People are amazed that I’ve had so much success growing avocado plants from seed. The old toothpicks over a glass of water method is such a hit or miss, it isn’t worth your time. Don’t rely on luck, use these tried-and-true seed starting tricks to sprout and grow your own avocado tree from seed!
So far I’ve had 95% success with sprouting avocado pits with gardener’s methods, using the paper towel germination trick to get started. But there are other important factors to consider to improve the odds of starting and growing your avocado seedling into a full tree.
Here’s everything you need to know to successfully sprout avocado pits:
#1. Soak The Avocado Seeds Overnight
As soon as you remove the pit from the avocado fruit, clean it and soak it in warm water overnight. If you aren’t on well water, use filtered or mineral water moving forward.
Deep soaking the seed removes germination inhibitors (which happens in nature with rain and wind), and provides the moisture levels needed to trigger germination.
#2. Peel Away The Outside Husk
You probably won’t be able to peel all of the outside husk at once, but get as much as you can. Don’t worry, in the next few steps you’ll have opportunity for the husk to soften up and peel more away.
While this step is technically not required, occasionally a harder husk may prevent the root or shoot from growing properly. I had to remove the husk on a couple of my avocado pits because the root couldn’t penetrate it and grow straight out the bottom. It rerouted to grow out the side, which you don’t want. Give your avocado seed every advantage you can!
#3. Wrap In A Wet Paper Towel
Wrap each seed in a damp paper towel. It doesn’t have to be dripping wet, but it should be more than just a little moist, and be sure to use warm water.
#4. Place In An Airtight Plastic Container In a Dark Place
Place the wrapped avocado pits in an airtight plastic container, or a ziplock bag. Set it in a dark warm place, or at least a room-temperature location (just make sure the location isn’t cool).
I put mine in a kitchen cabinet where I wouldn’t forget about it.
#5. Check Once A Week & Change Paper Towels
Check in on the status of your avocado seeds at least once a week, and rise them off so they don’t get mildewy. Swap out the old paper towel with a fresh wet paper towel weekly; this prevents it from drying out, or molding.
During these checks you should be able to peel the rest of the husk off the avocado (bit by bit). Sometimes bits of the brown skin and other hard spots remain, and that is just fine.
Soon you should see the seed begin crack open and a split will appear. That is usually an indication that a root is starting to form and will soon poke out.
TIP: Once you start to see the seed split, wrap the paper towel loosely around it, and lay it so the root can grow unimpeded.
Leave it in that dark warm location until the taproot starts to protrude out the bottom. Don’t let the root get long otherwise it will grow bent. It should protrude just outside the seed…
#6. Place On A Jar of Water Once Rooted
Once the root is protruding from the avocado seed move it to a jar filled with well water, rain water, or filtered water if you are on public water, or buy mineral water to sprout your avo seeds. My well water is like magic super sauce when it comes to propagating.
You can use the toothpick method to hold the avocado above the water at this point. Or get a jar with a mouth just wide enough for the avocado seed to sit atop, or use a prop cone like this one I bought here.
Place the broad end of the pit down toward the water, just touching the water. Don’t submerge the whole seed, but make sure the root is touching the water. You can submerge the bottom half inch of the seed if needed. In the next week or two you should see the tap root grow down into the water and even send out root offshoots.
BE CAREFUL! Water evaporates, so keep an eye on those water levels or your root may not be touching water and may dry out. Once it sends roots deeper into the water, you don’t have to keep an eye on those water levels to the same extent. At that point, it just matters that most of the root is in water.
#7. Place in Indirect Sunlight In A Warm Location
Be sure to place your sprouted avocado seed in a bright sunny location, but not in direct sunlight. Harsh sun will cause the seed to dry out and leaves to burn.
This is the part that requires a lot of patience… it can take several weeks for the root to take off, and several more weeks for a shoot (stem with leaflets) to grow.
Temperature Tip: Avocado seedlings grow best in 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. So keep it indoors where the temps won’t fluctuate dramatically.
Helpful Care & Growth Tips
Once the roots are deep down in the water it is okay that part of the root is exposed to air. However be careful to not allow the water to evaporate over time.
It may take several more weeks before the shoots finally emerge and you get any leaves. But in the meantime rinse the roots and refill with fresh water if you start to see buildup on the roots. And move the seed to a taller jar once the roots start to hit the bottom. You don’t want to stifle root growth.
How Long Will It Take To Grow An Avocado From Seed To Tree?
Typically it takes about 8 weeks from day one soaking the seed, to having roots and shoots with small leaflets. However some avo seeds are late bloomers while others burst on scene, but on average this is the approximate times my various sets of avocado plants have taken to grow. It may also depend on the variety of avocado, so be patient!
- Soaking (Day 1)
- Seed splits and root is visible inside split (Week 2-3)
- Roots grow down into water and branch out (Week 3-5)
- Shoot starts to emerge and grows tall (Week 4-6)
- Shoot grow real leaves (Week 6-8)
- Nice sized leaves, established root system…you have a real plant! (Week 10-12)
- 3-5 foot sapling (2-3 years)
Moving It To Soil + Plant Care
The seeds sprout, grow, and do well in water for quite a while. But once your plant starts to grow tall (about a foot), it will need the nutrients it can only get in soil.
Use potting soil with a layer of compost at the bottom, and a pot with drainage holes in the bottom plus a drip tray. You don’t want the roots to sit in water for long periods of time once it has acclimated to soil…this can actually lead to root rot. Water it deeply and allow the top inch of soil dry out between waterings.
Make sure your avocado plant gets plenty of indirect sunlight. 6+ hours of sunlight if possible. Remember that too much direct sun may burn the leaves, especially while it is young and just getting established. Avocado plants like the sun, the warmth, even humidity.
Fertilize it once per season after the first year of growth with a balanced fertilizer. In the first year, the compost should provide what is needed.
And finally don’t forget to transplant into a bigger pot if you want it to grow tall and bushy. Once it is a few feet tall, you can trim the top to encourage it to grow bushier and branch out.
The tall plant on the left (pictured above) is a 3-year-old avocado plant I started from seed. You can see it is tall and lanky (almost 6ft), without branching because it hadn’t been topped off. It is just now beginning to sprout future branches. The lower leaves look like when it first started from seed, then at the very top it’s leaves are more true to the mature plant of this variety. You can see it has some sun spots from one day when I forgot to cover the greenhouse.
Will An Avocado Plant Started From Seed Ever Bear Fruit?
Possibly. But let’s be honest… your chances of ever bearing quality avocados from your little seed sprouted tree aren’t as high as most of us hope. Plus it can take a decade to fruit, IF it fruits! Why? For a variety of reasons, like the variety bred, the quality of the seed, and more.
So is it worth my time on investment?
Yes and no… if you are growing for the enjoyment of a free houseplant with the hopes of an avocado tree somewhere down the line, yes. If your primary intention is to get food, it might be better to invest in an almost-mature tree.
The best way fruit bearing avocado trees are produced from a graft, and these can produce fruit within the first year of purchase depending on the maturity/size.
I bought two grafted avocado trees online, one 2 feet, and one 4 feet tall that would have bared fruit in the first year if I hadn’t killed it from over-watering. I was a rookie back then.
Where To Buy Mature Avocado Trees & Avocado Seed Starting Jars
Avocado Trees, Haas, Cold Hardy varieties, etc: FastGrowingTrees.com
I have purchased a variety of plants (including Avocado trees) from FastGrowingTrees.com and definitely recommend them. Plus they offer a 1 year guarantee, which I wish I had purchased with my avocado trees. If anything happens, you can replace the tree.
Shop Growing Jars & Avocado Propagation Cones (Affiliate Links)
Frequently Asked Questions
The root is growing bent in the wrong direction! What do I do now?
Go ahead and place the seed partially in water (just barely let the water touch the bottom of the root), and hopefully the root will send out other shoots and start reaching for the water.
What if the seed breaks?
That’s okay! An avocado propagation cone can help hold it in place, suspended above the water, even without the seed half.
Do I need 2 Avocado trees to produce fruit (a male and female)?
Avocado trees are self fertile, but having another companion avocado tree helps with pollination, and significantly increases your chance of getting more fruit.
Should I grow my Avocado plant indoors or outdoors?
Depends on where you live:
Most avocados prefer 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit, as they grow naturally in hot humid countries closer to the equator. HOWEVER you can purchase a cold-hard avocado plant that is bred to do well in cooler growing zones.
If you live in a climate that is fairly temperate year-round (50+ degrees F)(zones 9+), you can grow your avocado outdoors without worrying about the colder seasons. On cooler nights, cover it with a tree protection covering.
If you live in a climate with winter weather, you will want to keep it in a large planter pot so you can move it indoors during the colder months.
Once a tree is more mature, it can acclimate to cooler temps, and do better than a 1-year sapling.
Is It Worth It To Grow An Avocado Seed?
It can take a decade for an avocado from seed to be mature enough to grow fruit, and it might not fruit at all. It depends on a variety of factors.
So why grow it? Well I consider my seeded avocado plants a free houseplant. Think of it no differently than you would think of a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. This variety of fig tree grown inside my house will never produce actual figs, and it’s not the easiest plant to care for, yet we love it in our décor as a sought after houseplant. So if my avocado tree does well over the years and I’m lucky to get fruit from it before my kids have kids, great!
If you are growing an avocado tree for fruit, consider buying a grafted one that is already 3-5 feet tall.
Do I have to dry the Avocado seed before sprouting and planting?
No, you can make your guacamole, and immediately wash that seed and start the process!
The fresher the seed, the better.
How about you? Have you had success sprouting or growing avocado plants? Share with us over on Instagram or Facebook!
Learn how to get free plants or nearly free plants! Both houseplants and outdoor plants!
I have done 7 seeds and am proud to say I have 4 healthy aca peas going. 3 are in pots. One still in water stage. I would like to know when can I top out the a acids for a bushy effect. Do I just trim off a couple leaves? Each one has 3-5 leaves that are in soil. Two are really tall. Thank you for sharing this trick. Its amazing!
How would I store the avocado seed if I’m not ready to grow it yet?
I recommend waiting and eating a fresh avocado when you are ready to grow one. Just for best results…
First time attempting, I started My Avocado plant in January 2022 using the cocktail stick and glass of water method.
I planted it and within two weeks had another shoot. I now have two avocados forming they are about three inches long and there are also numerous flowers many of which are beginning to form fruit.
I can’t understand how people say it’s so difficult to grow or am I just lucky. I can only say that when I started the fruit was very ripe as it had been left in the fridge for too long.
Now I water it with warm water twice a day because it dries out very quickly. I have not put it in the ground outside, it’s on my kitchen windowsill in a six inch pot of basic potting compost and only have one plant.
I seem to have broken all the rules to achieve success
First time trying to germinate avocado this year and worked. Some just take mire than couple months. Question, one of my seed has no roots yet but starting to grow plant inside the seed. You can seed leaves forming inside the split seed. What should I do? It is still wrapping with wet paper towel on top of warm spot in the house. Thank you.
My avocado has grown a really big long shoot and it has started to grow a stem at the top but it looks brown and doesn’t seem to be getting any bigger. Is it dead?
Hi! So I’m currently trying to germinate a handful of seeds and I’m at the point where most of the pits are cracked. I noticed that there are roots that are growing!! But I’m seeing that the roots are spiraling back into the pits (one around the center too!). What should I do at this point? Do I want to put them into jars of water or soil? I was hoping to wait until the roots are much longer like the pictures, but it seems like they’re just growing in circles and not straight.
Go ahead and place them with the seed just barely touching the water. The root will be drawn down to the water as it grows. I’ve had that happen a couple times, it still grew just fine! Good luck!
Omg I’m so excited. I put 2 Avocado seeds in the dark like you said. Today they are spouting.
In the last 5 yrs I’ve tried the toothpick only method. I never got 1 to spout. That’s a lot of failures. I found your posting and first time it worked.
Thank you so much. I will do the next process and see what happens.
I’m so happy to hear that!! Woohoo!
Allison Renee Hankins
How much soil space do plants need? The roots of mine all grew really tall in the wine bottles I had them in.
Definitely choose a planter the roots can reach all the way to the bottom of. While you could start in a smaller container, you’ll eventually just have to move them as they grow bigger. It’s just easier to start in a big enough container.
On a whilm, I put an avocado seed into a ziplock bag. I added about a half cup of water from my sink. I then zipped the bag up and placed it on my window sill (indirect lite). That was about 2 months r less ago. The plant is now about 6 r 7 inches tall within the bag. It has many branches beginning to grow & the top has green leaves that haven’t opened yet. I never added anymore water bc it still has enuff n the bag. I don’t know where it’s getting it’s oxygen from bc I never opened its small ziplock bag. So what do I do now? I’ve never grown a avocado plant before. Especially like this. Please enlighten! I look fwd to ur reply.
We have a 12 inch high plant in soil, in the house and doing well BUT it has 3 stems out of the stii partly buried seed. Should we split and get 3 plants/potential trees OR is that likely to impede or even halt the growth, acknowledging that the purpose of growing from the seed is most likely ornamental indoors. Unless we leave to our kids in our wills ? !!!
Oh wow, 3 stems! In my experience, the avocado plant is a bit finnicky when young. Splitting it might result in killing it. If it was me, I wouldn’t. Not to say it isn’t possible…
Tnx for the toturial
My seeds have changed color to a dark brown and grey, the brown color also transfers to the paper towels
Does this mean they’ve gone bad?
I’ve had a couple that turned a brownish color that still sprouted. It’s hard for me to tell without seeing it. It shouldn’t be soft, moldy, or smell bad.
I’m normally a black thumb, but I’ve been successful with this tutorial! How large of a pot should I plant this in? I’m a lost wanna be gardener.
What type/mix of soil do you use for planting? I have many baby plants in various stages thanks to your tutorial!
Nothing special, just regular potting soil…
How deep do I plant the seed once I put it in soil? Thanks!!
I leave the top of the seed poking part way out of the ground.
Hi, so before I get a chance to putt in water my root grew fasted than I expect and is now bent growing in the opposite direction than it started. Is there anything I can do to recover from this?
It’s admittedly hard to recover from, but you can try! Just break off the bent piece of root, put the pit suspended in water so that the remaining root is ‘just’ touching it. It may grow, but it also might be easier to just start over.
Thanks so much!
If the acocado seed has been sitting out for awhile will it still grow?
Also it’s the start of winter here now, would I be better to wait for the start of summer to try to propagate or can you do it in winter as well
Don’t know if you still have your avocado plant that you’re trying to grow but this is really about the seed if it’s too old you can use it as a die a beautiful pink that is powdery and antique looking you crush it and Google it for the recipe but you can use it for a Dye it’s beautiful on ribbon
Thank you for the insights on these seeds!!! am growing about 18 of them now. Using wet papertowel method in dark closet. One did split in 1/2, so I rolled each 1/2 in it’s own towel, now they both are sprouting roots!!!!! Have 2 Q’s for u or anyone pls………………HOW to support these 1/2’s in top of a jar? next, I have several seeds that are sprouting, yet the roots are growing out and ALONG both sides of the seeds, am afraid to try to straighten them out and then put in a water jar, so HOW to deal with this please? I now just have them in a little bit of water, enough to cover roots on each side. yikes. Any advice is helpful please. Thank you!!!!
I see the two types of water and wondering if rain water will work as well or be somewhat the same as well water. I collect and use rain water for many of my other plants instead of public water.
Rain water is an elixir for houseplants.
I root is growing but the seed broke into two. So l’m leaving the two half together with the paper towel to hold the two halfs together. Will it still kept on growing or do l have to start another one
I always have a few growing at once just in case I accidentally kill off one once it’s grown. So go ahead and start another…however keep growing the one that split. Once the root is strong enough, it should be fine. I had one that a side of the seed split and fell off, and it did just fine without it. But it was a little harder to keep it balanced and upright in the jar.
I recently reported in bigger post. Some of the lower leaves have turned brown and gotten dry on the edges, to the point there is not much healthy green left. My instinct is to pull these leaves off. Is that recommended?
Thank you for the directions to grow an avocado tree! I have a 12 year old tree I started purely by accident. It’s been repotted several times and topped once. It loved my PA home and grew to the ceiling. I am a fan of the mini avocados so let’s see if I can revive my green thumb.
That is AMAZING! You are so lucky to have it produce too! A friend of mine has had hers for almost 20 years with no fruit in sight…but it still makes for a beautiful tree. I hope to be so lucky as to have as much success as you have. Thanks for sharing!
Not really sure why specific water? I use tap water and they do just fine. Anyone worried about chlorination can fill a an open container and let it sit a few days the chlorine will evaporate out. While is extremely difficult to get them to bear fruit it is not at all impossible in the right conditions. Avocado trees take up to 6 years to bear their first fruit. And it will probably never happen (or rarely) inside the house in a pot. But if you live in hot climate and plant it outside in the dirt where it can grow into the tree it’s meant to be it can and will bear fruit.
Again. If the conditions are right. My mother took many avocado seeds (collected from avocados eaten from the store just as we’re doing) to Thailand and had a small avocado farm for many years. It took 5-6 years of babying them IN THE GROUND after sprouting plants for them to bear fruit. She had up to 13-15 trees at one point. Thai people don’t typically eat avocado but she loves them so much and she gave them away freely. Yes, they produced that much fruit. From seeds from grocery store avocados. Yes.
Tragically they all caught a disease or got over watered when she was away for a year by caretakers who didn’t care for them well. Almost all of them died at the same time.
Having said all that. Your plants will only grow into fruit bearing trees if put in the ground and temperatures are never freezing. They like hot weather all year round. But if they’re in the ground obviously you can’t bring them in during the summer.
Enjoy the journey and the destination won’t matter! ❤️