Growing Avocado Seedlings from Seed

23 July 2017

Being from a tropical country, it’s no wonder that I miss some of our beautiful fruit trees. My parents have a huge avocado tree in their backyard, which was given to them as a sapling by a friend. There are avocado trees everywhere in Brazil, on the streets, in people’s backyards. You can eat avocados fresh from the tree. To my big surprise, avocados do grow here in NZ (forgive my ignorance!), mostly in the North Island. I have recently been to Hamilton and I was amazed at how tasty and cheap(er than in Christchurch) the avocados were.

Here in Canterbury, I found a lady at the Ohoka Farmers Market who sells delicious oranges and avocados. When she said that she grows the avocados herself, I thought “I can grow avocados too!”. The question was how to get those seeds to sprout when I didn’t have a glasshouse? So, I remembered my school science classes and when I got beans to sprout by putting them on a damp cotton ball on a platter. In fact, I did this several times throughout the years and managed to actually grow beans in pots inside the apartment. Some of the plants grew legumes, but not enough to feed the family   This time, since the avocado seeds are much bigger than beans, I didn’t think that by putting them on damp cotton balls would work.

Instead, I stuck three toothpicks on the seeds – just enough to provide a support for the seeds without damaging them. Then, I placed the seeds in jars filled with tap water. You can see that about half of the seed is under water whereas the other half sticks out. I change the water about twice a week. It’s taken me about 4 months to see any sprouting happening. First, I noticed that the seeds started swelling up. I scrapped the “eye” of the seeds just enough to get the skin off (see picture #3). That actually sped up the process. The primary root turned up a few days ago, and probably because I started tempering the tap water to bring it to a warmer temperature than what it is when it comes out from the tap. It’s Autumn/Fall here in NZ, and the water in the pipes are very cold already. So, by mixing a bit of warm water, I made sure that the water in the jars stayed at room temperature.

I grew 4 apple seedlings from seed by doing the old science class experiments (with the cotton balls). That was about two years ago. Now my seedlings have grown to be strong saplings and are planted in different parts of the property.

I am very pleased to say that my idea of growing avocado and pear seedlings from seeds is working. By keeping them indoors, I’m protecting them from frost and really cold temperatures. Tone of the avocado seeds and five pear seeds have been moved to pots with dirt in them, since they have already developed long and strong primordial roots.

The next step will be to build a temporary mini greenhouse (plastic cover and metal) to keep the seedlings while they grow until it’s warm enough outside to plant them in the ground. By selecting seeds from trees that are grown here in the region, I increase the chances of survival and development of these avocado and pear varieties survival.

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