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Growing Avocados

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 25 Feb 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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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
D - Your Question:
Well this is my second attempt at growing a tree. My first attempt about 7 years ago went like this: took the stone, pierced it with tooth picks and within 4 weeks a nice long root about 6inches long had curled round the glass of water it was suspended in. The green stem was about two inches long so I decided to plant it. It grew like bambo. Within a year it had grown like wild fire to well over 2 meters in height and the stem was getting on for a good 4inches in girth. Unfortunately it became to big to keep in the summer house at the bottom of the garden and I had to move it outside - big mistake. Sadly I sort of forgot about it and left it unattended and by the end of the winter it had died. ): I also wish I knew you could cut the tops off to keep them shorter and more bushy. Anyway, onto attempt number two now that I'm in my early 20's and more wise! I started 8 weeks ago, nice big stone, two tooth picks. It so far has a root 4 inches long and the stem is a couple of mm out the stone. Seems to be taking much longer than my first one I grew but none the less I'll put it in the back garden over the next 4-6 days in the warm sun (obviously not leaving it out there at night). Hopefully the stem will be long enough after the weekend to plant!

Our Response:
We are glad you got there in the end. Be aware there are some evening frosts around still, so you may wish to bring it indoors for protection. Good luck, we wish you every success.
FruitExpert - 13-May-16 @ 12:07 PM
Well this is my second attempt at growing a tree. My first attempt about 7 years ago went like this: took the stone, pierced it with tooth picks and within 4 weeks a nice long root about 6inches long had curled round the glass of water it was suspended in. The green stem was about two inches long so I decided to plant it. It grew like bambo. Within a year it had grown like wild fire to well over 2 meters in height and the stem was getting on for a good 4inches in girth. Unfortunately it became to big to keep in the summer house at the bottom of the garden and I had to move it outside - big mistake. Sadly I sort of forgot about it and left it unattended and by the end of the winter it had died. ): I also wish I knew you could cut the tops off to keep them shorter and more bushy. Anyway, onto attempt number two now that I'm in my early 20's and more wise! I started 8 weeks ago, nice big stone, two tooth picks. It so far has a root 4 inches long and the stem is a couple of mm out the stone. Seems to be taking much longer than my first one I grew but none the less I'll put it in the back garden over the next 4-6 days in the warm sun (obviously not leaving it out there at night). Hopefully the stem will be long enough after the weekend to plant!
D - 12-May-16 @ 3:41 PM
I started my avocado seed in the airing cupboard where it's very warm, it's sprouted a shoot and a very small root. I read that fur string roots they need sunlight so Ive moved it to my kitchen windowsil where there is daylight but not streaming light. I'm just worried that as its a lot cooler here due to it still being cold outside it will be too cold, will this be the case? I've wrapped the glass jar it's sitting in with foil will this help keep it slightly warmer?
Fiat - 17-Mar-16 @ 8:12 AM
I some how have managed to grow an avocado which is now 40cm. It is jndoors and the bottom leaves are going brown at the tips. Why? and where am I going wrong? Help, I so love this plant.
Surprised - 16-Jan-16 @ 9:58 PM
I want good germination of east African avocado seed at west India, please help me , I need advice, what should be conditions.
farm manager - 30-Dec-15 @ 3:17 PM
I have seeds of east African avocado and I want to grow and good germination of it at west India(Gujarat). Can you give me a advice? How should I plant the seed, suitable conditions.plz
farm manager - 30-Dec-15 @ 3:11 PM
@Sheila - great that you have managed to grow this. I am just on here because mine is looking decidedly ill :( Yours should be fine and will find its own strength, it's obviously going strong as it is. I read that when the stem reaches 12 inches tall, pinch out the top two sets of leaves to encourage the plant to grow side shoots and therefore more leaves. Each time the plant grows another six inches pinch out the two top sets again. We now just have to wait until they bear fruit!
Rich - 5-Nov-15 @ 11:22 AM
That is amazing to find that tree growing in London and proves there is great wonder in the natural world. I have potted up a rooting & shooting stem FOUND in the compost bin although in its quest towards light the lower stem has corkscrewed twice. It is now 30 cm with three leaves originally badly damaged by ?aphid. I sprayed the insects and now plant is strong & has a pair of healthy top leaves. At present the corkscrew stem is above the soil but WD it be better to bury the corkscrewed part of the stem? Otherwise how can it grow & support itself growing with a corkscrew trunk?Would REALLYappreciate advice as I am so keen to keep it going. It's indoors in a light kitchen away from cold glass ... ?advice PLEASE....!
Sheila - 4-Nov-15 @ 12:28 PM
There is an enormous avocado tree in a garden overhanging a footpath (Brinton Walk) in London SE1. It must be at least 10 tall, is extremely healthy and is loaded down with fruit at the moment. I've walked past this tree loads of times, but only today realised what it was as someone else was staring at the avocados.
Sue - 14-Oct-15 @ 6:54 PM
HELP!! My avocado plant which is in its second year and at a height of 2ft has recently started to look quite sickly. It has four branches and leaves on all four have turned yellow and some have what look like burn spots. Could it be that it's over watered? It's kept outside in a plastic bucket. Does anyone have any ideas what I could do!
colin - 23-Aug-15 @ 3:02 PM
I have four in my garden. I just tossed over ripe ones whole into the compost pile and they grew.
Richard - 19-Jul-15 @ 9:36 AM
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