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Growing Avocados

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 21 Oct 2020 | 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]
Hello Fruitexpert. Would love to see the big trees in the south - any chance of sharing contact? For those wanting to help the trees with winter frost events I suggest you try CropAid. It shouldn't take so long to get to fruiting stage. With a grafted one you should get fruit in 3 seasons.Cheers!
Frank - 21-Oct-20 @ 2:33 PM
I threw avocado stones out of the kitchen window and now have avocado bushes rather than trees! One is 4ft by 4ft! No fruit but its only about 2years old now! We don't know if it will survive winter but should we prune it? do the leaves fall? can't remember what it was like last year!
Jan - 17-Oct-20 @ 2:39 PM
I`ve grown two from stones three years ago. One went outside when big enough as an experiment and it struggled for a year but survived. It now has strong growth from the bottom and the top although only a few feet high. The other one has now outgrown the house and has been planted out too.It has never been pruned and is very gangly but in my experience the plant sorts itself out eventually. I live in Mid Cornwall but a few hundred feet up near the clay walks so it can get cold. My main plant has survived several frosts but I reckon the beast from the east three years ago would have finished it. Re leaf droop and browning. I got that all the time indoors. Best policy is to let pot dry out then soak well. Do not water until dry again. The plant outside for two years has now got very good foliage. No shedding which tells me the roots are now happy. Good luck all
sage - 11-Sep-20 @ 12:05 PM
Hi, new on here. @pippa @Ian, I am trying to get an avocado tree, would gladly take any available.
Eve73 - 11-Jul-20 @ 12:30 PM
Posted something 2 years ago, unfortunately my 10 plants all grown from the stone, only 3 have survived. The three left are in pots in a sheltered spot in my garden in SW London. In September I’ll bring them inside over the winter. Anyone got any tips, read that cutting the down will make them bushy, when is the best time to do this?
KittyJay451 - 5-Jul-20 @ 4:35 PM
I’ve been growing an avocado at home for the last 18 months or so, we’ve repotted a couple of times, and it is seems healthy. It sits close to a sunny window. However in the last week a couple of the leaves almost look as though they have ‘melted’ is this common? Is there something I can do to prevent it happening to other leaves etc. It does not happen to all. Look forward to your advice.
Ben - 28-Jun-20 @ 9:39 AM
I love avocados. I eat them almost every day. I heard about a recipe for Mexican food called "gwakka moley" from my friend José which is avocados mashed up and eaten with flat corn circles. I can highly recommend it. You don't need to grow your own avocados though. Fortunately you can purchase them from the supermarket. I buy mine from Tescos and they are quite affordable, even on a pensioner's stipend! Be careful not to purchase the purple variant called aubergine though, because it's very different on the inside. Also try it with bacon.
BillyPeanut - 23-Apr-20 @ 7:46 PM
I have grown three avocados from seed indoors and moved them to the greenhouse about three days ago. The leaves are browning badly, should I bring them back inside or are they acclimatising? That are about 45 cms high
Haze - 20-Apr-20 @ 12:22 PM
I have managed to grow two Avocado trees during this past year, as a result I have both around 18 inches tall with many new leaves adorning them. One of them has developed a branch with leaves on it and signs of another branch shooting out the side with still many other leaves out the top! My better half tells me I should cut the branches off, but I’m very reluctant to do that aswell as reluctant to chop the top off yet! Can anyone help please? Thanks.
Mel - 6-Apr-20 @ 1:48 PM
I’ve got about 6 avocado plants I’ve grown from seed which germinated in garden soil and the compost heap a couple of years ago. Now they are about 40cm high, multiple stems and outgrowing their 10cm pots. Need repotting. Hoping to cross pollinate when they get flowersone day to have London avocados!
Exoticlondongardener - 4-Mar-20 @ 10:30 PM
@jc83 yes, it's still available if you would be interested. Sorry for the delay, I stayed offline for the holiday period.
Pippa - 1-Jan-20 @ 10:39 PM
@Pippa We currently live in SE London too but we are moving and would love to take the tree if you still have it going spare? Or if anyone else one in South East London/Kent. Many Thanks.
Jc83 - 26-Dec-19 @ 8:29 AM
@KitchenGarden I saw you had some interest in someone's avo tree going free.I have a young avocado tree that was grown with some kids as a fun experiment. Sadly I don't have the space for it as it grows bigger. It's about 18 months old, about a meter tall and has always been indoors only up until now. Would this be of interest to you? I'm south east London based.
Pippa - 22-Dec-19 @ 11:05 PM
I’ve just started growing my first avo plant. He is called Avi, he’s about one month old and already roughly 30cm tall. He’s currently sat on the windowsill with 3 largish leaves and a few smaller ones. His stem is showing signs of leaves coming through and I’ve been reading that it’s a good idea to cut him down in half to encourage bushing rather than getting too tall. I’m a little afraid of cutting him down as it’s my first one and I’m a little attached to him. Any advice would be great!
Jodie - 5-Nov-19 @ 7:40 PM
I have a 15 year old plant from a stone brought to UK from my father-in-law’s tree in Spain. It’s in a pot on wheels and lives outside in summer and inside during winter (London). Now about 6ft high (has been regularly pruned) and v wide. I really want to plant it out in a sheltered Cornish garden this autumn. Am I mad? Will it survive? Does anyone know the best time to plant out if I decide to go ahead? Would appreciate any advice!
Emma - 15-Sep-19 @ 10:43 AM
Hi Pringleberry... you commented your cat chewed your avacado plant. Somearticles maintain avacado plants fruit and leaves all contain a toxin harmful to cats and dogs.Take care.Dee
Dee - 14-Sep-19 @ 6:55 AM
Ian, I will gladly give your avocado tree a loving home and can pick it up if you are within driving range of London!
KitchenGarden - 8-Sep-19 @ 10:21 PM
I have a much loved, potted avocado tree that needs an indoor home because I’m moving away.It’s 5-years old and 8 feet tall.Any suggestions?
ian - 23-Aug-19 @ 9:57 AM
@ricardo don't chop ALL the leaves off else you may end up killing the plant. I found (by accident) that if you nip out the very topmost pair of leaves cleanly with a good sharp blade at the point where the second set down emerge then the plant will start to branch out. Technically I found this when the cat decided to start chewing on it but a sharp blade is a bit more hygenic.
Pringleberry - 26-Jun-19 @ 9:54 AM
Your advice please. I've grown a seed last year,around July time. It's currently about 26cm tall,but only has 3 leaves at the top. It's usual growth seems to be,grow 3 or 4 leaves,they stay for a few weeks,then start to bud/grow new leaves,old leaves go brown and drop off,then repeat!. It has no branches or leaves other than the top. I've read about folks even chopping the stalk in half(!?!)to encourage further growth. Any advice please to help me encourage it to be a bit more healthy looking will be gratefully received. Ps I've named him Albert the Avocado...sad I know.
ricardo - 21-Apr-19 @ 3:39 PM
Brought all my plants in for the winter, but all grew leggy and then the leaves turned brown and fell off. Decided to cut the stems back and but outside and some are now bushing up from the stems. Repotted too to give them more noriousment. Year two, so hoping will all be ok.
KittyJay451 - 21-Apr-19 @ 11:29 AM
I’ve a polytunnel, south facing, up a mountain, in Ireland, with over 40avocado trees growing, ranging in size from sprouting stone to 2ft tall. I just keep planting the stones direct, no toothpicking, then watering and compost (organic, home done) it’ll be a nice 60th prez if they fruit! Lol
Miagreenfingers - 11-Jan-19 @ 7:51 PM
hello to you, i,m growing up to 20 avocado's but one of them as some leave starting to go brown why is that it gets good feed wone's a week but now feed it ever three weeds, I don/t get it on my Chinese fruit trees got up to 500 of them you can phone me on 07974563196
gordan - 12-Dec-18 @ 1:07 PM
My avo trees have been moved indoors and are doing well buy looks like someting is having a feed on it at night and then the leaves turn brown. I cant see any insects on it. Any idea what to do.
Pottie - 3-Nov-18 @ 10:48 AM
I have an avocado tree I have adopted from my son's balcony.It is a healthy plant of about 4 and a half feet talk.It is too big to be in the house. I am concerned that it won survive the winter in the garden.Can it be wrapped to give it protectionfrom the frost?
Sue - 17-Sep-18 @ 10:27 AM
@bert - I have never seen anywhere (even garden centres) where I can buy an avo plant. Which supermarket was this and I'll keep an eye out next year?
CathOMG - 10-Sep-18 @ 11:29 AM
I picked up an avocado plant from a supermarket and left it outside in the summer - no growth but a few of my chickens loved the leaves (they almost shredded it) - put it into the porch to protect it from the rascals and it's now starting to grow :-)
bert - 9-Sep-18 @ 2:34 PM
@Debs - great, the simple things are so much more pleasurable. I'd bring it in soon once it gets cooler as a young plant has a better chance indoors.
Lucy - 7-Sep-18 @ 3:26 PM
I stuck a stone in a pot of mint and it has grown in this heatwave. I did not do the method with the cocktail sticks. I have repotted it and wondered whether to bring inside as it is now getting cooler. Please give me advice as l’m not a gardener and very pleased that this has happened.
Debs - 7-Sep-18 @ 4:22 AM
I planted a couple of avocado stones and have managed to get a couple of really good strong plants.When they were a little more than 2ft tall I cut them back by a good 12inches.They are bushing out beautifully now.Then I decided that each time I had an avocado I would plant the stone...…..I now have twenty avocados sprouting... I never expected them all to grow... Heaven knows what I will do with them all but I plan to experiment with some of them next year.I will leave a couple outside under a fleece cover... A couple will go into my shed for the winter and I will bring some of the others into the house.
Cherie - 26-Aug-18 @ 12:52 PM
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