You will be surprised how easy it is to grow avocado trees from seed using store-bought avocados.
Plant your avocado seed or pit, and watch your avocado plant grow and thrive into an avocado tree. But you will need to be patient.
We will show three different and fun ways to grow an avocado tree from the seed (pit) of a store-bought avocado.
So why not test all three methods? After all, your chances of getting fruit will increase with more than one plant.
Quick facts: You can grow an avocado from seeds in water, soil, or using a wet paper towel. For all methods, you prepare the seeds for planting by gently removing them from ripe avocado fruits. After the seeds have developed roots and top growth, they are planted in fertile well-draining soil.
Update: This article is based on the actual planting of 3 avocado seeds from store-bought organic Hass avocados on July 19, 2021. I used one seed for each of the 3 different methods. If you are impatient you can see photos of all three acocado plants here.
- Preparing the avocado seeds (all methods)
- Method 1: Grow avocado seeds in water
- Method 2: Grow an avocado seed in potting soil
- Method 3: Wrap the seed in a moist paper towel
- Transplanting the avocado trees into larger pots (all methods)
- Caring for the avocado tree (all methods)
- Progress report on how to grow avocado trees
- Fun project growing avocado trees with your children
- Frequently asked questions
Preparing the avocado seeds (all methods)
All methods use the same prep work to prepare the seed (pit) and require very little material or equipment.
You start with organic store-bought avocados. Make sure that the avocados you choose are ripe.
You can test this quickly. While feeling firm in your hand, a ripe avocado will give slightly when gently squeezed. If the avocado feels hard or solid, it is not ripe.
Try to purchase avocados that are grown organically. After all, we hope to grow avocado trees that will produce avocados for consumption.
The first four steps below are mandatory. Steps 5 and 6 are optional but will speed up the time it takes for the avocado seeds to germinate or grow roots.
- Using a knife, cut through the skin around the avocado without touching the pit with the knife.
- Next, hold the avocado’s bottom half in one hand’s palm. Place the other hand on the top half and then, with a twist, separate the halves.
- When the pit is exposed, gently remove the pit (seed) using your fingers or a spoon.
- Wash the pit in room temperature water. When the pit is clean, place it on a cloth or kitchen towel.
- (Optional) Using your fingers, gently remove the skin surrounding the pit. To make it easier, you can place the pit in a dry and warm place with no direct sunlight. The skin will dry and crack in 2-3 days, and you can then more easily remove it with your fingers (avoid using your nails).
- (Optional) To further speed up the process, use a sharp knife to make a small diagonal cut on the top of the pit. The top is the pointy end. If the pit you use is round, the top is the side with no bump or marking.
- And there you have it – your avocado seed or pit is ready to go.
Next, we go through all three methods step by step.
Don't forget to squeeze lemon juice over the avocado fruit that is left over. Lemon juice will prevent the avocado from going brown if you plan to use it later that same day.
Method 1: Grow avocado seeds in water
Materials needed: one avocado seed, three toothpicks, water, and a glass (jar).
1. Placing the seed in water
First, we locate the top and the bottom of the pit. The top is the pointy end.
If the pit is entirely round, you will find that the top is smoother than the bottom. Also, the bottom of the pit often has a bump and almost a belly button look.
Use your thumb and index finger to hold the pit by the top and bottom.
Next, insert the toothpicks into the avocado pit and space them evenly to create separation between the pit’s top and bottom.
Fill your glass with room-temperature water.
Finally, place the avocado into the glass using the toothpicks to keep the top of the pit dry.
Ensure that the bottom part of the pit is submerged in water.
Place the glass in a warm and light place without direct sunlight. Make sure to keep the water level topped up and replace the water at least every other day.
Use your finger to feel the temperature of the water you are replacing. Try to match the temperature. No need to be exact, but avoid using cold water straight from the tap.
Learn how to grow Microgreens with an easy to build self watering paper towels system in the article: Growing Microgreens on paper towels at home
2. Removing toothpicks and moving the young plant to a pot
Transplant the seed into a pot with soil when the avocado plant reaches 7-10 centimeters (2-3 inches).
It is, of course, possible to wait longer and let the avocado tree develop further. But you increase the risk of transplant shock that can kill your plant if you wait too long.
When I plant the pit in the soil, I use the toothpick marks and an imaginary waterline as my guide.
Be gentle when removing the toothpicks, as they tend to get stuck.
Do not bury the whole seed; leave approximately ⅓ of the pit above the soil again. Use the toothpick marks and the imaginary water line as a guide.
Again I use a plastic bottle to create a greenhouse effect for the growing plant. Keep in mind that the pit, until recently, grew in water.
Introduce soil as the new medium gently by ensuring that the potting soil remains moist.
Method 2: Grow an avocado seed in potting soil
Materials needed: one pit, potting soil, terracotta or plastic pot, water, and a plastic bottle.
1. Plant the avocado seed in the soil
This method is much like the traditional planting of seeds, except that we do not want to submerge the entire seed (pit).
The avocado pit prefers a moist but not wet growing environment. The pit will rot if you water too much.
Use well-drained soil like a cactus soil mix or potting soil mixed with perlite to create good drainage.
Plastic pots will help retain moisture if you plant the seed during summer when temperatures are high.
For other times of the year, I always use terracotta pots as it helps regulate moisture naturally and prevents overwatering.
Water the soil thoroughly and allow excess water to run off, leaving the potting soil wet to moist.
Next, plant the pit in the soil, leaving ⅓ of the pit exposed above the soil line.
I am more concerned about overwatering than the occasional mild dry-out. For the ideal moisture level, use the top half of a plastic bottle to mimic a mini greenhouse.
The plastic bottle will help the soil retain moisture and should be sufficient to water once or twice a week.
Place the pot in a light and warm place but avoid direct sunlight. Now and then, tilt the bottle slightly to air out your greenhouse. At the same time, use your finger to check the moisture level. The pit will rot if sitting in soil that is soaking wet.
Spraying the pit with water will speed up germination.
2. Avocado seed stays in the pot
As the seed is started in soil, nothing much seems to happen until you finally see growth above ground. It takes time, but the good news is that you do not have to transplant a fragile root system.
The photo above shows a pit that I lifted from the soil when I saw growth from the top.
Planting the seed in potting soil works well, but it is less fun as there is a long wait with no easy way to check progress.
Method 3: Wrap the seed in a moist paper towel
Materials needed: one pit, paper towel, plastic bag, water, sharp knife
This final method is very straightforward.
- Soak the paper towel in water. Squeeze out the excess water leaving the paper towel moist, not soaking wet.
- Wrap the avocado pit in the paper towel and fold it tight
- Place the towel with the pit inside the plastic bag and fold it to shut.
- Use the knife to cut holes in the plastic bag to ensure air circulation
Place the plastic bag in a light and warm place without direct sunlight.
Make sure the paper towel remains moist and re-apply water should the paper towel dry out.
Do not pour water into the plastic bag. Instead, remove the paper towel package from the plastic bag and spray it with water.
Do not be afraid to remove the paper towel from the plastic bag. I look at the pit at least once a week and gently roll it up again.
2. From paper towel to a pot with soil
You want a healthy root system and, if possible, some growth on top before transplanting the seed.
I cover the entire avocado pit with soil. But there is no need to plant the pit very deep. It is enough to cover the pit with a thin layer of soil.
Be gentle, as the root system is fragile and brittle.
Transplanting the avocado trees into larger pots (all methods)
When the avocado plant reaches 25-30 centimeters (10-12 inches), I transplant it into a larger-sized pot or container.
I move the entire contents of the smaller pots into the larger-sized pots. If the plant is pot-bound, I create small tears and rifts in the root system.
A pot-bound plant will have a root system that fills the entire pot, and it needs to be torn and disturbed to help the roots spread and grow in the new larger pot.
Always observe the soil level when you transplant into a new pot. Do not plant the avocado seedling deeper when moving it to a new and larger pot.
Caring for the avocado tree (all methods)
The avocado tree wants a moist growing environment. But do take care not to overwater the plant.
One trick is to spray the plant lightly with room-temperature water once or twice a week. The key is to mist the leaves – do not soak them. And ensure never to spray when the plant is exposed to direct sunlight.
You can prop up the pot and place it in a tray with water. The water will evaporate and create a moist and humid growing environment for the plant. However, do remember to prop up the pot to ensure it sits above water level. The root system will rot if left to sit in soaking-wet soil.
I recommend topping the tree when the plant is established. Topping the plant will encourage the avocado tree to develop a bushier form.
I usually wait for the plant to reach 35 centimeters (14 inches) to top the plant. Cut the plant just above the second pair of leaves counting from the top of the plant.
Make sure to use a sharp pair of garden scissors for a good and precise cut.
Avocado trees do not like cold weather. We are located in zone 7, so we cannot keep our avocado plants outdoors year-round.
This is why we grow avocado trees in containers we can keep outdoors during summer and move indoors during the year’s colder months.
Progress report on how to grow avocado trees
As you may have already seen from the photos, all three avocado seeds have grown and developed into healthy plants.
The photos below show each method’s result after approximately three months have passed. The avocado seeds were planted on July 19, 2021, and the photos were taken on October 5, 2021.
Avocado seed placed in water The avocado seed that was planted in water using toothpicks has developed nicely. The plant is however more "leggy" compared to the other methods. This comes as no surprise as the seed (and plant) developed in a glass container with full light from day 1.
Avocado seed planted in soil The avocado seed that was planted in soil was slow to develop. For the longest time there was no visible development. The root system was growing but there was no way to know. The plant has been the slowest to develop and the least interesting to follow.
Avocado seed in moist towel The avocado seed that was placed in a moist paper towel looks really heathy with strong and even growth. It has also been easy to follow the progress by simply looking once or twice a week. Looking back this is my favorite method.
Fun project growing avocado trees with your children
I will give you two answers if I have to pick my favorite method.
Growing avocados in water or a moist paper towel is fun to watch as the seed develops in front of our eyes. The drawback is that you will need to transplant the young avocado seeds at some point.
You can continue to grow avocado trees with water as the medium. But for me, it makes more sense to move the young plant to a pot or container with potting soil.
Placing the avocado seed in water using toothpicks is the best method for growing avocados with your children. It is a fun method, and it is easy to track progress. Choose a bright spot but avoid direct sunlight and extreme heat for the best results.
But I prefer to use the method where I place the avocado seed in a moist paper towel. It is easy to follow the progress and the seed develops a healthy root system and a stem to match.