An avocado tree is easy to grow and makes for a beautiful house plant when first starting out. But the best part is the fruit they bear–the avocados themselves! So how long will it take for your avocado tree to bear fruit? Well, that depends on where you are starting from.
Growing an Avocado Tree From a Pit
If you are going to start growing an avocado tree “from scratch” by sprouting roots and planting a seed, then it could be many years before your tree can produce fruit. It could take as many as seven to fifteen years, although many growers say you can start to see avocados in only three to four years. What’s more, once your tree is grown, you can “jump-start” fruit-bearing by grafting or budding the productive limbs.
1. Source a Seed
Sourcing an avocado seed is easy; simply remove the pit from a ripe avocado of your preferred type. Take caution when cutting into the fruit to avoid unnecessary damage to the pit, and use a spoon to scoop it out from the flesh. Wash and dry the seed, carefully scraping off any persistent green flesh that may remain.
A Note About Grocery Avocados
Suppose you sourced your seed from an avocado from a grocery store and not from a grower or an existing tree itself. It is possible the fruit may be different and perhaps even inedible, as the seed-grown tree may be genetically different than the tree that produced the original fruit. However, even if this is the case, you can still use your new tree as a base for grafting branches from another tree already producing good fruit.
You can start grafting branches once a seedling has grown to a height of three feet. (We will look at how to do this a little later on.)
2. Place Pit in Water
Rather than being planted in soil to sprout, avocado pits should be suspended in water to develop a stem and roots. Place three toothpicks in the sides of the pit and rest it on the rim of a glass or bowl filled with water. The top of the pit (the more pointed end with an egg-like shape) should be face-up and remain dry, while the bottom (the slightly flatter, perhaps patchy-colored end) should be submerged in the water.
3. Provide Sunshine & Clean Water
Set your soaking seed in a windowsill or comparable place where it can get a few hours of sun each day, avoiding spots that get long exposures to direct sunlight. Replenish water in your container every few days if the level drops below the pit, and replace it with fresh water weekly.
Continue monitoring your pit every few days until roots and a stem start to emerge. This initial process can take anywhere from two to eight weeks, so be patient.
4. Prune the Initial Growth
Once you’ve established roots and a stem, you’ll need to encourage a stronger “foundational plant” by pruning the growth. When the stem has grown to a height of six inches or so, cut back to around three inches. This will cause new roots to develop, which, in turn, leads to the growth of a wider and fuller tree.
5. Plant in Soil
A few weeks after the initial pruning, once the roots are fuller and the stem has new top leaves, you can finally transfer your avocado plant into a container of soil. Don’t wait longer than three weeks to do this as the roots will have a harder time transferring to the soil and you risk harming even killing the plant. Furthermore, you’ll want to hold off from planting outdoors until you’ve had a chance to ‘harden’ the tree.
Use a pot at least 10-inches (~25 centimeters) in diameter to provide ample room for plant growth. Smaller pots may cause the tree to become root-bound and will require another transfer later; otherwise, growth may be inhibited. Make sure the pot has good drainage as well. Place the pit in the soil so that the roots are buried, but leave the top part of the pit and the stem exposed.
6. Water Often & Harden Tree
Give your avocado tree a good watering once you’ve finished potting it, gently yet thoroughly soaking the soil. All future waterings should be enough to dampen soil without causing saturation. You can provide it with an occasional soak, but make sure to let the soil dry between waterings. If your leaves start to turn yellow, that is a sign you may be overwatering.
Your tree should start in a place with indirect sunlight, but as it grows, gradually move it to brighter areas. The slow increase will help condition the plant to eventually withstand constant direct sunlight outdoors. You can transfer your tree outdoors once it is more mature. Keep in mind that it can take several years still before the tree will flower and bear fruit.
Growing an Avocado Tree From Cuttings
If you have not grown a rootstock tree from seed, some nurseries or growers may have options available or even pre-grafted rootstocks you can bring home. This is a great way to reduce the time it takes to have a plant that bears fruit.
Note: Grafting is best done in the spring when it is easy to slip bark from the inner wood of the base.
1. Select & Prepare Your Buds
Choose branches with many buds from a healthy tree that is producing reliable fruit. The best buds can be found at the ends of branches, typically one-quarter-inch to one-inch in diameter.
Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut the branches that have several buds on them. Take anywhere from six to eight cuttings that are at least six inches in length. Wrap the cuttings in damp paper towels to hold moisture and place them in a bowl of ice to keep them cold while you prepare the rootstock.
2. Prepare Rootstock
Choose a strong branch on the rootstock tree and make a T-shaped cut twelve inches from the trunk. (A knife is best for this task.) The shorter “top” line of the T should cut about one-third of the way through the branch, while the “bottom” intersecting line of the T should run the length of the branch and be about one inch long. Carefully insert your knife at the point where the cuts meet and twist to pry the bark away.
3. Place & Secure Buds
Find healthy bud from your cuttings and trim it from the stick. Cut a half-inch below and three-quarter-inch beyond the bud on either side. Place the longer end into the “bottom” part of the T-shaped cut in the rootstock and align the bud with the “top” part of the cut. Use a rubber band to wrap the graft above and below the bud. Avoid wrapping the bud itself.
Repeat this in different areas until you have used buds from all of your cuttings to fill your tree as you see appropriate.
4. Remove Wrap
It could take up to three or four weeks for grafts to heal and create a healthy union with the rootstock. You will know this has happened when buds begin to open, at which point you can remove the rubber bands. Fruit will start producing on these new branches once they mature.
Avocados are a delicious part of a healthy diet, so why wouldn’t you want your own at home? We’ve got all the know-how and care tips you need to grow a fruit-bearing tree from a pit in just three to five years. Check out other posts for great growing and care tips for all fruit trees, vegetables, flowering plants, and more!