After noticing a trend for avocados grown indoors and realizing they are one fruit I had never attempted to grow in my apartment I decided to give it a go with some successful results. I found avocados are ideal for growing in a house or apartment because they don’t need much light and are relatively simple to grow as a houseplant so would be ideal for beginners to indoor gardening.
Read on and follow these instructions on how to grow an avocado tree indoors and I’m sure you will have similar success.
To Grow an avocado tree indoors simply put a pit half in water until it sprouts. Plant it in a 10-inch pot. Put it somewhere that gets at least 6 hours sunlight and water it every 2nd day. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer 3 times per year and watch it grow.
Check out this video of an avocado tree grown indoors:
What variety of avocado tree is best for growing indoors?
There are around 1000 different varieties of avocado you could choose to grow but not that many are suitable as a houseplant.
You definitely want to choose a dwarf variety as it will stay smaller, although you can actually keep any variety small by regular pruning.
The three varieties of avocado I would suggest for growing indoors would be the Holiday, Wertz or Gwen varieties because they only grow to 8-12 feet and can be kept much shorter if you prune them correctly.
To read my full article on avocado varieties Click Here.
Should I grow an avocado tree from seed or buy a young tree?
It depends what your goal is, if you want to grow an avocado tree from a pit go ahead and do it but it can take anything from 8-20 years to become mature enough to actually produce avocados.
When I grow fruit trees my goal is always to taste the fruit I have grown from my trees, I find it a lot more convenient to but a young avocado tree as this means I won’t have to wait years and years for it to produce any avocados although I’m actually still waiting on my avocado tree fruiting.
When you buy a tree that is grown from a cutting that means it is genetically the same age as the mother plant so should start producing a lot quicker than one grown from seed.
How to germinate avocado seeds
Avocados are one of the easiest seeds to germinate.
Simply take a pit from an avocado and give it a wash to remove any fruit pulp that is left on it. Take 3 or 4 cocktail sticks and jab them into your avocado either a third or quarter or the way around the fruit.
Now get a glass that is full of water and place the avocado on top of the glass so that the cocktail sticks are holding it suspended at the top of the glass with the bottom of it being in the water.
Now place the glass in front of a sunny window and keep topping it up with water as and when required, keep doing this and roots will eventually grow out the bottom and the start of an avocado tree will shoot out the top.
You should keep it in the glass until the root is at least 6-8 inches long.
This video shows how to sprout avocado from seed:
What’s the best avocado tree container size?
A young avocado tree doesn’t need the largest pot or container and if you are attempting to keep your tree small a method I use is to not re-pot when it becomes rootbound in its pot as this restricts it from growing any larger.
I use a terracotta pot for my dwarf avocado tree that is only 10 inches in diameter and it is doing just fine.
If you want to encourage your tree to grow big and beautiful you should re-pot your tree every couple of years into a larger pot or container.
Best soil for an indoor avocado tree?
Make sure you put some stones or pebbles at the bottom of your pot before you put the soil in as this encourages good drainage.
You have to make sure you use a soil that is fast draining as avocado plants don’t like to be in permanently soaking soil they like it to be moist.
Never use soil from your garden to grow fruit trees in a container as it will clump together and be pretty awful for drainage and your fruit plant.
I use a quality light and sandy potting compost which is a pretty standard option from any garden center.
How much light does an avocado plant need?
For an avocado tree to survive it only needs around 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. The more light you can get your tree the bigger and faster it will grow and the more chance it will have of actually producing avocados.
If you have a south-facing window or a sunny conservatory you should have no problems in growing a healthy avocado tree.
If you think you will struggle to get it enough light and are serious about attempting to get your tree to actually produce avocados you should use an LED grow light as they are really affordable and inexpensive to run on a 12-hour timer.
How much water does an avocado plant need?
Avocado trees do like water, although, they do not like to be in standing water as if they are the roots will actually start to rot and your tree will quickly wither away and die.
How much to water your avocado tree really depends on what the climate is in your area.
I stick my finger in the soil and if the top 2 inches are dry I give my avocado tree water. The aim is to keep the soil moist but not permanently drenched which means during the summer months I usually water every couple of days.
What’s the best temperature for avocado trees?
The best temperature for your avocado tree depends on the exact variety you have chosen to grow.
Generally, the best temperature for an avocado tree would be 60F to 85F (15C- 29C) if it is to have any chance of actually producing avocados.
When they are mature they are relatively hardy trees and can survive in frosty temperatures although if they are in frost that could have a detrimental effect on the amount of fruit produced the following season.
Avocado fertilizer requirements?
When you are choosing a fertilizer for your avocado tree you should choose one that has a high nitrogen content and also has some zinc.
A standard citrus tree fertilizer would be a suitable choice for an avocado tree.
I use fertilizer on my avocado tree three times per year, once in March as it is just starting to grow, once in July and once in October and I don’t use any during the winter months when it is in its dormant period.
Indoor avocado tree pruning
Because avocado trees can grow into massive 40-foot trees and even dwarf trees can grow to be 12 feet tall, you will have to carry out a pretty brutal pruning regime to control the size.
If you are growing your avocado from seed the first time you prune your tree should be when it reaches 15 cm, at this point you should cut it in half, this will ensure it has stronger and healthier branches when it gets more mature.
Once your tree has regrown to around 30 cm you should cut the tip off again and also cut the tips of the branches so they are around 10 cm long. This ensures your avocado tree will grow strong and healthy.
When your avocado tree is mature you should prune it annually during the winter in a similarly brutal fashion if you want to control its size and keep it as a houseplant.
Techniques for avocado pollination by hand
To have any chance of your indoor avocado tree producing fruit you will have to take over the job of bees and that is the pollination of your tree.
You will have to pollinate your tree by hand and there are 2 methods you can use to do this.
The first method is the paintbrush method. To use this method take a small paintbrush and go around every flower and brush pollen from the male stamen and into the female stigma of the flowers, go round every flower and do this to help with pollination.
The second method is to cut off one of the flowers then go round every flower rubbing the stigma of the cut off flower into the female part of all the other flowers.
If you want an indoor fruit tree to produce fruits you will have to use these methods as a tree that isn’t pollinated definitely won’t produce fruit.
Should I thin out any heavy clusters of avocados?
Some trees do require fruit to be thinned annually to help them produce bigger and tastier tasting fruits, however, avocado trees do not need annual thinning.
Avocado trees like most fruit trees have a natural defense to having too much fruit to remain healthy and it is called drop off, the fruit will naturally drop off if it weighs too much.
If your avocado tree produces so much fruit that doesn’t drop and it looks like the branches are going to snap then it would be advisable to cut some avocados off to reduce the weight.
This is unlikely to happen to an avocado tree grown indoors unless you have managed to get it 12+ hours sunlight and plenty of heat while it has been growing.
When to pick avocados from the tree
The best time to pick avocados from the tree is when you are ready to eat them, this is because avocados are unique in that they don’t ripen on the tree, they only start to ripen when they are off the tree.
You may be able to tell if they are ready to be picked by a slight change in color depending on the variety or they might become softer.
The best thing to do would be to pick one and put it in a paper bag to help it ripen more quickly and if it tastes good, harvest the rest of them.
How to store avocados long term
When you pick avocados from your tree it will take about a week for them to ripen if left on a tabletop, to speed up this process to 2-4 days put them in a paper bag, you definitely want to ripen your avocados before you refrigerate or freeze them.
When your avocado is ripe you should put it in a sealable bag or container and it will last for around 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
To freeze avocado for long-term storage you should first cut them in half and remove the pit and scoop out the flesh.
To keep avocado tasting good long term you will have to puree it so put it in a food processor and blend it to a pulp along with ½ a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Finally put this mix in a sealable plastic container and in the freezer, avocado stored this way will keep good for up to 6 months.
How to grow avocado tree outside
To grow an avocado tree outside you should germinate the seed using the method above.
Ideally, you want to plant your avocado seedling outside at the start of spring after the last frost. Select a planting area that gets full sun and has excellent draining soil, it should also ideally be an area that is protected from wind and frost.
You should water a newly planted avocado tree every second day for the first year and after that only water it once or twice per week.
You should fertilize an outside avocado tree a few times per year during the growing season with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
Indoor avocado tree problems and how to solve them
Avocados are a great plant for growing indoors because they are so simple to grow, however, like all plants they may have some problems, disease or infestations and the quicker you treat them the easier and more successful you will be at making them healthy again.
Here are a few of the possible problems:
Spider Mites – Spider mites can affect avocado trees grown indoors. You probably won’t be able to see the mites and the first thing you will notice will be yellowing and dark spots on the leaves. When you notice this, check under the leaves and if there is spiders web-like material you have a spider mite infestation.
You should use insecticidal soap to get rid of a spider mite infestation.
Lack of Light – If your indoor avocado tree is suffering from a lack of light it will appear straggly and weak and will grow very slowly or even stop growing. If this happens you will have to either use an LED grow light or move your tree somewhere with more light. You could solve this even by simply moving your tree closer to the window, it should not be more than 4 feet away from its light source.
Water Problems – If your avocado plant is not getting enough water it will show symptoms such as the foliage starting to wilt, have dry brittle leaves and experience slow growth.
If your avocado plant is getting too much water it will become weak and straggly and the stem may start to go mushy at the bottom, waterlogged soil will lead to the death of your plant. Make sure your container has drainage holes in the bottom.
Adjust your watering routine immediately if you think your plant is suffering from these water problems.
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