Guacamole and avocado on toast have become summer staples worldwide. If you learn how to grow avocados indoors, you are always ready to prepare this delicious meal.
In addition, the avocado is filled with fiber and fat-soluble vitamins and you have an all-round winner in your hands.
If you learn how to grow this valuable fruit tree indoors, you may one day get your own avocado fruit.
How to grow avocados indoors
Where does avocado come from?
Persea americana is native to Central and South America and has a culinary history of almost 3,000 years that was brought to the western world by the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th century.
Today there are two types of avocado on supermarket shelves – the green-skinned Fuerte and the black-skinned hate.
Hass avocados in particular are grown extensively in California, Florida and southern Texas thanks to the ideal, sunny conditions and mild winter lows.
Why grow avocados?
For some people, growing their own avocado tree could save costs in the (very distant) future, but for most, growing avocado is more of a hobby.
Avocado trees grown from a nursery seedling bought can take up to four years to produce fruit, and an avocado tree grown from seeds may not bear fruit for more than a decade!
Due to the delicate nature of avocado and the need for mild winters, for most people the best option is to grow this tree in a pot.
However, please keep in mind that the tree may need to be brought outside if you want to produce edible fruit. Ready for the challenge?
Let's start with the steps required to grow an avocado tree indoors!
Indoor avocados 101
Choosing the right type of avocado for your garden
Commercial avocado varieties are the easiest to grow from seeds and are also the easiest to get from your local market or greengrocer.
However, since these strains grow to over 20 feet when mature, you need a long-term plan to plant your tree in a sunny spot.
A much more interior and home-friendly option is to choose a dwarf variety like "Little Cado", "Reed", "Lamb Hass", "Holiday" or "Gwen".
Dwarf varieties are the easiest to buy from nurseries in California, Florida, and Texas, but some nurseries also send these seedlings by mail.
Decide to start with a seed or seedling
After thinking about the long-term future of your plant and the variety that is most likely to be right for you, the next thing to decide is whether to start your business with an established seedling or to soak your market-bought avocado seeds in the water.
The advantage of using in-store avocado seeds is that your experiment is completely free (after drinking one or two delicious avocados).
However, if you really want to produce edible avocados, nursery seedlings bought in kindergarten may be the best choice.
How to grow avocados indoors
1. Germination of the avocado seed
Germinating an avocado seed is easy and fun. All you have to do is wash the seed thoroughly, hang the broad end over a glass of water by skewering the seed with three toothpicks, and protect the jar from direct sunlight.
One inch of the seed should always be submerged in water. Be sure to replace and / or refill the water level so that your avocado seed stays nice and moist.
In about six weeks, the root and stem should shoot out of the seed. If nothing happens after eight weeks, it is time to throw the seed into the compost and start again with a new seed!
If your seed sprouts, wait for it to reach six to seven inches, then cut it to three inches to encourage healthy leaf growth.
If your plant has a decent root system and healthy leaves, it's time to plant your avocado in a pot.
2. Plant your seedling
Regardless of whether you start with a seed bought in the shop or a small seedling from a nursery, the same transplanting principles apply.
The only exception are seedlings bought in kindergarten, which are delivered in a large, stable pot with good drainage.
In this case, it should be okay to leave the plant in the same pot.
When planting your seedling, keep the following in mind:
- Terracotta is the best pot material for growing avocados.
- The pot should be at least 10 inches in diameter.
- The pot needs decent drainage holes to avoid root rot.
- Use a loose, sandy potting soil for citrus or cactus.
When your pot is ready, dig a hole in the bottom that is as deep as the root system and gently wrap the bottom around the roots, leaving the top of the seed free.
If you are transplanting a root tree seed that is root-bound, carefully loosen the root ball with your hand before planting the seedling in the pot.
Fill the pot with water until the excess comes out of the drainage holes (you may want to place a saucer under the pot to collect the drain) and place your plant in a sunny south-facing window next to your potted coriander and other houseplants.
3. Care for your avocado tree
Growing a healthy avocado tree largely depends on the conditions in Mesoamerica being taken into account and replicated as much as possible.
Here are some tips for caring for your avocado tree indoors:
Enough sunlight and temperature
In their natural habitat, avocado trees are used to having full sunlight and tropical temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the day.
If you live in an area where there are cold winters, prepare to bring your potted avocado plants home for the winter.
If you live in an apartment and do not have a garden, choose the sunniest place in the house for your avocado potted plant and invest in artificial light.
Avoid over-watering your avocado plant
Just like a cactus or aloe vera plant, avocados do not require a lot of water and can suffer greatly from overwatering.
Give your avocado tree a good bath about once a week at the beginning and then let it dry out.
Another approach is to water your plant only when the leaves start to curl – a sure sign that it needs a drink.
Yellowed leaves mean that you are watering your avocado plant too much. So give her a few days to dry out thoroughly before watering your plant again.
With the right fertilizer
It is known in nature that avocados also grow in volcanic soils and are very good at handling additional minerals.
Apply a small amount of citrus fertilizer every two months for the first year (you can easily make it yourself with straw and manure) and spray the tree with trace elements every two months in spring and summer to stimulate the plant to fruit.
The best elements for avocado are zinc, copper, boron and manganese.
Until your tree bears fruit, keep the fertilizer at ten percent phosphorus, nitrogen and potash with six percent magnesium.
As soon as the tree bears fruit, increase the potash fertilizer to fifteen percent.
Also check out our list of organic fertilizers to choose from.
Prune your young tree
After proper fertilization, pruning your young avocado tree is one of the most important things to consider in the plant's first year of growth.
This not only helps the tree grow stronger, it also determines the shape of the tree for the rest of its life.
Start by cutting off the top of the plant just above a growth knot when the plant reaches 30 cm in height.
Then wait until the side stems are about 20 cm tall and cut off the tips where the new leaves are.
Prune this pattern further in the first year of plant growth to thicken the plant and give it a beautiful, rounded shape.
In the following years, switch to a good annual plum in the winter months while the plant is resting and not growing.
Make your life easier with the most reliable secateurs on the market.
Signs to watch out for when growing your avocado
As mentioned earlier, yellow leaves are a sign that you are giving your avocado tree too much water.
Another sign to watch out for is tanning of the leaf tips, which could indicate salt buildup in your pot.
The first problem is the easiest to fix – just pull the irrigation back and the plant should spring back.
To solve the second problem, you need to switch to rainwater or distilled water instead of tap water to water your avocado tree.
You may also need to rinse the pot well by running distilled water through the entire pot for a few minutes.
4. Harvest your avocado fruit
After years of working and possibly moving your tree outdoors, your avocado tree is finally starting to bear fruit.
Congratulations! It is normal for a large crop and many fruits to fall to the ground in the first year of fruiting.
This is nothing to worry about. When the fruits have turned black (for the Hass variety), select one or two and place them in the window to see if they are soft (ripe) or shrink (immature).
Continue testing with a fruit or two until the avocados become soft and creamy.
Your avocados are ready for harvest! Pick as many as you need for your summer salads and leave the rest on the tree – they'll be waiting for you to choose them as needed.
Summary How to grow avocados indoors
Growing an avocado tree indoors requires a lot of patience, but it can be incredibly rewarding – regardless of whether it bears fruit or not.
If your avocado seedlings turn out to be a success, consider growing more of these beautiful trees for your family and friends.
You will surely appreciate such a rare and practical gift when you learn how to grow avocados!
Jordan McDowell is an author and content strategist. He specializes in hands-on B2B and B2C content for a number of companies, including Fruit Growers Supply Co.