Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Choosing to Grow Avocados from Seeds or Seedlings

Young avocado trees.

Young avocado trees.

Many people, not just gardeners, have done this: Stick toothpicks into an avocado pit, suspend it in a glass of water, and set it in a brightly-lit spot. Then you watch in a few weeks as roots grow from the bottom of the pit and an avocado seedling splits the pit and grows upward into an attractive plant.

This is a fun way to play with your food, and a popular science experiment to do with the kids. And avocados make lovely houseplants and trees, it’s true. What this method won’t do is grow avocados, or at least it’s highly unlikely, and takes from five to 13 years to fruit if it does work.

In any case, avocados do not reproduce true to seed, so even if you did get fruit, it wouldn’t be the same as the fruit from which you took the pit.

What this means for you as a food gardener is that you probably won’t be starting your avocado crop from seeds, no matter how much fun it is to watch in the early days.

If you do want to try this method, start with a well-washed pit and suspend it with toothpicks in a glass or jar of water with the pointed end up. Refresh the water in the glass as needed to keep the bottom half of the pit wet. In two to six weeks, you’ll see the roots develop. After that the seedling emerges, after which you can plant the seedling in a pot with half of the seed above the soil.

Place your avocado plant in a bright, sunny spot, and keep it watered well. Before you know it, you’ll have a houseplant that might one day even generate some type of avocado.

But since this isn’t a very reliable method of food gardening, commercial avocados trees are propagated from cuttings, which are grafted onto the rootstock of another variety to produce the best fruit.

Therefore, your best bet for growing avocado trees is to buy grafted seedlings from a nursery. Check out our Resources section for a good place to buy seedlings online, if your local nurseries don’t have avocados.

Also, when you plant a tree, you can expect to see fruit in three to four years, and it will be the variety that you bought as a seedling.

Have you tried growing avocado from seeds, starter plants, or both? Please tell how you enjoyed the experience of either method.

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