How to grow an avocado tree from a seed

I posted a picture of my home-grown avocado tree on Instagram the other day, and had such a huge response from you all asking for some tips on how to do it yourself. So, here they are! Growing your own avocado tree is such a satisfying thing to do, and something I'm so glad I learnt how to do properly last year. I only have one plant left now as I gave all of the others away to friends, but I've just started a new avocado farm in my kitchen so I can have a few more around the house. We're planning on moving this year because we want a proper house with a garden, and as we'll have a lot more space so I figure I need to get a head start on growing plants to fill it. Priorties. The one avocado tree I do have is getting so tall and leafy, I feel really proud that I grew it from a pit all by myself. It's almost the same age as my daughter, which makes it even more special. Growing your own avocado tree is really simple to do, you need hardly anything to get started and you get to eat a bunch avocados in the process. What's not to love? The tough bit is having the patience to wait for signs of growth, because sometimes it can take a while! That's usually where most people stumble, because they wait a few weeks and if they don't see anything they just throw it all away. Patience, grasshopper!

You will need:
- an avocado
- a see through glass jar (I use old jam jars or mason jars)
- three toothpicks

Step 1: Cut your avocado in half and carefully remove the pit. Wash off any remaining avocado flesh (you can scrub gently with a sponge but be careful not to damage the pit) under running water. Dry the pit, then carefully remove the outer layer of brown skin surrounding the seed. I find it easiest to start at the base and use my nail to scrape it away. usually the rest peels off fairly easily. 

Step 2: Place three toothpicks into the avocado pit, evenly spaced around it but avoiding the crack that runs around it (see the photograph below). This is where it will eventually split open, so you don't want to stick any toothpicks into that. Put your toothpicks in at an angle, because it helps suspend the pit in the jar of water. The top of your pit is the pointy end, the fatter more rounded bit is the bottom. 

Step 3: Put your avocado pit into your jar and fill with water until the pit is half covered. It should sit suspended on the top by the toothpicks, but at an angle so the base is sunk into the water (see photograph below).

Step 4: Place the jar in a sunny spot, but avoiding anywhere in direct or harsh sunlight. Top up the jar with water as needed, and replace with fresh water if it starts to discolour. Now wait for some growth! You'll start to see the pit split in two and a little root emerge at the bottom. It could take anywhere between a few weeks and a few months before you start to see a root appear. Your best bet is to plant a few as they'll all grow at different rates. I have five on the go just now, and two have split after a couple of weeks and the others aren't showing any signs yet.

Growing tips:
- if you're like me and you like to check your baby avo daily and waft it proudly in front of all your visitors, just be careful you don't damage any of the roots. Especially the first bit that comes out.
- once your roots have grown a fair bit, you'll start to see a shoot peek out from the top of the pit. An exciting day! 
- when your plant has grown a few pairs of leaves, start to pinch out the tops of any additional leaves that sprout above them to encourage side growth and a fuller plant. Otherwise you'll end up with a tall stem with only a few leaves at the top.
- when the roots of your avocado tree are filling the glass jar and you have a decent sized shoot, you can transplant it into a pot with some soil. Leave the top part of the pit exposed in the pot, and give it a good watering.
- keep your plant somewhere with plenty of sunlight, the pit can also rot if it's kept somewhere that isn't light enough.
- baby avocado trees especially aren't very good at taking up water, so you do need to remember to water them regularly. Try 2-3 times a week, but give it a good soak each time. Let the soil dry out before you water it again, but don't keep it dry for too long otherwise the leaves will start to die and fall off. 

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I am a little bit addicted to growing avocado trees at the moment. I keep a pot of toothpicks in my cutlery drawer, and always have an clean, empty jam jar on hand so that alost everytime I eat an avocado I can put the pit in some water. It feels like such a shame to throw the pit away when I know what a beautiful tree it could have become. I'm a little emotionally attached to them, I think! They make great gifts once you put them in pots, and they look so cool growing in jars around your house too, especially if they're all in various stages of growth. 

Good luck growing your own avocado tree, I hope you find all these tips helpful and have success at rearing a plant of your own!