Knowing how to grow avocado from seed can turn into a fun project, and it gives you a free houseplant at the end. If you feel bad for throwing away your avocado seed after your morning toast, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can recycle your avocado seed to grow your own avocado tree in no time and it’s a very straightforward process — you can even encourage your kids to get involved.
Before we go into detail, it’s worth flagging now that you’re unlikely to grow avocado fruit from this tree. There's always a chance, but growing to this stage can take more than seven years and it’s difficult to keep an avocado tree alive for this long. That said, you never know, and you will still get an adorable houseplant out of the process. Want to try it out? Here’s how to grow avocado from seed.
How to grow avocado from seed
8-inch diameter pot
Before we start it’s important to stress that you will need to conduct the first steps immediately after eating your avocado. If you leave the seed to dry out, it may not sprout.
1. Remove and clean the avocado seed — Do not use a sharp knife to directly cut out the avocado seed; this could easily damage it. Instead, carefully cut around it with a spoon and then wash the avocado pulp away in the sink. If the pulp won’t shift, let it soak for 5 minutes before scrubbing the seed clean. Don’t scrub too hard though, you don’t want to damage the brown outer layer.
2. Locate the bottom of your seed — The top and bottom of an avocado seed can look very similar, but you need to work out which is which. Seeds come in all shapes and sizes, but the flatter end will be the bottom, while the top should form more of a point.
3. Pierce toothpicks into your seed — This step might seem a little aggressive considering how much care we were taking with the seed in step one, but it’s important. These toothpicks will essentially help suspend the seed over the top of a glass of water, which will be its first home. Try to find a transparent glass for this step, so you can see the progress later on, and hold the seed over the top to give yourself an idea of best toothpick placement.
You’re going to take three toothpicks and pierce the seed at a downward angle around the edge, keeping them evenly distanced. Remember that the lower third of the seed will need to be submerged in water once the glass is filled, so don’t pierce at too low a level. Make sure the toothpicks have a firm grip of the seed before moving onto the next step.
There are avocado growing kits available online if this step sounds too fussy for your liking. We recommend AvoSeedo’s Avocado Tree Growing Kit ($10.95, Amazon).
4. Prepare your avocado tree’s first home — Fill the glass with lukewarm water and place the seed on top, so the bottom-lower ⅓ of the seed is submerged. It will need plenty of light, so sit the glass on a windowsill where it will receive indirect sunlight.
5. Change the water regularly — You will need to keep an eye on the water as it can quickly turn slimy. Change it every few days to prevent fungus and bacteria growth. After 2-4 weeks, the seed should crack open and roots should start to grow into the water. If there’s no luck after 6 weeks, you may have to start from scratch with another seed.
As it continues to grow, the roots will spread and a sprout will turn into a small stem at the top of your seed. Once the roots have filled your glass or the stem is about 6 inches tall, that means it’s time for your avocado seed to find a more permanent home.
6. Transfer your seed into a pot — Find a pot roughly 8 inches in diameter with a drainage hole at the base. To help with the draining down the line, you can place a small stone over the hole before filling with potting soil.
Leave a space at the top of the soil ready for your avocado seed. Gently lower your seed into the soil, aiming for a similar placement you had in the glass — with the top ⅔ of the seed above the surface. Make sure the hole is deep enough to bury the roots into the soil rather than compacting them at the surface. This will help them absorb nutrients more efficiently.
7. Place in a bright, warm position — Find a nice bright windowsill for your new plant. You can return it to where you were previously growing it if there’s space. Once it grows stronger, you can also move it outside if you have a warm enough climate (60-80°F). Remember to bring it back indoors for the winter though.
8. Ongoing maintenance — The trick with a healthy avocado tree is getting the water levels just right. Always check the moisture in the soil with your finger prior to watering. If it feels damp, hold off and check again the next day.
However, while overwatering is easy, so is drying it out. The roots of an avocado tree stay near the surface, so they can dry out quickly. As a rule of thumb, water a newly planted avocado seed every 2-3 days, while mature trees should be watered weekly. Just make sure it's not saturated. You can also feed it fertilizer in the spring and summer months to encourage growth.
If you want your avocado tree to branch out rather than grow straight up, this is fairly simple to do. You just need to pinch back the top leaves once it reaches about a foot tall. Then as it grows another six inches, pinch back two sets of leaves from the top again, and so on.
How long do avocados take to grow from seed?
It takes as little as a few weeks for roots to start spreading from an avocado seed, with a stem and plant forming shortly after. Avocado trees have been known to live for hundreds of years, although it will take at least seven years to start bearing fruit.
Is it worth growing avocado from seed?
We definitely think so! At the very least, you can grow your own house plant which can be a fun project for kids to be involved in. If you want to improve your odds of it bearing fruit one day, you can always grow more than one.
If you have favorite plants that are wilting, check out our top tips on how to save a dying plant. Also, be sure to check these 5 plants that can help you sleep better, while you learn how to clean every room of your home for spring-cleaning tips.