Growing avocado from seed is a game of patience

By living in Spain, I get to enjoy one of my long-time goals of growing my own plants. Back home I did not have any success, I even managed to kill a cactus by over watering, so I thought I’m an incurable plant killer. Spain is notoriously sunny and we are lucky enough to live in one of those nice white houses, sharing the garden and pool with our lovely neighbors. Our part of the house has a large balcony which gets quite a lot of sunlight, so that is my new Savage Garden headquarters.

We started with the lovely experiment of planting avocado from seed. Because it’s gimmicky and because you get to see it come to life and we love everything about the plant. I did not expect it to test our patience for so long, though.

How to sprout an avocado seed in water

For the sake of having a live demonstration of emerging life, I chose the water method, which allows you to see the sprouting in all its glory. I did a little research online and got back from the market with two avocados that made a great guacamole. I went with two pits for two reasons: they can keep each other company and I increase my chances of having a little plant.

I washed the pits very well, got rid of all traces of flesh and used the toothpick method.

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One of the pits was put in water a week later than the other, which is why you will see a clear difference in growth between the two. The tutorials vary quite a lot when it comes to the water replacement: from daily, to weekly to not at all (just adding water as needed). On hot days or when they were left in the sun, I replaced the water daily, but it was done once every few days, even once a week. I think it’s good for them to have oxygenated water so I would go with replacing the water as often as possible.

Sprouting of the root

After three weeks, we finally got a sprout. The seed started to crack by itself and you could see the tiny root emerging. As you can see, the brown peel is almost gone. I did not remove it from the beginning, thinking it’s too invasive, but after sitting in water for more than two weeks, it came off by itself and I removed it when replacing the water. The second seed was still intact.

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After a month, you can see a slow but steady growth of the root. At this point, I was staring at it and talking to it, hoping that it would speed up the process, but it sped up my impatience. Seed #2 does not appear in pictures because it does not do anything yet.

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Five weeks since the planting we have this:

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Sprouting of the stem

Two months from planting, seed number two is showing its face! It was slower than the first one and it had some trouble cracking. I could see the root sprouting, but the stone was not cracked all the way, being kept together by the hardened peel. A quick snipping with a small pair of scissors did the trick. Seed #1 already has a short stem, making me a proud gardener. Look at the difference:

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After 10 weeks, I am finally looking at something green:

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As happy as I was to see the small green leafs forming, I started to get worried about some mold that has been forming on the cracks of the peel and the water edge. I have carefully wiped the white dusty stuff with a paper towel and hoped for the best. In retrospective, maybe some anti-fungal solution would have been good to use. The root is already curling at the bottom of the glass and having small ramifications. As long as the root has a white, active growing tip and the leafs seem healthy, the plant is doing fine.

This is the last photo I took of seed #1, 14 weeks from seeding. The leafs have grown, the stem has reached about 6 inches and it looks great. Most tutorials advise that you prune the plant when it reaches this height. I didn’t do it, it felt like masochism after waiting so long for this little thing to grow.

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Transplanting into soil

I did transplant both seeds in a tall flower pot (20 cm) with regular soil and some pebbles on the bottom to facilitate water drainage. I covered the seeds with soil only half way, to leave the top uncovered (just as they were in water). Another improvisation was to put them both in the same pot, I don’t know if this will seriously overcrowd them but we’ll see.

By the time the transplant happened, we have adopted an insane adolescent dog we named Susi (we will talk plenty about her in another post). As soon as I transplanted the avocados in the pot, I turned my back for 1 minute and found one leaf “stapled” by my dog’s sharp teeth. It’s a miracle she didn’t tear the whole thing apart, so I’m thankful.

I have no pictures of the pot because I did it on the last day before leaving to Finland for the winter holidays. Now, my neighbor is the plant sitter, so I’m excited to see how the plants will look when I return. I’ll be back soon with an update! Can’t wait to see how they’re doing.

 

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