Avo-care-do

I really don’t understand how these plants grew in the wild – they are much fussier than I thought they’d be! Here is how to grow your own avocado tree from seed.

I have had three attempts to growing an avocado baby, one of them worked. Here is how I did it – and what went wrong, so you don’t make the same mistakes!

Step 1
Eat an avocado! That’s the best bit. Save the pit and soak it in water for 5 minutes.

Step 2
Peel the brown skin off to reveal the lighter brown pit. Pat dry if still a bit damp.

Step 3
The aim is to balance the pit into a small glass of water so about half of it is submerged. Make sure it is the right way up – the rounder part at the bottom. Get three toothpicks or bend three safety pins, and stick them at equal distance into the pit about a third of the way down. Fill a glass of water, and when you place the pit on the rim, the sticks should allow it to sit there comfortably.

Balancing the pit in the glass of water with three bent safety pins. One of my first attempts

Step 4
Place in a sunny spot indoors. Change the water every two days, and wait! After a few weeks it should split, with a crack appearing down the middle of the pit from which the roots and stem will eventually grow.

Step 5
I have heard contradicting advice about when to put your avocado plant into soil – some say wait until it has a leaf, some say you can put it in as soon as it grows roots. I compromised and waited until the root looked sturdy, despite it only having a tiny stem and no leaves yet. It seemed to work fine. Plant your avocado into a medium sized pot, so the top layer of soil half covers the pit.

The successful avocado plant in July 2020. Notice how the soil doesn’t cover the whole pit, just halfway up

Step 6
Water every few days, so the soil stays moist but not soggy. I also fed it Baby Bio once every two weeks, because I live in a cold country and wanted to give it a boost.

That’s as far as I’ve got! It was a learning process, and I will update this page if anything changes or I do more with it. I have my own questions about when to move it to a bigger pot, how to help it thrive in the British winter and so on.

The same plant in November 2020

It took me three avocado pits to get it (somewhat) right. Here are my biggest three mistakes I made in the first attempts.

Mistake 1: Not peeling the skin off

For my first two attempts, I washed the remnants of avocado off the pits, but didn’t peel off the darker brown skin. As a result, the skin grew mould really quickly which hindered the growth of the plant, and was also pretty gross.

Now I know to soak the pit for a few minutes, and then peel off the skin to revealing a lighter colour base underneath.

Mistake 2: Not knowing when to give up

Not every avocado pit will grow into a plant, some will be duds, some will grow slowly, some not at all. That’s ok! And it doesn’t reflect how well you are looking after them.

My second mistake was waiting for something that would never happen. I left a pit in its glass for months without it ever splitting. I attentively washed it when it grew mould and replaced the sticks, and still no roots were forthcoming.

I would advise that if there are still no signs of splitting after 6 weeks, it’s time to call it quits and try again with another avocado. (A lesson about life as well, maybe?)

Mistake 3: Not giving it enough sunlight

I found a much sunnier spot for my third attempt, which I think was a major factor in its success. For the first two, I put it in an area that other plants seemed to find OK, but clearly wasn’t sunny enough for the avocado (it was by a north-facing window…).

Avocados grow in the wild in places like South Africa and Mexico, so they are used to hot, wet climates with lots of sun. Try to replicate that as much as possible (but don’t put it near a radiator or heater or it will dry out and go crispy).

Update: January 2022

Magically this avocado has lived for more than a year (since October 2020!), and I have learned a few more lessons along the way.

Lesson 1

Avocado plant care. The young avocado plant is lopsided in its flower pot

They can grow lopsided! You can correct this by cutting off the branches that unbalance the plant and better distribute the weight. Or you can do what I did and ignore the problem for a while, then try and prop it up by tying it to a stick in the flower pot. I think I am going to eventually chop off the branch though. If you do this, I imagine it is best to do so before spring so the plant has some time and energy to do some more growing to compensate for the mutilation.

Lesson 2

Avocado plant care. The avocado plant's roots have outgrown the orange flower pot and dangle below

They quickly outgrow their pot. Most houseplants need repotting every year, and I thought it’d be the same of the avocado. But this is what it looked like after a year! She definitely could have used a bigger pot sooner. Luckily the roots were sturdy and survived me untangling and extracting them from this pot, and the plant is now doing well in a more spacious home.

Good luck! Hope this was helpful and you grow some fine avocado plants. Feel free to tag me in your Instagram stories with your avo’s progress with @foodwastewriter

Published by foodwastestories

Sharing stories to tackle root causes of food waste. Plus food waste tips, long reads, and reviews! Follow on Instagram @foodwaste.stories

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