Avocados remain one of my favorite fruits of all time. Yes, that’s right, an avocado is actually a fruit.
In fact, to be more specific, they are regarded as a single seeded berry.
According to Merriam-Webster, a fruit is “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant; especially: one having a sweet pulp.” In this case, even though avocados aren’t sweet, you can still eat them and grow new ones from the pits, thus they’re categorized as a fruit.
Interestingly, there are over 1000 varieties of avocado.
Total world production of avocados in 20180
Here are some of the more well-known ones, with the the Hass variety being the most popular. It accounts for approximately 95 percent of the total crop volume.
I can hear you asking: “Which one of these avocados are best to grow?” Right to the point, I like that.
Well the answer is, they all are.
It doesn’t really matter which avocado you decide to grow at home. The only difference there is between each avocado tree is the seasons in which they bare fruit.
But given the fact that an avocado tree can take anywhere between 5 – 13 years to bare fruit. Deciding which one to grow based on it’s fruiting seasons, seems a little bit bizarre.
But, there are no judgements here!
If you really are in this for the long haul, then I’d suggest growing the Hass and Reed together.
Their harvest seasons compliment each other.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks.
How to grow an avocado from a pit.
Step 1 – Remove the pit from the avocado.
Once you have finished eating your avocado, remove the pit. Wash the pit gently under warm water. It’s important that you remove all the flesh from the pit, any left over flesh will turn into mould if you don’t. Removing the brown skin from the pit will not speed the germination process up, so you don’t have to bother with this.
Step 2 – Locate which end is up and which end is down.
You will need to make sure you have the right end of the avocado seed pointing up & down. The pointy end of the pit faces towards the sky (This is the end where the plant will sprout). The round/wider end of the pit faces down towards the ground (This is the end that the root will grow out of). Sometimes it may be hard to tell which end is wider and which end is pointier. Take a closer look and you will eventually notice the difference. 🙂
Step 3 – Pierce the avocado pit with 2 or 3 toothpicks.
Your toothpicks are going to act as the scaffolding for your avocado seed. Place 2 or 3 toothpicks firmly into the middle half of the pit. You’ll want to place the toothpicks at a downwards angle, so that the points stick out of the pit pointing slightly towards the sky. Doing this will allow your avocado seed to rest lower in your glass of water (this way you can avoid having to fill the glass to the brim, uhm leakage…).
Step 4 – Place your avocado pit half submerged in a glass of water.
Find a glass. Using clear glass is usually best, then you are able to see the roots grow. It’s best to place your avocado pit next to a window that gets some sun throughout the day. Very important, make sure you change the water every 5 days in order to prevent mould. Mould can kill your little avocado seed. Mould generally starts to form on the root itself, or at the points where the toothpicks pierce the pit. If you begin to see the whitish mould build up, gently wipe it off with toilet paper and replace the water.
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Step 5 – Wait for your avocado pit to sprout.
Most guides state that it takes 2-4 weeks to grow your avocado tree. Although, in my experience it takes anywhere between 6-8 weeks to start seeing a taproot form at the bottom of the pit. So try to stay as patient as possible.
Here is the process you will notice over the weeks:
- The top half of your avocado pit will slowly dry out and the brown skin will start to peel off slightly.
- After about 5 weeks a crack will form in the actual avocado pit.
- Slowly but surely you will notice a small white root form at the bottom of the pit.
- The root will continue to grow longer and longer and may even branch out (a sign of a very healthy avocado pit).
- Eventually a small sprout will start to grow out the top of the pit. This is your future avocado tree in the making.
- Make sure you never allow the taproot to dry out, this will be the death of your avocado tree.
Step 6 – Pot your avocado pit in soil when the tree reaches 15cm.
Once your avocado tree has reached about 6 inches tall (15cm), gently remove it from its glass container. Place the tree into a 10 inch (25cm) diameter pot that is filled with loose soil (avocado trees thrive in loose soil). Avocado trees grow best in slightly acidic soil (pH of 6–6.5). I recommend using a rich humus soil. Make sure you leave about 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) of the pit’s top half exposed. The pit reacts to sunlight and needs this solar exposure to grow.
Step 7 – Trim your avocado tree.
Once your avocado stem (stem, not tree) reaches 6 inches tall (15cm), cut it back to 3 inches (8cm). I know this seems scary at first but trust me, it will only encourage more growth.
Step 8 – Water your new avocado tree.
Make sure to give your new tree frequent waterings, and an occasional deep soak. If you notice that the leaves start to turn yellow, it could be a sign that you are over watering. Let the pot dry out for a couple of days and reduce the overall amount of water you give to your tree.
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Step 9 – Pinch out the top leaves.
When the stem reaches 12 inches tall (30cm), pinch out the top two sets of leaves. Doing this will encourage bushiness and will thus result in a “fuller” looking tree. Each time your tree grows another 6 inches (15cm) pinch out the two top layers of leaves.
Avocado trees have a fairly shallow root system.
They must have good soil drainage for healthy growth to occur. Make sure to purchase a pot that allows water to drain out.
If fully saturated for more than two days, the roots will rot and the plant will die.
Worrying about salt is really only for when you decide to plant your avocado tree into the actual ground.
Salts occur naturally in soils.
They can become a problem for avocado trees if their concentrations are too high.
If salt concentration is too high, you will begin to notice sun burning or browning on the tips of your tree’s leaves.
As long as you water the tree consistently, the salt concentration should equalize itself.
If you live close to the ocean however, salt concentrations become heightened due to the sea air. This can make salt control more difficult.
Keeping bugs away
Aphids love avocado leaves; they can’t get enough of them.
If your tree starts to attract these little critters, here’s how to get rid of them:
Spray your plant off with a hose outside. Once they are off your tree, spray it down with a mixture of water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid and a teaspoon amount of neem oil. This will keep them away once and for all.
Is the pit of an avocado poisonous
There is a small amount of persin within the pit, skin, bark and leaves of the avocado tree (persin is fungicidal toxin, similar to a fatty acid).
However, the amount found within the avocado pit is extremely low. This means the avocado pit is not really poisonous to humans, unless eaten in massive quantities. Don’t do that…
Persin, however, and therefore avocado pits can be poisonous to animals.
Some information circulating around the web cites that avocado pips are even poisonous to cats and dogs. This a highly debated subject, with most people leaning towards the ‘not toxic enough to harm domestic animals’ side.
With that being said, persin is in fact poisonous to birds and large animals, like horses and cattle.
How to grow an avocado tree that bares fruit
Okay, so if you are reading this you are more than likely in it for the long haul.
Avocado trees can take as quick as 5 years or as long as 18 years before they begin to bare fruit. And the conditions need to be just right.
Avocado trees require specific conditions in order to grow optimally and produce fruit.
The trees grow best in well-aerated and loose soil. I find they like limestone, sandy loam and decomposed granite in particular.
They can grow in shade, however, the avocado tree will only bare fruit if grown in super sunny conditions.
If your tree is exposed to temperatures of over 100°F (37°C) or below 70°F (21°C) for prolonged periods of time, expect the overall fruit yield to be less.
Fertilize your avocado tree to encourage them to bare fruit. Younger trees require fertilizer six times per year, roughly once every two months. Trees that are four years or older require fertilizer four times a year.
Breakdown of fertilizer distribution
Apply a fertilizer like 6-6-6-2 or 8-3-9-3 and divide it into equal portions to deliver the following:
- 1.5 to 3 pounds per year for a 1-year-old tree.
- 3 to 6 pounds for a 2-year-old tree.
- 6 to 9 pounds for a 3-year-old tree.
- 9 to 10 pounds for a 4-year-old tree.
- 10 to 14 pounds for a 5-year-old tree.
- Older trees require an extra 2 pounds of fertilizer per year for each year of the tree’s growth up to a maximum of 20 pounds.
Avocado tree age
Avocado trees must reach a certain age before they begin to bare fruit.
If you decide to grow an avocado tree from the pit, it could take an exceptionally long time before it gives you any fruit, and it may never.
I recommend that you purchase a commercially grown avocado tree. These trees are grafted from mature avocado varieties and will produce fruit much faster and more reliably.
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If you want to get the biggest yields of fruit, two avocado trees are required.
Avocado trees produce either type A or type B flowers. Both these flower types produce and are receptive to pollen at all times of the day.
The best pollination/fruit set occur when these two types are grown together.
For example, Hass avocados produce type A flowers and Fuerte avocados produces type B flowers. If these two avocado trees are grown in the same garden, the overall yield will be higher.
Unita van Vuuren
Monday 16th of November 2020
Good evening. I have a avo tree grown from a pip 20yrs ago. For the 3rd year she is fruiting. 1st yr 1 avo & last yr 6avos. The challenge that I have, come the south easter wind by Oct/Nov all flowers and the tiny fruits are blown off tree. What to do pls.
Thursday 19th of November 2020
Hello Unita, I take it you live in Cape Town? ;)
How tall is your avo tree?