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Growing Avocados

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 20 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Growing Avocados Avocado Trees As

While avocados are a tropical fruit more suited to the humid regions of Mexico and Central America, it doesn’t mean they can not be grown successfully in the UK. The trees can grow to up to 20m and can take up to 10 years to fruit.

If you want to grow an avocado tree, it’s best to raise it as an indoor plant. The trees don’t tolerate freezing temperatures. They can grow outside in the far south of England, and have even grown fruit in some years, but you’ll get better results if they’re grown in large pots indoors.

Germinating the Seed
Avocado stones take a long time to germinate. If you already have a garden and a compost heap, you may have noticed avocado stones germinating inside the heap. This is because the heap provides the ideal hot and moist conditions for germination. There are alternative methods, however, if you don’t fancy rooting around your compost heap:
  • pierce the seed with toothpicks and suspend it, pointed end up, over a glass of water. Roots should start to develop within two to six weeks. Then pot up the plant, leaving the tip just poking out of the soil. However, not all avocado seeds will germinate, so if your seed hasn't sprouted after six weeks, try again with a fresh seed
  • leave the seed in direct sunlight until it starts to split. Then pot it up
  • place the seed in a pot, and cover it completely. Water well, allow to drain and leave in a warm, dark place, such as an airing cupboard. Check on the pot every week to ensure it is moist, and water if necessary. As soon as the shoot starts to show, move the pot to a sunny spot, such as a windowsill
Always use a pot with approximately a 12cm diameter. Use a rich, peat-free potting compost and ensure the pot has good drainage. After your plant is roughly 30cm tall, cut it down to around 15cm. This makes the plant grow bushy, rather than tall. Once your plant has filled its pot with roots, transplant it to its permanent home – the largest pot you have room for. Fill with rich, peat-free compost, which you should top up with fresh compost each year.

Flowering and Pollination
Avocado trees can take up to ten years to bear fruit and indoor-grown plants don’t always live that long. However, if you provide it with a moist, fertile soil and plenty of sunlight, and keep it in humid conditions such as a greenhouse or conservatory, your tree will have a fighting chance of fruiting.

An old gardeners’ trick in the southern hemisphere to encourage the plant to flower is to treat the tree roughly. When it is of a decent size, (no smaller than 1.5m), attack the trunk of the tree with a knife, or sharp implement. Make sure you don’t damage the tree so it can’t grow properly, and only cut the surface of the bark – never make big cuts in it. The stress brought on by this attack is said to shock the plant into flower, where it will then hopefully bear fruit.

If the plant is indoors and it flowers you will need to pollinate them in order for it to fruit. Keep a window or door in the greenhouse or conservatory open to let bees in to pollinate it, or move the plant outside – if you can – on sunny warm days.

Regardless of region, avocados are not easy fruits to grow. However, the trees make an interesting addition to the conservatory or greenhouse and you’ll never tire of trying to make it flower. If you are lucky enough to get it to bear fruit you’ll be rewarded with delicious, fresh avocados and all your hard effort will be worth it.

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@walcot-girl -the more sun it gets the better. Give your plant frequent light waterings - but don't let the soil get soggy. Over-watering will result in yellow leaves, so keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, well done and onwards and upwards so to speak!
Andj - 20-Jul-17 @ 3:00 PM
I planted an avocado last year.It is 20" from the soil to the top of the plant.Two of the leaves are 15" long.I live in Somerset and it is in my south facing garden.I am hoping that it will flower one day and will 'top' it at 3-4ft.Keeping my fingers crossed.Any advise would be brilliant.
walcot-girl - 20-Jul-17 @ 9:38 AM
I live in the Us . I need to send an avocado tree to the U.K. I can purchase the tree in the U.K. , but I can't find a tree center or nursery that carries avocados. Could you help me find a place? Thank you Margaret
Marg - 10-Jul-17 @ 4:03 AM
@Brett - you're doing good. Covering it with a plastic bottle is a good idea, thanks.
Hooch - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:44 PM
Hi, I planted an avocado stone in the garden last August. It's now 6 inches tall with a further three shoots sprouting the surface. I live in Devon, south west England. During the winter to keep the frost off I covered with an 5ltr cut off drinks bottle. It gets full on sun all morning and shade in the afternoon. Hopefully I can nurture through the next winter.
Brett - 25-Jun-17 @ 5:20 PM
@montydel - wow, fab! I've heard of other avocado trees in London. I think one is on the street in Isligton. The temp is warm, so I can see why, but great news.
TomC - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:21 PM
Hi my Aunty planted an avocado seed a few years back. She had completely forgotten. 2 days a go I was admiring her garden and discovered the seed had grown aprox 12ft tall and has 5 avocados on it. She lives in Walthamstow, East London. I m still in shock.
montydel - 21-Jun-17 @ 3:56 PM
I have an avocado tree in my front garden in Richmond that I planted from a stone. It is in it's fourth year now and snout 20 feet tall. No fruit as yet. My wife is worried that the roots are not good for the foundations.
Jules - 6-Jun-17 @ 8:07 PM
I have grown three as an experiment with my children. They currently range from about 6ins tall to about 10ins tall with big leaves. Can I feed them with baby bio or something ? They are starting to wilt and the ends of the leaves are starting to go brown. I still have them in half water half soil ?
Kelly - 11-May-17 @ 11:31 AM
@daveslave101 - every day or every other day will help. As long as the water is clean.
Tim - 2-May-17 @ 2:35 PM
Hi, I have successfully pierced my avocado seeds and they are dangling over the water in the glass a quarter of it submersed. Question: do I have to change the water and if yes how often? Thank you in anticipation from a growing novice.
daveslave101 - 2-May-17 @ 9:18 AM
I have a three year old avocado in a pot in a front porch in London.The leaves have recently been attacked by a small green caterpillar and have holes.The lower leaves are turning brown at the tips.Does anyone have any advice please?
George - 25-Feb-17 @ 7:53 AM
I am an expat in Dubai. I have started an avocado and it is about 40 cm tall and a lush green. At the moment it is outside as December temperatures are around 26 deg C What is the max temperature that the tree will tolerate?
TrollyDolly - 23-Dec-16 @ 11:35 AM
Hi all, My other half decided he would like to grown avocados so I bought him a 3ft tree for Christmas. It was couriered to me and when I opened the package I noticed all the tips of the leaves are brown and crispy. I spoke to the nursery who said this is normal and that avocados may drop their leaves in winter, however google suggests it may be due to root stress. Please can anyone advise?
Becca - 21-Dec-16 @ 10:44 PM
When germinating avocado seeds, what is the Temperature needed? How many Days, does it take to Sprout? If the Temperature is changed 5* how does that affect Days to Sprout? . . .
EarlT - 23-Nov-16 @ 8:03 AM
@Lisa - Fabulous. Central London is snuggled in warmth, and it never really gets too cold.I'm going to try this method too :)
Gem90 - 1-Nov-16 @ 1:54 PM
I live in central London and have about 15 plants in my tiny outside space. I just take the seed and put straight into the ground out of 30 about 15 have been a success. One plant is turning into a large tree. I keep them outside all year around since it's not possible to take them inside. I think that for my tree this winter will be the third. It is not even in a sunny position. I hope they will survive this winter and that it will not be too cold
Lisa - 1-Nov-16 @ 9:05 AM
Nick - Your Question:
There is a fruiting avocado tree in London, just off Ladbroke Grove.

Our Response:
Great to hear!
FruitExpert - 19-Sep-16 @ 12:40 PM
mum2-4 - Your Question:
Trying to grow my second (first was indoors and died) this second one I planted directly into the soil and took weeks to grow several inches! I have it in a recess to our house, so am curious if they have small root growth like a fig tree? Am in Surrey area.

Our Response:
The roots of avacados don't actually grow that deep, but they do have wide/lateral root systems which are very sensitive. They require a lot of air and/or oxygen and especially dislike heavy soil (use a mulch), they also like good drainage. I hope this helps.
FruitExpert - 19-Sep-16 @ 12:31 PM
There is a fruiting avocado tree in London, just off Ladbroke Grove.
Nick - 18-Sep-16 @ 5:34 PM
Trying to grow my second (first was indoors and died)this second one I planted directly into the soil and took weeks to grow several inches! I have it in a recess to our house, so am curious if they have small root growth like a fig tree? Am in Surrey area.
mum2-4 - 18-Sep-16 @ 3:39 PM
Arthur - Your Question:
I started Avocados three years ago and both are doing well, a third is on its way. I take them indoors over winter and they go out to the greenhouse until the frosts go then they spend the summer out of doors. To germinate, I just stuck them into a three inch pot 50/50 (garden) compost and grit and left them to it. I am located in Darlington so it gets chilly up here and they survive.

Our Response:
We're glad they are doing well. Long may they last!
FruitExpert - 25-Aug-16 @ 11:51 AM
I started Avocados threeyears ago and both are doing well, a third is on its way. I take them indoors over winter and they go out to the greenhouse until the frosts go then they spend the summer out of doors. To germinate, I just stuck them into a three inch pot 50/50 (garden) compost and grit and left them to it. I am located in Darlington so it gets chilly up here and they survive.
Arthur - 24-Aug-16 @ 7:19 PM
Hello. Does anyone know where I can buy a dwarf self propagating avocado tree in the UK please?
Mirrin - 21-Aug-16 @ 11:16 AM
Toki - Your Question:
I started two Avocado plants from seed. When they rooted I potted them. I gave one to my friend she nipped the top off her plant when it was 18' inches I left mine alone. My plant is now 40'inches hers is 25'inches. Both have lived outside since May. I'll bring mine in to the house in Sept , She says she will plant hers in her garden so it will be outside all winter in Cheshire. I will update readers next year

Our Response:
Many thanks for the information - the race is on! We look forward to hearing back.
FruitExpert - 19-Aug-16 @ 9:47 AM
I started two Avocado plants from seed. When they rooted I potted them. I gave one to my friend she nipped the top off her plant when it was 18' inches I left mine alone. My plant is now 40'inches hers is 25'inches. Both have lived outside since May .. I'll bring mine in to the house in Sept , She says she will plant hers in her garden so it will be outside all winter in Cheshire .. I will update readers next year
Toki - 18-Aug-16 @ 7:42 AM
I have succesfully grown 2 plants fron seed. However, thinking about the region they came from have had them outdoors for 3 days, temp over 20 degrees. The leaves are burnt. Should they be in shade? Also I note the comments about cutting them back. Mine are about 2 ft high. Any advice welcome.
cat lady - 19-Jul-16 @ 4:05 PM
Hi everybody I planted an avocado after starting it from seed 12 years ago. Planted it in the garden when it got about 3 feet tall and has grown without any help till this year. It flowered, for the first time and the flowers all fell of, or as I thought. This week while doing some other work in the garden I found 7 that I could see as big as a small tomato. What a shock it looks like it may do well. I live in Somerset and the tree is now about 20 feet tall and looks very healthy. So hang it there guys it can happen. Regards Andy.
Haggis - 24-Jun-16 @ 5:35 PM
Hi! Currently still in the toothpicks-in-a-glass-of-water stage and seemed to be growing well so I trimmed the shoot down to 3 inches. After this, there shoot has now started to grow out of the side of the original shoot and the original now has no leaves! The leaves on the side shoot are growing well and are nice and bushy (for a young plant at least!) but wondered how to sort this out! Thank you!
bran - 23-Jun-16 @ 5:13 PM
Hi All, I have a plant which is now about 18 months old and just under 2m tall with a single stem. Since it was about 0.6m I have pinched out the top bud (as per advice) to encourage it to bush out with no success. If I try a more aggressive approach and cut ).6m off the top is this more likely to be successful?
John - 9-Jun-16 @ 10:23 AM
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Latest Comments
  • Andj
    Re: Growing Avocados
    @walcot-girl -the more sun it gets the better. Give your plant frequent light waterings - but don't let the soil get soggy. Over-watering will…
    20 July 2017
  • walcot-girl
    Re: Growing Avocados
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