Wondering how to grow an avocado at home? Well, the good news is that you can, but the bad news is it'll take a few years and even then your plant might not bear fruit. If you're in it for the long haul, then nurturing your own avocado plants could save you a fortune. And imagine the satisfaction of serving up home-grown smashed avo on sourdough. That'll give you some serious Insta bragging rights.
There are two ways to grow avocados – either from a seed or from a plant, which is quicker. If you live in the UK, the climate means most areas suffer from too much cold and frost for the plants to be grown outside, which reduces their chances of bearing fruit. For best results, grow in a greenhouse where temperature and humidity are high.
If you want to have a go, then we'd recommend trying to grow avocados from leftover seeds – it's more fun and even if you don't get fruit, you'll have a beautiful house plant. Keep reading for how to grow an avocado and how long they'll take to be ready to harvest. Or if you want to try growing a really easy crop instead, make sure you check out our guide on how to grow garlic.
TOP TIP: Try and source a stone from a Avocado ‘Brogden’. They're bred in Florida and more hardy than other varieties, surviving down to -6C.
How to grow avocados from stones
It is easy to grow a leafy avocado house plant by rooting the stone of a shop-bought avocado. Your seedling will eventually turn into an decorative indoor plant with lush and glossy leaves. Follow our easy step-by-step guide below.
1. Remove the stone (often referred to as a ‘pit’) from the fruit then clean well, being careful not to damage the outer layer of brown skin.
2. Holding the stone with its narrow pointed side up, stick three or four toothpicks into the middle section at regular intervals. They should go in to the stone to a depth of about 6mm.
3. Add water to a small glass until it reaches the rim. Sit your avocado stone over the glass so that the toothpicks support it on the rim (see pic below). The toothpicks should sit on the rim of the glass, leaving the rounded base of the stone under the water. Move it to the brightest spot you can find, generally a warm windowsill is best but make sure it's not in direct sunlight.
4. Change the water every other day so that the base of the stone is always submerged in clean water, otherwise the rooting process is hindered.
5. After 3 to 4 weeks, a tap root should emerge, followed by other fibrous roots, then the pit will start to sprout and one or two leaves will appear.
6. Remove the avocado from the glass, and carefully take out the toothpicks. Fill a small pot with houseplant compost. Bed in the roots and push in the stone so half of it is still visible above the level of the soil. Firm it in.
7. Place the avocado back on the windowsill. Water enough to keep the soil moist. Monitor the plant carefully. If the leaves turn brown at the tips this means it needs more water, while if they turn yellow it is getting too much water and needs to dry out for a day or two.
8. Apply a balanced liquid feed every two to three weeks. Water freely in summer but less often in winter.
9. As your plant grows taller, pinch off new growth to force new branches to form and keep the plant bushy. Repot every spring when the new growth starts to show.
How long does it take to grow avocados?
In the UK, you might never see fruit if you grow your plant indoors as it's unlikely to get big enough to harvest. If you have a greenhouse, then your chances are much higher. If you've planted a tree, expect to see your first fruit three to four years after planting. If you're growing from seed, it can take anywhere between five and 15 years. In the south-west of the UK it's possible to grow avocados outside and see impressive crops.
If you’re lucky enough to get fruit, pick it when it has reached full size and then leave to ripen for a couple of weeks in a warm, dry place.
Where to buy avocado plants
If you'd prefer to try your luck with a more mature avocado plant but can't find one in your local garden centre, then here are the best places to buy them online:
Common problems with growing avocados
In the UK or places with similar weather conditions, climate is the biggest issue when growing avocados. They like hot, humid conditions, so a greenhouse is your best bet for success in milder climates. If you don't have a greenhouse, position your plant in a sunny spot and make sure you repot it regularly as it grows as it will need to get quite big for it to produce fruit.
More grow your own advice:
Laura has been writing about homes and gardens for 14 years. She started out as a newspaper reporter, then was editor of a regional magazine, and editorial manager for a travel company. She started at Real Homes magazine in 2015 as Deputy Editor and then become Editor before taking on her current position, which focuses on video and events.
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