Growing Avocados Sprouting Avocado Pits the Easy Way

Growing sprouting avocado pits and growing avocados.

Today we’ll cover sprouting avocado pits the EASY way.

Though you are probably familiar with the “toothpicks and water” method of sprouting avocado pits, there is an easier way that seems to have a higher success rate.

The short of it? Plant them in potting soil or compost.

The long of it? Well, watch my video on how to sprout avocado pits, then we’ll meet on the other side for a step-by-step. A couple of important things should happen in order to guarantee your avocado pits sprout.

Avocados, like many tropical trees, have seeds that are designed to hit the ground and grow. The pits are not designed like many cold-climate seeds which have an embryo sitting in suspended animation that can be saved on a shelf for a long time and then spring to life when planted.

No.

These guys need to get into the ground fast, so it’s important to plant your avocado pits quickly or keep them damp until you can plant – preferably by keeping them inside the fruit!

But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s do a step-by-step picture guide, breaking down the frames from the video.

Step 1: Open an Avocado and Take Out the Pit

how to Sprout Avocado Pit sprouting avocado pits

This avocado grew out back of our current homestead. They are nice and large with rich buttery interiors. An excellent tree and well worth reproducing.

When I took out this pit it already had some small roots growing on it – all ready to go! I took it along with a half-dozen other pits outside to plant, which takes me to step two.

Step 2: Plant Your Avocado Pits in Potting Soil

 Sprout Avocado Pit

HowToSproutAvocadoPits-Step5

There is a right side up on avocado pits. It’s the rounded side. Plant the flat side down since that’s where the roots will emerge. You could probably make a mistake and still have the tree come up fine, but I like to give my sprouting avocado pits every advantage.

A nice, loose potting mix is good but you can also easily germinate avocado pits directly planted in the ground – or, what seems to be even more successful, let them “accidentally” come up in your compost pile and transplant them.

Step 3: Water and Wait!

HowToSproutAvocadoPits-Step6

This is the hard part – waiting for the avocado pits to sprout.

They will, though. Keep them watered but not soggy in a nice sunny location. Then, one day…

germinating avocado

Beautiful!

When you sprout pits in water indoors, they then need to go through a “hardening off” period of adjustment to the harsher, brighter outdoor conditions or you can kill the young trees. When you instead sprout them in pots in full sun, you don’t have this issue. They’re ready to go.

Now many of you live in a northern climate where this is impossible. That’s fine – you can start avocado trees indoors and even grow them as a houseplant; however, they’re unlikely to fruit under those conditions. They need more sun.

How Long Does it Take for a Seedling Avocado To Bear Fruit?

The earliest a seedling avocado tree will fruit is at four to five years of age. My friend Eddy, however, scared his tree into fruiting at three years.

I have a beautiful seedling avocado tree growing in The Great South Florida Food Forest Project that is getting close to bearing size.

Rachel took this picture a year ago and it’s even bigger now.

avocado seedling I started by sprouting avocado pits

I wish I could pay that tree a visit again. Maybe when it fruits. The avocado I started it from had fruits as big as honeydew melons. It’s some sort of Thai avocado variety that was being grown passed around the local Thai community in South Florida. I’m excited to see this thing produce!

The California Avocado Commission claims it takes 5-13 years for a seedling tree to bear but you’re much more likely to see it fruit on the earlier end of that spectrum if they are well-tended, watered and grown in full sun.

Why Sprout Avocado Pits?

Common objections to growing avocado trees from seed are:

  1. Trees don’t always come true from seed
  2. It takes a long time for them to bear
  3. Purchasing grafted trees will give you exactly the type you want

All of these objections are easy to answer.

  1. Who cares? Maybe you’ll get something better!
  2. So? Are you planning on dying soon?
  3. What if you don’t want to spend money? And like experiments?

I really find the arguments against growing fruit trees from seed tiresome. The “common wisdom” on the subject is lame. Man has grown trees from seed, including avocados, for thousands of years. We have the varieties we have today because of gardeners like you and me who love to experiment and take joy in raising up good things from tiny seeds.

If you get a variety that just isn’t great, graft it!

Seedling trees make great root stocks. Heck, even if they don’t fruit for you fast enough you can graft on a piece from an already fruiting tree and speed up the process.

Start your own avocado pits the easy way and eventually you’ll be bringing in baskets of fruit. It’s great fun, especially when you can plant seeds with children, and totally worth the time.

Trees you grow from seed cost nothing and will give you a sense of accomplishment like nothing else. I still remember how excited I was when my seedling peach trees fruited for the first time. It’s a great feeling.

So go – start sprouting avocado pits. I’m rooting for you… and so will they.

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David The Good (Bioneer Blogger)


Contributor

David the Good is a naturalist, part-time scientist, and hardcore gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a paper cup of soil and hasn't stopped growing since. You can find more of David's ongoing experiments in the Grow Network Lab and on his own website at www.thesurvivalgardener.com.


12 Comments
  • Alyssa

    I tried to get about 5 to sprout (using the soil method and making sure I planted them right side up) but only one was successful, and it’s about 1 year 3 months old now. There was one time though where its lower leaves were getting brown edges and falling off one by one, but luckily that stopped.

  • Maria Rose

    I enjoyed the article and video. I did have one question as to which avocado will grow better especially since my access to avocados is whatever is available at markets locally. I have used the in dirt technique over the toothpick method but it takes many avocado pits before I see one sprout. I have a feeling that most avocados at markets in area are shipped cold to stop avocado from getting ripe which probably effected the pit from sprouting.

  • RoT

    I managed to sprout one with the toothpick method once and it lived for several months but eventually it started to drop its leaves and in an effort to save it I trimmed it, which killed it. Boo!

    I’ve tried putting them in soil but that seemed to not work at all, maybe I’ll try it again.

  • I have three avocado trees growing here in my living room. The climate is too cold to have them outdoors. They are two different varieties of avocados, I like the large green ones, but most sold here are the smaller brown ones. But when I had a green one, I planted the pit and it did well! I eat a lot of avocados and most of the time I just throw the pits in the compost heap. This autumn I saw many of those had sprouted, but I do not have room for more trees indoors, so (sorry) they all died because of the winter. But the three indoors are doing well, as I said.

  • Jan

    Another one here with a sprouted pit nicely growing so far – and going to have to be an indoor tree (winters here in Oregon get too cold, for sure) — Already have full spectrum bulbs in all the fixtures in the room, and anticipate needing to move it to a bigger pot in a room with a higher ceiling in a few months (fingers crossed it keeps going!) Am thinking a dedicated grow bulb will come into play then, on timers for regular light rhythm — Anybody have success stories growing one indoors??? Would dearly love to hear. Thanks!

  • GUS IN FRANCE

    We have got big 5 m high avocado tree from a pit here at the Mediterrian coast Southern France. It is more than 10 year old, and still has not given any fruits. Why? Is it a sterile variety?
    We are contempling to cut it down! “A tree that doesn’t bear fruits will be cut down and burned!”

    • Regina

      Hi, as far as I know, you need a male and a female tree to have avocados.

    • Hi Gus, see my comment further down. There are male and female flowers on each avocado tree. But they are produced at different times of the day. To get pollination you need to either do it by hand or, more easily grow “A” varieties close to “B” varieties as each type bear their male and female flowers at the opposite time of the day. See further on my comment on David’s pit growing video.

  • Barnabas Paul

    I have a tree about 5 feet tall that I transplanted into a sunny area (from a pot). Initially it did well, but through the winter, some of the top branches have died. Do you have any recommendations on pruning it?

  • Sue

    Thank you for showing me how to successfully take an avocado pit and grow a new plant
    out of it. Great use of the pit. I’ve done this with other seeds like peppers and I saved some
    from acorn squash to try as well. The only thoughts I have in growing an avocado tree is
    there special temperature requirements for growing this type of tree or climate?

  • con

    I threw some avocado pits in my worm bin and had 10″ shoots by the next time i fed them, rough tote setup with a lid, couldn’t believe they grew that much in the dark…growing good in 10″ planters now indoors with lots of leaves. in south facing window in little bit of worm dirt and some organic potting soil, fastest sprouters yet, go worms!

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