Growing Avocados In Containers and Indoor Avocado Plant Care

Growing Avocados In Containers and Indoor Avocado Plant Care

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Avocado trees most likely originated in Southern Mexico and were cultivated for centuries before North America was colonized. The pear-shaped fruits are a delicious, rich food that make an excellent condiment or eat alone addition to your diet. The trees are warm season plants, easily damaged by cold and frost. That said, northern gardeners must learn how to grow an avocado houseplant in order to enjoy fruits grown at home.

Can Avocado Trees Grow Indoors?

Avocado trees can reach 80 feet (24+ m.) in height. Most plants do poorly where freezing temperatures may occur. Gardeners in United States Department of Agriculture zones 8 and below should be wary of trying to grow these trees as outdoor plants. This fact leads to the question, “Can avocado trees grow indoors?”

The simple answer to this question is yes. In fact, there are several dwarf varieties, which can help the cold and temperate season gardener produce the healthy fruits in their own home.

How to Grow an Avocado Houseplant

Avocado growing indoors can start with a pit but is most successful with a healthy grafted dwarf tree. Cultivated avocados are grown from compatible rootstock. A plant produced from a seed is less likely to produce fruit, but it will make a lovely tree.

Remove the pit from a ripe avocado and rinse off any excess flesh. Push a network of toothpicks into the pit and suspend it on top of a glass of warm water. The pit should dip an inch or so into the water at the dented or dimpled end.

Place the glass in bright light where temperatures are at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C.). Change the water frequently. Soon the pit will produce roots, which will grow down into the water. Eventually, stems and leaves will sprout. When the roots fill much of the glass, it is time to transplant to a pot.

Growing Avocados in Containers

Avocado growing indoors is fun and easy. Move the sprouted pit to an unglazed terra cotta pot that is at least 10 inches (25 cm.) across and twice as deep as the roots. Use a potting mix with compost blended with sand for a loose, fast-draining composition.

Growing avocados in containers indoors also requires bright light. A plant will get straggly without adequate light. Pinch off excess growth at first to promote a bushier, stronger plant.

Do not expect fruit when growing avocados in containers. Indoor plants need cool nights to force blooming and fruiting. They can also take up to ten years to get to fruiting stage. If you do get fruit, the flavor is not as good as those commercially produce from rootstocks.

Indoor Avocado Plant Care

If you want a better chance at fruit, purchase a dwarf tree that has been grafted onto rootstock. The stock is chosen to increase the best traits of the plant and will make the tree stronger and more resistant to a variety of environmental influences.

Indoor avocado plant care includes plant support and feeding. Use a stake to keep the plants main stem sturdy and straight as it grows. Also, transplant the tree as it outgrows its pot. Prune off any suckers that arise from the rootstock.

Fertilize with water-soluble food monthly and turn the tree frequently to promote even growth. You can also fertilize with fish emulsion every month for the first year.

Give the plant moderate water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

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Can you Grow an Avocado Tree Indoors?

Many of us are well aware of the health benefits of avocados, but do you ever wonder if you can grow an avocado tree indoors? You would be surprised to know that growing avocados indoors is easier than growing it outdoors. All you need is to have a little patience to see an attractive seedling sprouting from its seeds.

There is great diversification in avocado plants (more than 1,000 varieties). Some varieties can grow up to a height of 80 ft, and others can reach up to 20 ft. But there is no need to be worried about the size, as there are several dwarf varieties of this plant that you can enjoy growing indoors. People tend to grow this delightful pear-shaped fruit as a natural superfood because of its high nutritional value and healthy fat content.

The most common growing variety is the Haas avocado, which is suitable for indoor planting. These avocadoes are small in size and contain high-fat content with delicious flesh. Although this plant takes a lot of time to bear fruits (9 – 10 years), planting it as a decorative indoor tree is also a rewarding effort.

Due to the rise in its popularity, avocados are the best option for growing in your indoor space. Growing avocados from stones (seeds) can take years for fruiting. However, if you are growing it as a beautiful house plant, then growing from seed is the best choice. This article will explain how you can grow avocadoes in your home by following simple techniques.


How to Grow Avocados

This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

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Avocados — the smooth, creamy, nutrient-filled fruit that is essential to dishes like guacamole, can be grown from the pit that is leftover after eating the fruit. Though avocado trees grown from a pit can take quite some time to produce fruit of their own (sometimes as long as 7-15 years), growing an avocado tree is a fun, rewarding project that leaves you with a great-looking tree in the meantime. Once your tree is grown, you can wait for avocados to begin growing or jump start the process by grafting or budding productive plant limbs to your tree. Regardless of the method you choose, learn how to grow your own avocados from scratch by starting with Step 1 below!


Avocado trees have both female and male flowers, which one would think would be ideal for self-pollination. Oddly enough, the male and female flowers have slightly different bloom times, making self-pollination difficult, but not impossible. Planting more than one avocado tree, however, will aid in the pollination process.

Avocado trees prefer a soil pH between 6 to 6.5, and they thrive in well-draining soil.

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CARING FOR AVOCADO PLANT

Your avocado plant needs care. So you should make it possible that all the necessary needs of the plant should be fulfilled.

LIGHT: Full or indirect sunlight is needed for healthier growth. So choose the location where your plant gets proper sunlight.

HUMIDITY: Moderate to a high level of humidity is required for this purpose.

FERTILIZER: Use 7:9:5 fertilizer for the best result of your hard work.

SOIL: Keep monitoring the soil because if the soil is dry out it is not good for your plant.

ROOM TEMPERATURE: The indoor temperature required for the avocado plant is 60° to 85°F or 16° to 30C°. If you are living in a hot climate then plant your tree outside when it is big enough.

WATER: Water it frequently but avoid overwatering. Keep the soil moist not over saturated.

TROUBLESHOOTING BUGS: Aphids and little critters are dangerous for your little avocado tree. You can make your insecticide spray at home which is chemical-free on the plant.

You need liquid dishwashing, neem oil, and water to make liquid to get rid of pests that are harmful to your plants. Keep an eye on your plants if necessary then use the spray again.


Can I grow avocado tree in a pot?

As container plants, trees need to get to 6-8' tall with a trunk caliber of 1.5"- 2" before they will set fruit. This requires a large, 24" pot (15 to 25 gallon). It takes a few years for young grafted plants to reach this size.

Similarly, how do you grow an avocado in a pot? How to Grow Avocado in a Pot

  1. Save the seed. When you cut open a ripe avocado, scoop out the seed carefully, rinse off the slippery coating and pat dry.
  2. Mount the seed in water.
  3. Monitor the water.
  4. Let the seedling grow.
  5. Transplant the seedling into a flowerpot.
  6. Provide full sun and water when the soil becomes dry.
  7. Prune as desired.

Simply so, how long does it take for an avocado tree to bear fruit?

If you grew your tree from an avocado pit, it won't bear fruit until it's at least 10 years old, and you may have to wait up to 15 years. On the other hand, if you planted a tree from a nursery or garden center, the tree should begin to produce a crop after three or four years.

How tall will an avocado tree grow indoors?

Some avocado trees grow to reach a height of 80 feet, with most getting 20 to 40 feet tall. Don't let this scare you away from enjoying your own avocados! There are several dwarf varieties that do well indoors. You can start avocados from seeds (stones), but it takes years to bear fruit.


Caring for avocado trees

Temperature and Light

Avocados are sensitive plants with some very specific requirements. They do best in warm temperatures, ideally between 60 and 85 degrees fahrenheit– which makes them excellent indoor plants. They enjoy full sun and may benefit from a bit of supplemental light during the winter months.

Water

Avocado trees cannot handle too much water. In fact, overwatering is the number one cause of death for potted avocado trees, so don’t overdo it, and always check the moisture level of the soil before watering. This is particularly important in the first year as the tree is getting established. Yellowing leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. If it looks like your avocado tree is yellowing, let it dry out for a few days.

The best method for watering an avocado plant is to do a deep soak once a week, or as soon as the leaves show signs of wilting. The best policy is to check in every day with a plant to see how it is doing. Watering in winter can be especially problematic, as the water in the soil evaporates more slowly in cooler months, any excess can result in root rot. Once this begins, it is very difficult to save the plant, so best to avoid it by watering sparingly.

Another problem avocados in both pots suffer from is the accumulation of salts in their soil. If the leaves are turning brown and curling/drying at the tips, it’s a sure sign of this. There are two ways to deal with mineral buildup in soil. The first is using only rainwater to water your avocado tree. If this isn’t an option, then use distilled water to flush the soil by letting water run freely into the pot (over a sink) while it drains continuously for several minutes.

Pruning and Staking

Cutting back plants can feel mercenary, but the truth is that it stimulates bushy new growth that is stronger and more robust than single-stemmed growth. Always use tools that are sharp and cleaning order to avoid introducing bacteria or disease.

When an avocado seedling reaches twelve inches or so, trim the tip and top leaves off, cutting just above a growth node. This will encourage healthy lateral growth. Once lateral stems are six to eight inches long, trim the new growth at the tips off.

Pruning in this fashion is only advisable in the first year as the shape of the tree is being established. After that, only prune once a year in autumn or winter when the tree isn’t adding much new growth. Once a seedling is over two feet tall, staking it will help to support its weight. A piece of bamboo makes a perfect stake, just drive it into the soil near the base of the plant and tie the stem loosely with a twist-tie or piece of twine.

Fertilizing

In the first year of an avocado tree’s life, a fertilizer for citrus trees can help it establish. Apply a citrus fertilizer as directed every couple of months for the first year, but don’t do it too frequently or heavily. Avocado trees benefit from ten percent nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with six percent magnesium.

Spraying with copper, zinc, manganese, and boron (trace elements) every couple of months in spring and summer for the first four years will help your tree get to the point where it can bear fruit. When your tree begins to set fruit, increase potash fertilization to fifteen percent.

Moving potted avocados outdoors

Unless you live in Southern California, Florida, Hawaii, or deep Southern Texas, there isn’t much change of leaving an avocado outdoors year-round. However, as long as your summers are warm and sunny, you should be able to set your avocado trees outdoors through the warm months.

For a potted avocado that has never seen the light of day directly, break it in gently by first placing it in an outdoor location that receives filtered sunlight. After a day or two, move it to full sun and it will likely thank you with vigorous growth. Pay closer attention to it outdoors than you might normally, as the soil can dry out much faster in the open air.

There are a few fungal diseases and pests that can affect an avocado tree, none of which are very common. If you detect anything afflicting the leaves or fruit of your avocado tree, diagnose and treat the issue as soon as possible.


Harvesting Fruit

When your plant begins to set fruit, it may set a huge number at first. It will most likely drop a large number of these fruit, so don’t panic–it’s perfectly normal. Additionally, unlike many fruit trees, avocados do not ripen on the plant. Once the fruit reaches a mature size, pick one and let it sit on a shelf for a few days. If they shrivel up or never become soft, it isn’t time. Pick another couple of fruits every week until they ripen. At that point, pick as you desire and leave what you don’t want on the tree.

Whether or not your avocado tree bears fruit, you will have a unique and beautiful houseplant that will impress your guests. However, if you take your time and treat your tree right, you will be rewarded with the rarest of homegrown fruits, avocados. Which anyone would agree is well worth the effort.


Watch the video: How To Repot an Avocado Tree. Putting an Avocado Tree into a Bigger Container