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.
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!
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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
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
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!
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…
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.
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 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:
- Trees don’t always come true from seed
- It takes a long time for them to bear
- Purchasing grafted trees will give you exactly the type you want
All of these objections are easy to answer.
- Who cares? Maybe you’ll get something better!
- So? Are you planning on dying soon?
- 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.
(This article was originally published on January 17, 2017.)
David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.