Expert Tips on How to Grow an Indoor Avocado Tree
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Yes, you can grow an indoor avocado tree! Learn how to start from an avocado pit and root a plant cutting, plus where to order a dwarf avocado tree online.
Whether you love the idea of fresh guacamole made from your own avocados, or just like the aesthetics of avocado trees, you’ve probably wondered if it’s possible to grown an avocado tree indoors. To find out, we turned to gardening expert Christy Wilhelmi, founder of Gardenerd and author of “Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden: Planting and Tending Small Fruit Trees and Berries in Gardens and Containers.” She gave us the ins and outs on growing an avocado tree indoors, including the pits.
Is It Possible to Grow an Indoor Avocado Tree from a Pit?
“For the past 18 months I have tried to grow avocado trees from pits. Although the pits sprout in water, not one of the plants has survived longer than six months after I transplant them into soil. What am I doing wrong?” asks Christa Pederson of Duluth, Minnesota.
Wilhelmi has good news and bad news on growing an avocado tree from a pit. She says, “It is possible, and many have tried, but I don’t recommend it. Avocados can take 10 years from the time they sprout to produce fruit. Plus they do not breed ‘true to type,’ meaning the fruit you get as a result will most likely not taste like the fruit from which you grew the tree. Seeds contain all the genetic material they were exposed to as a flower when they were pollinated by a bee or the wind. So the fruit that grows from that seed is a wildcard, unreliable and most likely not what you want as an end result.”
Check out the top 10 fruit trees for small spaces.
How to Plant an Avocado Pit
Okay. So don’t start from a pit if you want to eat the fruit. But if you just want the look of an avocado tree, growing from a pit is possible.
If you want to try growing an avocado tree from a pit, Wilhelmi explains you can start a seed indoors, outdoors or in a compost bin. She advises, “You’ll often find the pits sprouting in your compost bin. So that’s sometimes the easiest way for nature to take its course. If not there, bury the seed in soil and keep the soil moist until you see a sprout pop up.” Use a quality potting mix. Soil from the garden does not drain well when placed in a container. It may contain insects and disease organisms detrimental to your plant’s health. You could also try this adorable Avocado Tree Sprouter from Uncommon Goods.
How to Grow an Indoor Avocado Tree from Cuttings
There’s still some good news if you want to make avocado toast without going to the store! Instead of starting from a pit, go the propagation route. Wilhelmi recommends, “It’s best to propagate fruit trees from cuttings, where the genetic material is true and uncontaminated.”
To grow avocado trees indoor from branch cuttings, Wilhelmi recommends, “Take a branch tip that’s about six-inches long from a mature tree that has a few unopened buds on it. Make your cut on a 45 degree angle. Cut a few nicks into the cut end to rough up the bark. This will help the cutting take up water and assist in triggering root formation.” From there, “Insert the bottom third of the cutting into a soil-less potting mix and water it well.”
“Some people like to cut any existing leaves in half across the middle to help focus the plant’s energy on root development as well. Others cover the pot with a loose, clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse environment. After a couple weeks (keep the soil moist the whole time) check to see if roots have begun to grow by gently tugging on the cutting. It should resist if roots have developed. Once roots form, the buds will open. Once you see new growth you can transplant the cutting to a larger container to continue growing. After a few more weeks you can transplant the cutting outdoors in a sunny location if weather permits and after last frost has passed.”
This isn’t an overnight process. It can take years for the cutting to produce fruit, but this is a faster process than growing avocado trees from pits. Wilhelmi adds, “And you can be sure it will produce the variety of fruit you expect from the mother tree. ”
What’s the Ideal Container for Growing an Indoor Avocado Tree?
Growing an avocado tree indoors will require container changes over the course of the plant’s life. But before you start pot shopping, make sure your avocado tree is a dwarf variety that can grow in small spaces. Outdoor avocado trees grow tall and wide—up to 30 feet or higher. Dwarf varieties are better for indoor growth. And yep, you can find dwarf avocado trees on Amazon, Citrus.com or at a local plant nursery.
Move rooted cuttings and sprouted seeds into a container slightly larger than the root system. Placing small plants in a much larger pot can lead to root rot. You can start a pit or cutting in a six-inch pot, (ensure it has drainage holes). But you’ll want to move it up to a gallon-size container as it grows. Once the tree sprouts leaves, you’ll need to move it to an even larger container.
We asked the expert: Can you reuse potting soil in containers?
Tips on Watering Indoor Avocado Trees
How should you water an indoor avocado tree? Wilhelmi explains, “Indoor spaces tend to be much less humid than outdoors, so consistent watering is important. Your pot will dry out more quickly in winter when the heater is on. To test the soil, insert your finger all the way into the soil up to the top knuckle. Moist soil should cling to your finger. If it’s dusty instead, give the pot a good soak. Check daily to see how fast the soil dries down and schedule your watering accordingly.” Check out 6 plant waterer products we love.