Introduction: Growing Avocado Plants From Seed

I love avocados and growing things, and found this to be a fun, simple way to grow beautiful-looking plants from the stones (pits) left over from making guacamole or avocado dip. It takes a while for a stone to grow into a tree, but you’ll have a beautiful houseplant pretty quickly.

There are two ways to start out your seeds:

  1. Perched over a cup of water (like the photo demonstrates)
  2. In dirt / soil (which grows faster than the water method)

You'll need:

  • Avocado seeds, rinsed from your last avocado meal
  • Toothpicks and jars for the water method
  • Dirt, gravel, and pots, trays, or garden space

Step 1: The Seed - Water Planting

This particular seed had sprouted inside of the avocado before I had even eaten it. Be careful to not cut any deep gouges when removing the seed. Clean it very well so there are no more bits of avocado flesh left on them (like there happens to be in this photo).

If you are using the toothpick method, stick three toothpicks in the side of the seed about halfway down. You want half of the avocado to be under water. Set it on the rim of a glass or jar and fill it up. The "bottom" is the fat end. Easy enough, right? Refill the water as it evaporates and keep the avocados in a bright window or outside. They will begin to sprout after anywhere from a few days to several months. One of my avocado seeds took three months to sprout, but I've never had one not sprout eventually. When roots begin to fill the glass, transplant the whole deal carefully into a pot.

Step 2: The Seed - Dirt Method

The dirt method is just as simple. If you are using a pot, put a little gravel or some pebbles in the bottom for excellent drainage. Avocados love water but they do not like soggy soil. Leave the top of the seed a little above the soil.

Step 3: Baby Plant

Soon enough your plant will be sprouting. This is a seed I water-planted and then moved into a pot.

Step 4: To Prune, or Not to Prune

Here is a plant that is just a little bit older. See how the different sets of leaves are developing? As they grow, some people recommend pruning the top bunch off to create a bushier plant. If you plan on keeping the plant inside (avocados make great houseplants!) you may want to do this to keep the size reasonable and to have a more attractive plant.

Step 5: Too Big for a Little Pot

These two shot up pretty fast as the weather warmed. Here in California we can grow these guys all year round, but most plants will not survive under 55-60 degrees. These plants are Hass avocados, and will probably need to be moved into bigger pots very soon.

Step 6: Watering & Enjoying

I was lucky enough to come across three Fuerte avocados (the most delicious, in my opinion). Although it can take several years to produce fruit - IF they ever do - I am keeping a watchful eye on these three plants in hopes they someday will. Avocados need a good watering, but do not like being watered small amounts daily. It is best to thoroughly soak the soil and then only water it again when it is beginning to dry. I've stuck to watering them every other day (or less). Watch your leaves carefully!

Good luck on your avocado planting and hopefully you will soon have a pretty, low-maintenance plant to decorate your home/garden. If you have any tips for me, please leave me a comment!

Comments

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Delser13 made it!(author)2017-05-29

Hi I Put This Seed Just In Dirt As If It Was In The Water It's Now 20" tall and likes the bathroom

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LeeT40 made it!(author)2016-03-16

I have had an avocado tree for the past 4 years which is currently 6 ft tall. Its never flowered, so are there any suggestions for getting it to flower?

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Mamamia04 made it!(author)2016-04-24

Try putting it in a fridge for a day or two then taking it out, this simulates winter and makes the plant think it has been through a whole year, if this doesn't work you can try doing it multiple times

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JessD16 made it!(author)2016-05-08

The guy did say his plant is six feet tall... how big is your fridge anyway?

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RiddhiB1 made it!(author)2017-03-10

gave me a chuckle :P

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Mamamia04 made it!(author)2016-05-09

Haha sorry... Some fridges are big enough but I don't have any other suggestions.

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JessD16 made it!(author)2016-05-08

The guy did say his plant is six feet tall... how big is your fridge anyway?

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ConnieG34 made it!(author)2016-05-05

takes 15 years to get avocados 11 years to go be patient lol

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DavidB1063 made it!(author)2016-10-16

I had an avocado seed I froze a while back. Wasn't sure which end was up or down so I planted it in potting soul sideways. We'll see what happens. Hoping it can right itself. Opened 3 avocados I had in the refridgerator for a little over a month. One out of the 3 had sprouted already before being opened. A tiny little sprout like maybe 2 or 3 mm. I put it in water. Strangely that seed looks black. The other two are brown. I removed all the brown skin from one of them. All 3 are in water now.

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thos555 made it!(author)2009-07-30

I'm not sure if this would work with Avocados, but it might be a neat experiment to try. My friend grows hops for home brewing beer and these have the same "problem" of not yielding anything for a few years. He was able to trick the plants into flowering by putting them in the refridgerator two different times for about two weeks long each time while they were still infants. This fooled the plant into thinking it had experienced two winters and he got a decent yield in his first year.

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Crackerspotty made it!(author)2015-02-26

This works really well. I did this last summer with my second attempt at growing, the fridge tricked the plants and I yielded 3 very meaty fruits from the young plants. Brilliant. This year I'm doing 25 stones and I will do the fridge thing again - happy growing guys

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SandyM73 made it!(author)2016-05-29

How young were the plants when you put them in the refrigerator?

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altomic made it!(author)2016-06-17

i did a similar thing with cannabis many many years ago. put the adolescent plants in a cupboard for a few weeks with a regular 60w globe for 9/15 hours light/dark cycles. then took them outside with a real light cycle, better warmth, etc. the results were quite excellent

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PrimeTime485 made it!(author)2015-10-14

Any luck?

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bajablue made it!(author)2012-01-08

I've heard of forcing blooms this way, but a double-whammy is brilliant!

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ngreen1 made it!(author)2011-06-04

My dad actually does that with various plants. The last one I remember was the Christmas Cactus. He didn't get the bloom he wanted so he put it in the fridge for about 3 days, then set it outside. In about 4-5 days, little buds began to appear!

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AlissaSueK made it!(author)2009-07-31

I'm definitely going to try this out, thanks!

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Sam+the+Wizer made it!(author)2009-07-30

Interesting concept. I don't think if it would work with avocados since they're native to tropical climates and really don't like the cold. Perhaps alternating between full light and 60 - 70% light every 2 weeks or months would achieve the same thing. I'll have to try that with my plants.

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Foxtrot70 made it!(author)2009-07-30

That's interesting! I have often wondered how one might go about speeding the maturation cycle of some plants. Have you sampled your friend's product? How is the taste with the locally grown hops vs commercially produced hops beer?

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CharityC5 made it!(author)2016-04-25

Ive been trying to grow an avacado for the better part of a year with no success until now. Tip- soak your pit for a couple of days. Completely in water. Simple thing i have not seen anywhere while trying to accomplish this. Grow on little avacado tree!

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silverramo made it!(author)2016-03-17

I have a question if it was a bad idea to late. I grew a seed that sprouted two stems from one avacodo. They both now are about 12 feet high. They are about 5 years old. Two stems now trees. Good bad? Cut one down? Leave them alone. Will two help it pollinate easier? Just wondering on other peoples experiences. Will they bear fruit? Will it be two different fruits? It hasn't flowered not sure when if at all. Southern California Los Angeles...

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Kostonian made it!(author)2016-04-22

I've read that sometimes a tree planted from seed won't flower/ bear fruit and only grafted plants will produce fruit and then I've read the opposite.. I have a Florida avocado which grew from a HUGE seed even by Florida avocado sizes and it's been 8 years and it's now 15 feet high but just this year it blossomed (I think) but the little flowers never turned into fruit. There obviously has to be another avocado tree somewhat close by for pollination and bee's are losing habitat so unless the wind moves the pollen, your tree can't be pollinated. I've had several "twins" from seed and eventually you'll have a great tree with two branching halves. I doubt the bifurcated branches can have opposite sex (stamen and pistil) so I doubt it will self-pollinate.

I read that if you lightly score around the base about 6" off the ground, NOT deep but an 1/8th to a 1/4 of an inch deep, it will force the tree to flower - a last chance option. Unless the avocado was a hybrid, akin to a mule, it can't reproduce - then again it shouldn't grow either. Try planting pepper seeds or tomato seeds from the grocery store - they won't sprout because they've been hybridized (GMO) from the folks at Monsanto so the veggies are impervious to RoundUp and genetically modified to produce greater yields.

Avocado's are prolific feeders so if you're not fertilizing regularly you'll see poor results. I called the University of Florida Cooperative Extension on what fertilizer to use and I was told to use a citrus fertilizer. BTW, they couldn't answer for certain if the seed grown tree would produce with any guarantee since you have no idea what the genetics are in the mother tree which had borne your avocado / seed.

It sounds counter-intuitive but I've heard the story of the 20ft avocado tree grown from seed which has never produced fruit ad nausea.

Contact UCLA or Univ of Cal agriculture cooperative extension in your area and ask them. Hope this helped.

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Taarna+Hendrix made it!(author)2014-07-22

After a month and a half, our little avocado showed signs of life, and since then it's been growing like mad. This picture was taken 2.5 weeks ago ^^

Thank you for the instructable, we'll probably end up planting more of them

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npedersen3 made it!(author)2016-02-05

Nice growth, never seen one with that many leaves :)

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Taarna+Hendrix made it!(author)2016-02-05

We planted two more and they have even more leaves :)

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juliexb1 made it!(author)2016-01-12

Can the tree survive in just water for long?

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Phleb61 made it!(author)2015-10-05

what does it mean when my leaves curl up? Should I move it inside? I live in Tx and I'm growing from a water started seed, in a pot that was outside. The temps at night have been in the 60's, or maybe I'm watering wrong? Please let me know, I don't want to lose it!

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rafaeln8 made it!(author)2015-08-16
Should I keep the water of avocado seed warm by give it heat a little from FAN HEATER(CERAMIC FAN HEATER ), when I use the Water Planting method. Because I live in Norway and it is cold for it. please I need an answer.
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werdna17 made it!(author)2015-08-06

I recently just got into gardening and I find it's a blast! Simple idea, but I like it. Can't wait to see it grow -Andy

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mgarvin1 made it!(author)2015-07-18

Ready to graduate to a bigger pot!

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SteveG11 made it!(author)2015-04-11

I have done this with 4 plants put them straight in to pots and they take off real well but I need to know witch fertilizer to use as one of my plants leaves are not looking to good

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marialanger made it!(author)2014-12-19

Skip the toothpicks, just plant the seed. Be patient; it works.

My problem is that my initial branch is about 30 inches tall and although it has leaf buds on top, it hasn't sprouted any leaves. It just keeps getting taller. I'm tempted to pinch off the top, but really would like to see some leaves first.

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OldBird51 made it!(author)2014-10-02

Nice Instructable... I am now just starting to try to grow one... I found a used drinks container and found that the seed would sit in it if you invert the top into the cup.. add water and now waiting ..

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mohammed.shahbuddin.7 made it!(author)2014-09-16

i have planted my seed in water for the past four weeks but not sprouted so can i place that seed in dirt!

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Taarna+Hendrix made it!(author)2014-04-13

Well, we planted our seed this afternoon and now we play the waiting game :)

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the+%22wow+shammy%22 made it!(author)2013-07-23

I have a concern about the state of my soil. At first i used potting soil i got from my local hardware store, but it remained really soggy and soon developed these nasty mushrooms. I set my pot outside to try and dry the soil out, but the mushrooms still persisted. I just repotted my avocado in some local soil mixed with perilite to aid in drainage, but it turns to this sandy, muddy mush and wont drain very fast when i water it. Should i just keep the sandy stuff i have, or try some more soil from the bag? Any suggestions?

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ella868 made it!(author)2013-04-20

When planted in dirt, does the fat end go up?

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joel.r.bradley made it!(author)2013-02-04

Looking at those leaves, the pale yellow against green veins, is that normal? They look nitrogen deficient.

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GrooveBass made it!(author)2009-08-14

My mom has 3 of these plants in Iowa. Very cool. If anyone knows if you can do this with other fruit seeds, like peaches or mangoes, please message me and let me know. thanks :)

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stormy0314 made it!(author)2012-07-26

Just ran across this 'ible. I have successfully grown lemon trees and mango trees but I started the mango tree in dirt. Buried the concave side down, (mango), about half of the height of the seed. It sprouted a beautiful bronze set of leaves followed a few days later by another set in a cross or X shape. The leaves later turned green. My lemon seeds were started in moist paper towels in a plastic bag on a window sill till they sprouted. Both the mango tree and the lemon trees have beautiful shiney leaves. I am growing them outside here in the Pacific Northwest which has been having most mornings at about 9c or low 50 degrees f and seldom gets above 16c to 20c or mid to high 60f tho there were a few days in the 70s f. So far they have been doing ok. They make beautiful decoratives but they can be made to bear fruit if grown inside. As an aside, check out youtube for "Bob Duncan: growing lemons in Canada." For peaches, freeze the pits for a month or so, crack the pit slightly and bury it very shallowly in planting medium. Most trees grown in cold winter states need to be froozen for a certain # of hours. Check out that info on a botony web site or maybe on you tube. Good luck.

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rich60 made it!(author)2012-03-23

I have done this before a few times, however when they get to around 12 months (or soon after) they always seem to die on me.
I've always started them off in the water first.

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masterochicken made it!(author)2012-07-13

You should try cutting off the the first set of leaves that grow.

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romaine made it!(author)2011-04-21

It is really nice to encounter this here. I have a avocado tree (grown from seed) that's about 13 years old and has moved house with us 4 times now.
The tub it is getting now is the biggest ever, I hardly can lift it by myself.
The tree is about 2,5 meters high and has a perimeter at breast height of some 30 cm.
Thanks for the instructable.

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greintsma made it!(author)2012-06-18

Does it fruit??

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neetz made it!(author)2012-04-27

haha! love this! i did this before and it grew a lot, until it fell of my shelf and the stem broke!

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astraley made it!(author)2012-04-25

My sister in law makes guacamole fairly often and i got a seed from her so now i will try this and see if it works. Thanks for sharing this instructable!

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jessyratfink made it!(author)2012-03-21

I just started my first pits today! I put two in the kitchen window. Here's hoping for some sprouting soon!

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Alberta+Leong made it!(author)2012-02-26

I'm still waiting for mine to sprout! Day 9 and no sign of life yet.

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sunevesor made it!(author)2011-12-08

how do you prune the top?

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Alberta+Leong made it!(author)2011-11-03

I tried germinating 2 avocado seeds a few months back.. failed. :( Guess i'll need to try my luck again.

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