Growing avocado pits in water is a common gardening project you see around the internet. But did you know that this is actually not a reliable way to start your avocado seeds off?
As a whole, growing avocado pits in water does not guarantee successful germination every time. On the rare times it does sprout, it takes 5-20 years for the plant to bear fruit or not at all. Moreover, fruits harvested from these homegrown avocado seeds are often inferior to the original avocado.
So what is the truth? Keep reading to find out including how to grow avocado pits the reliable way:
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Table of contents
What Are The Myths About Growing Avocado Pits in Water?
There are 3 accepted myths consistently present to this day for growing avocado pits in water:
- Avocado pits will always sprout when placed half-submerged in water using the toothpick method. This is false. If you’re not familiar with the toothpick method, it’s where you stick 3-4 toothpicks into an avocado pit. This acts as leverage to suspend the seed over a glass/jar of water. You’ve probably seen this often on the internet, from Pinterest to short clips on Youtube. But the reality is most of the time, nothing happens. Some are lucky to have roots growing out of the pit, likely attributed to their region’s climate. In essence, don’t expect a 100% germination rate from this method.
- Homegrown avocado plants developed from pits will bear fruits for you. This is semi-true because there are cases where this has happened to some people. However, the general consensus is the plant will unlikely bear any fruit. Even if it does, it could take anywhere from 5 – 20 years. To top it off, the resulting avocado won’t taste exactly like the one you had and may even be of poor quality. If you want to try growing an avocado plant for their fruits, you need to start with a grafted transplant. This will bear fruit for you in 2-3 years with the specific variety you want.
- You can leave an avocado pit to grow in water indefinitely. This is both true and false:
- For the majority of us regular folks, this is false simply because it’s more of a hassle to leave it in a jar/vase/pot of water to develop. An avocado plant always matures into a tree, dwarf or otherwise. Ultimately, it will outgrow its tiny home and eventually topple over due to its heavy topside. Even if you decide to plant it in soil by then, it will take a while for the plant to get used to its new growth medium. It will direct most of its energy to grow new roots in the soil, causing the existing top growth to die off. Conclusion? An avocado pit and plant can’t grow in the water forever.
- If you have the knowledge and experience to grow plants in a hydroponic system, this is true. However, it’ll be a lot of work and maintenance. You will need a design to change the plant’s water weekly. This is important to avoid algae and bacteria growth from developing and killing the plant. You will also need an extensive system to accommodate the plant’s mature growth over the years. Like I said, this is too much work. So, can you keep avocado seeds in water forever? As a general rule, no. This is too much hassle for a plant that eventually matures into a tree. As a tree, it will require ample space to grow its roots and plenty of nutrients to grow well. A hydroponic system may be possible when it is younger, but not in its mature size.
These myths aren’t inherently harmful to anyone. But the misinformation it spreads can give you false expectations about growing your avocado pits in water. At least now you know the reality of it.
How to Grow Avocado Pits as Indoor Plants?
Realistically, when you want to grow avocado from seeds, don’t grow it expecting to harvest fruits anytime soon. This method is one of the longest and tedious ways to try doing that.
But if you are keen on growing avocados to harvest their fruit, start with grafted avocado plants. They’ll begin yielding you avocados in 2-3 years. They might be really pricy though, so it’s really up to you. For this reason, the following method focuses solely on making use of your avocado pits to grow them into a houseplant.
Prepare the following items:
- 2-3 avocados
- A knife
- Medium-sized pots about 5-6 inches in depth and width
- Well-draining potting soil with aerated materials such as gravel or vermiculite
Here’s how you can get started:
1. Collect your avocado pits. Be careful not to knick the seed when you cut the avocado open. Otherwise, you risk introducing an open wound for pathogens to sneak in, no matter how tiny the opening is.
2. Wash the pits clean under warm running water thoroughly.
3. Identify the top and bottom parts of the avocado pit. The top part should look pointy, while the bottom part should be slightly flat.
4. In the prepared pots, pour in the potting soil until it is ⅔ full.
5. Gently push the avocado pit, flat side first, into the soil. The flat side is where the roots will sprout from. Ensure to leave the top half uncovered.
6. Water the soil to settle it around the seed.
Optional: If more of the pit is exposed, add more potting soil, just enough to cover the lower half completely.
Ensure the soil is consistently moist to allow the roots to grow. Soon a stem and the first set of leaves will poke through the top portion of the avocado pit.
Alternatively, there’s another method where you germinate the avocado pits first. This ensures your seed sprouts roots before transferring them into a pot. It also helps you spot which seeds are a dud rather than waiting several months with a pit that doesn’t show any signs of growing in soil.
Here’s how you can germinate your avocado pit before planting:
- Prepare the following items:
- Avocado pits
- Tissue paper
- A spray bottle filled with water
- A Ziploc bag or airtight container
- Wrap the avocado pits individually with tissue paper.
- Spritz the wrapped seeds with water until it’s damp but not soaking.
- Place the wrapped seeds in a Ziploc bag or airtight container and store them in a dark place.
- Check on your avocado pits every day to see whether roots have sprouted. If the tissue paper feels dry to the touch, spritz it with water.
- Once the seed cracks open and roots start to sprout, let it grow for about 3 inches. Ensuring to keep the tissue paper damp throughout this process.
- Once the roots are 3 inches long, remove the tissue paper and plant the seeds in potting soil. Be careful with the delicate roots here; create a hole in the soil to gently ease the germinate avocado pit into its new home. Again, make sure to keep the seed’s top half uncovered.
You may encounter some problems along the way with either one of these methods. Here’s a bit of troubleshooting on how to handle them:
- If the seed doesn’t show any signs of growth in the germination method or in soil for 2-3 months, it is likely a dud. Throw it out and start over again with new avocado pits.
- If a white and slimy film appears in the Ziploc bag or airtight container, wash your avocado pit and wrap it in a new damp tissue paper. Make sure to thoroughly clean the container with soapy water to get rid of the film.
- If during germination, your avocado pit starts to smell like vinegar, it’s dead. This is because pathogens have somehow gotten inside the seed and rotted it. Throw it out and start with a new avocado pit.
How Do I Take Care of my Avocado Houseplant?
There are 3 simple things you need to do to maintain your avocado plant through the years:
- Prune your avocado plant twice a year. Avocado plants tend to grow quite tall, with no lateral shoots growing in their initial growth if you don’t prune it. Do any of the following pruning techniques to amend this:
- Pinch off 2-3 leaves every time it grows 6 inches in its initial development. This will encourage side shoots to grow, creating a bushier look.
- Decide a suitable height you like your plant to stay at and cut it down at the main stem. Don’t worry; it will start growing lateral shoots, creating a more compact look.
- If you don’t mind your avocado plant growing tall and bare, simply prune it yearly. Remove any damaged or dead leaves, keeping at least 3 shoots actively growing on the plant.
- Provide plenty of indirect sunlight to your avocado plant. Avoid direct sunlight. If the leaves turn red, this means it is getting too much sun. Quickly move it to a shaded area to allow it to recover.
- Water your avocado plant regularly to keep the soil moist, not soggy. Like most overwatering problems, you want to avoid rotting roots altogether. Let your avocado plant thrive with medium watering every other day to ensure excellent growth.
And that’s all there is to it. Congrats, you now know how to grow avocado pits the right way! It’s alright if you get some of the process wrong here and there. You learn as you go along, and that’s what matters. Happy planting!