Once upon a time, I owned a sweet little book called The Avocado Pit Grower's Guide. In this case, "once upon a time" means about thirty years ago and what I wouldn't give to have that book now - very vintage - like me. LOL I plan to hunt it down, but for now, I thought I'd share what I learned from the one I used to have.
I can't cut an avocado open and remove the pit without remembering all the times I cultivated the pit into a sweet little tree. It's been ages since I grew one, so I thought it would be fun to do it again.
An avocado pit is, of course, just a humongous seed. If you'd like to grow a cute plant from the pit, make sure you don't cut into it when you remove it from the avocado. Clean it off under running lukewarm water and pat it dry.
I distinctly remember that my sweet little book said avocados do not like cold water, ever, ever, ever.
Basically, you're going to suspend the pit in a jar of water until it opens, sends down a taproot and shortly after that, sends up a little stalk.
In order to suspend it in water, you need to stick three round toothpicks in the sides, about halfway down. The "top" of the pit is the pointed end - the "bottom" is the fatter flatter end. Make sure the pit is clean and dry and grasp it firmly and "drill" the three toothpicks into the sides, evenly spaced. They need to be inserted at an angle so that the bottom of the pit sits far enough down into the jar that it can be submerged almost completely in water....almost, but not completely. Make sure the top is not under water.
The first change you're going to see is that the bottom will begin to split open. I photographed mine upside down so you could see how it splits.
Don't be surprised if this takes a few weeks. I've seen an avocado pit split in just a few days and I've seen it take two months. So don't think yours isn't going to split and grow just because it's taking its time.
One thing I've never seen is an avocado pit that didn't eventually split open and put down a taproot.
Once the pit begins to open up, you must be very careful when you handle it. The two halves of the pit are held together by a very fragile little "plant" and it's very easy to accidentally break it apart. If that happens, you'll need to throw it in the trash and start with a new pit, unless you can clearly see that the baby plant stayed attached to one side, intact, and didn't break or tear.
This is the way mine looked after about six weeks. That's a taproot that's beginning to grow downward.
This is just a couple of weeks later. You can see that the taproot is growing pretty fast but the top of the pit is still pretty tightly closed. You can also see that I was able to peel the skin off the pit. After a certain point, it becomes "loose" and you can peel it. You don't have to - it won't affect the way it grows. I just prefer the cleaner look. But remember....if you decide to peel it, be very, very careful when handling the pit.
After another couple of weeks, mine began to open at the top. You can barely see the tiny little "stalk" beginning to stick out of the top.
Here's a better picture. That cute little stalk is going to become a tree. Really. :-)
For some reason, I've always planted an avocado pit in a brand new clay pot. Clay pots are the best way to plant most houseplants because they breathe and you're a lot less likely to over water your plant.
Over watering is the number one killer of houseplants.
So I like knowing that if I do get carried away with the watering, the plant will dry out a lot more quickly than it would in a painted or metal pot.
Put a few little stones in the bottom of the pot. This will help it drain and is just one more way to try to prevent over watering.
Now it's time to remove the toothpicks. They're pretty easy to remove if you "twist" them out. It's even OK to break them off if you can't get them to come out. But again, I can't stress how carefully you have to handle the pit at this point. It's very fragile.
In this photo you can see that "roots" are beginning to grow out of the main taproot. That, combined with the little stalk peeking out of the top of the pit, tells me the time is perfect to transfer my plant from water to soil.
I've always used Miracle Grow. It really does make nicer plants and it doesn't seem to dry out and harden and get icky like other brands of potting soil do.
Simply hold the pit over the pot, and gently fill the pot with potting soil, leaving the top half of the pit exposed. You don't have to tap the soil down. Water it and you'll see if you need to add more soil.
Eventually, the pit is going to dry up and disappear, leaving a "tree."
And eventually you're going to have to chop off the top of the tree, but I know the very thought is nerve wracking, after waiting maybe three months to get to this stage, so we'll pretend I didn't tell you that and I'll bring it up again. Later.
The only thing left to do is to find the perfect spot to put your plant. It needs sunshine, or at least very bright light, and it needs to stay warmish. Avocados don't like to be cold, so put your plant in a sunny spot that's not directly under an air conditioning vent.
Remember that direct sunlight coming in through glass will burn the plant, so diffused sunlight is what you want. This is accomplished with a screen or sheers on the window.
So now my avocado simply needs to grow. I'll water it when the top inch of the soil is dry.
Here's a word of caution about clay pots. You'll notice I placed my clay pot on a clay saucer. That saucer will get very damp when I water my plant and it will ruin the oak sofa table it's sitting on. So I put the pot and saucer on a white ceramic salad plate - water or dampness will not go through that white plate.
As soon as my little tree has grown a bit, I'll show you what to do next.
The goal is a bushy little tree, not a six foot tall stalk. LOL
And for the record, I've never heard of an avocado tree grown indoors producing avocados. But you can bet I won't be planting mine outside, here in western Colorado. No way.
This is going to be a sweet indoor plant.
Jump right in if you'd like to. Growing avocado pits into cute house plants is fun and you know, this is a great project for you to do with your children. It's great because unlike most seeds, this one is huge and your kids will be able to clearly see all the different stages of growing a seed into a plant.