Avocados were first introduced as “alligator pears” by Sir Hans Sloane. The word “avocado” didn’t appear in the lexicon until the US Department of Agriculture realized that “avocado” was much more appealing than “alligator pear.”
Harvest from Year 2+ on.
Equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].
Intermediate. You’ll transplant, prune, and pollinate.
Best Avocado varieties to grow inside.
Avocados have two types: Type A and Type B. While most varieties can self-pollinate, having both Type A and Type B varieties will guarantee you a larger and more successful yield of the crop. Below are our most favorite avocado varieties:
Blossom Type A
Great for beginners as it is relatively tough and productive. Also, its fruit stands among the finest tasting avocados
Blossom Type A
High-fat flesh has a nutty taste and almond butter texture. Classic West Coast avocado and a favorite worldwide.
Blossom Type A
Heavy production, has excellent taste, and smaller tree size. Perfect for backyard or indoor gardening.
Wurtz aka Little Cado
Blossom Type A
The only true dwarf variety of avocado, perfect for indoors. Has intense flavor and very creamy flesh
Blossom Type B
They are lighter than other varieties, have a very fresh and unique flavor, and they’re especially good in guacamole, salads, or smoothies.
Best Setup for Avocado Plants
A pot that is at least 8″ / 1 gal, though there is some flexibility. The plant will grow in proportion to its planter – so size it based on how tall you want your plant to grow.
Fruit Blend. This should be low in phosphorus (with NPK numbers like 8-3-10).
A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].
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Starting your Avocado: Seed vs Propagate
Avocado that’s grown to eat is usually started with a live plant or cutting. This is because plants grown from seeds will grow as “wild types” – meaning they won’t produce the same fruit they came from (think of crab apples!).
Why you shouldn’t start Avocado from seed
If you grow an Avocado from seed, it won’t grow “true to type” meaning the fruit you will get will be a weird cross between the many different varieties – and chances are it won’t taste very good. However, if you are growing it for a houseplant and don’t care about the produce – go ahead and plant the pit!
Propagating Avocado: How to Clone from a Stem Cutting
If you’ve already got an Avocado plant you love (or a friend does!) you can easily “clone” it with just sharp scissors and a clean glass of water. First, cut a couple 6” shoots of new growth (avoid anything woody). Next, remove the lower leaves, so the bottom half is just stem. Place in a glass of 3” of water, making sure the cut leaf spots are underwater. Place the glass on a bright windowsill and change the water every few days. In a couple of weeks, roots should emerge and you can transplant them into your container. While using additional rooting hormones won’t hurt, it’s not necessary with Avocado plants.
- Cut 6” section of new growth
- Remove leaves halfway and place them in the water on a sunny window sill
- Wait 14 days for a few ½ inch roots to form and carefully transplant into it final container
How to Transplant Avocado
Live starter plants give you a big jump start on your first harvest. When you’re in a garden center – pick the bushiest plant available (tall and lanky ones will be weak growers) and give it a good inspection for pests. Leaves should be dark green without holes, spots, or curled edges. A best practice is to actually “quarantine” your plant for about a week after bringing it home to make sure it’s free and clear of ride-on pests.
Now that you know it’s pest and disease-free, it’s time to transplant your seedling into its final home.
- Remove some soil from its final planter – leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface.
- Hold on to the base of the stem with one hand, and turn the pot over while gently pulling the seedling. Giving the pot a few squeezes can help dislodge it.
- Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted.
Where to grow your Avocado plants
While you should take advantage of the sun (it’s free and perfect for plants) there are limited circumstances where indoor natural light is enough for Avocado plants to grow well. A very bright window can cut your grow light needs in half, but if you want to grow lots of Avocado, you’ll still need one. For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option.
How bright should your grow light be?
Avocado plants need the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.
How many hours per day do your Avocado plants need under a grow light?
Avocado plants are known as “short-day,” meaning they’ll develop faster if they sense over 12 hours of darkness. We want them to progress into flowering as soon as possible, so we recommend setting up a timer to leave it on for only 10 hours per day.
Avocado Plants Grow Faster in Warmer Temps
Avocado plants are native to subtropical regions and like lots of heat, classifying them as “warm weather crops”. Sunnier and south-facing windows help keep things warmer – ideally 80°F but anything between 60 and 90°F is fine.
How to Prune Avocado Trees
Pruning is important for Avocado trees. Even dwarf varieties can easily grow up to 15 feet – and pruning keeps them easier to manage, care for, and fit in our living space. Beyond this, we help the plant focus its energy by limiting the number of branches we allow to develop. The basics of pruning are simple; plants grow from their tips (not bottom), but if you remove the tip it will redirect the growth to side branches. The art of pruning takes many forms, however – Bonsai, Espalier, and Spur are some ways the basic principles are applied. We encourage you to explore the look you want, but if you are unsure, open-center pruning is a well established style for fruit trees.
The standard for most fruit trees is known as “Open Center Pruning” where the canopy consists of 3 or 4 evenly spaced main branches. This lets light and air penetrate through the center and reach the edges for an even, lush plant. Make the first cut when you are happy with the height of the trunk – it may happen as soon as you get your plant (we recommend letting the trunk be at least 2 ft above the soil). This cut should be right above a bud or branch coming off the main trunk. This will encourage the main branches to form, so if more than 3 or 4 come out then remove the extra with an eye to keep spacing even. The main pruning is now done, so just once or twice a year you’ll want to do a maintenance prune to remove any crossing or dead branches and keep the center short.
Year 2+: Cross-Pollinate Your Avocado Flowers
Avocados are able to self-pollinate, though they do produce even better fruit if they cross-pollinate. If you’re trying to get serious about your avocado productions it’s best to have plants from two of the main categories: Type A (Hass, Pinkerton, Gewn) and Type B (Fuetre, Bacon, Zutano). Once the flowers come out it can take a while for the avocados to form – anywhere from 5-15 months.
Year 2+: How to Harvest Avocados
Like all fruits, Avocados are best to ripen on the tree – the longer they are there the higher the oil content and richer the taste will be. The avocado should easily separate from the tree with a gentle pull and be soft – but firm – to the touch.
Year 100+: End of Life
There are wild avocado trees that are over 400 years old (and still producing!) so as long as you continue to provide your tree with good conditions your plant could outlive you!
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The right supplies can take the guesswork out of caring for your plants – and turn care from a daily to weekly routine. Through our grow tests, we’ve found these products to produce the best indoor Avocado (and also have simple maintenance). Plants are adaptable and can grow in many different conditions, so they are by no means necessary if you already have other supplies.
Best Containers for Avocado: Ceramic Self Watering Planters
Plants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged. A semi-porous ceramic self regulates ideal conditions. Our favorite is the COSWIP planter. Runner up is XS Self Watering Planter by Wet Pot.
Best Soil for Avocado: Free Draining Mix
Avocado needs a drier environment – so you are better off using a free-draining cactus potting mix – we like this Organic Mix by Espoma.
Best Nutrients for Avocado: Fruit Blend
Avocado likes nutrients that are low in phosphorus (with NPK numbers like 8-3-10). For a Fruit Blend we recommend: Espoma Citrus Tone
Best Light for Avocado: DIY or Soltech
There is a very small chance that you have the bright windows needed to grow these without a grow light. If you are looking for a higher-end option – we love the Aspect Light by Soltech. For a more affordable option, a DIY setup using a 24W Screw-in Bulb by Sansi with a Clamp Light and Mechanical Timer works well too. Check out our complete guide on a DIY setup for less than $40 or our buying guide for screw in bulbs.