How to Grow an Avocado Tree

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 12, 2024

Avocado trees are a great addition to any potted plant collection or garden for homeowners who live in balmy climates. These trees provide shade, sprout luscious green foliage, and could even bear avocado fruit in a few years. Learn how to grow avocado trees successfully by following our step-by-step guide to the process.

Supplies Needed to Grow an Avocado Tree

Growing an avocado tree involves three main stages: sprouting a seed, planting the seed, and maintaining the tree. Next, we’ll show which supplies to gather for each of these steps.

Sprouting the Seed

The first step toward growing an avocado tree involves sprouting its seed. The following supplies are essential for this initial stage:

Keep reading to learn how to successfully sprout the seed using these three supplies.

Planting and Cultivating the Sprouted Seed

Gather these items for the second and third steps of the project:

How to Plant an Avocado Seed

Growing an avocado tree from a seed is relatively simple for rural, suburban, and urban gardeners. The large size of an avocado seed makes growth easy to monitor. Follow these steps to grow an avocado tree using a Hass avocado purchased from any grocery store.

1. Clean the Avocado Seed

Remove the seed or pit from a ripe avocado. Pull it out of the fruit’s flesh with your fingers instead of with a knife so the pit doesn’t get damaged. Carefully wash the seed to remove any remaining flesh or debris.

You can use any avocado purchased from the supermarket, making this an easy houseplant to grow on a budget.

2. Place the Seed in Its Growing Environment

Loosely wrap the clean avocado pit in a dampened paper towel and then put the paper towel into a sealable plastic bag. Leave the bag slightly open to allow airflow.

You can also grow the roots by partially suspending the seed in a glass of water using toothpicks. This will keep the seed moist and encourage new growth in the roots.

3. Let the Roots Develop for Six Weeks

Replace the dampened paper towel every five days and check the seed for any signs of rot. If the seed turns dark brown and looks visibly damaged, it may have died. If it stays light brown, cream, or a brownish red, it’s probably still viable.

Roots should start to emerge from the middle of the seed within 10 weeks. Avoid touching the root system as you replace the paper towel and let the roots grow until they become 3 inches long.

4. Plant the Avocado Tree

Once the root ball has begun to grow, you can plant it in the soil of a container pot or an outdoor garden. We recommend using a container pot for the first year to more easily control growing conditions and variables.

Avocado trees, or Persea americana, can only grow in warmer environments with temperatures that hover between 50℉ and 85℉. The best growing regions are in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hardiness zones 9 to 11. These zones are based on environmental factors such as climate, average temperature lows, and insect activity.

Grow the Plant in a Container

Growing your avocado tree in a pot allows you to move the tree to direct sunlight and ideal temperature conditions throughout the seasons. Avocado trees prefer sunny spots, warm temperatures, and frequent watering cycles.

To start, fill a gallon-sized pot with a well-draining potting mix designed for citrus trees. Dig a small hole in the middle of the soil that’s approximately 4 inches deep. Place the root ball in the potting soil, and carefully cover it in dirt so just half of the seed sits above the top of the soil.

Water the soil thoroughly and put the pot on a southern-facing windowsill where it’ll receive multiple hours of full sun each day.

Install the Plant Outdoors

You can plant the root ball outside if you live in an avocado tree’s ideal hardiness zone. Find a southern-facing portion of your garden or front yard where the tree will have at least six hours of full sunlight each day. Outdoor avocado trees can grow up to 40 feet tall and 25 feet across, so choose a spot with plenty of space.

Next, dig a hole that’s slightly bigger than the root ball. Place the root ball carefully into the hole with roots pointed downward and pack the soil tightly around it. Water the ground thoroughly so the area is damp but not marshy.

Water young avocado trees two or three times per week for the first year. Make sure that soil dries entirely between watering cycles.

Caring for an Avocado Tree

Avocado trees don’t require constant attention and treatment once they’ve been properly planted. Look for the following issues, though.

Disease Concerns

These diseases and infestations can jeopardize your tree’s health:

Fertilization Requirements

Do not apply fertilizer treatments to avocado trees during the first year of growth, as the fertilizer can overwhelm the plant and burn its roots. Choose a potting mix with a gentle mix of nutrients instead.

Apply fertilizer treatments during the summer once the tree is finally old enough to receive them. You can use a one-time treatment or weekly fertilizers for a single season. Opt for high-nitrogen fertilizers. A fertilizer’s NPK ratio compares its nitrogen (N) content to its phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) content.

You can also choose fertilizers that contain trace amounts of zinc, which is an important nutrient for avocado plants.

Soil Conditions

Avocado trees need sandy and well-draining soil. Sandy soil allows the roots to grow quickly and drains water away from the root’s surface, mitigating root rot.

Repot your plant once a year until the plant is fully mature. Check for the following signs that your plant needs fresh soil:

Sunlight Exposure

Avocado trees love heavy sunlight. If your avocado plant is in a pot indoors, place it near a southern-facing window that receives at least six hours of indirect sunlight daily.

If your plant is outdoors, keep it in partial sunlight so the leaves don’t scorch or burn. The tree will become more resilient to sunlight as it gets older.

Temperature and Humidity

Avocado trees originally grew only as subtropical and tropical plants. They prefer medium- and high-humidity environments and temperatures that stay between 60℉ and 85℉.

Keep a humidifier near the plant to increase humidity. Consider placing the tree in an indoor greenhouse if you have a gas heater that dries out your home during the winter.

Watering Requirements

Water young avocado trees two or three times a week or if the top inch of the container’s soil starts to feel dry. Keep watering the plant until the soil is very damp but not waterlogged. You can give the plant water a little less frequently during winter months.

Growing Avocado Trees Outdoors

Avocado trees can only grow outdoors in warm, humid climates that have very mild winters. Hawaii and the southern regions of California and Florida have ideal outdoor growing environments for avocado trees, but the rest of the U.S. does not. Winter temperatures can even kill fully grown avocado trees.

Follow these tips to encourage strong, healthy growth throughout the year:

Will My Avocado Tree Produce Fruit?

Young avocado trees won’t grow any fruit for several years. Grafted fruit trees don’t produce avocados for at least three years, and trees from seedlings will take at least seven years.

Yielding avocados can be challenging even when the avocado tree is finally old enough to produce. Avocado trees only have one fruit-bearing season a year, and the flowers must receive thorough pollination to properly grow avocados. Consider planting multiple avocado trees if you have the space.

Our Recommendation

Avocado trees are easy and low-maintenance trees to grow from seed. They grow and mature slowly, however, and require indirect light to flourish. Don’t expect to make guacamole or avocado toast for many years after planting an avocado tree since they’re slow growers.

We recommend beginning the process of growing your own avocado tree indoors. This allows you to control the growing conditions and protect trees from cold temperatures. Add an avocado tree to your indoor plant collection and watch it thrive and mature.

How to Grow an Avocado Tree FAQ

How long does it take to grow an avocado tree?

It takes years to grow an avocado tree. Grafted or nursery-grown trees won’t fully mature and produce fruit for approximately four years. Trees that grow from seeds often require 10 years or more to produce fruit.

Are avocados easy to grow?

Avocados are easy to grow but require a lot of time. If you have an established root ball or tree, maintain the tree with a simple watering cycle and by providing it with hours of sunlight.

Do avocados grow better in water or soil?

Avocados grow better in soil than in water. If you germinate your seeds in water, you must ultimately transfer them to well-draining soil to promote healthy growth.

How often should I water my avocado tree?

Water your avocado tree two or three times a week when the tree is young and approximately once or twice a week when it’s mature. If the top inch of the potting soil is dry to the touch, give the tree plenty of water.