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. Here's how to grow avocados and how long they'll take to be ready to harvest.
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
1. Remove the stone from the fruit and then clean well, being careful not to damage the brown skin
2.. Insert three or four toothpicks into the stone, evenly spaced, about one-third of the way down from the pointy end
3. Sit the stone on a glass, a jar or cut-off bottle, so that the toothpicks support it on the rim (see pic below).
4. Add enough water to cover the stone's bottom half, and refresh water regularly. Avocados hate salty water, so you might need to filter the water, depending on where you live.
5. You’ll need to keep the stone in a warm place but not direct sunlight.
6. It’ll take about six weeks for roots and a sprout to appear. Once the sprout reaches six inches, chop it back to three inches and wait for leaves to appear. You can then transplant it to an indoor container with soil. See below for how to plant.
How to grow avocado plants
Once your avocado seed has sprouted and is ready to move to soil, or if you've bought a pre-grown plant, here's how to grow it:
1. Plant in a soil-based compost with added sharp sand. Use containers at least 30cm wide to encourage growth. If you're planting a sprouted stone, keep the top half of the stone above the soil line, while the bottom half goes below.
2. Place in a bright, sunny position. A south-facing windowsill is perfect.
3. Apply a balanced liquid feed every two to three weeks. Water freely in summer but less often in winter.
4. As the plant grows, pinch back to encourage denser growth and better likelihood of fruit.
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
Our climate in the UK is the biggest issue when growing avocados. They like hot, humid conditions, so a greenhouse is your best bet for success. 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 bit fo produce fruit.