Introduction

Avocado, also referred to as an alligator pear or avocado pear, is an edible fruit. It is native to Mexico and is grown in the warmer regions. They aren’t just delicious fruits; they’re also beautiful houseplants. Growing your avocado can be rewarding and an educational experience, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your effort. Follow the tips and grow an avocado plant at home!

Selecting the Right Avocado Variety

Avocado plants can be grown from seeds, but not all avocado varieties are suitable for growing indoors. There are many varieties of avocados, but they are categorized as Guatemalan, Mexican, and West Indian. Guatemalan avocados are large-sized, thick, and have a creamy texture. They are cold-hardy and tolerate temperatures as low as 25 °F ( -4 C). The Hass avocado variety is widespread for its ability to grow well indoors. It has a compact size and an adaptable nature. Other varieties, like Reed and Bacon, can be grown indoors suitably. 

Mexican avocado trees are more compact and can be grown in small spaces. They can be grown in backyard orchards and container cultivation. Indigenous to the tropical lowlands of the West Indies, West Indian avocados are the largest, with smooth, thin skin and a mild, watery flavor. These are fast-growing and produce large fruits. West Indian avocados are preferable in commercial orchards and tropical regions.

Planting the Seed

Avocados can be grown from the seed inside the fruit. The only drawback is that it would take ten years before you can enjoy the fruit. It might not even be fruit at all. To plant the seed, wash any residue off of an avocado pit. Once dry, insert 3-4 toothpicks about halfway up the side of the pit. Place the broad end of the pit in a drinking glass or jar. Check to see if there is enough water in the container to submerge the seed in the bottom third. Keep the glass in a warm area away from direct sunlight, and change the water regularly. Roots and a sprout should appear within 2-6 weeks. If it doesn't appear, try another seed. Once the sprout reaches about 6 inches tall, trim it back to about 3 inches to encourage more root growth. When the stem regrows, plant your pit in a 10-inch pot filled with rich potting soil. Be patient, and keep watching your avocado tree flourish.

Transferring to soil

The avocado seed is ready to be planted in the ground once it has formed roots and a stem roughly 6 inches tall. After selecting a pot with adequate drainage holes, add a well-draining potting mix to it. Carefully transfer the seedling into the pot. The top of the seed should be level with the soil surface. Water the plant thoroughly, but avoid over-watering. Avocado plants are susceptible to root rot.

Adequate Light and Temperature

Avocado plants grow well in bright, indirect sunlight. Place your plant near a south-facing window where it can receive plenty of natural light all day. If natural light is insufficient, you can supplement it with artificial grow lights. Maintain a consistent temperature range of 60-85 F, avoiding drafts and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Watering and humidity

Avocado plants prefer consistently moist, but not waterlogged, soil. In between waterings, allow the top inch of soil to become dry. Pour enough water to cover the entire pot and allow any excess to run out. During the growing season, moisten the leaves regularly to increase humidity, especially if you live in a dry climate or if the air indoors is dry.

Fertilizing

Feed your avocado plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4–6 weeks during the growing season. Reduce fertilization frequency or stop altogether during the dormant season to allow the plant to rest. 

Pruning and Maintenance

Regular pruning helps maintain the shape and size of your avocado plant. Pinch off the tips of growing stems to encourage bushier growth. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves to promote healthy foliage. Repot the plant into a slightly larger pot every 2–3 years to provide enough space for root growth. Pruning and maintenance are essential for keeping your avocado plant healthy and productive. Regular pruning helps maintain the desired shape and size of the plant while promoting optimal air circulation and sunlight penetration. Begin by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Pruning can encourage branching and new growth, resulting in a fuller, bushier plant. During the growing season, pinch the tips of growing stems to encourage lateral branching and a more compact form. As your avocado plant matures, periodically thin out crowded branches to improve airflow and light distribution throughout the canopy. Remember to sterilize your pruning tools before and after each use to prevent the spread of pathogens. Alongside pruning, regular maintenance tasks such as watering, fertilizing, and repotting as needed will ensure that your avocado plant thrives and continues to beautify your indoor space.

Pollination and fruit production

Although avocado plants can bloom indoors, fruit production requires cross-pollination with another avocado tree. Pollination plays a crucial role in avocado fruit production, as avocados are not self-pollinating. In their natural habitat, avocado trees rely on bees and other insects for pollination. For backyard growers, having multiple avocado trees of different varieties can facilitate cross-pollination and improve fruit sets. Certain avocado cultivators have a reputation for exhibiting alternating bearing, which means they might yield a large crop one year and a smaller crop the next.  While indoor-grown avocado plants may bloom, achieving fruit production can be challenging due to the absence of pollinators and the limitations of indoor environments. Therefore, while growing an avocado plant indoors can offer lush greenery and a decorative touch to your home, expecting fruit production may require more extensive arrangements, such as hand pollination or grafting, depending on the variety and circumstances.