Growing avocados

I like eating avocados, and would like to try my hand at growing some from the pits. Is this a good idea? Do I need special avocado pits, or can I use the ones I’d normally throw away? Pointy tip up or down? I’m not likely to go out and BUY pits just for growing, as I have a brown thumb (most of the stuff I try to grow dies on me) but I’d like to play around with the pits I’d normally pitch anyway. Would I get edible avocados from this?

Sheesh. Now I need to go to the library…at 1:00 AM.


Yes, you can grow your own. Take a pit…wash it well…take three toothpicks, and jab 'em into the pit around the fattest part, pointy end up. Put the pit, which should now look like a man-made satellite, on a glass. Fill the glass with water until the rounded part of the pit is in the water. Check the water level every day or so, and add some if necessary. Pretty soon, your pit should sprout.

When it sprouts, you can plant it. Tend it, water it, and love it. If you’re lucky, it’ll grow into a big ol’ avocado tree…which won’t bear fruit. Something about trees grown from pits don’t really bear fruit as well as cuttings or grafted trees. But wait! There’s a trick to making an avocado tree bear fruit. You have to injure the tree. Drive a BIG nail into the trunk. Then it should start. Not immediately, of course, but during the next avocado season, you should see some forming.

Oh Lord , does THIS bring back memories. All my life my mother and my aunts always had avocado pits with toothpicks stuck in them, floating in a jar of water on the window-sill in the kitchen. I never, ever saw an avocado come from any of those pits. Just annoying vines that looked messy. I’m sure it is possible, but, I’ve never seen it. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

Avocadoes take 5 -10 years to bear fruit. YOu are more likely to get fruit from a grafted tree than from a pit-grown tree. You also need a male and a female to cross pollinate and nope, I dunno how to tell the difference.

They make pretty pot plants though

If you try the water method, dont leave them in too long, or they’ll grow water roots, which arent as sturdy as roots that they would form in soil. You can also just stick the seed in a pot of soil and keep it watered til it grows (i havent done this, but well, that’s what you do with most seeds :)).

As for being able to grow a tree, Avocados can take temperatures between 20 - 24 degrees F. Mature trees i assume that’s for. Seedlings would be much more sensitive. If you live where they would freeze, you can plant them in containers, but do not use plastic. Avocados need very fast drainage,decomposed granite or sandy loam is best. In pots, growing annuals helps to reduce soil moisture and keep the roots cool. That’s why plastic containers are a bad idea.

They also need full sun to bloom and fruit.To make sure they get polinated two or three trees can be planted in the same hole. The trees also get fairly large. They can grow up to 80 feet high, but usually less. You would need about 20 feet of room for the tree, because they tend to grow broadly. Planting by sidewalks inst a good idea cause they can push up sidewalks with age. The roots are also greedy and stay within the first two feet of soil, so growing things under them isnt a good idea.

Flowers, if you get one to fruit, form between january to march. Freezes will probably destroy your crop. Another downside to Avocados is they drop lots of leaves, and they are often slow to decompose (mexican types have anise scented leaves).

But, if youre growing it for the novelty, give it a shot, i’m sure you’ll find satisfaction even if you only get a small seedling.

You can read more at:

I gave up on the toothpick-and-water thing. I’d keep it religiously watered for weeks and then forget once; back to square one.

I was quite successful with this method: In late spring after all danger of frost (Western Wisconsin) I buried the pit out in my garden, marking it so I wouldn’t accidentally dig it up. It got all the water and fertilizer that the rest of garden got. In fall, just before the first frost, I dug up and potted a sturdy eight inch tall seedling to bring inside for the winter.

It’s now six feet tall. It hasn’t bloomed yet, but it’s five years old now; should happen soon.

I should start by mentioning that I too am a brown thumb. We have a backyard that came with two peach trees, an orange tree, a lime tree, and…a mystery tree that is 8 feet tall right in the middle of the yard.

Considering the others were obviously fruit trees we could identify, we naturally assumed the one in the middle must also be a functional (as opposed to decorative) type that must also give off some goodies, but thus far, all it has done is dropped most of it’s leaves, then regrown them.

It has been suggested by more than one amateur botanist that it is an avocado tree, which had me all excited since I love those things and they cost a fortune in the stores. So I’ve heard the theories of:

  1. You have to cross polinate them with an opposite sex tree.

[if this is true, how do you determine the sex, and can I just buy the pollen of the opposite sex and artificially do it?]

  1. You have to wait for the tree to be X years old before it bears fruit where X is 5-15 years depending on who you talk to.

[how do I determine the age]

  1. Injuring the tree.

[heard this theory too, though it sounds like an urban legend. Why would stabbing/ mutilating the tree cause it to bear fruit?]

I live in San Diego, and the tree is watered every day by the automatic sprinklers so I imagine I have the right climate and conditions. Are there any specially gardening chemicals you can use to get fruit? Sort of like Miracle Grow?

I live in Fort Worth, Texas, so I think that I’ll give this a try. If I start it in water now, I’ll probably get a tree big enough to plant outside in the spring.

Everything is on the web, including illustrated insctuctions for growing your own avocado


Well, sure, but what if you wanted to grow 6.022*10[sup]23[/sup] of them?

If you live in San Diego you may not have to worry about pollination. Here in Los Angeles, there are so many avocado trees, that they are naturally pollinated.

I suspect San Diego is the same way.

Jeez, around here I would bet that 30-40 % of the houses have avocado trees.

Avocado’s number? I s’pose that would give you one mole of guacanium.

I’m ashamed of you for making such a tasteless pun, Manny. I don’t advocate such behavior.

I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what my great-grandfather used to prescribe to make avocado trees bear fruit. That doesn’t necessarily mean much, except my GGF planted and tended hundreds of acres of avocado trees in North San Diego County (Fallbrook area, I think).

I do recall my grandmother had an avocado tree that was huge, but didn’t bear any fruit. Then her brother gave her some of GGF’s advice, and drove a nail the size of a railroad spike into the trunk. As I recall, it bore fruit the following spring.

In a way, it makes sense - flowering is really a way to procreate, and as long as the parent tree is healthy, there’s no need for seedlings. Not all that different from pine cones that only open and drop seeds after a fire.

I once cut open an avocado and found it had already sprouted. I did try to grow it, but like the OP, I also have a brown thumb and it died eventually.

But then using this logic, if the plant is so ‘distressed’ that it thinks it’s dying… will the tree actually bear fruit and then die like my #$@%#^ banana trees do? I hate those damn things! Though I like avocados, I’m not so greedy that I want one season’s worth of fruit only to kill the tree in the process. Besides, the trunk of this tree is maybe only 2-3 inches in diameter. I would think a railroad spike is a tad extreme at this point, don’t you think? Maybe a large nail…

If there is any risk of destroying the tree, I think I’ll stick with having a nice shade tree in the yard instead and keep paying $1.75 a piece for my avocados at the market

For the record, the banana is not a tree. It’s the world’s biggest herb (really!).
And Yarster, I had a Grandad who tried growing bananas in Pharr, Texas(just up the river from Brownsville). Not very successful. The U.S. at it’s most Southern points are still not tropical enough to support bananas for any extended time.
If some genius could figger out how to grow bananas in the U.S. they’d reap a fortune from Chiquita and other companies that spend fortunes shipping that most delicate fruit up from Central America.

I grew up in Dallas and grew many avocado trees in pots. Some grew quite large. But put one in the ground and the Tx winter will kill it first freeze!
But they do make pretty houseplants. Just remember that it may take as long as 6 wks to sprout.

Ok, maybe I overstated the size of the nail. But it was about three inches long, and fairly hefty. At the time, I think the tree trunk was probably eight or nine inches across.

If the tree is old/mature enough, nailing it won’t kill it. My grandmother’s tree is still growing and bearing fruit, and it’s been 20 years since it got nailed.

Apple breeders like to try out their new crosses as early as possible, so they sometimes make young trees flower and set fruit a season or two early by tying a piece of wire around a branch. I suppose it works by restricting the flow of sap, though why that encourages flowering I don’t know.

Not quite true. Bananas can be grown and fruit successfully if you pick the right varieties. The varieties you find in the supermarket arent very suited to growing where it gets some cold.

The banana is actually a mass of leaves. The trunk being the stems of the leaves. The true stem comes out after about 10 - 15 months of frost free weather (or around 44 leaves). If bananas freeze, but the underground rhizome doesn’t, they’ll come back, but they might not make fruit (especially if the leaves froze before the true stem formed).

Bananas are heavy drinkers and feeders. Fertilizers high in phosphorous are good (the California Rare Fruit Grower’s page on bananas reccomends an 8:10:8 NPK fertilizer, at 1 - 1 1/2 pounds a month). But, for foliage, they can be grown in just about any soil.

At 28 degrees, most varieties will have their tops freeze, but the rhizomes can take temps of 22 degrees F for short periods of time, if the rhizome is protected.

The variety “Orinoco” is found all over the gulf coast, and also is grown in California, and will produce fruit (which is tasty but not the best quality). There are some other varieties as well.


California Rare Fruit Growers’ site on growing bananas

Cloud Forest - This site talks about growing highland plants from places like South America in the Central Coast region of California. Check out the cafe, it’s the message board and they often talk about bananas