Often I’ve heard how amazed people are that I’ve had so much success growing avocado plants from seeds. I think it is because the old toothpick-over-water method is such a hit or miss.
So far I’ve had 95% success with sprouting avocado pits with the method I’m going to share today. I can’t take credit for coming up with it…who knows where it first started, but a number of blogger friends have shared variations of this with great success. So I gave it a try myself with a few small tweaks, and a few different sets of pits to experiment. Sure enough, it lived up to expectations, so I’m excited to continue to share the love!
Here’s how I successfully sprout avocado pits:
#1. Soak The Avocado Seeds Overnight
As soon as you remove the pit from the avocado, clean it and soak it in warm water overnight. If you aren’t on well water, use filtered or mineral water moving forward.
#2. Peel Away The Outside Husk
You probably won’t be able to peel all of the outside husk at once, but get as much as you can. Don’t worry, in the next few steps you’ll have opportunity for the husk to soften up and peel more away.
While this step is technically not required, occasionally a harder husk may prevent the root or shoot from growing properly. I had to remove the husk on a couple of my avocado pits because the root couldn’t penetrate it and grow straight out the bottom. It rerouted to grow out the side, which you don’t want. Give your avocado seed every advantage you can!
#3. Wrap In A Wet Paper Towel
Wrap each seed in a wet paper towel. It doesn’t have to be dripping wet, but it should be more than just a little moist, and use warm water.
#4. Place In An Airtight Plastic Container In a Dark Place
Place the wrapped avocado pits in an airtight plastic container, or a ziplock bag. Set it in a dark and warm or room-temperature location (or just make sure the location isn’t cool).
I put mine in a kitchen cabinet where I wouldn’t forget about it.
#5. Check Once A Week & Change Paper Towel
Check in on the status of your avocado seeds at least once a week, and rise them off so they don’t get mildewy. Swap out the old paper towel with a fresh wet paper towel weekly; this prevents it from drying out, or molding.
During these checks you should be able to peel the rest of the husk off the avocado (bit by bit), and eventually they should all split. That is usually an indication that a root is starting to form.
Leave it in that dark warm location until the root starts to protrude out the bottom. Don’t let the root get long otherwise it will grow bent. It should protrude just outside the seed…
#6. Place On A Jar of Water Once Rooted
Once the root is protruding from the avocado seed move it to a jar filled with filtered water if you are on public water, or buy mineral water to sprout your avo seeds. My well water is like magic super sauce when it comes to propagating. You can use the toothpick method to hold the avocado above the water at this point. Or get a jar with a mouth just wide enough for the avocado seed to sit atop, or use a prop cone like this one I bought here.
Don’t submerge the whole seed, but make sure the root is touching the water. In the next week or two you should see the root grow down into the water and even send out root offshoots.
Be sure to place your sprouted avocado seed in a bright spot (indirect sunlight) in your house for it to grow.
Helpful Care & Growth Tips
Once the roots are deep down in the water it is okay that part of the root is exposed to air. However be careful to not allow the water to evaporate over time.
It may take several more weeks before the shoots finally emerge and you get any leaves. But in the meantime rinse the roots and refill with fresh water if you start to see buildup on the roots. And move the seed to a taller jar once the roots start to hit the bottom. You don’t want to stifle root growth.
Typically it takes about 8 weeks to go from day one soaking the seed, to having roots and shoots with small leaflets. However some avo seeds are late bloomers while others burst on scene, but on average this is the approximate times my various sets of avocado plants have taken to grow.
- Soaking (Day 1)
- Seed splits and root is visible inside split (Week #2-3)
- Roots grow down into water and branch out (Week #3-5)
- Shoot starts to emerge and grows tall (Week #4-6)
- Shoot grow real leaves (Week #6-8)
- Nice sized leaves, established root system…you have a real plant! (Week #10)
Moving It To Soil + Plant Care
The seeds sprout, grow, and do well in water for quite a while. But once your plant starts to grow tall (about a foot), it will need the nutrients it can only get in soil. It will grow tall fast and get top heavy, but the stem/trunk will be skinny instead of hearty if you don’t transfer it to soil before it grows too tall.
Use potting soil, and a pot with drainage holes in the bottom plus a drip tray. Avocado plants can end up with root rot and die if the roots sit in moisture for too long. Water it deeply and allow the top 2 inches of soil dry out between waterings.
Make sure your avocado plant gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Too much direct sun may burn the leaves, especially while it is young and just getting established. Avocado plants like the sun, the warmth, even humidity. It also needs to be fertilized periodically, but the frequency depends on the type of fertilizer…follow instructions.
And finally don’t forget to transplant into a bigger pot if you want it to grow tall and bushy. Once it is a few feet tall and looks like a regular tree, you can trim the top to encourage it to grow bushier and branch out.
Will It Ever Bear Fruit? / Why Grow It?
Let’s be honest, your chances of ever bearing quality avocados from your little seed sprouted tree aren’t very high. Avocado trees need other companion avocado trees in order to pollinate (so plan to grow more than one). And even if they do, it could take upwards of 15+ years to fruit and the produce might not be the best quality. Typically fruit bearing avocado trees produced from a graft are your best bet to get a ‘real’ plant that produces good fruit within a couple years. I bought two grafted avocado trees online, and it would have produced fruit in a year or two if I hadn’t killed it from over-watering. I was a rookie back then…
Alternatively you could use your seed-sprouted avocado tree as a base and actually graft a piece of a fruit bearing avocado branch onto it once it is big…but that requires a lot more knowledge and effort than simply buying a ready-to-go avocado tree.
So why grow it? Well I consider my seeded avocado plants a free houseplant. Think of it no differently than you would think of a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. This variety of fig tree will never produce actual figs, and it’s not the easiest plant to care for, yet we love it in our decor as a sought after houseplant. So if my avocado tree does well over the years and I’m lucky to get fruit from it before my kids have kids, great! Otherwise I will likely buy a more mature tree for the purpose of gaining produce, and enjoy these seed sprouted ones as likely ornamental.
How about you? Have you had success sprouting or growing avocado plants? Share with us over on Instagram or Facebook!