1950s, when it became a common salad addition.
Delivering More Than the Mail
There are three main “races” of avocado trees: Guatemalan, Mexican, and West Indian.
Mexican types are the most cold tolerant; West Indian the least.
The most popular variety in the United States, called the Hass, is a Guatemalan x Mexican hybrid. Incidentally, Hass trees were a pure accident.
In the late 1920s, a letter carrier and amateur horticulturist, Rudolph Hass, purchased some seedlings from a Whittier, California, man. He planted the seedlings, and as they grew, his children pointed out an anomalous tree among the batch.
He thought to cut it down, but his children stopped him, saying they preferred the fruit from the oddball tree to that of the other varieties he grew, including the Fuerte, which was at the time the most widely cultivated variety.
Naming the new variety after himself, the mailman patented the tree and struck a deal with a commercial grower.
And now Hass comprise 80% of US-grown avocados, all of which are direct descendants of what became known as the “Mother Tree.”
Most of the avocados grown in Hawaii, however, are a Mexican x Guatemalan hybrid variety known as Sharwil.
Avocado aficionados claim Sharwil to be among the tastiest.
Unfortunately, fears that imports of these fruits will also bring invasive and crop-devastating pests to the mainland has led to a complex set of USDA import regulations.
This means the Sharwil is not available in all states.
About those Fantastic Flowers
While the trees can self-pollinate, they’ve developed an unusual method of achieving genetic diversity.
The plant’s flowers have both male and female parts, but only one “gender” is active at a time.
Type A varieties have flowers that open as a female in the morning of day one, close, open as a male in the afternoon of day two, and then close forever. Type Bs open as female in the afternoon of day one, and as male in the morning of day two.
This complicated dance only happens when temperatures are just so — above 70°F day and night.
And of course, it’s all for naught if there aren’t some pollen-hungry insects in the area, willing to assist with cross pollination.
Not Sure How They Taste With Cream, Though
Ready to try your hand at growing these fruits, which as are also known as “alligator pears”?
Oh, wait. Before I get too far, I should clarify that the avocado is technically a berry. A single-seeded berry.
Berries have a fleshy endocarp, a fleshy mesocarp… are you asleep yet? Trust me: Avocados are, botanically, berries.
Back to the growing part!
If your area experiences occasional subfreezing temperatures, choose a protected site. Some Mexican types can handle a bit of freezing weather, but you’ll still want to offer them protection.
Avocado trees like full sun and they don’t like to be crowded, so don’t plant them near other trees, buildings, or power lines.
The best soil for these trees is coarse and well-drained, though they will tolerate a wide range of soil types. They aren’t particularly choosy about soil pH, either.
But don’t try to grow them in soil with a high saline content. They do not like that at all. (The salt comes later, in the kitchen!)
Dig a Big Hole
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published March 1, 2019. Last updated: January 5, 2020 at 13:56 pm. Product photos via Monterey, Organix, Safer Brand, and Garden Safe. Recipe photos used with permission. Uncredited photos: .
About Gretchen Heber
A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.
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.
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
- Drinking glass or jar
- 10-inch pot
- Potting soil
How to Grow an Avocado Tree
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
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
Avocado Salad With Spicy Granola
Citrusy Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
“Fried” Avocado Tacos