How to grow an avocado plant from a grocery store avocado pit

This post is a spin-off from Growing Grocery Store Plants: pomegranate, sweet granadilla and lemon. Due to the popularity of that post I am making a separate entry for the avocado plant instructions to make things more organized.

GROWING AVOCADO

There are two avocado plants on my windowsill, and each one was grown using a different method.

METHOD ONE: DIRECT PLANTING

First, wash the pit until it is free of residue and peel off the thin layer of brown skin. Plant it directly in a container of soil that has good drainage. Most potted soil mixes work fine.  The pointed end of the avocado pit faces up, the flat broad end faces down. Leave the top of the pit uncovered by soil.

 

It needs to be watered on a regular basis. Over the period of a few weeks, roots will form and a long thin stalk will appear, eventually growing elongated pointy leaves. This avocado plant has grown so large that I would rather grow it next to the patio door than on the windowsill. Maybe when the weather warms up we can experiment with placing it outside.

METHOD TWO: PAPER TOWEL IN PLASTIC BAG

It is also possible to sprout the avocado pit without using soil. The paper towel ziplock bag method is easy, and you’ll see results faster because you can watch the roots growing.  Simply wash off an avocado pit, peel off the brown skin, and wrap in a paper towel. Mist the paper towel with water so that it is damp but not soaking wet.

Place the paper towel covered pit inside a ziplock bag and seal the bag to lock in moisture. Leave it on a sunny windowsill. Check it every few weeks to make sure it’s still moist, and check for growth. The pit will start to crack as the roots grow.

When you have a couple of inches of root, it is time to plant it in a pot so it can draw nutrients from the soil and grow larger. Notice the stem is a bit crooked from growing inside the plastic baggy.

But don’t worry, it will straighten itself out as it becomes established in its new home.

Notice how this plant has darker leaves than the other plant. I’m wondering if I unknowingly bought two different species of avocados and that is why they look different. Hass avocados are commonly found in the grocery stores, but occasionally other breeds show up. Either way, avocados like the warmth and take at least 4-6 years to bear fruit. So maybe in a few years I’ll figure out what exactly I’m growing. Is there anyone out there who can tell me?

I may as well mention that avocados can also be grown using the suspension over water method in which toothpicks are inserted into the pit and balanced over a glass of water. I haven’t had any luck with it, so I’m not going to cover it here.

Thanks for stopping by today!

D.

PS: It has been over a year since the original post and in that time one of the avocado plants died during a failed transplantation effort. The other plant is doing just fine and growing very happily in the living room.

Also, avocados are hardy enough that you can forget to water them for weeks and all the leaves will fall off, but if you water them again and be patient they will recover.

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8 comments

  • I have 4 avocado plants that I have grown from seeds using the water method. I think I have 3 or 4 different kinds. One has definite brownish tinged leaves. The others have slight differences in stem color or leaf shape. We live in the zone 17 in southwest OR. I know avocados grow here, but I don’t know if anyone has gotten fruit from one. I plan to plant them outside in the spring if I can be somewhat sure that I could eventually get fruit. I pinched them back between growing leaves and they are branching out.

  • I tried the water/toothpick method and after about five weeks of watering and keeping in the cupboard I almost gave up. Then last watering and in the cupboard for another week I pulled it out and now roots are all over the place. The up stem [I named it the “staff”] is almost straight as an arrow with minute leaves just beginning. One thing I’m not sure of is when you say pinch back leaves as it grows, how high should the staff be before you begin pinching back the leaves. Look forward to any suggestions ……. this will be a terrace plant.

    • My gardening book suggests the following: cut the single avocado stem back to within 3 inches of the pit. Each time the stem is cut back, it sprouts a branch that takes over the lead. Do this several times. Then, leave it for a year and it should start to branch naturally.

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  • I use this method, but instead of paper towels I use long grained sphagnum moss (also known as orchid moss). It’s messier, but I like it. And I don’t have to use up all the paper towels in the house.

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