Avocados are nutritious, delicious, and versatile in the kitchen. They’re also expensive and many of them come from California, a state experiencing a harsh drought. We certainly wish them the best for their crops and livelihoods, but you can also grow your own avocado trees at home. How?
Step 1: Starting
Remove the seed from the avocado and gently wash any of the fruit still stuck to the seed.
Step 2: Rooting
Each seed is somewhat oval shaped. The top of the oval is the part where the tree will grow upward. The bottom of the oval is where the roots will form. Take a very sharp knife and cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the seed to speed up germination. Keep wrapped in a damp towel and leave in a dark place for 2-4 weeks. The taproot will begin to emerge.
Step 3: Planting
Once the tap root has developed a length of about 2 inches long, it’s time to place your seedling in soil. The ideal soil is 1 part coco peat, 1 part perlite, and 1 part organic potting soil. A 6″ pot is a good one to start with. Pack the soil well around the seed and keep the soil fairly wet for the first week.
Step 4: Watering
Your tree will want frequent waterings but don’t let the soil get super muddy. If the leaves are yellowing, that means your tree is getting too much water. Let the soil dry for a couple days then return to light watering.
Step 5: Pruning
Pinching off the top set of leaves will cause your tree to grow stronger branches with bushier foliage. Wait to prune until your tree is a foot tall. Repeat with every 6-12 inches of growth.
Step 6: Dealing with pests
Spider mites can be a problem, especially if your tree dries out for too long. If you find the mites, you can unleash ladybugs onto your tree or use a mild soap mixed with plenty of water to wash them off. Aphids are also an issue. You can easily remove them by wrapping tape around your hand with the sticky side out and lightly patting your tree. They’ll stick to the tape and can be easily removed.
Step 7: Outdoor planting
If you live in a climate where the winter lows don’t often drop below 45 degrees, your tree can grow outside. They like acidic and alkaline soils, but the best range is 6 – 6.5 pH. If you don’t live in a warm climate, that’s fine. Keep your tree in a pot by a sunny window in the winter and outside in the summer. It just won’t grow as big.
Note: avocados have both male and female flowers but they tend to open at different times. This makes having more than one tree useful but not exactly necessary.