Guacamole, avocado toast, avo-wraps and avo-ice cream: from breakfast to dinner, savory to desert, the options for incorporating the delicious, creamy avocado fruit into any meal is truly endless.
Doesnʻt it make sense to have one growing in your yard?
Avocados are pretty easy to grow in windward Hawaii. The islands are home to the perfect climate for Avocados, as well as adequate sunlight and ideal soil requirements for growing this tropical fruit.
All you really need to grow an avocado tree is an avocado pit and plenty of time. But there are a few tricks to getting the kinds of Avocados that you are really looking for. Those rich, buttery Avocados with a small seed and lots of flesh.
Related: Are you looking to grow tropical fruit trees, like Abiu? Youʻre in luck. Homesteadinʻ Hawaii has just opened a seed store, where we ship super fresh tropical tree seeds straight to your door. We have fruits like abiu, surname cherry, ice cream bean, rollinia and more! Check out the store today!
Avocado From Seed
My method of growing an avocado tree from seed doesn’t require any toothpicks or poking your avocado to get it to germinate. I just pop it in a pot really. And if you live in Windward Hawaii, you could do the same thing, but if you find yourself in a different climate, youʻll need to do more.
Here’s my easy method for growing an avocado tree from seed:
- Wash or wipe off any remaining fruit from around the pit but keep the skin on. This brown skin acts as a protective covering.
- Wrap the pit in a damp (not sopping-wet) thin kitchen towel. A thin cloth napkin or a flour sack towel work best. You can also use a paper towel – again, not soaked, just damp.
- Place the wrapped-up avocado pit or pits in a plastic bag and keep in a warm (75 degrees – 85 degrees) location.
The moisture of the towel contained in the plastic bag will create a humid atmosphere, ideal for helping the avocado pit germinate.
- Check on your pit every 3-4 days, to make sure the towel hasn’t dried out, if it has, sprinkle a bit of water on the towel or exchange with a new, damp one. The bag might look foggy, that’s okay, that’s just the humidity.
- After 25-30 days you should have germination and you will see the first roots breaking out of the pits. Do not tamper with the roots or the pit! Leave them connected. Now, you can plant the whole thing, roots pointing down, in a pot or in a fresh hole with 50-50 combination of soil and compost.
The newly germinated seeds need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight to grow their best.
Note: Avocados do not grow true-to-seed, so beware that while growing from seed might be fun, it is not a guaranteed way to get decent fruits. Who knows really? You could be growing the best Avocado known to mankind, but most likely it will be a watery fruit with too much seed.
Grow Avocado via Grafting or Air layering
Growing an avocado tree from the pit is pretty cool, but it also takes a loooong time before you’ll get fruits from an avocado pit. I’m talking even as much as 8-10 years.
If you’re serious about seeing and enjoying fruits faster, then you should look at getting grafted avocado trees or try air layering your own tree. Youʻre going to need a good knife for both of these jobs, my favorite is the Victorinox Grafting Knife.
Check out your local nursery for grafted trees, or, learn how to graft your own. Don’t graft during a heavily rainy season or during the hottest months. Ideally, the weather should be around 80 degrees F for best results.
To graft an avocado tree you’ll need: rootstock which can be grown from seed and some scion wood.
- Cut a vertical slit in the midde of the rootstock
- Use two small limbs (called scions), each containing 3 small buds, and place them inside of the rootstock’s center cut.
- Cover with sphagnum moss that is damp (not soaking) and wrap with a bit of gardner’s tape, if desired (but don’t reduce airflow, it is essential there is enough air to the scions).
Keep the area warm and humid, but not overly wet.
- Check on the grafted scions every 2-3 weeks to ensure they are healing properly. It can take 4 – 8 weeks for the grafting process to complete and then you can remove the sphagnum moss and watch the buds on your small limbs grow and develop into avocados.
Avocado Varieties For Hawaii To Keep An Eye On For Grafting
Avocado trees come in all sorts of varieties, trees that grow large, ones that grow small, some that tolerate cold and others that tolerate drought. These Avocado varieties have another great feature, some of them ripen at different times too!
You see, with any single Avocado tree, you might only get fruit in the winter, but with a few varieties, you can get fruit all year round. When you go to graft trees, it would be a good idea to source scion wood from these different varieties, which I have listed below.
|Da Kine||Early Season|
|Green Gold||Mid Season|
In addition to Avocados, another great fruit to grow in Hawaii is Citrus. I wrote a post going over growing citrus and some of the best varieties to grow here in Hawaii. If you love oranges and limes, then give this post a read.
Airlayering is not typically done with avocados, but it can be done.
Air layered trees are typically shorter than adult trees grown from seeds or seedlings. While you may see less fruit just because the tree isn’t as large, in the case of avocado trees, I think shorter is better.
When it comes time to harvest, it is easier to reach the fruit and you’ll have fewer wasted or damaged avocados because of shorter trees.
If you buy a grafted tree, you can expect fruits within 3-5 years. In the first year you might see only a handful, but the following years should bring in well-over 50 avocados, per tree.
If you want to learn a bit more about the difference between air layering and grafting, check out this article here.
Growing Requirements For Avocado
Immature avocado trees need full sun in order to thrive. Adult trees do fine with partial shade, so make sure that you don’t plant too many trees near your avocados until they are established.
Avocado trees need well-draining soil that is slightly acidic (Hawai’i’s volcanic soil is awesome for this). It’s a good idea to put a layer of mulch over top of the soil to retain some moisture because full-sun sometimes dries out the top layer of dirt.
Don’t over-water your avocado tree. Just like the pit can rot if you aren’t careful during germination, the roots can also rot if you overwater them. Soil should be moist, but not pooling. If you see excess standing water, provide a method of irrigation for your avocado tree.
How To Feed Your Growing Avocado
As your Avocado tree is growing, it is important to keep it well fed, it will grow faster.
I like to ensure that I give my Avocado trees a once yearly or 2x a year application of good, homemade compost and some mulch on top of that. If you can build a mulch pile right next to your growing tree, even better.
At least once a month you can come in with a foliar spray of Fish emulsion and kelp, my favorite brand is this one from Gs Plant Foods. You could also brew your own compost tea. Avocados really respond to that.
As fruit sets in, lay off the fertilizing. They wonʻt need as much nitrogen during this stage, in fact, too much can hurt fruit production.
Pruning An Avocado Tree: How Often Should You Do It
Pruning removes any weak or dead branches and allows sufficient sunlight to penetrate to lower branches. This will help your tree to be healthier, overall.
Heavy pruning can adversely affect the size of your avocado harvest in adult trees, or lengthen when your tree will fruit, in younger trees.
Avocado trees grown from seeds can grow to massive heights. If you have grown yours from seed, you may need to prune it even from a young age to help control the shape of the tree. Consider pruning a young avocado tree (grown from seed) every 4-6 months.
To learn more about pruning tropical fruit trees, youʻll want to check out this post that covers this topic in more detail.
Avocado Pests: What To Watch Out For
When it comes to pests and Avocados in Hawaii, there are two main pests you should be watching out for Rats and Lace Bugs.
A recent problem to show up on the islands, is lace bugs have been impacting Avocados hard. Essentially, they kill off all of the leaves.
Over the past few years, I have observed this happening to my trees. The lace bug attacked every leaf until they eventually fell off, leaving the tree defoliated. All the leaves grew back the following season, but you could tell it was a big hit to the tree.
As the years have progressed, fruit production has lessened, especially this year. But that happens from time to time. My trees arenʻt getting hit as hard by the Lace bug this year so maybe next year the fruit production will be back to normal. Who knows?
They say you can spray them off, use soapy water and such, but if youʻve seen my trees youʻd know thatʻs impossible. So, Iʻve just been watching and observing, hoping it will all balance out. So far so good. Fingers crossed.
Rats are just a pest no matter where you go. Here, the rats love to much on the Avocados before they fall.
Its not horrible, no where near as bad as the Lace bug problem, but it sucks seeing a nibble taken out of your Avocado.
It wonʻt kill you to just cut that part off and eat the rest of the Avocado.
For more on pests in tropical gardens, check out this post that introduces 9 common garden pests that you should watch out for.
How long does it take for an avocado tree to produce fruit?
It can take 3-4 years for a grafted or air layered avocado tree to produce fruit.
Avocado trees grown from seeds can take 8-10 years before they begin giving the first harvest.
When To Harvest Avocados
Avocado fruits should not ripen on the tree. Ripe fruits are too soft and easily damaged; therefore, you should harvest avocado fruits when they reach full-size, which is generally about the size of a tennis or baseball.
Pull the fruits off the tree and bring them into your pantry or place on the kitchen counter (or in a paper bag, for faster ripening). Turn them every 2 days, until you feel they are a little soft. Eat cut and eat your avocado before it feels squishy, which means it’s overripe.
Best Way To Harvest Avocado Fruits
As previously mentioned, air layered or grafted avocado trees tend to be shorter than trees grown directly from avocado pits.
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to harvesting. How are you going to reach the avocados all the way at the top of your 40 or 50 foot tree?
If you can hand-harvest, great! But, if you can’t, then I recommend harvesting with some tools. The best ones are:
- A picking pole (the type with a v-shaped cutter at the end)
- A telescoping pruner
Both of these tools allow you to cut the stem of the fruit so it can fall. Then, either have soft blankets prepared beneath the tree or a friend holidng a fruit bag, ready to catch the falling avocado and prevent damage.
You can grow your own avocado tree from a seed, but I think using a grafted or air layered tree is best. If you go with a grafted tree, you will harvest avocadoes in a few years, and grafted trees stay smaller so that you can more easily gather your delicious avocados. Now, who’s ready for some guacamole?
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