How to grow avocados

You can learn how to grow avocados as houseplants – and with time and care you could harvest your own avocados

how to store avocado
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how to grow avocados? They are one of the superfoods of choice, whether chopped up in salads, added to sandwiches or burgers, mushed to guacamole, whizzed into a smoothie, smashed on toast, and all manner of other uses - this rich, creamy and versatile fruit is a pure delight. 

Imagine being able to pick your own homegrown avocados? The good news is that you could - although you'll need plenty of patience as it's a bit of a waiting game. In the meantime, though, you'll be able to enjoy the beautiful houseplant with its large, glossy leaves.

Read on to find out how you can grow an avocado tree from a stone, and how to care for your houseplant. Or find more advice on growing container plants or caring for houseplants.

Go to our garden ideas page for more growing, planting and buying guides.

What you will need to grow an avocado

  • A saved avocado stone from shop-bought fruit
  • Toothpicks
  • Container compost
  • Hand trowel
  • 30cm plant pot

How to grow an avocado from the stone

Quick and easy, planting avocados is a fun project, and also a great one to do with children. 

Using your saved avocado stone - undamaged, cleaned of any residue, and left to dry – you can either start it off in water, or plant it straight into compost. The second method might be better if the water is particularly salty where you live, as avocados do not like saline water.

You can also buy established plants from online garden centres instead of growing your own plant from a stone. 

Starting the avocado plant in water

1. Clean the stone

Soak the avocado stone in water to remove all the remaining fruit, but NOT the brown skin. 

2. Place the avocado stone bottom down in water

You may need to double check, but the pointiest end is up, the flatter end is the root and this is what needs to go in water. You can wedge the avocado into a perfectly-proportioned (for this purpose), clear glass, topped up with water; if you can't find one that's the perfect fit, use this trick below, using toothpicks.

3. Now leave your avocado on a sunny windowsill

Change the water once a week to keep it fresh. The avocado should sprout within a month. 

4. Plant out when the avocado sprout is about 15cm tall

Once the sprout is this length, cut it back to around 10cm to boost new growth... then when it reaches 15cm again, pot it up. Use rich compost, and aim for a pot with a 25cm diameter. Place back on the window sill and water regularly so that the soil is always moist (if leaves yellow, you're over-watering). 

5. Encourage healthy growth

Once the avocado sprout is about 30cm tall, pinch out the top two sets of leaves; repeat this every time the sprout grows another 15cm – doing so will encourage bushy growth. 

Starting the avocado plant in compost

  • Soak the cleaned and undamaged avocado stone in warm water half an hour
  • Cut a thin piece off the pointed end and plant in a pot of sandy compost with the cut end just above the surface
  • Water, then wrap the pot in a plastic bag and put in a warm place
  • One the shoot appears, remove from the plastic bag and place on a sunny windowsill

How to care for your avocado plant

Place the pot in a warm, sunny position - a conservatory is ideal. Water your avocado plant lightly but often. Let the soil dry out between waterings and always water from below. Don't let your avocado plant sit in water. It will not like very wet or dry conditions.

If the leaves turn brown at the tips the plant needs more water; if they turn yellow it is getting too much water so leave it to dry out for a day or two.

Feed the plant with liquid fertiliser every 2-3 weeks when young, and once established, feed with general pot plant feed every 7-10 days during spring and summer and less regularly - every 6-8 weeks - in autumn and winter.

Avocado plants are quick growing so you will probably have to pot on into bigger pots at least once a year. You will know they need this when they start to need more watering and look a bit droopy. Find inspiration here for creative container ideas.

The plants can grow very tall, so pinch out the growing tip to make it grow more side shoots and be bushier rather than taller.

If kept in a warm conservatory the plant may start to produce flowers from about the third year.

Your avocado plant can produce fruit one day, but this can take up to ten years. Until then, enjoy this wonderful houseplant.

More gardening advice

Rachel joined the Period Living team six years ago after freelancing on a range of titles covering everything from homes and gardens, history and arts to wildlife. As the magazines Content Editor, she still gets to enjoy all of these things handily packaged together (one way or another) in the pages of Period Living. She loves her Victorian home, but is wrestling with making its cracks, quirks and draughty bits work for a family home.