The old adage goes ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ but it may as well be an avocado.
Did you know that the fruit – yes, it’s technically a fruit – is great for digestion, amazing for the skin, and can help balance hormones? That’s because it’s loaded with fiber, healthy fat, vitamin C, E, and K, and B vitamins.
And, guacamole isn’t the only way to use the versatile food. Avocado is great in savory smoothies, on salads, and in sandwiches.
However, most people are quick to pay $1-3 for the fruit when they could easily grow a tree. All it takes is some time and dedication, but everyone could have abundant access to the heart-healthy food if they choose.
Following are 10 steps to grow your own avocado tree from a pit, courtesy of Inhabitat.
Step 1: Remove & Clean Pit
Start by removing the pit from the avocado carefully (without cutting it), and then wash it clean of all the avocado fruit. Sometimes it helps to soak the pit in some water for a few minutes and then scrub all the remaining fruit off. Be careful not to remove the brown skin on the pit – that is the seed cover.
Step 2: Locate Which End Is ‘Up’ And Which Is ‘Down’
All avocado pits have a ‘bottom’ (from where the roots will grow), and a ‘top’ (from which the sprout will grow). It can be easy to discern which is which, however, as some pits are oblong while others are shaped almost like perfect spheres. The slightly pointier end is the top and the flat end is the bottom.
In order to get your pit to sprout, you will need to place the bottom root end in water, so it’s very important to figure out which end is the ‘top’ and which is the ‘bottom’ before go onto the next step.
Step 3: Pierce With Four Toothpicks
Take the four toothpicks and stick the at a slight downward angle into the avocado seed, spacing them evenly around the circumference of the avocado. Like Inhabitat relays, the toothpicks are basically your avocado’s scaffolding, allowing the bottom half of the avocado to rest in water while the top can breathe.
It is recommended that you stick the toothpicks firmly into the base at a slight angle (downward) so that more of your avocado base rests in the water when it is set over the glass.
Step 4: Place Avocado Seed Half Submerged In A Glass Of Water
Next, grab a glass of purified water and place the avocado seed on the top so it is half submerged. Ideally, it should be set on a diet windowsill with sunlight. Change the water every five days to a week or so. Make sure to change the water regularly to prevent mold, bacteria and fungus growth.
Step 5: Wait For Your Avocado Seed To Sprout!
It can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for an avocado seed to sprout, so be patient. At first, the top of the avocado pit will dry out and form a crack. Then, the outer brown seed skin will slough off.
Finally, the crack will extend all the way to the bottom of the avocado pit and through the crack at the bottom. This is where a tiny taproot will begin to emerge. As it grows, the taproot will grow longer and longer.
Important: Do not allow your taproot to dry out un-submerged EVER – doing so will be the death of the plant
Step 6: Pot In Soil When Tree Reaches 6” Tall
When the stem is 6-7 inches long, cut it back to about 3 inches, this will encourage new growth. When it hits 6-7 inches again, pot it up in a rich humus soil in an 8-10″ diameter pot, leaving the top half of the seed exposed. Place on a sunny windowsill. Avocados love sun – the more sun the better.
Step 7: Water The Plant And Watch It Grow!
Frequently water the plant and occasionally give it a deep soak. The soil should always be moist, but not saturated. Beware of yellow leaves – that’s a sign over over-watering. If that occurs, let the plant dry out for a few days.
Step 8: Pinch Out Top Leaves To Encourage Growth
When the stem reaches 12 inches tall, pinch out the top two sets of leaves. Doing so encourages the plant to grow side shoots and more leaves, making it bushy. Each time the plant grows another 6 inches pinch out the 2 newest sets of leaves on top.
Step 9: How To Get Rid Of Bugs
It’s not uncommon for avocado plants to attract bugs, mainly aphids. To get rid of them, spray your plant down with a hose outside or in the sink shower. Once the pests are off, spray your plant with a mixture of water with a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and 1 tsp of neem oil.
This keeps aphids from returning. Check your plant every 4-5 days and re-clean and spray when necessary.
Step 10: Protect Your Baby Plant Through The Winter
If you live anywhere where it gets cooler than 45 degrees F, you’ll need to bring the avocado plant indoors in the fall / winter. The plant should thrive in the summer, however.
And that’s it!
Keep tending to your avocado plant, and within a few years, your tree will more than likely begin to bear fruit. Of course, some trees take 15+ years before they’re willing to nourish humanity, but that’s just more time for you to bond with the plant you grew from a pit.
Note: It helps to have several avocado trees growing together to aid with pollination.