There’s simply nothing like a perfectly ripe avocado, whether artfully arrayed in slices on toast or mashed into a bowl of guacamole. If these tropical fruits are a must-have in your kitchen, you’ll be excited to know that it’s possible to grow them at home.
It’s true that these tropical evergreens need warm, sunny weather and can’t be planted outdoors, where they’ll be able to grow to their full height of 40 to 80 feet tall, except in frost-free growing zones 10-12. But the good news is that you can still grow an avocado tree indoors to enjoy as a houseplant.
Best Growing Conditions for Avocados
Avocado trees love sunny, warm conditions. Indoors, be sure to display them in full sun. A sunny window with a southern exposure is ideal.
For the same reason, keep your avocado tree away from cold drafts. They grow best in moderately humid environments between 60 and 85 degrees. If possible, put your plant outdoors during the summer months once nights are 50 degrees and above so that it can get full sun, then bring it back indoors in the fall.
How to Care for Your Avocado Plant
Plant your avocado in a rich, well-draining container mix formulated for fruits and vegetables. Water frequently enough to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy, to avoid root rot. Keep an eye out for yellowing leaves, which can be a sign of overwatering.
Feed your avocados using organic fertilizer for fruits and vegetables once in the spring, once in the summer, and once in early fall. Avoid fertilizing in the winter months, which is when the tree goes dormant.
You can grow your own avocado plant using the seed from a grocery store avocado or by propagating a cutting from an existing plant.
Repot avocados in the spring when the growth cycle restarts. Once the plant has grown to 12 inches tall, cut back all but six inches of the plant to encourage fuller, bushier growth. Pinch back growth tips during summer to encourage new growth while keeping the plant at a manageable size.
How to Propagate an Avocado Plant
The easiest way to grow an avocado tree as a houseplant is using the pit of a ripe avocado you purchased at the store. However, you’re unlikely to grow a tree that bears good fruit this way.
Avocados can also be propagated via stem tip cuttings. These plants can eventually bear fruit in the right conditions, although it may take up to 10 years for a young plant to grow its first avocados.
How to Propagate an Avocado Plant from Seed
You'll need a small plant pot, potting soil, toothpicks, glass or jar, and a fresh avocado pit.
Step 1: Wash the avocado pit so that no avocado flesh remains.
Step 2: Insert toothpicks into three sides of the pit and suspend the pit in the opening of a glass or jar of water so that roughly an inch of the pit is submerged. Place the container in a warm place with bright, indirect light but out of direct sunlight.
Step 3: Keep an eye on the pit. Within a month or so, it should sprout. After the sprout is six inches tall, cut back all but the bottom three inches of the plant’s growth. This will help the root system grow stronger.
Step 4: When leaves have regrown, plant the baby avocado tree in a pot with soil and care for as usual.
How to Propagate an Avocado Plant Via Stem Tip Cuttings
You’ll need a small plant pot with drainage holes in the bottom; soilless rooting medium such as a mix of half peat moss and half perlite; a large, clear plastic bag; a clean, sharp cutting blade such as a pair of garden shears, rooting hormone powder, and a length of string or a rubber band.
Step 1: Fill a small plant pot with the rooting medium. Using a pencil or your finger, poke a hole a few inches deep into the surface of the medium.
Step 2: Using a clean, sharp blade, take a six-inch stem tip cutting from a healthy, mature avocado plant. Choose a new shoot with leaves that are not completely open yet. Make the cut diagonally.
Step 3: Trim off the leaves on the bottom third of the cutting. Using your blade, scrape two half-inch cuts in the skin of the stem on opposite sides near the bottom of the cutting. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting powder, making sure both the cut end and the two scrapes are coated in powder.
Step 4: Plant the cutting stem end down in the hole you poked in the rooting medium. Gently pat the soil around the base of the cutting so that it is firmly in place and able to stand up on its own. Water the pot so that the growing medium is well moistened.
Step 5: Place the plastic bag over and around the cutting so that the leaves and stem are not touching the sides of the bag. Stick chopsticks or plastic forks in the soil around the cutting to hold the bag away from it if necessary. Secure it in place around the container with a piece of string or rubber band to create a humid, greenhouse-like environment.
Step 6: Place the cutting in a sunny, warm place, checking the soil moisture every few days. Water when the soil surface dries out. Keep an eye out for new growth, which can take up to six months to appear. This means that the cutting has successfully rooted and can be transplanted into a larger container and cared for as usual.