Planting avocado: here’s how
Ultimate superfood: the avocado. Even though it is high in calories, this fruit is considered very healthy because of its high unsaturated fatty acid content. It can be served as a spread or guacamole, or applied externally to the skin.
The problem: pollination is very complicated, so harvesting avocados when you grow them as a hobby is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, planting your own avocado is worthwhile. We tell you why and show you how to grow an attractive plant.
Planting the pit or suspending it in water
Similar to planting a pineapple or olive tree, there are two ways to stimulate the root growth of an avocado pit. For either method, you first need a ripe fruit from the supermarket.
The first way is to grow the avocado pit in water. To do so, remove the pit from the fruit and make shallow lengthwise cuts in the shell. Then insert three to six toothpicks about 5 mm deep on the sides. Suspend the pit in a glass of water with the tip pointing up (Figure 1). Make sure the pit touches the water but is not suspended too deep. Now put the glass in a warm, brightly lit place. The water should be changed regularly.
After about six weeks, a small sprout should appear at the tip and roots should gradually form at the bottom. It can take a few months for enough strong roots and shoots to grow so the pit can be planted.
When the time comes, you can plant the pit in a planter (diameter about 25cm) with potting soil. Make sure the soil has a high humus content. First break off the toothpicks and make sure you only put the pit into the soil about halfway (Figure 2).
If you want to skip watching the first roots sprout from the pit, you can also plant the avocado pit directly in soil without using the water glass method. To do so, first remove all the flesh from the pit and fill a planter with potting soil. Make sure you use special soil that is lighter and airier than regular garden soil and stores more water. Tip: You can also mix your own substrate consisting of one third garden soil, one third medium-grain sand and one third well matured compost. To sterilise the mix, you should steam it in the oven at 120 degrees for about 45 minutes before use.
After filling the planter, press the pit about halfway into the soil. Put the planter in a warm, well lit place in your home. Direct sunlight should however be avoided.
Care and pruning of the avocado plant
Proper care and the ongoing supply of water are important for your avocado plant. Make sure the soil stays moist at all times. However, it should not be too wet either since this can cause mould to develop.
Your plant hardly needs fertiliser in the first few months. After about six months, you can feed your avocado plant with a low dosage of liquid fertiliser, about every two to three weeks. Regularly spraying the leaves with water is also recommended.
Your avocado plant needs regular pruning in order to thrive and grow vigorously. Once the sprout is about 15 cm long, prune it to around half the length. Later on, keeping the length at about 30 cm is recommended.
You can put the plant on your balcony or terrace in the summer. Avocado trees like it warm. However, a half-shaded place without direct sunlight is recommended. The plant will not withstand temperatures below 5 degrees. Therefore, make sure you bring it inside soon enough.
If you do everything right, you will probably ask yourself whether all your effort was worth it. When will the plant bear fruit? Unfortunately, the answer is probably never. Avocado plants grown from a pit sadly do not bear fruit.
This is mainly because of pollination, which is very complicated even in the avocado’s natural habitat. Even there, it takes at least four years before the plant first bears fruit. The short, cool summers in Central Europe are also a factor.
So why attempt to grow an avocado at all? Because it is an exciting experiment for every hobby gardener, and an avocado plant is very well suited as a cool addition to your décor.
Interested in other exotic items? Here we explain how you can also grow your own pineapple or olive tree.