I love avocados. I also live in New England. That means if I have any hope of plucking ripe avocados from a tree, I need to think about growing avocados indoors.
The avocado tree has origins in Central and South America and needs steady day and night temperatures around 70 degrees to thrive. Avocados from Mexico points out that zones 9 to 11 are ideal for avocado trees, and you might be able to get away with planting them in zone 8 if you find a protected spot. For the rest of us? Plan on growing avocados indoors if you want an avocado tree.
What you absolutely need to know about growing avocados indoors from seeds
The average avocado tree grows to around 30 or 40 feet outdoors. Of course, there are a lot of factors that dictate the mature height of the tree, including which species of avocado you’re growing and the climate in which you are growing it. Some species can reach up to 80 feet in height. Obviously, most of us don’t have ceilings large enough for growing avocados indoors.
Even in a container, an avocado tree can reach 10 or 15 feet in height. And the dwarf Wurtz variety (sometimes called the Little Cado) can hit 10 feet. So you’ll need to choose your variety wisely or plan to prune the tree on occasion.
Before we get into the tips for growing avocados indoors from seed, there is something VERY important from the Pet Poison Helpline you should know:
All parts of the avocado tree are toxic to pets. The leaves, bark, seed, and fruit can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs and cats, and birds and rodents may be especially vulnerable to the effects of the toxicity.
Now on to those tips and facts that will help you find success in growing avocados indoors, should you decide to accept the mission.
1. Prepare the seed. Wash and dry your avocado seed and prepare it for sprouting. You can go with the popular method of using toothpicks to partially suspend the seed in a glass of water (change the water regularly!), or you can plant it directly in fresh soil.
2. Plant or suspend the seed the right way. The smaller, pointy-ish end goes up. The more rounded, flat-ish side goes down.
3. Grab your avocado-friendly container. Terra cotta is a good choice since it will help the soil dry out more quickly.
4. Use the correct planting medium. You’ll need soil one way or the other, whether you start your seed in a container or over a glass of water. Avocados prefer slightly acidic, loose soil, like a cactus mix. By the way, when you plant it, keep about half of the seed above the soil.
5. Keep it warm. It’s a tropical plant.
6. Keep it bright. Again, it’s a tropical plant. If you live in a hot climate, you might need to go with indirect light while the plant is young, as it can be a little sensitive to intense sunlight. But move it over to that nice bright light as soon as it has some good leaf growth.
7. Keep it watered, but not too much. A deep watering about once per week is usually good. Avocado trees don’t like soggy soil.
8. Keep it humid. Your avocado tree doesn’t enjoy wet roots, but the leaves like humidity. So give your tree a regular spritz or set up a humidifier nearby.
9. Keep it fed. Grab a citrus or avocado fertilizer and follow the instructions.
10. Prune. Pruning isn’t generally recommended; however, you can pinch off new leaves to help the tree maintain its bushy shape.
Now, my friends, I do have some potentially bad news. There are benefits to starting with a seed and growing avocados indoors. Ripe avocados, however, are not one of those benefits. At least not anytime soon.
With an indoor avocado tree grown from seed, you could be looking at a decade or more before it fruits, if it produces fruit at all. Even then, the resultant avocados may not be very good. Fruit trees from seed aren’t the same as growing vegetables from seed – there’s no telling what features you may end up with.
They do make lovely houseplants, so if you’re okay with that, then absolutely try growing avocados indoors from seed. But if you want to have an actual fruiting avocado tree, you’re better off starting with rootstock and a scion.
Have you tried growing avocados indoors? Did you start with a seed?