The oily, vitamin-packed avocado (ubiquitous inhabiter of swanky cafe menus and expensive protein shakes) is a member of the laurel family (Lauraceae) and comes in dozens of shapes, sizes and colours. The avocado variety that you are most likely to come across here in the UK are the nobbly, dark green ones found in supermarkets. These are ‘Hass’ avocados (a hybrid first grafted and cultivated by Californian postman and part-time horticulturist Rudolph Hass in 1923) and the good news for plant-fans is that it is entirely possible to coax a new avocado plant to grow from the large stone that lurks inside.
That said, don’t expect to be smashing and spreading homegrown avocados on your sourdough toast anytime soon. Avocado plants tend to produce fruit after four or more years of growth and only really thrive in conditions similar to their native, Central American climes. Best to treat the (hopefully) emerging seedling as a decorative house plant, not a potential source of posh protein.
Growing a healthy, successful plant from avocado stones can be a bit hit or miss, so have a few stones on the go at once to maximize your chances of success. Here’s how to grow your own avocado plant…
Growing Avocado from Seed
Grab your avocado fruit and cut it length ways through the skin and into the flesh. Take it slowly and stop when you can feel the stone inside. Cut around the fruit, give the two halves a bit of a wiggle and prise them apart to reveal the avocado stone.
Gouge out the stone with a spoon, then gently score it from top to bottom with a sharp knife. Carefully peel away the outer skin to reveal the stone’s pale, sandy-coloured inner layer.
Take three or four wooden cocktail sticks and poke them in, evenly spaced, around the waist of the stone. You only need to pierce the avocado seed gently so that the sticks stand unaided so there’s no need to hammer them home.
Grab an empty pint glass or similar and balance your stone/stick combo on the rim, then fill up the glass with water until it covers around half of the avocado stone. Place your glass in a warm place – a sunny, south-facing window is ideal.
After a month or so, the avocado stone will start to split and you should notice white, tentacle-like roots descending into the water below. A slender stem or two should emerge from the top of the stone. Now is the time to remove your stone from its watery suspension and pot it up.
Take a medium-sized plant pot and fill it with good quality, peat-free compost. Make a hole in the compost large enough to accommodate your avocado stone, remove the cocktail sticks and gently lower the stone into the pot. Cover the stone with compost and give the plant pot a generous glug of water.
Step 7 – Avocado plant care
Should everything go to plan, your avocado plant will continue to grow happily as long as you keep it well-watered and warm. Feed your plant with liquid plant food every two weeks during the growing season, and re-pot the plant to a larger receptacle if you start to notice roots poking out the bottom of the plant pot. When your plant reaches a height of 30cm, it’s worth cutting it back a bit to encourage bushy growth.
Have you ever tried to grow an avocado from seed? Let us know in your comments.