By Sam Burbach, Education & Programming Coordinator – 05/28/2020
Many of us have seen online that you can sprout an avocado pit and grow your very own avocado tree at home. A small disclaimer is necessary here: sprouting an avocado seed is not going to give you an endless supply of avocados here in the Midwest. Avocados grow from trees that are not hardy to our climate so we can only grow them as a house plant. Avocado trees grown from seed can take anywhere from 5-15 years to produce fruit, if they fruit at all. So while you might not be making guacamole from your tree anytime soon, it really is a fun project for kids to try, and if you decide to pot your avocado up it makes a really pretty houseplant.
My avocado sprouting project began on March 23rd when I also began sprouting my carrot tops. While starting the carrot tops was essentially just resuming growth of the root and occurred rather quickly, sprouting an avocado pit is much slower because we have to germinate the seed which is a much slower process, taking anywhere from 2-6 weeks. I started 2 avocado seeds the way many of us have seen online: by removing all the excess fruit (FUN FACT: did you know that botanically avocados are a berry!?), sticking 3 toothpicks equidistant around the seed about halfway up, and then resting those toothpicks on the rim of a jar filled with enough water to cover the bottom of the seed. Well these seeds dried out even with me adding water to keep the bottom of the seed in the water, and did not germinate so I decided to try another method.
On April 29th I started another seed, and a second seed a few days later, and this time I got some results from both seeds in a little under a month!
Here’s how you can try it at home!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- An avocado seed/pit
- A damp paper towel
- A zip lock bag
How to Grow an Avocado Seed/Pit:
- Remove the seed from the avocado and wash off excess fruit flesh.
- Loosely wrap the seed in a damp, wrung out paper towel.
- Place the paper towel and seed in a zip lock back, but do not zip closed.
- Place in a cabinet or dark place. Check on the seed every few days to make sure the paper towel is still damp and remoisten as necessary.
- TIP: Place it in a cabinet that you know you’ll be going in every day so you don’t forget about the seeds! I have it in the cabinet with the coffee grounds, but a cabinet with dishes or something else that you use every day will make sure you don’t forget about them!
- Watch for a root and a shoot to emerge!
It can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks for the seed to germinate. Once your seedling is about 6-inches tall, clip it back to about 3-inches so it can focus on growing stronger roots. Once the seedling reaches 6-inches tall again, you can transplant it into good quality potting mix that allows for good drainage. Leave the top third of the pit above the soil level. You can enjoy your avocado tree as a patio plant during summer, but you will have to bring it in for cooler weather.