How to Grow an Avocado Tree in Your Backyard

By Hj Jung , last updated August 5, 2011

Growing an avocado tree takes warm weather, patience, the willingness to invest your time and effort in a long process, and an avocado. The start to growing an avocado tree is very easy, but rearing your plant to a fruit bearing status will take years. Here are some tips on how to grow an avocado tree.

Begin with a Fruit

The start to growing your avocado tree is easy. Find a ripe avocado. You can test an avocado’s ripeness by feeling the inner flesh from the fruit’s shell. If your fingers sink into it easily, the avocado is ripe and should be easy to cut with a knife. Cut the avocado in half the long way. Be careful not to cut or damage the pit. Split the avocado in half, and enjoy the soft avocado flesh with a spoon. Remove the pit and leave it aside. Afterwards, rinse the pit of any avocado residue.

Take three pieces of toothpicks and stick them into the pit. Make sure that the slightly pointed tip is facing upwards. Take a small, clear glass and fill it with water. Let the avocado pit suspend over the water-filled glass with the toothpicks used for support. Let the water reach up to about an inch from the base of the pit.

Place your avocado by the window to receive direct sunlight. Make sure the temperature by the windowsill is warm, kept to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. After two to six weeks, the pit should sprout roots and a stem. When the stem grows to about seven inches in height, cut it down to three inches using a sharp pair of floral clippers. After the stem produces more leaves and the roots show signs of thickening, remove it from the glass and transplant it in a pot that is at least 10 inches in diameter, and filled with soil that is high in humus content. Rich humus soil will retain moisture and keep your avocado well hydrated. When you water your avocado plant, water it lightly and frequently. Give your plant a deep soak intermittently. Make sure the soil remains moist but not soaked. Make sure your plant receives plenty of sunlight.

Once your plant’s stem grows to about 12 inches high, cut it down to 6 inches using a pair of sharp floral cutters. This will encourage the plant to produce new shoots.

Avocado Tree

It takes anywhere between 7 to 15 years for your avocado plant to mature enough to bear fruit. Avocado trees thrive in hardiness zones 9 through 11, where temperatures do not drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees are natives to South and Central American tropics and can only withstand warm temperatures. In the U.S., these trees are grown in South Florida, Texas and parts of California along the coast.

Transferring your young avocado tree from the pot to outdoors should take place anytime between early spring to early summer. Dig a hole about the same size as your plant’s root ball. Be cautious not to let your young tree get exposed to harsh sunlight so soon in order to avoid sun damage. Young trees need to be watered frequently, and require supplements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Add a teaspoon to two teaspoons of these supplements once a year. When watering your tree, make sure to water after the surface dries. Your avocado tree should be located in an area with plenty of direct sunlight.

Avocado trees are not frost resistant. When growing an avocado tree, make sure the soil’s pH level is between 6 and 6.5. Do not let it reach above 7. Give your tree 20 feet of room to spread its roots, and be sure to plant your tree where there is adequate sunlight. Your avocado tree requires good aeration. Adding wood mulch can also enhance your tree’s growth.

Signs of Disease or Poor Health

Yellow leaves, when the avocado is still a plant, are an indication of over-watering. If this happens, let your plant dry for several days. Brown leaves are indicative of high saline content in the soil. If this is the case, let the water run freely through the pot and drain it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

If your avocado tree produces yellow leaves, this may be a sign of iron deficiency. Foliar sprays high in iron content should correct this.

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