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Avocados, or more specifically avocado toast, might be the reason that millennials can’t afford to buy a house or raise a family — at least if you listen to popular media. Whether you buy into the millennial avocado toast hysteria or not, the fact remains that avocados are a delicious source of healthy fats. Unfortunately, they can also be expensive, which is encouraging many people to learn how to grow an avocado tree on their own.
What do you need to know to grow your own avocado tree? Where do they grow best and can you grow a tree from the pit of your grocery store avocado?
Where Do Avocado Trees Grow Best?
Before you consider planting an avocado tree in your backyard, is a good idea to figure out if they’ll even thrive in your growing zone. Avocados are tropical trees, and areas, where the temperatures drop dramatically in the winter, aren’t a good place to start.
You don’t need to live in the jungle to grow avocados though. Areas that experience mild winters or don’t get cold weather at all — like the southernmost areas of states like Florida, Texas and California. Anywhere else, you’ll need to grow your trees in containers or greenhouses to protect them from harsh winter conditions.
Can You Grow Grocery Store Avocados?
There are all sorts of videos circulating on the internet that claim that you can grow your own avocado tree by soaking a pit from a store-bought avocado until it sprouts. Is this a viable option for growing your own avocados or should you be heading to the nursery or your local feed and seed store?
Technically, yes you can grow an avocado tree from the pit in the one that you bought at the grocery store, but it isn’t always the best option. For one thing, it can take a seed-grown avocado tree up to 20 years to bear fruit. It may not even taste like the avocados you’re used to getting in the grocery store, because farm-grown fruits are grafted to create a specific breed and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the same results from a seed.
This isn’t to discourage you from growing your own tree, or even from using the pit from your grocery store avocado. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start planting.
How to Grow An Avocado Tree
What does it take to grow an avocado tree in your yard? It depends on whether or not you’re going to grow one from seed or you’re going to head to the nursery to buy a tree. If you’re going to do the latter, skip this first section.
Growing an Avocado Tree from Seed
Start by collecting a pit from an avocado. Suspend it half-submerged in a glass of water and maintain the water level until it starts to sprout and form roots. This usually takes between two and six weeks. You’ll want to let the seedling reach about six inches tall, then cut it down to three inches to encourage root growth. Let the stem grow back up to six inches, then plant your seedling in a 10-inch pot.
Tending Your Avocado Tree
Avocado trees need full sun, plenty of water, and good drainage to thrive. If you’re planting them outside, make sure you’re in an area that doesn’t get any frost in the winter. Temperatures below 45F can kill an avocado tree.
If you plant it outside, make sure you have plenty of space. Potted avocado trees won’t grow this large, but in the ground, they can grow up to 40 feet tall. Keep a close look at your soil chemistry. Avocado trees need nitrogen and zinc, primarily. Citrus tree fertilizer is often a good choice, or you can make your own nitrogen-rich compost to keep your tree nourished.
Be Patient and Enjoy The Fruits of Your Labor
Growing an avocado tree takes patience but once it starts to bear fruit, you’ll be thanking your past-self for having the foresight to plant one of these delicious trees. Don’t give up and take good care of it, and soon you’ll have more avocados than you know what to do with!