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Germinating and Growing Avocados as House Plants

The Portuguese originally introduced avocados to Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese call it Aligata Pera, giving it the name of Alligator Pear in the USA. It is also known as butter fruit, butter pear and laurel peach. Growing areas include Israel, Mexico, Spain, South Africa and California.

Getting Started: Select an avocado that is soft when you give it a squeeze. Carefully cut fruit in half lengthwise to get to the seed. A gentle twist of the cut fruit will release your seed. Remember whether you grow it in water or in soil, set the seed with its base (the wider portion) down and the tip up. Having trouble telling which end goes down? Look for the slight stem scar on one end. That is the part that goes down and will grow roots.

Method 1
Wash avocado seed to remove any pulp. Using a very sharp knife you can cut off a thin slice of the top and bottom of the seed, this speeds up the germination. Wrap in very damp paper towel. Place in a covered dish and put it in a dark place for 2-4 weeks. Check in now and then to see if anything is happening. The taproot is generally the first growth to merge from the seed. Once the root is around 3 inches long plant your avocado following the potting method. 

Method 2
Another method to sprout the seed, remove the large seed from the center of the fruit and wash it in water. For propagation purposes, the broad end of the seed is considered to be the bottom. The pointed end is the top. Insert several toothpicks into the sides of the seed. They should be placed about halfway up the pit. Then suspend the seed in a glass of water. The bottom 1/4 of the seed should rest in water. During this time add water to maintain the initial water level. Occasionally dump out the water and replace with fresh water. Place on a windowsill in good light. However, do not leave in direct sunlight for long periods. In about two to three weeks, the pit will start to crack. In another three to four weeks, a single root will appear at the submerged end of the pit. In the next one to three weeks a stem will start growing. When the root is two or three inches long and the stem is at least an inch or two you will be ready to plant. If it doesn't sprout within 2 to 3 months, discard the original avocado pit and begin another. As not all pits will grow we recommend starting several pits at one time so you get at least one or more plants.

Method 3
Just plant the pit in the soil from the beginning. Carefully peel off the brown seed coat of a fresh avocado pit and plant the seed in a 6-inch container (with a drainage hole) filled with a rich, well draining potting soil. Leave about 1/3 of the top of the seed protruding from the soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Do not allow soil to dry out. It can take a month or longer for the avocado sprout to emerge using this method.

Potting for Growing Methods 1 and 2
Pot the seedling when the root system has become well developed; the roots should be at least 2 to 3 inches long. Plant the white taproot in dirt leaving the top "red sprout" and 1/3 of the upper seed exposed. Position the seed in the center of the pot. A 6" plastic or clay pot is suitable and please put some gravel in the bottom of the pot for drainage. A good soil mix for avocados is: 1 part Coco Peat, 1 part perlite and 1 part sterilized potting soil. Pack the dirt well around the seed. Keep the soil fairly wet for the first week. After that water as described below.
: Once the plants filled their pots up with healthy roots, they should be potted in larger ones. Repotting should be done in the spring.

Growing Tips
Bright indirect light is best for young avocado plants, direct sun will give younger plants a sunburn! They prefer moderate temperatures of 60 F to 80 F. Your plant can grow 4-5 feet tall rather quickly.
It's a good practice to mist the leaves of your avocado every few days if the air in your home is very dry.
Spring is the best time for pruning. If you would like to prune to keep it bushier pinch just the tip of the growing top when your plant is 1 foot tall. Repeat the procedure when it has grown to 2 to 3 feet tall. This should give you slower growing but very sturdy side branches. They don't always respond well to pruning.

Watering avocados correctly is critical to their success as a house plant. 

Avocados are very susceptible to root rot. Using too much water applied too often means the soil will stay wet for long periods, causing the roots in the waterlogged soil to begin to rot and die.  With their roots gone the plants wilt as if they are thirsty. These plants will not perk up when they're watered. If the soil is kept soggy with water, then it contains no oxygen so the roots won't function and will rot.

You want to use pots with drainage holes for the plants. No closed containers please. When you water them the excess water in the saucer should be dumped so it isn't absorbed back into the soil.

Again use a potting mix that allows good drainage The soil mix should be light and porous not heavy. Watering from above is recommended. Water should be added to the point that some comes out the drainage holes.

Another mistake in watering is to constantly give the plant small amounts of water like an 8 ounce cupful. This will actually allow the rootball to dry out.

Fertilize every 2 weeks month during the spring and summer. In winter fertilize just once every 6 weeks. Our Golden Harvest Natural Fertilizer is great for your avocado plant!

Problem Solving

  • Yellowing, Dropping Leaves: Too much water or not enough sunlight can cause yellowing and dropping of the lower leaves. Cut back on water and move to a sunnier location.

  • Browning of Leaf Edges: This can be caused by a lack of humidity. Setting the pot on a tray of pebbles and water will help increase humidity around your avocado plant but don't let the water level in the tray touch the bottom of the pot. Sometimes the brown leaf edges stay no matter what we do. The brown area can be trimmed off for aesthetic purposes.

  • General Yellowing of new or older Leaves: This is a sign of fertilizer deficiency. We will see yellowing of the leaf tissue while the veins remain green to tip us off to this situation. Fertilize once or twice a month during the spring and summer. Winter is rest time. Our Golden Harvest Natural Fertilizer is great for your avocado plant!

Have fun and grow a few plants for your friends!

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