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Growing Avocados

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 16 Sep 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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[Add a Comment]
@Nic - haha, it's always the way! Shelter it from frosts and you should be fine. The Kent weather is usually clement enough...but you at least want it to be established enough to be a bit more rugged.
Joss - 18-Sep-17 @ 4:01 PM
After being frustrated at failing to grow my avocado seeds indoors for a year,this summer I justput them outside in disgust, in dirt in pots.South facing front garden in Kent.Well I just noticed one has sprouted about 12 inches! What do I do with it? It's in a very sheltered spot between the house and nestled against a wall and other potted plants. Lots of sunlight from the top. Can it acclimatise to being outside? It's still there and doing fine. Any advice gratefully received.
Nic - 16-Sep-17 @ 3:04 PM
@funkey - the compost obviously helped and it's on a mission to grow. Just make sure you protect it from cold weather and or any frosts. Are you in a warm part of the UK or cold?
Melissa78 - 14-Sep-17 @ 12:30 PM
Ihave an avocado which grew in my compost heap. I cut the shoot off which was about two feet high. I replanted indoorrs and it grew again to about twelve inches. I then planted it outside where it is now over three feet high wth several branches. Reading the remarks on this page I have done everything wrong but it is still growing. I just hope it survives the winter because it has become my baby.
funkey - 13-Sep-17 @ 5:08 PM
Bill - Your Question:
I live in Edinburgh and have two one year old avocado plants which I have in clay pots, indoor. I germinated the cores suspended by cocktail sticks in a glass of water and the plants are now around 4ft and 2ft tall. The shorter one is really bushy and has three new branches whilst the talker one is just shooting up. I would love to plant them outside but I don't reckon they'd last long. Maybe time for a new conservatory!

Our Response:
Excellent, keep doing what you're doing. But I think planting them outside in Scottish weather is a sure-fire way to kill them off.Avocado trees do best at moderately warm temperatures (60-85F) - but do not like cold weather, especially frost.
FruitExpert - 11-Sep-17 @ 4:04 PM
I live in Edinburgh and have two one year old avocado plants which I have in clay pots, indoor. I germinated the cores suspended by cocktail sticks in a glass of water and the plants are now around 4ft and 2ft tall. The shorter one is really bushy and has three new branches whilst the talker one is just shooting up. I would love to plant them outside but I don't reckon they'd last long. Maybe time for a new conservatory!
Bill - 9-Sep-17 @ 5:44 PM
My local asda is selling young avocado trees along side sweet passion fruit vines for £6, and it says they are for planting outdoors!? I am thinking of getting one and giving it a go, its no great loss if it doesn't survive. I live in Leicestershire, its never too cold but not that warm either in the winter. My garden is southfacing.....any advice please? Thanks.
Prits - 13-Aug-17 @ 12:07 PM
@Nita - 5ft is a pretty good size for a pot. East Sussex gets the weather - so it helps. My tree is currently about 30cms and I live in the SW. How long did it take to get to 5ft? Yours, in hope!
Maus - 3-Aug-17 @ 1:44 PM
My tree ls about 5ft tall I leave it out in a. Massive pot on my balcony. It likes the ruff outdoor .. I live in eastsussex.
Nita - 2-Aug-17 @ 3:25 PM
Avocado novice- Your Question:
I successfully grew a shrub 3 years ago - just as a fun experiment. Now up to my waist. It was really hit hard by the frost last winter. I trimmed it down and it is thriving due to great weather we have had in the south east this summer. It is far too big to bring in the house over winter. Does anyone recommend a covering I can use? I now have my second one that has just taken and is 8 cm tall. Is it best to bring it in to the house in October? Thanks

Our Response:
Frosts are the main enemy. Plastic can be used to protect plants from frost, but it’s not the best or most effective material as it does not breathe so can cause moisture to get trapped inside. Natural fabrics like cotton or linen, an opened burlap bag, or newspaper, as a covering to protect plants from frost. Bed sheets can work well temporarily. You can also buy frost protection jackets online or from your local garden centre. Well done for getting this far and good luck!
FruitExpert - 25-Jul-17 @ 12:59 PM
I successfully grew a shrub 3 years ago - just as a fun experiment. Now up to my waist. It was really hit hard by the frost last winter. I trimmed it down and it is thriving due to great weather we have had in the south east this summer. It is far too big to bring in the house over winter. Does anyone recommend a covering I can use? I now have my second one that has just taken and is 8 cm tall. Is it best to bring it in to the house in October? Thanks
Avocado novice - 24-Jul-17 @ 7:58 PM
@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
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