Tacos, toasts, salads, and sandwiches—just some of your favorite foods that could use a little bit of avocado. They’re versatile, they’re yummy and most importantly they’re very nutritious. What’s not to like? So join me today as we talk about how to grow avocado at home.
Thanks to the internet, avocado has joined the long list of trendy superfoods that everyone can’t seem to get enough of. Be it the ever simple but classic avocado toast or a quick guacamole, chances are, they’ve graced your Instagram feed.
Well, they are pretty to look at and there are indeed a lot of ways you can enjoy them, so it isn’t that surprising to see their rise to popularity these past couple of years. But do they live up to the hype? Honest answer—yes.
Look, long before it became trendy, I’ve been eating fresh avocados since I was a kid. Avocados are just simply tasty. Plus, there are tons of health benefits that you can get by eating this fruit.
To start, avocado is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K. It’s also rich in folate, magnesium, and potassium. They even contain more potassium than bananas! And the fats that come with avocados are actually monounsaturated—the good kind of fats.
These are the ones that can help in lowering your cholesterol level as well as improving your heart health.
Simply put, it’s great to have avocados around, but they do tend to get a bit expensive on the market. Makes you want to plant your own avocado tree in your backyard. Well, I’ve got you covered. I’ve made a simple guide on growing avocado that you can easily follow.
Here are all the things you need to know about how to grow avocado at home.
Difficulty Level, Maintenance, And Other Advantages
Here’s the thing, planting avocados? Super easy. It’s pretty straightforward and you don’t really need much to start your own avocado plant.
And when it comes to caring for your avocado plant, you don’t need to worry about it so much. It’s relatively low maintenance and doesn’t need much monitoring.
But when it comes to waiting for it to fruit, that’s when the hard part comes in. You need to have a lot of patience when growing this one, ‘cause it can take anywhere from five to fifteen years. Yup, I know. It’s that long.
Remember, you’re growing an avocado tree so it’s gonna take a lot of time before you’re rewarded by a basketful of fruits in your hands. But during this time, you can just think of it as a houseplant.
Good luck, I’m rooting for you! (pun intended)
How To Grow Avocado
When is the best time to plant avocado?
Before you start bringing out your gardening tools and equipment, you need to check your calendar first. Are you sure you’re starting your avocado tree at the right time?
Avocados are tropical in nature so they do best at moderately warm climates. You should really avoid freezing temperatures so your best bet is starting in March through June. This plant thrives in temperate temperatures and hates intense heat and cold.
How do I start an avocado tree?
To grow your own avocado at home, you can choose to either start it from seed or by planting a young tree. Remember what I said earlier about patience? If you do start from seed, that’s where you’ll be needing it most.
See, starting from an avocado pit may require ten or more years before your tree begins to produce some fruit. There won’t be a 100 % guarantee that it will, since avocados are known for not growing true to seed.
And if it does fruit, it may or may not be edible. I know, super risky, right?
You may have been interested in planting your own avocado by watching or reading about the ones starting from an avocado pit. And, yes it is pretty simple and it looks so fun (it definitely is), but most likely, you’ll end up with a houseplant that way.
And the odds that your tree will fruit will be very slim.
On the other hand, you can just purchase a young avocado tree. You may not be able to see it grow from scratch, but it’s a sure way for your trees to eventually produce fruits. And it takes off a couple of years of waiting time!
If you start from a young tree, you can start harvesting in about 5 to 7 years. Plus, most of the young trees that are available for purchase, are usually grafted. The commercial avocados in the market are mostly from grafted avocado trees too.
It’s your choice whether you want to do it from scratch or not. But I recommend starting from a young avocado tree. You’d still be caring for it for years, so essentially, you’re still growing your own avocado tree. It’s not ‘cheating’, it’s just the most practical way.
You can buy a young avocado tree at your local garden centre or try this one I found on Amazon. It’s quite inexpensive and comes from a reputable company. You want your young avocado trees healthy so make sure it comes from a trusted source.
I’ll share some of my favorite varieties to grow to help you pick.
What avocado varieties should I grow?
Growing avocados in your own garden comes with the perks of choosing the varieties you want. And there are so many to choose from! Search for the variety that will best suit your zone. I’ve listed some below. I hope one of these will be a perfect fit for your garden.
When choosing the right avocado for your region, you need to know about these three main categories first—Guatemalan, Mexican and West Indian.
Among these types, the Mexican avocados are the most cold-hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to 19-20 F. (-7 C.). The least cold tolerant between the three is the West Indian. It’s hardy only to 33 F. (.56 C.).
The Guatemalan lies between these two types and can tolerate temperatures down to 30 F. (-1 C.).
Now that you know the three main types, here are some of my favorite varieties to grow:
Hass– This is a Guatemalan x Mexican hybrid popular for its excellent flavor. It has a pebbly peel texture that also darkens to black when the fruit is ripening. If you’re in the coastal areas, consider growing these.
Bacon – Another Guatemalan x Mexican hybrid and of the most frost tolerant varieties to grow. It only has a short season so make sure you don’t leave it on the tree for too long. It may rot at the blossom end.
Zutano – This Mexican avocado’s flavor and overall fruit quality can only be described as fair since it’s ‘watery’. But it is a consistent producer. You can plant this as a pollenizer tree for your Hass.
Gwen – This particular variety likes temperate climates and is very intolerant to cold and heat as well as wind or drought. Like Hass, it has a pebbly skin and is very tasty.
- Pinkerton – This is an excellent variety to grow in the subtropics and warm temperate zones. It’s very adaptable and can grow well over a range of climatic conditions. It produces large fruits and has an excellent eating quality.
Other varieties you might want to check out are Walden, Hazzard, Mexicola, Stewart, Reed and Little Cado.
These varieties have more or less the same growing conditions so you wouldn’t have any problems trying different ones. Just pick the ones that will grow best in your region.
Should I grow avocado in a container or grow it in the ground?
Since you’re growing avocados for years before you can harvest it, I find that growing them in containers and treating them as house plants is the best way. When you’ve purchased a young avocado tree, a large round pot will do.
Mine is a 24″ pot, about 15 to 25 gallons. But you can start with a 6-8’” pot, depending on the size of the young avocado tree that you’ve purchased. Just transplant it to a bigger container as it gets larger.
Since avocados are not really cold-hardy and frost-tolerant, this works totally well. I just bring it indoors when it’s winter or when the temperatures drop. I can even adjust the heat and the amount of sun it receives by just lugging it around the house.
When you grow them in containers, you restrict their height. As container plants, they’ll grow about 6-8′ tall but it will take a long time for your young plant to grow this size. Make sure there are enough draining holes at the bottom and that you’re not blocking them.
You don’t want it to be waterlogged. Place a draining disk at the bottom to help with moisture retention.
These Terracotta containers from Amazon are the perfect containers for your avocados. They’re porous which allows for a better aeration of the roots. Plus it causes the soil to dry quicker so less risk of potential pathogens.
How do I prepare the soil?
Your avocado tree will need a fine sandy loam with good drainage. This is a must. If you want your avocados to grow for a long time healthily, make sure the correct soil is used.
A sandy soil is needed because avocados thrive in well-aerated loose soil. This plant can grow in slightly acidic to alkaline soil but it does best in soil pH ranging between 6 to 6.5. Have your soil tested at a soil testing lab. Check your local government extension unit.
Amend with lime if needed.
The avocado’s roots are gonna root excessively so it’s better to have deep soils. Use a high quality potting mix, mix in a general fertilizer and add some sand to aid in drainage and you’re good to go.
I see that using 75% sand and 25% high quality potting mix works best for avocados, you might wanna try that.
How do I plant the avocado?
Since we’ve started with a young avocado tree, we’re mostly left with plant care. However, you’ll still be needing to transplant them. A young grafted avocado tree will do well as a houseplant but as it gets larger, an appropriate size of container needs to be used.
See to it that when it grows to about 6 to 8’ tall, it’s already transplanted on a large pot. A 24″ pot will do, or containers that are 15 to 25 gallons. Transplant from March to June so your plant has time to acclimate before extreme heat kicks in.
How and when do I thin my avocado plant?
Since we started with a young grafted avocado tree, we will be skipping this part. Instead, I recommend pruning your avocado tree to train its size and keep it bushy. Avocados can get very very tall, so in order to dwarf the avocado, we need to prune it while they’re young.
After disinfecting your pruning tools, cut the central stem. Cut it back to 3 inches once it’s 6 inches tall. This will encourage your plant to produce stronger branches and stem.
Prune again once it reaches 12 inches in height. Do this by cutting the tip and upper leaves off of the central stem. This will encourage new and bushier growth.
When you see the lateral branches have grown 6 to 8 inches, trim the tips of these branches. This is to “train” your young tree to a desirable width for your container.
How much water does my avocado tree really need?
One of the most important parts of plant care that you need to focus on is how to water your avocado tree. When grown in pots, soil tends to dry up quickly and that’s not really a problem since avocados are fairly drought-tolerant in pots.
Also, avocados don’t like much moisture around its roots as it is prone to root rot. What I recommend doing is deep but infrequent watering. Give it a gallon of water twice a month. Three times at most when you see that it needs more.
Water at the base.
If you put your plants outdoors reduce the amount of water to consider the rainfall it might get.
How often does my avocado trees need to be fertilized?
Avocados aren’t really heavy feeders. The multipurpose fertilizer we’ve incorporated on the soil during planting will give your avocado plant enough nutrients for it to grow healthily.
After that, adding a balanced liquid fertilizer (like 7-9-5) during watering will be enough. If you followed my advice on watering your plants twice a month, you can add ½ tsp per gallon of water.
During its first year, I suggest you use a fish emulsion fertilizer (link to Amazon). This will promote even growth.
Like any other plants, avocados can suffer from overfertilization. Some of the signs of fertilization include burned foliage and excessive lush leaf growth. This may result in reduced fruiting potential and root diseases.
If you saw these symptoms on your plant and felt like you’ve overfertilized them, it’s time to leach the fertilizer out. You can do this by watering the plant continuously for several minutes. Do so until you see water leaking out at the bottom of the pot.
How much sun does my avocado tree need?
Avocados will thrive in full sun. It grows best when given at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Place your pot in a warm sunny spot.
When the temperatures drop below 45°F or during winter, bring it indoors.
Which climate better suits avocado? (Best Hardiness Zones)
Avocado is a tropical plant that prefers warm to temperate climates. If you’re in a region where temperatures go under 50 degrees Fahrenheit and experiences frost, it’s probably not a good idea to grow these. Although you may have a better chance if you opt with the Mexican type.
This plant also prefers high humidity of 60 to 80 percent and can tolerate no less than 40 percent humidity
Basically, avocado trees can perfectly grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11.
How long does it take to grow avocado?
If you started from seeds, it would take you 10 or 15 years more before your avocado starts to fruit. And that’s not even 100 percent guaranteed. When grown from young grafted avocado trees, it usually takes about 5 to 7 years for the tree to start producing fruits.
You need a lot of patience when growing this one. Just treat the young avocado tree as a houseplant in the meantime.
What are the common pests and diseases that could ruin my avocado tree and how do I avoid it?
The first thing you need to worry about when growing an avocado tree is root rot. That’s the main problem most gardeners encounter. It is caused by the fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi. And do you know what’s the number one cause of this problem?
Poor draining soil. That’s why it’s important that you prepare your soil prior to transplanting. See to it that it’s well-draining and that the pot itself has enough drainage holes at the bottom. You can apply wood-based mulch to the soil to help in reducing the severity of this disease.
When it comes to pests, here are some that you might want to look out for:
Persea mites – Along the veins at the bottom side of the leaves, these pests cause necrotic spots. If left alone and their population increases, they will cause leaf drop. If the tree is under stress, add extra fertilizer and water periodically during summer.
Avocado thrips – They are identified as tiny yellow insects that are about 1 mm long. They will cause brown scarring on young fruit. I don’t see this pest as a fatal threat but if you want to treat it, then go ahead.
You may use sabadilla (Veratran-D) mixed with molasses and spray it on the tree during or prior to the fruit set in the summer.
- Loopers – These pests may occasionally eat the leaves and fruits of your trees but it can naturally go away as they are basically under control by other parasites and predators that will attack them.
See? I told you this is a fairly low-maintenance plant to grow.
What other crops could I plant together with my avocado to maximize my garden space?
In order to maximize your garden, companion planting is a must. If you’re not familiar with companion planting and you’re relatively new to gardening, here’s the idea behind it.
There are certain plants that are better when grown together. Some of the benefits they can get from each other include natural pest control, higher crop yield and shade protection for sun-sensitive plants.
For example, planting comfrey next to your avocado will help ward off the slugs away. It acts as a trap crop for slugs. It’s an excellent natural pest repellent and it also helps in keeping the surrounding soil moist and rich.
Here are some plants you can grow next to your avocado:
Try growing some of these to get your edible garden started. I’m excited to see what your garden will look like in the future!
What are the crops that will not go well with avocado?
Sadly, not all plants do well together. Some plants, when planted together, can even inhibit each other’s growth. And that’s what happens when you plant potatoes and avocados together. Their growing conditions simply do not match.
How do I harvest avocado and when is the best time to do it?
The harvesting time for avocados is different for various varieties. For example, Hass is typically ready in April and Reed in July. The Bacon variety is ready for harvest sometime in December.
You also have to consider the climatic factors, so you should allow for 1 to 3 weeks allowance.
Check the harvesting time for the variety you chose to grow.
In order to know the best time to pick the fruit off, and see if they’re mature enough. Pick the largest ones by hand. Keep it at room temperature until it softens. When you see that it has matured to a good consistency and it is no longer tough, it’s mature enough.
You may now pick the remaining fruit off the tree.
What is the best way to store the avocado that I have harvested?
Ripen the harvested avocados indoors. Store them somewhere dark and room temperature. I like wrapping mine in newspapers or paper bags until they ripen. Do not store them in refrigerators.
If you do want to freeze them and store them for a long time, I suggest you puree or mash them first. Whole and sliced avocados do not freeze well.
|Botanical Name||Persea americana|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy loam|
|Soil pH||Slightly Acidic to Alkaline|